The Global Cattle Cycle

Canfax Research Services presents the fourth fact sheet in the series sponsored by Merck Animal Health.

Global cattle inventories have declined 2.8 per cent since 2004. Global beef production has declined only 0.6 per cent, with productivity gains offsetting some of the decline in numbers. As productivity gains occur in reproductive efficiency, survival rates and carcass weights, fewer cows are actually needed to produce the same amount of beef. It also means that for every cow removed from the herd a larger volume of beef is being removed and further productivity gains are needed to offset the loss. Continue reading

Genomics 101

Genomics, the study of DNA sequences, has received a lot of interest and research investment in the beef and cattle industry.  Genomics is important to the industry, especially the seedstock sector, because it has the potential to substantially reduce production costs and improve the value of beef and cattle.  For example, if DNA tests could accurately predict the genetic merit of a potential breeding animal (for mature cow size, feed efficiency or tenderness, for example), culling decisions could be made at birth and save the breeder a lot of time, effort and expense.

All living animals have a genetic blueprint, which is recorded in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Based on the DNA blueprint’s instructions, protein from the diet is digested into approximately 20 different amino acids.  The amino acids are absorbed into the bloodstream, travel to various locations in the body, and then assemble into new proteins.  Proteins make up several important parts of cattle, including enzymes, hormones, hooves, hair, horns, skin, muscles, ligaments, tendons, internal organs, cartilage, and even parts of the skeleton. Continue reading

It Happened Again: Internet Video of Mistreatment of Cows

This is a guest post written by the CCA’s Ryder Lee, in collaboration with Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director.

California processor Central Valley Meat Co. is the subject of a recent Internet animal cruelty video released by anti-meat organization, ‘Compassion over Killing.’ The video captured instances of inhumane handling practices that are not condoned by the beef and cattle industry or the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suspended operations at the company pending investigation of the animal welfare issues cited in the video.  The plant reopened after federal officials approved corrective action plans to improve the treatment of animals. As a result of the video, major customers, including McDonald’s Corp., cancelled or suspended contracts with the company. Continue reading

Alternative Feeds: Soybean Straw and Kochia

Alternative feeds can help reduce feed costs or stretch feed supplies, but it’s important to take the time to understand the nutritional quality of the feeds that are available, and become aware of any potential health risks to your cattle by including them in feed rations.

A producer from South-Central Manitoba who has had to pull his cows off dry pasture early recently asked us about feeding soybean straw and kochia. Continue reading

What beef research information would YOU like to know?

Research and innovation are both necessary for the Canadian beef industry to stay competitive, but continual completion of research studies and development of new tools by scientists in itself is not enough.  In order for the industry to benefit, cow-calf producers, feedlots, veterinarians, packers and other stakeholders must be able to understand and apply new ideas and technologies to their operations and clearly see the benefits of doing so.

Industry has proven that it will quickly adopt new methods when effective technology transfer services are available, as evident by the use of implants, extending winter grazing, and feedlot nutrition technologies to name a few.  But the availability of extension services has significantly declined in the past 20 years due to government budgetary cutbacks.  That’s why the BCRC is committed to improving knowledge dissemination and technology transfer in the Canadian beef industry by supporting organizations that do great work on the extension front, and by filling in gaps. Continue reading