Producing more with less for the world market: Raise your beef IQ


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As the Earth’s population increases and middle income classes rise in several developing regions, so does the demand for high quality protein.  In 2015, 1.22 million tonnes (carcass weight) of Canadian beef was produced for the world. That number rose to approximately 1.3 million tonnes in 2016, and is forecast to grow.

With ongoing research and adoption of new technologies, Canadian beef producers can sustainably increase production and help meet the global demand.

A recent study found that Continue reading

Better water = bigger calves: Raise your beef IQ


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A water source that is safe, palatable, and readily available is essential for animal survival, but there is also clear evidence that the accessibility of water impacts the productivity of cattle.

Dugouts are a common water source for range cattle in western Canada. When dugout water is pumped into troughs, pre-weaned calves gain more weight.

In a study done at the Western Beef Development Centre, cow-calf pairs were provided either direct access to a dugout or access to troughs of untreated water pumped from the same dugout.  Calves with cows that drank from the troughs gained on average 0.09 lbs per day more than calves with cows that only had direct access to the dugout. Pumping water resulted in an extra 18 lbs of weaning weight per calf during the trial. Continue reading

Less complaining. More Gaining.


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Calves that are fence-line weaned vocalize 50% less, walk less, and have higher weight gains in the first 10 weeks post weaning compared to conventionally weaned calves1. A practicing veterinarian from southeastern Saskatchewan that uses fence-line weaning with his own cattle reports that calves weaned using low-stress practices have a treatment rate of only 5-10%, instead of the 25-30% he sees in abruptly weaned calves.

Fence-line weaning requires a strong enough fence to keep calves and cows apart so page wire, 4-6 strands of barbed wire, or 2-3 strands of electric fencing (if calves are familiar with electric fence) is recommended. Another option is to use a set of corals on pasture, locking cows in and leaving the calves in the familiar environment. Fence-line weaning should last a minimum of 3-4 days.

Learn more about low-stress weaning techniques at http://www.beefresearch.ca/research-topic.cfm/weaning-65

Continue reading

Are those girls in good shape? Raise your beef IQ


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The productivity, and by association profitability, of a beef cow largely depends on the amount of fat that she carries. Cows with a body condition score of 3.0 have higher pregnancy rates, heavier and healthier calves, and re-breed sooner than cows with lower body condition scores. They also typically have fewer calving difficulties and increased milk production compared to cows with high body condition scores.

Cows in ideal condition are not only more likely to get bred, they’ll rebreed up to 30 days sooner than thin cows, which means more calves on the ground in the first 21 day cycle. This can add up to 42 extra pounds of weaning weight to these earlier born calves.

Eyeballing body condition is often not accurate, so hands-on scoring is recommended.  Feel for fat cover at the short ribs, spine, hooks and pins and either side of the tail head.

By scoring cows around the calving season, you’ll be able to identify animals with a BCS lower than 3.0 and work to get their condition back up before breeding. Scoring when it’s convenient throughout the year will help you identify which animals are maintaining, gaining or losing condition (despite their deceptive hair coat!) and manage them accordingly.

To calculate the difference between the value of weaned calf crops from cows maintained at different body condition scores, visit:  http://www.beefresearch.ca/research/body-condition-scoring.cfm

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The Environmental Hoofprint of Canada’s Beef Industry

Producing beef with lower GHG emissions and using fewer resources

Over the years, Canada’s beef industry has invested a lot of time and resources in, and reaped considerable economic benefits, from improvements in productivity and efficiency. With higher forage and feed crop yields, less land needs to be bought, leased or rented to produce the same number of calves or the same amount of beef. Similarly, improved feed conversions mean that less forage is needed to winter the cow herd or less feed grain is needed to grow a pound of beef.


Raise your beef IQ at BeefResearch.ca

These improvements in productivity and efficiency have also produced environmental benefits. To produce high yields, forages need an extensive root system that promotes healthy soil, healthy soil microbes, improves structure, reduces soil losses due to wind and water erosion, and builds up soil organic matter (also known as carbon sequestration). Better feed conversion efficiencies are accompanied by reductions in methane and manure production.

While the beef industry was pursuing business-focused improvements in productivity and efficiency, a lot of farm kids moved to town, and raised their families in urban settings that rarely (if ever) come in contact with agriculture. This knowledge gap about how beef is produced has provided opportunities for the beef industry’s opponents to undermine our environmental reputation. Our industry is particularly maligned for producing greenhouse gases linked to climate change.

Practically every living organism produces greenhouse gases, even plants, but cattle produce more than other livestock because rumen bacteria produce methane as they digest feed. Additional greenhouse gases come from manure (methane and nitrous oxide) and fossil fuel use (carbon dioxide). However, like the Continue reading