Molecular factors influencing maintenance energy requirements in mature beef cows

Feed costs represent a significant input cost in the cow-calf sector. The majority of the feed energy needed by the cow is used to meet the animal’s ‘maintenance requirements’. During pregnancy, cows may be able to reprioritize their energy use, which allows the cow to use less energy to maintain herself, and divert more towards the growing calf.

Better understanding maintenance requirements and energy metabolism in the mature cow may lead to the development of management and nutritional approaches that improve feed efficiency of cows.

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How to do a rangeland health assessment: videos

Rangeland, or range, can perform a number of valuable functions for both the livestock industry as well the general public. Rangeland is defined as land that supports indigenous or introduced vegetation that is either grazed or has the potential to be grazed and is managed as a natural ecosystem. By evaluating its health, cattle producers can manage their grazing lands for optimal, sustainable forage production.

The benefits of maintaining healthy rangeland for livestock producers include:

  • Lower feed costs
  • Renewable and reliable source of forage production
  • Stability of forage production during drought
  • Greater flexibility and efficiency for alternate grazing seasons (fall or winter)
  • Lower maintenance costs like weed control
  • Does not require the input of inorganic fertilizers and other soil amedments and additives
  • Reduced concern for noxious weeds

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Do it Early, Do it Right

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

Canada’s new voluntary Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle was released on September 6. The code (available at lays out guidelines pertaining to everyday beef cattle production practices. Like the 1991 version, the new code includes both should-do’s (recommendations) and must-do’s (requirements).The code was developed with input from cattle producers, industry stakeholders, veterinarians, researchers, government agencies, and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. A notable change in the new code relates to pain management when castrating and dehorning. This reflects two decades of change in society and the tremendous amount of research into these practices.

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Retained ownership and feeder basis

Editor’s note: Markets appear favorable for retained ownership of calves this year. By retaining ownership, producers can reap the benefits of a genetic selection program and other investments made in calves, such as the use of low-stress weaning techniques. Risk management is advised to producers that retain ownership.

Read on for details of the economics in an article written by Brian Perillat, Canfax Manager/Senior Analyst, which originally appeared in the October 4, 2013 issue of the Canfax Weekly Market Outlook and Analysis (available to Canfax subscribers). It is reprinted with permission.

Although calf and feeder prices have been quite strong so far this fall, generally $5-$15/cwt stronger than a year ago, a bullish tone in the cattle futures markets and a bearish tone in the feed market has producers looking at the opportunity to background or retain ownership of their calves. Continue reading

Does cow nutrition during pregnancy affect gene expression in the calf?

Traditional wisdom holds that an animal’s genetics and the environment it lives in can both affect feed efficiency (and other traits). In contrast, an animal’s genes do not directly influence the environment, and the environment does not directly influence an individual’s genes. Genetic influences are passed on from parents to offspring, while environmental influences are not.

There is growing evidence that the situation is not that straightforward; in some cases the environment may have a direct impact on the expression of an individual’s genes. This environmental impact might also be inherited, and is called epigenetics. Continue reading