2018 Highlights and Deliverables



The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is Canada’s industry-led funding agency for beef, cattle and forage research. Our mandate is to

  • determine and communicate the Canadian beef cattle industry’s research and development priorities, and
  • administer the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off funds that have been assigned by producers to research

The BCRC invites and funds projects and initiatives that have the greatest potential to benefit the sustainability and competitiveness of Canada’s beef industry. The BCRC is led by a committee of beef producers who proportionally represent each province’s research allocation of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off.

2018 has been a transition year for the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) in terms of both funding and program administration. An increase in the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off from $1 to $2.50 per head in most provinces and revised allocations to research has grown the BCRC’s research budget from approximately 15 cents to Continue reading

Attn 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, 2018 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: Continue reading

Maintaining Momentum

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.



Canada’s pasture and rangelands have drier, colder, and shorter growing seasons than many other beef producing areas in the world. The forage varieties that perform best in Canada are generally the ones that have been bred, selected and developed to germinate, grow, survive and thrive here. Forage varieties developed in foreign countries are sometimes marketed in Canada, but they weren’t developed under our climate and may not perform as well as home-grown varieties.

A total of 144 new perennial forage cultivars (grasses and legumes) were developed in Canada and registered between 1932 and 2017. Although private or not-for-profit companies often sell these seeds, these companies rarely did the actual breeding and development work. Nearly all (98%) of these 144 cultivars were developed by public (government and university) breeding programs. It is critically important that universities and governments continue these breeding programs, because when a program stops it takes years to rebuild its momentum.

Here are a few examples. Continue reading

Announcing the Beef Researcher Mentorship Program 2016-17 participants

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is pleased to announce the participants in the 2016-17 Beef Researcher Mentorship program. Following an open application process, four researchers have been selected. Each has been paired with notable leaders in the Canadian beef industry and given a travel budget for the coming year, which will provide valuable opportunities for greater engagement with Canada’s beef industry.

Mentee: Dr. Getahun Legesse Gizaw
Mentors: Charlie Christie and Brenna Grant 


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Getahun Legesse, Ph.D., is a Research Associate at the University of Manitoba. He is currently working on a collaborative project that aims to define the environmental footprint of Canadian beef. This involves collecting and analyzing of beef industry data to assess how the environmental impact of the beef industry has changed over the past thirty years. Earlier, he worked in the area of alternative forage-based systems for environmentally-sound and profitable production of beef in Canada.

Getahun received his Ph.D. in Animal Science (Livestock Production Systems analysis) from the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany. His doctoral project examined the productive, reproductive and economic performance of small ruminants in two production systems and identified possible options for improvement.

Through the mentorship program, Getahun hopes to Continue reading

Announcing the Beef Researcher Mentorship Program 2015-16 participants

We are pleased to announce the participants in the 2015-16 Beef Researcher Mentorship program. Following an open application process, four researchers have been selected. Each has been paired with notable leaders in the Canadian beef industry and given a travel budget for the coming year, which will provide valuable opportunities for greater engagement with Canada’s beef industry. Continue reading

The Value of Your Industry Investments in Research

This article written by Andrea Brocklebank, BCRC Executive Director, originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Connection magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.


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Producer check-offs and private investments are critical to maintaining strong research expertise, facilities, projects and technology transfer in Saskatchewan.

“Telling the future by looking at the past….is like driving a car by looking in the rear-view mirror” – Herb Bordy…but history helps illuminate the present. Shortly after Confederation, agriculture became a nation-building tool to settle the West and prevent U.S. expansion. Agriculture provided freight for Canada’s railroads, fed the urban population, and supplied millers, processors and exporters. Canada’s Experimental Farms Stations Act of 1886 supported productivity-boosting research and provided even more freight, food, and economic spin-offs.

Canada’s farm population declined as technology and mechanization reduced the need for farm labour, and more people moved into other jobs in Canada’s expanding economy. When Canada’s first agricultural census was completed in 1931, 31.7% of Canada’s population Continue reading

Using Research Funds More Efficiently

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


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Canada has many cattle, forage and beef research funders. Some, like the Beef Cattle Research Council and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, fund projects all across the country. Others, like most provincial beef organizations and provincial governments have a more regional focus. Each funder generally operates completely independently from every other. Each funder sets their own priorities, makes their own decisions, and administers their own projects. They each do their best to fund research that will benefit their corner of the industry, but often don’t know whether another funder may already be supporting a similar project elsewhere in the country.

The Beef Cluster is an effort to get Canada’s beef research funders to communicate, coordinate and cooperate more closely. The first Beef Cluster (2009-13) began with check-off funding from Continue reading

Canada’s Beef Industry Supports Forage Research

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


Click to view digital issue
A competitive cow-calf sector requires an adequate supply of forage. Increasing forage quality and yield allows more cow-calf pairs to be maintained per acre of forage, or reduces the number of forage acres needed to maintain the same number of cow-calf pairs.

Better yields come from the development of better varieties and production practices. Statistics Canada data indicate that canola yields have increased by 13.5 bushels per acre since 1980, while tame hay yields have dropped by more than half a ton per acre over the same time frame. This is partly related to Continue reading

Announcing the mentors in the Beef Researcher Mentorship Program

Last month we proudly announced the launch of the Beef Researcher Mentorship Program, a new initiative that will facilitate greater engagement of upcoming and new applied researchers with Canada’s beef industry. Three researchers were selected as inaugural participants: Drs. Emma McGeough, Bill Biligetu and Raquel Rodriquez Doce.

These researchers have now been paired with notable leaders in Canada’s beef industry. Mentors will help the researchers build the knowledge, skills and network needed to deliver successful applied research and extension programs of benefit to our industry through ongoing discussions and by initiating various introductions, tours and meetings. The mentors will be valuable resources of information about day-to-day cattle and forage production, industry structure and influences, and perspectives on industry challenges and opportunities at regional and national levels.

The BCRC is pleased to announce the 2014/15 Beef Researcher Mentorship Program mentors: Continue reading

Creating a forage industry chair to maintain research expertise


Click to open fact sheet
Cow-calf producers in Western Canada have widely adopted extended fall and/winter grazing practices using both annual and perennial forages. However, competition with high value annual crops has resulted in higher land prices and decreased land base for forage production in many beef producing areas. Therefore, having expertise in integration of land, plant and animal management is critical to increasing the productivity of both the forage land base and cow herd.

Work funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster is supporting the establishment of a permanent Western Canada Forage Industry Chair at the University of Manitoba. The project will also provide leadership and technology transfer for Continue reading