Cost of Manure Management



Manure, when used properly, is a valuable resource for the cropping or forage sectors, but handling it comes with a cost. While many producers extensively winter feed their cattle which reduces or eliminates the cost and time associated with manure removal, hauling and application, this article discusses traditional management of livestock manure.

The traditional management of livestock manure involves removal from drylot pens each spring to be utilized as fertilizer on crop or pasture, in either raw or composted form. The application of manure has short-term and long-term effects on crop yields. In the short term, the addition of nutrients (such as nitrogen) in manure may immediately increase yields. In the long-term, increases in yields may be due to delayed nutrient release or improvements in soil quality as the result of a series of complex interactions between the nutrients, organic matter and organisms in the manure and the existing conditions of the soil. Continue reading

Prevent external parasites from bugging your cattle Webinar March 12, 2020



External parasites can reduce weight gains, cause losses in milk and meat production, produce general weakness, cause mange and severe dermatitis, and create sites for secondary invasion of disease organisms. This webinar will discuss methods on how to prevent and treat external parasites on cattle.



Registering on your smartphone? After you click ‘I am not a robot’, scroll up until you find the task to complete.

When
Thursday, March 12th at 7:00 pm MT

  • 6:00pm in BC
  • 7:00pm in AB
  • 8:00pm in SK and MB
  • 9:00pm in ON and QC
  • 10:00pm in NS, NB and PEI

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Barley Comes up the Backstretch

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Like cattle performance, crop yields reflect the interplay between genetics, management practices and environmental conditions. Statistics Canada reports show that barley yields weren’t keeping up with other feed crops for decades. Barley yields increased 0.39 bushels/acre/year between 1980 and 2009, slower than either wheat (0.44) or corn (1.66). But since 2010, Canada’s barley yields have improved faster (1.32) than both wheat (0.84) and corn (0.66). This apparent tripling of barley yield gains is remarkable, especially considering that canola, corn and wheat development receive tremendous research investment, and their expanding acreages have squeezed barley’s shrinking acres onto less productive farmland.

Canada’s beef industry can share some credit for barley’s improved performance. Alberta Beef Producers, Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association and the Beef Cattle Research Council have supported Alberta Agriculture’s Field Crop Development Center, where Dr. Flavio Capettini leads Canada’s only dedicated feed and forage barley breeding program. This team’s work under the 2013-18 Beef Science Cluster illustrates how much effort it takes to breed a new, improved feed grain variety. Continue reading

Putting Your Check-off Dollars to Work through Research

This article was written jointly by the Canadian Beef Check-Off Agency and the Beef Cattle Research Council. 

The Canadian Beef Cattle Check-off

If you sell cattle in Canada, you pay check-off.  Your beef check-off funds beef market development, promotion and research.

The Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off is deducted on every head of beef cattle marketed in Canada. While the provincial check-off or service fee can vary by province, the national portion of the check-off, most commonly referred to as the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off or national check-off, is $2.50 per head in all provinces with the exception of Ontario, currently at $1.00 per head.

The Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off is allocated to marketing, research, and public and stakeholder engagement by the provincial cattle associations that remit the check-off. Since each province has unique needs and priorities, each province designates a chosen percentage of the national portion of the check-off from their province that they wish to allocate to each of the three functions (marketing, research, and public and stakeholder engagement). Continue reading

Top tips for a smooth calving season



The most important day of a calf’s life is the first one. There are some key factors that play a role in whether or not a baby calf gets off to a good start and research has demonstrated that the first 24 hours of life are critical in order for a calf to survive to weaning and beyond.

Interventions – follow-up care is important

Dystocia, or calving complications, pose a health risk for both the newborn calf and the cow. While dystocia can be partially managed with careful breeding choices and culling practices, proper nutrition, and managing for a body condition score of 3 (on a scale of 1-5) before calving, difficult deliveries can still occur.

Every scenario is different, however once a water bag appears, a calf should hit the ground within one hour for cows, or up to one and a half hours for a first-calf heifer. If this doesn’t happen, intervention may be needed, especially if no progress has occurred for thirty minutes, the cow stops pushing, or there are other signs of trouble. If there is a problem, a water bag may not always appear, so be observant of other behaviours that signal labour, such as tail switching, restlessness, the appearance of membranes or discharge, or a kink in the cow’s tail.

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Assessing winter kill and what you can do about it: forage rejuvenation webinar February 13


Winter kill shown on the left. Photo submitted by Graeme Finn.

Several factors can influence the abundance of winter kill each year. This webinar will discuss how to assess winter kill in alfalfa and other species, and identify the next steps to rejuvenate the forage.

Registering on your smartphone? After you click ‘I am not a robot’, scroll up until you find the task to complete.

When
Thursday, February 13th at 7:00 pm MT

  • 6:00pm in BC
  • 7:00pm in AB
  • 8:00pm in SK and MB
  • 9:00pm in ON and QC
  • 10:00pm in NS, NB and PEI

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New $2.35-M USask research chair targets improved health and productivity in beef herds



Saskatoon, SK – With $2.35 million from the federal government and the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC), University of Saskatchewan (USask) veterinary researcher Dr. Cheryl Waldner will undertake a major five-year research program to advance beef cattle health and productivity, helping to sustain the profitability and competitiveness of Canada’s $17-billion-a-year beef industry.


USask veterinary researcher Dr. Cheryl Waldner is the new NSERC/BCRC Industrial Research Chair in One Health and Production-Limiting Diseases. Photo: Amanda Waldner

“This timely and cutting-edge research builds on our university’s strengths in agriculture and ‘One Health’ to help advance the livestock industry’s economic contributions to the country and ensure continued consumer confidence in the safety and quality of Canadian beef,” said USask President Peter Stoicheff in announcing the new chair Jan. 30.

The $750,000 award from the federal Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) is matched by $750,000 in producer check-off funding from the BCRC. USask is contributing $850,000. Continue reading

Improving your vision for the 2020 production year: New tools for on-farm record keeping in cow-calf operations



Are you curious about which areas of your operation are excelling? Or which areas of your operation that might need some work?

Are you interested in record keeping but not sure where to start?

Successful farm management begins with accurate and up to date records. The process of record keeping allows the farm manager to collect and save data so it can be analyzed and used to make better decisions and turn information into actions.

It is important for producers to identify what information is needed to support you in making management decisions. While collecting, maintaining, and analyzing records requires an investment in time, the ability to make decisions based on a known history of your particular farm is valuable. Dr. Harlan Hughes’ analysis of North Dakota cow/calf operations showed that those actively using their own farm data tended to have lower unit costs of production per pound of calf weaned. The operations that were using their own data were also the most profitable over time. The more information producers gather on their operations, the more efficient the knowledge and management of your herd becomes.



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Alternative Feeds: New Web Page



On most cattle operations, feed represents the largest single variable input cost. Livestock producers continually examine ways to reduce this cost and explore options to efficiently and safely feed their livestock. While hay, pasture, other forages and grains make up the largest component of livestock feed, there are many alternative feeds that can supplement and even improve the diet. Cost effective procurement of non-conventional feeds can increase profitability across the operation.

When faced with reduced supplies of good quality hay due to declining production acres and weather events such as late spring frosts, excessive rains or drought, many producers seek alternative feeds for their livestock. While these alternative feed sources can offer flexibility and low-cost options, feed testing and advice from a livestock nutritionist is recommended to ensure nutritional requirements of the type of cattle being fed are being met. Continue reading

Transportation Regulations are Changing

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.


Photo Credit to Agriculture Agri-Food Canada

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency will start phasing in its enforcement of Canada’s revised livestock transportation regulations on February 20. One of the most significant changes for cattle transporters is a reduction in the maximum time in transit before cattle must be off-loaded for feed, water and rest. Currently, cattle can be transported for 48 hours before a mandatory five-hour feed, water and rest stop. There is one exception; if a truck is less than four hours from its final destination when it reaches the 48-hour mark, it can continue to its destination without a rest stop. On February 20, this changes to a maximum of 36 hours before an eight-hour feed, water and rest stop, with no four-hour grace period. This change will likely have the greatest impact on feeder cattle and truckers travelling from Western to Central Canada, and cattle travelling from Central to Western Canada for slaughter.

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