Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein receives 2017 Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation

NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release
August 16, 2017


L-R: Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, Matt Bowman, BCRC Vice-Chair, Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein, Ken Perlich, Perlich Bros Auction Market, Andrea Brocklebank, BCRC Executive Director

Calgary, AB – A nationally and internationally respected researcher of beef cattle health and welfare has been awarded the 2017 Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein, PhD, was honored tonight at the 2017 Canadian Beef Industry Conference.

Dr. Schwartzkopf-Genswein is a Senior Research Scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lethbridge, Alberta and holds adjunct appointments at several universities. She has made phenomenal contributions to advancements in the competitiveness and sustainability of the Canadian beef industry through her passion and dedication to progressive science, and exceptional collaboration, leadership and communication.

She was honored to receive the award, stating “Those of you who know me will know that this award means a lot to me. My dream will be to work with the industry as long as I can and to be as useful to you as I can.”

Dr. Schwartzkopf-Genswein’s scientific leadership is exemplified through her contributions to early disease detection, feeding behavior, stress assessment, and acidosis, and she has been instrumental in advancing the knowledge and practices related to beef cattle transportation, lameness and pain mitigation. Her research results and expertise has Continue reading

Winter Cow Transport Assessed

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.


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A 2007 transportation benchmarking study led by Dr. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Research Station surveyed over 9,000 loads and close to half a million cattle trucked to, from and within Alberta over an 18 month period. That study reported that over 99.9% cattle arrived in their destination with no serious problems.

But transport was more risky for some cattle than for others. Cull cows were 3.5 times more likely to have trouble during transport than weaned calves, 5.5 times more likely than fat cattle, and 8.5 times more likely than yearlings. The risk of death also increased greatly in cattle transported at temperatures below -15oC. Finding ways to improve winter transport outcomes is important for the cows as well as industry reputation.

Dr. Schwartzkopf-Genswein and co-workers did a follow-up project evaluating how Continue reading

New video: What beef producers need to know about pain control and prevention


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Injuries, ailments and surgery hurt. On days you slam your hand in a gate, wake up with a knee that’s more sore than usual, or are admitted to a hospital for an operation, anti-inflammatory painkillers (analgesics) and drugs that block all nerve sensation (anesthetics) are things to be grateful for.  Pain is expected in life, but the ability to avoid or diminish it at times not only makes our days more pleasant, pain mitigation helps to keep us productive and able to look after ourselves.

Common sense and scientific evidence tells us that the same goes for cattle.

There’s no doubt that cattle experience pain but as a prey species, they have evolved to hide the signs. Researching pain and pain-control in stoic animals is difficult but scientific knowledge is building.  At the same time, consumers’ understanding and expectations of animal welfare have changed. Pain control drugs are now available for cattle and on the occasions they’re needed, those products have both costs and benefits to producers.

So as a beef producer, what do you need to know about the science, Beef Code requirements, incentives, and practical options for preventing and controlling pain in your animals?

Watch this short video, then visit www.beefresearch.ca/pain and talk to your veterinarian. The webpage includes information on the pain control products licensed and available for beef cattle in Canada, as well as Continue reading

Measuring and mitigating pain during castration


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Public concern regarding the pain associated with castration, dehorning and branding of beef cattle is increasing. Past research has focused on individually housed dairy calves, or feedlot cattle. There is a lack of information regarding the influence of age and pain medication on preweaning beef calves in a herd environment.

Research currently underway and funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster is evaluating the relative impacts of age, technique, and pain medication when preweaning beef calves are castrated at the same time as branding or as a separate procedure.  This work will Continue reading

Improving Calf Transportation

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Calf Transport Cattlemens article

In 2007, Alberta Beef Producers funded a transportation benchmarking study led by Dr. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Research Station. The research team surveyed over 9,000 loads and close to half a million cattle commercially transported to, from and within Alberta over an 18 month period. That study was completed in 2009 and published in 2012 (e.g. J. Anim. Sci. 90: 10: 3606-3617). They reported that 99.98% of short haul (4 hours or less) and over 99.95% of long haul (4 hours or more) cattle arrived in their destination with no serious problems (e.g. lame, downer or dead). So on the whole, Canada’s cattle transportation sector is doing a very good job.

However, the study also found that some cattle were more likely to have problems than others. Continue reading

Pain Mitigation



Consumer pressure to avoid painful practices on cattle when possible, and to reduce pain when castration, dehorning, or branding are necessary, is building. The new Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle also makes strong statements about pain control.

The knowledge of pain in livestock has advanced steadily over the past 22 years. Behavioural and physiological indicators of pain have been identified, and researchers’ ability to measure animal responses associated to painful procedures have improved. Research has developed new pain control drugs that are registered for use in cattle in Canada, and knowledge is building on the appropriate dosage, routes of administration and synergy between anesthetics and analgesics.

Despite a considerable amount of research, cattle’s experience with pain is… Continue reading

Q&A on the science that informed a renewed Beef Code



Following an extensive process that began in 2010, the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle is now available. The Beef Code is an important tool for the Canadian beef cattle industry to educate producers and to support the industry when challenged by animal care concerns. The previous edition of the Beef Code was published in 1991.

The renewal process was led by National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) and followed the NFACC code development process set out for the different species of farmed animals. Continue reading

Bruising and injection sites: Canada’s Beef Carcass Quality Audit

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted with permission.



The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association carried out its first carcass quality audit in 1995. The defects identified in that audit became the focus of the CCA’s Quality Starts Here program. Dr. Joyce van Donkersgoed went on to teach Canada’s cattle producers how they could improve carcass value through better cattle handling and facilities, moving injection sites from the hindquarters to the shoulder, and using products that could be injected subcutaneously (under the skin) rather than intramuscularly (in the muscle) whenever possible. A follow-up audit was carried out in 1999 to measure the progress made in response to the Quality Starts Here program. Plans to repeat the audit were postponed as a result of BSE, but Canada’s third beef quality audit was completed recently. This column is focused on surface injection site lesions and bruises in fed cattle.

Visible surface injection site lesions and bruises are trimmed from the carcass and discarded. This costs producers because it reduces carcass pay weight, and costs packers because surrounding cuts are often damaged. Continue reading

The skinny on market cows



This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted with permission.

The odds that an animal will suffer, be injured or die go up drastically whenever a thin, old, weak cow is loaded, transported, unloaded, marketed, held for a week (or longer) at an auction mart while loads are assembled, then reloaded, transported again, and unloaded at a packer. So do the odds that someone will capture that disaster on their smartphone. In a world where nothing can be hidden, we’d better have nothing to hide. Continue reading

Cattle transport discussed in Beef Research School video

The second video in the Beef Research School video series is now available on www.BeefResearchSchool.com

This video discusses the welfare of cattle in transport trailers, which is an important issue for Canadians.  In fact, livestock transport is one of the most common issues raised in letters to the federal Minister of Agriculture.  Unfounded public concerns can lead to calls for tighter regulation, reduced hours in transit and/or increased frequency and length of feed, water and rest stops. Continue reading