The Benefits of Bringing Cattle and Crops Together

Grazing cattle on neighbouring farmland can have benefits to both the cattle producer and the farmer if done properly. From Saskatchewan to Manitoba and Ontario the following producers have had success with grazing cattle on neighbouring crop land.

Leanne Thompson and Tannis Axten are neighbours in southeastern Saskatchewan. The Thompsons own and operate a cow-calf and backgrounding operation with 500-800 head of mother cows as well as backgrounding cattle. The Axten family owns and operates a 6,000 acre grain farm that is highly diverse, focusing heavily on soil health and intercropping. Both operations have experienced mutual benefits by arranging to have the Thompsons’ cattle graze stubble and cover crops on the Axtens’ landbase. Continue reading

Winter Feed Cost Comparison Calculator – Regional Trends and Opportunities

Feed prices are driven by supply, demand and the price of alternatives. Winter feed presents the largest variable cost for producers. As producers look for ways to protect margins and minimize losses this fall, there are opportunities to be found in examining low-cost feed alternatives.

While the cost of some inputs cannot be controlled by any one operation, producers can control their budget for high-quality rations. Knowing where a crop may fall short on nutrition is a critical first step, and a feed test will point out where supplementary nutrients may be required for a herd. The next step is sourcing nutrients at the lowest price, choosing from a variety of feedstuff that offer nutrient balance. The Beef Cattle Research Council’s Winter Feed Cost Comparison Calculator is a decision-making tool that helps producers compare the cost of feed alternatives available in their area.

Regional Conditions and Trends to Consider                                                                            Continue reading

Announcing The Beef Researcher Mentorship Program 2020-2021 Participants

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is pleased to announce the participants in the 2020-21 Beef Researcher Mentorship program. Following an open application process, six researchers from across Canada have been selected. Each has been paired with notable leaders in the Canadian beef industry and given a travel budget for the next 18 months, which will provide valuable opportunities for greater engagement with Canada’s beef industry.

Mentee: Dr. Alexander Koiter

Mentors: Kristine Tapley and Larry Wegner Continue reading

It’s Time to Start Thinking About Feed Testing

With cattle feed being swathed, harvested, or already in the silage bunk or bale now is the time to start thinking about testing feed. Although it is best to feed test as close as possible to the day the animal will be consuming it, testing now, as well as again closer to the time of feeding, can help you determine if supplemental feed will be needed and provide time to source it.

A common question from producers is, now that I have my feed test results, what do I do with it? What do all those numbers mean? And how do I make use of this information on my operation? Recognizing this need for some general information to help producers better utilize their feed tests, the Tool for Evaluating Feed Test Results was developed by the Alberta Beef, Forage and Grazing Centre. This tool allows you to input the results of your feed test along with the class of animal you intend to feed and it will give you a green light (OK to feed), yellow light (be cautious if feeding as a stand-alone feed source), or red light (don’t feed this as a stand-alone feed source).

Note that this tool is not intended for use in ration balancing, but rather to alert you to potential issues with individual feed ingredients. It is strongly recommended that producers seek advice from a qualified professional to develop a balanced ration or familiarize yourself with ration balancing software like CowBytes. Continue reading

Will the Real Superfood Please Stand Up?

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

“Superfood” is a marketing (not medical or scientific) term used to describe foods with perceived health benefits because of exceptional nutritional properties. Google “superfood” and you’ll see numerous lists claiming health benefits for foods like broccoli, legumes, nuts, salmon, eggs, kale, beans, spinach, and trendy new things like acai or goji berries that marketers are launching. Animal proteins are rarely included, with the occasional exception of eggs or fish.

Meat, and particularly red meat, is often portrayed as nutritionally optional. As one example, Canada’s new Food Guide suggested that plant- and animal-based proteins are nutritionally equivalent, but recommended eating plant-based proteins more often. Like similar reports linking red meat consumption to heart disease and cancer, the new Food Guide has been heavily criticized for selective using evidence to support their recommendations. Continue reading

Dr. Karen Beauchemin Receives 2020 Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation

NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release
August 12, 2020


L-R: Dr. Francois Eudes, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Lethbridge); Dr. Karen Beauchemin, Award Recipient; Dr. Tim McAllister, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Lethbridge).

A leader in ruminant nutrition and the environmental sustainability of beef production has been awarded the 2020 Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation. Dr. Karen Beauchemin was honoured today during the 2020 Canadian Beef Industry Conference, which was held virtually this year.

