Pasture is a key component of beef cattle operations and one definitely worth managing. At first glance, grazing a pasture may appear as simple as placing cattle in a fenced area with a water source. However, practising effective grazing management is an art and a science.
Pasture conditions and types vary widely from native grassland to tame forage, with stands comprised of many diverse plants or perhaps just a simple mixture of a few grass or legume species. Regardless of the pasture type, focusing on a few key principles can help maintain forage productivity, ensure stand longevity, sustain a healthy plant community, conserve water, and protect soils. Here are four main factors to remember: Continue reading
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Consider postponing on-farm research activities that require more than one person or interaction with farm operators whenever possible until provincial health guidelines relax physical distancing recommendations.
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This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.
Statistics Canada reports that Western Canada’s silage corn acreage has grown significantly in recent years. Nearly 30% of seeded corn silage acres aren’t harvested, suggesting it’s likely being used for grazing. The potential for a 50% higher yield compared to barley may offset corn’s 30% higher input costs, but only if growing conditions are right.
It is critically important to pick a hybrid that can grow under local conditions. A hybrid with a higher corn heat unit (CHU) rating than local conditions provide will not have time to reach optimal maturity before it is harvested or frozen, and will contain more fiber, more moisture, fewer cobs and less starch than ideal. It will also be less palatable and nutritious, whether it’s harvested for silage or left for grazing. On the other hand, a short season hybrid grown in a historically hot area would be ready to harvest before the growing season is over, sacrificing some potential yield. Corn silage that is harvested too late will be too dry, making it harder to pack and reducing silage palatability. Not every year is ‘average’, and year-to-year variations in growing conditions also need to be considered before deciding whether to try corn, or which hybrid to try. Continue reading
Beef supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 are challenging producers to make difficult decisions and adapt to changing situations. As beef farmers consider making strategic production and management adjustments in response to shifting cattle markets, the resources listed below provide information and may support you in assessment, planning, and decision-making.
If you are looking for additional information, let us know in the Comment box at the bottom of this page. We will continue to add to this resource list as needed or as more information becomes available. Continue reading
Editor’s note: Relevant and up-to-date information that had been available on Foragebeef.ca is gradually being added to BeefResearch.ca. (More information). The new Water Systems for Beef Cattle page, which is previewed below, is one example. Further webpages will be added or updated on BeefResearch.ca to include the valuable content from Foragebeef.ca, ensuring that information remains freely available online. Completion is expected by Spring 2020.
Water is an essential nutrient for cattle, accounting for between 50 and 80 percent of an animal’s live weight. For livestock to maximize feed intake and production, they require access to palatable water of adequate quality and quantity. Factors that determine water consumption include water quality, air and water temperature, humidity, moisture content of feed/forage, cattle type (calf, yearling, bull, cow) and the physiological state of the animal (gestation, maintenance, growing, lactating). Producers must consider individual grazing management strategies, site characteristics and economics when designing water systems.
For optimum health, cattle need a consistent source and adequate supply of water on a daily basis. Water quality and intake will affect cattle growth and performance. Access to fresh, clean water increases animals’ water intake, which in turn, increases their dry matter intake. This improves animal performance. Continue reading
On Earth Day, Canadians and people all over the world celebrate the positive impacts they can have on the environment. In the past, the Beef Cattle Research Council has highlighted beef’s positive impact on biodiversity, carbon sequestration and maintaining prairie habitat, as well as positive changes producers have made to reduce the environmental footprint of Canadian beef. What often gets overlooked is that everyday improvements in efficiencies help to reduce the environmental impact of Canadian beef. This means that simply by working to improve their bottom line, beef producers are improving the environmental performance of our industry at the same time.
Improving production efficiencies, greater forage productivity, enhanced reproductive performance, improved animal health and reduced days on feed all play a role in reducing the impact that beef production has on the environment.
The following are some current projects underway, funded by the Canadian Beef Check-Off, that are working to improve beef production efficiencies and consequently reduce the environmental impact of beef. Continue reading
Applications for the 2020-21 term of the BCRC Beef Researcher Mentorship Program are now being accepted. The deadline to apply is May 1, 2020.
2019/2020 Researcher mentees met with Cherie Copithorne-Barnes to learn more about the Canadian beef industry.
Four researchers were selected to participate in the program this past year. Each was paired with two mentors – an innovative producer and another industry expert – for a one year term (ending July 31, 2020). Each of the researchers have reported very successful and valuable experiences through the opportunities provided, including:
This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.
According to Statistics Canada, silage corn acreage was 26% higher in 2015-19 than in 2010-14. Most of this increase occurred in the Prairies. Achieving corn’s potential will depend on whether plant breeders can successfully adapt this warm season plant to Canada’s cooler climate.
Plants contain two kinds of carbohydrates. Non-structural carbohydrates are starches and sugars that help the plant store energy and are easily digested by livestock. Structural carbohydrates include the cellulose and hemicellulose fibers found in cell walls. Cellulose and hemicellulose, along with lignin, hold the leaves and stems together and help the plant stand up. Rumen microbes digest hemicellulose more easily than cellulose, but lignin is virtually indigestible. In a feed test, neutral detergent fiber (NDF) measures the amount of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. An indicator of “bulk”, high NDF levels limit animal intake. Acid detergent fiber (ADF) is the amount of less digestible cellulose and lignin (but not hemicellulose). Digestibility declines as NDF and ADF increase.
In perennial grasses, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin levels increase steadily as the plant grows and matures. This makes sense; as the plant gets taller, it requires more structural integrity to keep standing. This is why ADF and NDF increase and digestibility decreases as grasses mature. Non-structural carbohydrates and protein levels rise initially, peak, and decline after grass has headed out. The amount of structural carbohydrate continues to increase as the plant matures and sets seed. That’s why the nutritional value of pasture generally declines as grass matures, and why rotational grazing practices that keep grass vegetative by ‘clipping’ and preventing it from heading out helps maintain the nutritional quality of the pasture later into the growing season. Continue reading
Please join* the NCFA, CCA and Canfax for a Canadian Cattle Industry Virtual Town Hall event happening Thursday, April 16, 2020. Janice Tranberg, President of the National Cattle Feeders Association, Dennis Laycraft, Executive Vice President of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, and Brian Perillat, Manager and Senior Analyst at CanFax will provide updates on the current state of the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following their updates, they will take questions from the audience.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
*Registration will be limited to the first 500 people. A recording of the Town Hall will be available following the event for those unable to attend. Continue reading
The Canadian beef business prides itself on the value of a handshake, but with the ongoing #COVID19 situation, it is important for producers to practice social distancing and follow self-isolation guidelines as required.
There are many production practices, such as vaccinations and processing, that must continue to take place for the health and welfare of animals. There are also other activities and events, including cattle sales, shipments, or brandings, that will continue in order for the beef production cycle to run as smoothly as possible.
Producers should be familiar with specific requirements from their provinces and territories to ensure the safety and wellbeing of themselves, their families, and their employees. In addition, practical and important industry-specific guidelines that producers should follow include: