Get ‘em out, get ‘em up, get ‘em fed, write ‘em down… Rawhide!

A version of this article, written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the January 2021 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

It’s called calving difficulty for a reason. They’re difficult to deliver, it’s difficult for the calf to survive, it’s difficult to watch it die, and it’s difficult to lose the $1,250 the calf could have sold for in fall. The Beef Cattle Research Council’s 2019 Adoption Rates of Recommended Practices by Cow-Calf Operators in Canada report indicated that around half of all preweaning death losses occur within 24 hours after birth, with a significant proportion of those attributed to calving difficulties. How you help a calf in the first few hours after a difficult birth is critical to determining whether it will survive to weaning or not.

It’s well known that providing timely calving assistance, effective calf resuscitation and colostrum are critical. But how you do these things is just as important as what you do. These calves have already been through a lot – providing the wrong kind of help can make it harder for them to survive. Sometimes doing the wrong thing is also harder for you. Continue reading

What’s been done and what’s next? An update from our Executive Director, Andrea Brocklebank

We are pleased to provide our annual report in two formats to highlight some of our deliverables and challenges in 2020. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with feedback at info@beefresearch.ca.

Who is the BCRC?

Video guide:

0:38-1:32 – Who we are
1:33-5:40 – How we were impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic
5:41-11:46 – What we are funding
7:25 – Example: Cattle transport and rest stops research (Learn more here.)
9:20 – Example: Nutritional value of beef compared to other protein sources research (Learn more here.)
10:36 – Example: Environmental sustainability of beef production (Learn more here.)
11:47- 19:58 – How we deliver research results to you
15:32 – Example: A tool for producers to help evaluate feed test results (Try it here.)
17:37 – Example: Carry capacity calculator (Try it here.)
18:37 – Example: Forage U-Pick interactive tool (Try it here.)
19:59-22:56 – Our priorities in 2021

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is Canada’s industry-led funding agency for beef, cattle and forage research. Its mandate is to determine research and development priorities for the Canadian beef cattle industry and to administer the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off funds allocated to research. The BCRC is led by a 14-member Council, comprised of 13 producers and one member at large, who proportionally represent each province’s research allocation of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off.

The BCRC is completing its third year of a ten-year plan presented with the increase in Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off in 2018/19. The allocation of check-off funding to beef research increased to be in line with the National Strategy recommendations – acknowledging historic under funding of research and the need to address many significant priorities.

BCRC continues to operate within a 10-year plan in an effort to manage multi-year research funding contracts (3 to 10 years in length). This plan is built on the assumption that provincial allocations of the national check-off to research will remain unchanged moving forward. Continue reading

Have 15 Minutes? Make an Impact on the Future of Beef Research



As someone who follows the BCRC Blog, you’re almost guaranteed to be what we call a ‘Canadian beef industry stakeholder’, meaning you

  • own or manage beef cattle,
  • conduct research on beef, cattle or forages,
  • are a large animal veterinarian,
  • own or work for an abattoir/beef processor,
  • are a government employee in a beef-related role,
  • work or volunteer for an organization that actively supports the beef industry, or
  • have another valuable role that supports and relies on Canadian beef production.

You hold a stake in the industry, so the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) relies on your input on research and extension issues.

When you answer these 16 questions by March 5th, you will inform the next five-year Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy and impact the long-term competitiveness of the Canadian beef industry.


Continue reading

Top 10 Articles of 2020



Throughout the past year, the BCRC published two or three times a week on our blog. Most articles offer science-based perspectives on issues impacting Canada’s beef value supply chain, from cow-calf production and feedlot through to retail. Some of the articles feature new research, while others focus on beef production tips and practical insights.

Below is a list of the BCRC’s Top 10 blog posts of the year (plus a bonus post, because it’s 2020 and we all deserve a little something extra).

What were some of your favourite articles from the year? Which posts do you think should have made the list? Comment below and tell us what you would like to see in 2021. Continue reading

Meet the council: thinking outside the box pays off

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is made up of producer members from across Canada, representing and appointed by each of the provincial beef organizations that allocate part of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off to research. The number of members from each province is proportional to the amount of provincial allocation to research.

