Selecting for improved feed efficiency and carcass quality: putting theory into practice

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A number of genomic markers for feedlot feed efficiency and beef tenderness were identified through research that was conducted during the first Beef Science Cluster. However, the potential impact of selecting for improved feed efficiency on maternal traits, meaning how choosing breeding stock to produce feed efficient offspring would impact cows’ winter feed requirements and reproductive traits for example, is unknown. The ability to sort cattle into more uniform slaughter groups based on genomic carcass quality markers had also not yet been studied.

Research currently underway and funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster is working to demonstrate the use and economic value of Continue reading

Managing a year-round mineral program that’s right for you: Webinar on Nov. 4

Updated November 6, 2014: Missed the webinar? Find the recording and check for future webinars on the Webinars page:

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Some herds across Canada aren’t getting enough of some necessary minerals, and yours might be one of them.

If animals’ mineral needs are not met, the results are costly. Without adequate mineral intake, cow-calf producers will see poor performance, disease resistance and reproduction in their herds. Mineral requirements for cattle depend on their weight, age, and expected performance (maintenance vs. weight gain vs. pregnancy). Mineral supplementation needs also depend on the feed, water and soil chemistry around the herd.

Register for this free webinar to hear from experts on how to develop and manage a mineral program that works for your cows to improve your bottom line. You’ll learn:

  • why the cost of buying minerals is worth the expense
  • which minerals to feed, at what concentrations and when
  • how to better understand mineral tags to compare different mixtures
  • advice on getting your cows to consume the right amount
  • how to troubleshoot an existing mineral program

You’ll also hear about the latest research done on mineral supplementation strategies, and have the opportunity to ask questions. Continue reading

Flipping for Mechanically Tenderized Beef

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

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All food surfaces carry bacteria, including steaks and roasts. Because beef cooks from the outside in, the outer surface is exposed to higher temperatures for a longer time than the inside of the beef. The heat of cooking will inactivate bacteria as long as they remain on the outside of cuts, and the surface is cooked thoroughly. That’s why steaks and roasts can be eaten rare. In ground beef, microbes from the surface get mixed throughout the beef, so consumers are encouraged to cook ground beef to an internal temperature of 71oC.

Mechanical tenderization pierces beef with small blades or fine needles. This cuts the connective tissue and makes the beef more tender. This improves the eating quality of lower cost, tougher beef cuts. Price and tenderness are two of the major drivers of consumer buying behavior and eating satisfaction, so mechanical tenderization has proven quite useful. Approximately 20% of Canadian beef is mechanically tenderized.

But if there are Continue reading

AAFC’s AgriInnovation Program accepting applications for funding

Attention innovators:

The Enabling Commercialization and Adoption stream of funding under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriInnovation Program is intended to help corporations and cooperatives to capitalize on innovative technologies, processes and services. The program began on April 1, 2013 and runs until March 31, 2018.

This stream helps support the demonstration, commercialization and adoption of agri-innovations. It is designed to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of the Canadian agri-based sector.

The BCRC encourages eligible applicants to submit proposals related to the objectives in the National Beef Research Strategy. Continue reading

Next time you process cattle, pull tail hairs

DNA Sampling and Application in the Cow Herd

This is a guest post written by Sean McGrath, a rancher and consultant from Vermilion, AB.

DNA is the genetic code that determines how an animal grows, performs and interacts with its environment. Every animal inherits DNA from its parents with ½ coming from the maternal side and ½ from the sire. The building blocks of DNA are four base pairs: Adenine (A), Thymine (T), Guanine (G) and Cystosine (C). DNA is arranged in long ‘double strings’ in which A and T are paired and C and G are paired. A ‘gene’ is an area of this double string that codes for a specific function in the animal. By substituting one or more base pairs in the gene (i.e.: replacing an AT pair with a GC pair) a different function may be expressed in the animal (i.e.: red coat colour vs. black).

Technology to examine DNA in cattle has been around for several years, however in the past it has been cost prohibitive. Newer technology called SNP (pronounced “snip”) has changed much of this and made DNA testing a viable option for beef producers, even at commercial industry levels. SNP technology looks for Continue reading

Upcoming 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.

Continue reading