Results of Canada’s most recent beef carcass quality audit

The ultimate goal of the National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) is to continually improve the value of Canadian beef carcasses by delivering a consistent high quality, safe product to consumers domestically and around the world.

Regular audits help the industry to identify management practices that influence beef quality, and measure improvements in the quality of Canadian beef over time.

The NBQA study collects and analyses carcass data in packing plants in eastern and western Canada, including all classes of cattle. The results identify various carcass quality defects, including Continue reading

EPDs: What do all those numbers mean?

This is a guest post written by Karin Schmid, Beef Production Specialist with the Alberta Beef Producers.

Bull buying season is upon us.  If your house is anything like my family’s, most available surfaces are now piled high with catalogues advertising the next great herdsire. There are many factors that play a role in choosing a new bull for your operation (visual observation, breed, pedigree, actual birth weight, residual feed intake (RFI), weaning weights, breeding soundness evaluation, etc.), but one tool that can aid in herdsire selection has led to a lot of confusion since its first use over 40 years ago. Let’s decipher this valuable tool so you can expertly evaluate potential herdsires as you flip through those sale catalogues. Continue reading

A painful subject

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted with permission.

Canada’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling

of Beef Cattle lays out industry’s expectations about how cattle should be managed to ensure they are well cared for throughout their lives. This has value in explaining and defending our industry to regulators and the public. Canada’s current code was developed over 20 years ago, and industry practices, scientific knowledge and public interest in the welfare of livestock have evolved considerably since then. A new, updated draft Code of Practice is available for public comment until March 8.

The new draft code makes a much stronger statement about dehorning and castration. The current code recommends that Continue reading

Footrot and other cattle lameness: video

The word ‘footrot’ is often mistakenly used to refer to many types of lameness in cattle. Footrot is a bacterial infection between the two claws of the foot. It is typically caused by the Fusobacterium necrophorum bacterium, which invades damaged or injured feet. Because footrot is a bacterial infection to the fleshy part of the foot, this type of lameness can be treated with antibiotics.

There are several different types of lameness, many of which cannot be treated with antibiotics. Whenever possible, producers should closely inspect the feet to determine the type of lameness in order to choose the appropriate treatment. An improper diagnosis can lead to unnecessary administration of antimicrobials, prolonged discomfort to the animal and increasing loss of production. If a lame animal does not improve with antibiotics, it does not have footrot.

The latest video in the Beef Research School series features Continue reading

New video explains the use of RFI to select for feed efficiency

A new episode is now available on

Efficient feed conversion has always been a priority to cattle feeders, and is increasingly on the minds of cow-calf producers as record high feed costs and conversion of grassland to crop acres substantially increase winter feeding costs. Feed efficiency is heritable, so by selecting feed efficient sires and dams, feeder offspring will consume less feed to reach a finished weight, and seedstock offspring should require less feed to maintain a healthy body weight. In addition to lower feed requirements, improved feed efficiency will also Continue reading

Food Safety Research on Mechanically Tenderized Beef

This is a guest post written by Mark Klassen, Director of Technical Services for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and Canada Beef Inc.

Mechanical tenderization is a process that typically utilizes a set of needles or blades which penetrate meat, cutting through muscle fibers and connective tissue to improve tenderness. Mechanical tenderization has been widely utilized in Canada to enhance the eating quality of beef for many years.

During the 2012 recall of beef from XL Foods Inc., there were five reported cases of illness thought to be associated with the consumption and/or handling of mechanically tenderized product. Consequently, Health Canada is now undertaking a risk assessment to examine the safety of mechanically tenderized beef and to provide guidance around cooking temperatures.

To ensure the best information is available to Government and the Canadian beef industry, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) has instigated further food safety research. The research is focused on four aspects related to the safety of mechanically tenderized beef. Continue reading