The High Cost of Shortchanging Cows



This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Last month’s column talked about how cold, snowy winters increase the energy needs of cows, especially when wintered on pasture, and how cows will use their body fat reserves to maintain themselves if the feed doesn’t provide enough energy. Reproductive performance will drop if thin cows don’t recover their body condition.

A 2013 paper published by the Cheryl Waldner and Alvaro García Guerra of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon reported on a two-year study of over 30,000 beef cows from more than 200 herds across Western Canada (Theriogenology 79:1083-1094). Cows were Continue reading

Bigger Is Not Always Better: Finding the Right Sized Cow

This is a guest post written by Karin Schmid, Beef Production Specialist with the Alberta Beef Producers.

Marketing cows because they are open, calved late, or their conformation is breaking down are easy decisions.  Marketing cows or retaining heifers based on productive efficiency definitely requires more thought.

Biological efficiency is not always the same as economic efficiency.  In a cattle production system, efficiency is often a combination of those two measures.  How we optimize efficiency will depend on: 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

Johne’s disease and the ethical dilemma

This article written by Dr. Steve Hendrick, from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Connection magazine and is reprinted with permission.

Ever wondered why some cows remain thin while the rest of your herd thrives? Although there are lots of possibilities for this, Johne’s disease is becoming more commonly recognized in Saskatchewan beef herds. Cows with Johne’s disease are typically in their prime (3 to 6 years of age) and often have evidence of diarrhea on their tail. What most producers don’t realize is that Continue reading

When is the Most Profitable Time to Cull Cows?

This is a guest post written by Brenna Grant, Research Analyst with Canfax Research Services.

Cow prices seasonally decline 16.5% from July to November.  This year the drop was sharp happening all in September.  Prices have stabilized and even rebounded in recent weeks after dropping from $78/cwt in August to $64/cwt in October.  The October average was below year ago for the first time this year.  Prices have inched up to $65/cwt in November to be back above year ago levels.  Prices typically increase 16% from the November low to a spring high in March.  Given that part of the drop seen in September and the low October prices was due to the temporary closure of the Lakeside plant in Brooks, the increase from now to the March high is expected to be higher than typical at around 19% ($77/cwt). A higher spring price will be supported given (1) current prices are depressed with the Lakeside plant not having access to the US market yet, (2) strong North American demand for trim will support prices moving into the spring, and (3) smaller cow marketings anticipated in 2013.  Continue reading

Shipping Cull Cows: Responsible Welfare Considerations

This is a guest post written by Karin Schmid, Beef Production Specialist with the Alberta Beef Producers, in collaboration with Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director.

With cows and calves coming off pasture in the coming weeks, some of these cows will likely be going to market.  Producers are reminded to be very cautious when facing a temptation to market thin, weak, lame, or sick cows that are unfit for transport.

Some auction markets will refuse to accept cows that are unlikely to sell, and some sales yards and packing plants will bill producers who deliver cattle that are condemned.  Moreover, producers, cattle buyers and transporters have an ethical and legal obligation to ensure the well being of the cattle under their care. Continue reading

It Happened Again: Internet Video of Mistreatment of Cows

This is a guest post written by the CCA’s Ryder Lee, in collaboration with Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director.

California processor Central Valley Meat Co. is the subject of a recent Internet animal cruelty video released by anti-meat organization, ‘Compassion over Killing.’ The video captured instances of inhumane handling practices that are not condoned by the beef and cattle industry or the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suspended operations at the company pending investigation of the animal welfare issues cited in the video.  The plant reopened after federal officials approved corrective action plans to improve the treatment of animals. As a result of the video, major customers, including McDonald’s Corp., cancelled or suspended contracts with the company. Continue reading