Can the barrier function of the gut be improved to prevent disease?

The cells lining cattle’s digestive tracts have two seemingly contradictory functions: they need to absorb nutrients while also acting as a barrier to prevent disease causing organisms from entering the bloodstream.

Nutrient absorption has not been studied in great detail in ruminants, and barrier function even less so. The interplay between these two functions also raises the possibility that nutritional disruptions may also affect how well the gut can act as a barrier to pathogens.

Research currently underway, funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s second Beef Science Cluster, is working to better understand Continue reading

Where to find events and deadlines

Organizations across the country are continually hosting events to give you an inside look at important research and offer practical advice on how to implement new technologies, improve productivity, prevent a wreck or save costs.

These events are also a good opportunity to discuss how our industry is facing opportunities and challenges, and meet leading experts and other progressive cattlemen. Registration for many events are little or no cost to producers.

Visit our Events Calendar often to

  • view upcoming field days, seminars, conferences and other events in your area,
  • find out about online webinars to listen in on a live presentation right from your computer or phone,
  • be reminded of nomination, survey or application deadlines, and
  • discover related career opportunities in the beef and forage sectors.

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Webinar May 1: Improving feed efficiency in seedstock through genomics

Updated: Missed the webinar? Find the recording and check for future webinars on the Webinars page:

Feed efficiency is one of the most economically important traits in beef cattle production. For cow-calf producers, cows that maintain body condition easily have lower feed and pasture costs, rebreed sooner, and produce feeder offspring that could boost a producer’s reputation for supplying more efficient calves to feedlots. Improved feed efficiency in cattle also has environmental benefits through reduced manure and greenhouse gas production.

Register for this free webinar to hear from industry experts on why genomics, the study of DNA sequences, is receiving so much attention in the beef industry, how far our knowledge in this area has progressed, and how cow-calf producers today can use selection tools like residual feed intake (RFI) to gradually increase feed efficiency in their herds. You’ll also hear discussion on where livestock genomics research is expected to go from here. Continue reading

The High Cost of Shortchanging Cows

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Last month’s column talked about how cold, snowy winters increase the energy needs of cows, especially when wintered on pasture, and how cows will use their body fat reserves to maintain themselves if the feed doesn’t provide enough energy. Reproductive performance will drop if thin cows don’t recover their body condition.

A 2013 paper published by the Cheryl Waldner and Alvaro García Guerra of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon reported on a two-year study of over 30,000 beef cows from more than 200 herds across Western Canada (Theriogenology 79:1083-1094). Cows were Continue reading

Calculator: What is the Value of Preconditioning Calves?

Preconditioning is a management method that prepares calves to enter the feedlot, reducing stress and disease susceptibility. Preconditioned calves are weaned at least 30-45 days prior to sale, put on a vaccination program, and introduced to processed feedstuffs, feedbunks and waterbowls. The intent is to spread out the stressors that calves experience: weaning, vaccination, transportation, unfamiliar animals and environment, dietary changes, etc., so that the immune system is not overwhelmed.

Many studies have shown that preconditioned calves have a lower cost of gain at the feedlot with improved rates of gain and feed efficiency, as well as lower treatment rates and death loss. These attributes contribute to higher profits in later phases of beef production and allows cattle buyers to pay a premium for preconditioned calves. Additional weight gain during the preconditioning phase as well as reduced shrinkage associated with stress during transportation and the marketing process also contributes to higher returns from preconditioned calves.

While there are clear benefits to the feedlot for purchasing preconditioned calves, is it worthwhile to the cow-calf producer to retain ownership? Continue reading

Excellent opportunity for students: International Livestock Congress Calgary

Attention students:

Be sure to consider applying for the International Livestock Congress (ILC) Calgary Student Program. (Or if you know students interested in beef-related research, please encourage them to take a look at this.)

The ILC Calgary Student Program is open to senior level undergraduate and graduate students across Canada and around the world. Participants will visit Calgary, Alberta and surrounding areas July 8-11, 2014. Highlights will include:

  • tours of several facilities, including a feedlot, packing plant, and retailer (see the tour agenda)
  • attending the conference to learn and discuss some of the industry’s current challenges and opportunities (see the conference agenda)
  • meeting leaders and experts in Canada’s beef sector
  • visiting the 2014 Calgary Stampede

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Alberta Beef Producers accepting applications for research funding

Attention researchers:

The Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) is now accepting letters of intent (LOIs) for research and development that address objectives included in the National Beef Research Strategy.

As stated by ABP, “This is an extremely targeted call for proposals, designed to fulfill a very precise purpose, namely the leveraging of funds from other funding organizations for projects focused on one of two specific priority areas.” Continue reading