The following is part three in a series to introduce you to this group of innovative thinkers that set BCRC’s direction by sharing practices, strategies, or technologies that they have integrated into their own operations. Read part one and part two of this series.

Although location and climate vary among these three producers, trying new and different systems have helped them save time and money, and enabled them to diversify their operations.

Corn Grazing to Get Cattle Through the Winter

Ryan Beierbach – Saskatchewan

Ryan and his family ranch near Whitewood, Saskatchewan, where they try to keep cattle grazing as many days of the year as possible. Cattle are selected to tolerate winter on the prairies as they strive to select easy-doing, deep and thick heifers as replacements. They use Hereford bulls on Black Angus cows then use Angus bulls on the heifers they keep as replacements. Continue reading

Are E. coli Really Becoming More Heat Resistant?

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

The past few columns have talked about how antibiotic use contributes to antibiotic resistant bacteria. The same survival-of-the-fittest principle applies to environmental stresses like heat.

Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli (STEC, including E. coli O157:H7) are the main food safety concern in Canadian beef processing facilities. High temperatures kill E. coli, so for many years large beef processing facilities have used hot water and steam to sanitize knives, equipment, carcasses and meat, and refrigeration to inhibit subsequent microbial re-growth. But if packing plants routinely use heat-based treatments to combat microbial contamination, will STEC and other E. coli eventually become heat-resistant and pose a risk to food safety? Continue reading

Meeting Your Production Goals: Records for Animal Health and Performance – Webinar January 13th



Keeping track of your animal health treatments and performance indicators throughout the year can be useful information to have when evaluating your production goals. Having readily accessible records can also be handy when marketing cattle to prospective buyers. This webinar will discuss the records for animal health and performance to support your production goals.

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

When
Wednesday, January 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

Continue reading

Calving Season Timing and Transition – Fast Forward, Rewind, or Press Play

For many cow-calf producers, calving season is a favourite time of year. After waiting 283 days, farmers are finally able to see the result of their breeding decisions as well as welcome a new crop of animals that will likely become a large portion of their annual revenue.

Just as every farm operates with an independent set of circumstances, and every farmer is unique themselves, calving season is going to look different on every operation. There is no one right method or time of year to calve a cow herd.

There are many interconnected variables that affect – or are affected – by calving season. Length and timing of breeding season, bull power, grazing and feed resources, target weaning time, marketing windows and methods, heifer development, mortgage payment deadlines, herd size, available labour, infrastructure, and tradition are a few different factors that play an important part in calving.

Looking at survey data over the past thirty years, there has been a trend, at least in western Canada, with producers transitioning from late winter/early spring calving in February and March, to later calving in April, May or June. Whether producers are thinking about making a shift in timing, or simply reassessing their decision to calve when they do, they should think about the risks and rewards of timing their most critical phase in cow-calf operations. What are the advantages or disadvantages of keeping the same season? What are the greatest challenges during calving on my farm and how can I manage them? What are the benefits of my existing calving season, and what are the drawbacks? How much labour do I need and how much do I have to get the job done?

The following producers have done their homework and planned ahead before shifting their seasons back or ahead in order to meet the needs of their particular farms and families. Continue reading

Eleven Ways to Avoid Feed Waste this Winter


Top layer spoiled silage in a bunk. Photo credit: Les Halliday

Harvesting, storing and delivering a beef herd’s winter rations are the largest expense for most operations. Even small improvements in a winter feed system can result in significant feed cost savings.

Whether a winter feed system uses a silage bunk or pit, baled forage, or swath grazing, significant feed waste losses can happen. Spoilage, mould, trampling, and weather are just a few examples of how losses can occur.

In addition to the expense of the feed lost, cow-calf operations can experience significant reproductive losses from spoiled or low-quality feed such as cows failing to rebreed the following breeding season and poor calf performance. Continue reading