Updated Livestock Transport Regulations and What You Need to Know


Changes to the Transport of Animal’s Regulations

Changes to the Transport of Animals Regulations (Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations) came into effect in February of 2020 and are being actively enforced.

There are four major changes in the new regulations focusing on:

  • categorizing animals fit for transport,
  • record keeping for transporters,
  • required feed, water and rest times and
  • contingency planning.

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Vaccines Are Cheap Insurance – Don’t Let Your Premiums Lapse

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the May 2022 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.


black and white faced calf and cow on green grass
After last summer’s pasture conditions and last winter’s feed costs, it’s safe to say that many cow-calf producers are facing the upcoming grazing season with some anxiety. Some are looking for new grazing arrangements, opportunities to trim input costs, or both. No single solution can solve every challenge for every operation, but nearly all decisions have trade-offs. Using a community pasture or other shared grazing arrangement may reduce pasture costs but mixing different herds can spread reproductive (and other) diseases. This risk is magnified if you’re tempted to save costs this year by skimping on your vaccination program.

The February and March editions of this column drew from a large beef cow productivity study that happened to coincide with the 2001-02 drought in Western Canada. That study also revealed how important vaccination programs are to maintaining reproductive performance. These results were published in Livestock Science 163:126-139 and Theriogenology 79:1083-1094; 81:840-848.

What They Did:

To recap, Dr. Cheryl Waldner and her colleagues from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine studied the productivity of over 30,000 beef cows in over 200 well-managed herds in Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C. Participating producers individually identified each cow and calf, recorded all calf births (including abortions), maintained an active veterinary-client-patient relationship, had good animal handling facilities, pregnancy tested all breeding females, had a veterinarian evaluate all herd bulls, had an established spring or summer breeding season (i.e., didn’t calve year-round), and worked with the researchers to collect the needed samples and data.

As part of the study, they compared the pregnancy and abortion rates in these herds, based on whether they used community pastures and whether they vaccinated their cows against BVD and IBR before the breeding season. These two diseases don’t just affect calves; they can also reduce reproductive success in cows. Continue reading

How Telemedicine Can Be a Tool to Support the Health of Your Herd

Bov-Innovation: How telemedicine can be a tool to support the health of your herd


Pictured from left: Dr. Elizabeth Homerosky, Dr. Eugene Janzen, Alberta rancher Stephen Hughes and Dr. Tommy Ware

Picture this: you are checking calves and notice one is wobbly and having trouble. The closest bovine veterinarian is two hours away, but you are unsure whether this calf truly requires medical attention. You don’t want to waste the veterinarian’s afternoon, or yours, checking on what might be a non-emergency, but you could use an expert opinion. It may be possible to video call for a quick answer.

Veterinary telemedicine provides a unique opportunity to improve and streamline the way producers access their veterinarians and how veterinarians provide care to rural producers.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I guess a video is worth a thousand miles,” says Elizabeth Homerosky, DVM, Msc, DABVP, who practices near Airdrie, Alberta. “It’s hard for us to get to a lot of these operations quite regularly throughout the winter, so we feel like we have eyes on the cows and eyes on the place.”

In the following clip, presented during last year’s Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC) Bov-Innovation session, Dr. Homerosky and Dr. Tommy Ware, DVM, both with Veterinary Agri-Health Services, discuss the value of videos captured by producers as another tool to help monitor and treat herd health issues in remote locations.

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Looking to Cut Costs this Spring? Think Twice before Cutting Vitamins, Minerals, and Vaccinations



With increasing input costs and many regions having poor growing conditions in recent years, there is pressure this spring to reduce input costs wherever possible. It is important to make these decisions carefully – sometimes the short-term savings are out-weighed by much greater long-term costs. Skimping on your vaccination or vitamin and mineral programs may save you in the short term, but can set you up for long-lasting negative consequences. 
 

Not meeting minimum nutritional needs increases treatment and death rates 

While vitamin and mineral supplements may seem like an added or unwanted cost, maintaining or enhancing your nutrition program can help prevent both reproductive wrecks and sickness in the future.  

Vitamin supplementation becomes even more critical during and after drought. Vitamins A and E come from leafy green plants, so these vitamins are likely to be deficient when cows are eating drought-impacted forages. Calves born the spring following a drought have a much higher risk of vitamin A deficiency, and calves with severe vitamin A deficiency are nearly three times more likely to die than those with higher vitamin A levels. Vitamin A can be provided in an injectable form, but the typical vitamin A, D and E injectable supplement does not contain enough vitamin E to improve an animal’s mineral status and vitamin E must be supplemented another way.  
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How (and Why) These Eastern Canadian Cow-Calf Producers Changed and Defined Their Calving Periods

There are many interconnected variables that affect, or are affected by, calving season. Considerations such as infrastructure and facilities to remove and house bulls following a defined breeding season, herd size, regional market prices, targeted weaning time and labour availability are a few factors that impact a calving period.

These producers did their homework and planned ahead before shifting their calving seasons in order to meet the needs of their particular farms and families.

Spencer Yeo, Nova Scotia – Shorten Calving Period from Twelve to Six Weeks

Six years ago, Spencer Yeo who now farms in Nova Scotia had a large calving window, with the bull in year-round. About 60% of his herd calved during a 12-week timeframe but there were always stragglers which meant a lot of extra nights checking cows. Yeo had a small herd and was selling calves direct from the farmyard. With a mix of weights and smaller calves pulling the average price down, he saw an opportunity for change.

Spencer Yeo, Nova Scotia – Shorten Calving Period from Twelve to Six Weeks


“If you’re going to adjust your calving window, you need to make sure your cows are in good shape to do it successfully.” – Spencer Yeo, Nova Scotia

Yeo aimed to transition to a six-week calving period to help with time management as he also works off-farm full-time. He chose to aim for February calving because it is typically a little warmer then, in his region. It is also a time of year when he has the most free-time, and it was when the majority of his cows were already calving so he was working with the herd versus against them.

The transition occurred within a single year with the breeding season shortened to May 1 through mid-June. Preg checking occurred in August, and any open females were sold. This worked well as cull cow prices were seasonally higher in August versus later in the fall, which resulted in extra income. Bull management includes the option of leasing out for a few months or selling after the breeding season. Yeo replaces the bull every two years, so only has to deal with a bull in the off-season every other year. Continue reading

Adapting to a Changing Climate

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.
beef cattle grazing alfalfa in bloom
I had a National Geographic poster of “Ice Age Mammals of the Alaskan Tundra” on my bedroom wall when I was a kid. It showed herds of prehistoric muskoxen, horses, wolves, lemmings, bears, lions, mammoths, camels, saber-toothed tigers, mastodons and humans marauding across a vast, grassy expanse 12,000 years ago. The muskoxen, bears, wolves and lemmings still live in Alaska. The lions, camels and horses moved to other parts of the world where the climate suited them better. The saber-toothed tigers, mammoths and mastodons went extinct. When archaeologists found the frozen remains of these animals, they dug deeper and uncovered the fossils of duckbilled dinosaurs from millions of years earlier when conditions were hot and tropical.

Earth’s climate is always changing. Volcanoes, bogs, soil and animals exhale greenhouse gases, and plants and the oceans absorb them. Since industrialization, human burning of fossil fuels has emitted greenhouse gases faster than the natural environment can sequester them. Climate models predict how changing greenhouse gas levels will impact future global temperature and precipitation patterns.