Dr. Beauchemin is a Principal Research Scientist of Ruminant Nutrition at the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan, University of Alberta, and Utah State University. Dr. Beauchemin’s work focuses on developing nutritional knowledge and technologies for the beef and dairy industries to improve the efficiency of production and reduce environmental impact. She received her Master of Science with a Major in Agriculture from Université Laval with distinction in 1982 followed by a Ph.D. in Ruminant Nutrition with distinction from the University of Guelph in 1988. Continue reading

Attention Institutions: BCRC Call for Proposals for Research Chairs

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) invites proposals from leading research institutions for the establishment of Research Chairs. The deadline is October 1, 2020 at 11:59 PM MT.

Currently, a shortage of scientific experts and research capacity in some areas of beef, cattle and forage research are hindering the ability to conduct priority research that supports improvements in productivity and demand and responds to emerging issues. To fill these gaps, the BCRC is exploring options to establish Research Chairs in key areas with investment of Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off funding in partnership with other funders.

To procure the strongest opportunities for capacity development and encourage matching investments, Research Chair concepts will be considered through an open call for proposals.  The BCRC welcomes proposals that work towards the achievement of its three core research objectives:

  • To enhance industry competitiveness and reduce production costs, priority outcomes are to enhance feed and forage production, increase feed efficiency, and decrease the impact of animal health issues and production limiting diseases.
  • To improve beef demand and quality, priority outcomes are to reduce food safety incidences, define quality and yield benchmarks supporting the Canadian Beef Advantage, and improve beef quality through primary production improvements and the development and application of technologies to optimize cut-out values and beef demand.
  • To improve public confidence in Canadian beef, outcomes are to improve food safety, strengthen the surveillance of antimicrobial use and resistance, develop effective antimicrobial alternatives, ensure animal care, demonstrate the safety and efficacy of new production technologies, improve environmental sustainability and measure the beef industry’s environmental benefits.

Continue reading

What Makes Soil Healthy?


Photo credit to Cover Crops Canada

Soil health has been defined as “the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living system, within ecosystem and land-use boundaries, to sustain biological productivity, maintain the quality of air and water environments, and promote plant, animal, and human health”. The challenge with this poetic definition is that, while it does describe the functional abilities of soil, it does not provide quantifiable values or measurements. There are no metrics to determine what makes soil healthy or to help identify the current soil health status (i.e. is it healthy or does it still need work?).

Although most producers can agree that soil health is important, actual measurable values of what makes soil “healthy” will vary from farm to farm. Numerous research projects across the globe are working on gaining a better understanding of soil health and what that means for individual operations but have yet to come up with specific, global parameters other than the definition provided in 1996. This challenge makes sense – consider Canada for instance. Values for pH, salinity, water infiltration, and organic matter vary significantly across the country and what is considered “good” in one area may not be considered valuable in another region. Continue reading

Attention Researchers And Extension Agents: Deadline For BCRC LOIs Is 2 Weeks Away



The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) and Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) invite letters of intent (LOIs) for research projects as well as for technology transfer and production economics projects. The application deadline for these separate but concurrent calls is August 7, 2020 at 11:59 PM MT.

The purpose of these two targeted calls is to achieve objectives in the Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy and the National Beef Strategy. These calls are made possible by the recent increase in the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off in most provinces, along with funds provided and administered by ABP. Producer check-off funds allocated to approved projects will need to be leveraged by other industry or government cash contributions. Match leverage funding does not have to be confirmed at the time an LOI is submitted but must be in place prior to BCRC contracting an approved project.

Target outcomes have been clearly defined for both calls through extensive consultation with research teams and industry stakeholders to identify critical needs and key areas where the BCRC and ABP can have the greatest impact. Please refer to the target outcomes listed within the Call for Letters of Intent documents linked below before deciding whether to submit an LOI.

All call-related information can also be found at www.beefresearch.ca on the Forms and Downloads page.

Continue reading

Bov-Innovation will Come to You this August in a New Online Format

Like everyone this year, the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) and its industry counterparts have had to adjust their planned events. The BCRC is pleased to make their Bov-Innovation 2020 sessions available to even more producers and industry stakeholders with a free, virtual series open to anyone who registers for the Canadian Beef Industry Virtual Conference.  The conference is co-hosted by partners including the BCRC, Canada Beef, the Canadian Beef Breeds Council (CBBC), the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), and the National Cattle Feeders’ Association (NCFA). The door is open for this online event which will take place on August 11-13, 2020.  Links to recorded sessions will also be available to registrants to watch later at their convenience.

As part of the conference, Bov-Innovation will take place on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 and will include a virtual tour, a live question and answer segment, demonstrations, and more. Bov-Innovation is designed for producers with sessions focused on practical ideas, tips, and practices that are supported by science. There are two sessions this year, a Virtual Silvopasture Tour and a segment on Acing Your Next Feed Test: Continue reading