Climate models resemble economic models – both are constantly being tweaked and improved as better data becomes available, and both are subject to “noise” that temporarily obscures long-term trends. Economic forecasters consider historical and current data about an industry and the larger economy to predict future trends. Unforeseen shocks like BSE or a pandemic cause significant short- to medium-term disruptions that might make people think the economic model is broken. But over time, long-term trends shine through (e.g., trends towards agricultural consolidation with fewer and larger pharmaceutical and equipment companies, farms, feedlots, packers and retailers). Similarly, volcanoes, solar dimming or cyclical El Nino or La Nina weather patterns can temporarily obscure long-term climate trends. Even if we don’t like where trends are pointing, understanding them can help us respond appropriately. Continue reading

Cracking the Code on Grazing Management Terminology: Animal Units, AUMs, & How to Apply Them


mixed beef cattle grazing green grass
Does it feel like grazing management information is shrouded in acronyms and terms that boggle the mind on first glance? Do you struggle to decipher terms like animal unit equivalents? And how does one go about calculating AUMs and then applying those numbers? Be reassured, you’re not alone! There’s a lot going on when sorting through the finer points of grazing management and figuring out how to work through the many calculations.

A good starting point is defining a grazing animal in terms of how much forage it requires to meet its nutritional demands. We know that grazing animals’ forage needs differ depending on class, weight, age and stage of production. And in order to account for those differences, it’s helpful to create a baseline in order to quantify forage demand. Continue reading

USask Announces New Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization Chair

Bree Kelln, Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization chair at University of Saskatchewan


Bree Kelln is the new Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization Chair at the University of Saskatchewan.
(Photo:  Janelle Wilson)

Related: New Research Chair at USask will Help Maximize Environmental, Economic Benefits of Forage Crops

By Brett Makulowich, University of Saskatchewan

Bree Kelln has been selected as the new Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization (IFMU) Chair for the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

Kelln will be the first person to hold the new research chair position that was created to address a gap in forage research. A 2012 assessment concluded lack of research and development investment in the Canadian forage industry meant advances in forage had not kept pace with developments in other crops. The beef and cattle industry are increasingly seeing forages as a high-value feed source that also provide significant environmental benefits.

“We’re delighted to welcome Bree Kelln into her new role at the University of Saskatchewan,” said Dr. Angela Bedard-Haughn (PhD), dean of the USask College of Agriculture and Bioresources. “She brings a wealth of knowledge from her previous experience with industry that involved agronomy, livestock, and extension.” Continue reading

Coming Soon! A New, Improved User Experience at BeefResearch.ca


Coming Soon! A New, Improved User Experience at BeefResearch.ca
Canada’s premier online resource for science-based beef cattle and forage information is evolving into an even more valuable resource for beef industry stakeholders.

For almost a decade, BeefResearch.ca has been a hub for timely content and practical tools for Canadian beef producers, veterinary teams and researchers. In the coming weeks, the BCRC will launch new web functionality that will greatly improve the user experience. Thanks to the Check-Off dollars that beef producers have invested in our industry, and support from Canada’s Beef Science Cluster, the BCRC is able to enhance BeefResearch.ca and continue to develop useful resources to meet the needs of the industry.

Stay tuned for the unveiling of a new and improved BeefResearch.ca this spring! Sign up to be notified when this and other new beef or forage information drops. Continue reading

Two Methods, Four Steps for Calculating Carrying Capacity



Carrying capacity, also known as grazing capacity, is the amount of forage available for grazing animals in a specific pasture or field. Calculating the correct carrying capacity will help you determine a proper stocking rate that maintains productivity of both your animals and forage while encouraging the sustained health of the grassland resources.

Stocking rate is the number of animals on a pasture for a specified time period and is usually expressed in Animal Unit Months (AUMs) per unit area.

One way to determine carrying capacity is to obtain past stocking rates and grazing management information and assess the condition of the pasture. But what if the historical stocking rate data is not available or you are unsure of its accuracy and reliability?

Carrying capacity can be calculated using several different techniques. All of them depend on some trial and error as they are monitored and adjusted over time. When calculating carrying capacity, it boils down to three questions:

  1. How much forage is available?
  2. How much of that forage can be used by grazing animals?
  3. How many animals can graze on that piece of land and for how long?


BCRC Carrying Capacity Calculator
The BCRC Carrying Capacity Calculator provides a road map for answering these questions using two separate methods: 1) forage estimates based on provincial guides and 2) field-based sampling, also known as the clip and weigh method. Each method contains four steps. Continue reading