2014: BCRC’s top 10 blog articles

This past year we published 74 blog posts that offered production tips, science-based perspectives on issues in the media, highlighted new beef, cattle and forage research projects and results, and announced other exciting initiatives. Of those, these were the top 10 most popular:

10. Next time you process cattle, pull tail hairs

Cow-calf producers, both purebred and commercial, can use the information gained by pulling and DNA testing their animals’ tail hairs in several ways. Whether it is sire verification, trait selection, or testing for genetic defects, all can be useful management tools.

This article explained the value of DNA testing with detailed instructions for producers.


9. Details of 26 new research projects funded by Canada’s Beef Science Cluster

The second Beef Science Cluster is well underway with projects that will Continue reading

Improving tenderness in beef cuts

There are a number of commercially available DNA tests for beef tenderness that effectively identify differences in ribeye tenderness related to post-mortem aging. Unfortunately, the beef cuts that need the most improvement are those that are tough due to connective tissue, which does not respond to aging. Additionally, there are theoretical concerns that selecting for feed efficiency may reduce beef tenderness.

Research currently underway and funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster is working to gain a better understanding of the genetic factors underlying differences in tenderness among different muscles.

This is an important Continue reading

Feed Barley Breeding Investments

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

As a relatively small crop, barley doesn’t attract much interest from private breeding companies. There are roughly 10 million acres of barley in North America, with six million in Canada.  Corn is a much larger crop, with 80 million acres seeded in the U.S. alone. Statistics Canada reports that Canada’s barley acreage has dropped by around 116,000 acres per year since 1980, while corn acreage increased by nearly 23,000 acres annually. At the same time, corn yields increased three times as fast as barley (1.8 bushels per acre per year for corn vs. less than half a bushel per acre per year for barley). These differences add up. In 2014, Canada produced almost 25% more corn than barley, using about half as many acres.

Part of the reason that corn yields have outstripped barley yields is due to fundamental differences in the plants themselves. Corn is open-pollinated, so breeding companies can cross two unrelated varieties to create a commercial variety that greatly outperforms both of its parents because of hybrid vigor. But if the seed produced by the hybrid is saved and re-seeded, Continue reading

Developing efficient, multi-pathogen tests for common cattle diseases

Respiratory and enteric diseases are the most common and costly diseases in beef cattle. Both of these types of diseases are multi-factorial disease complexes meaning they involve several viruses and bacteria.Currently these diseases are diagnosed using single pathogen tests making the process very inefficient because each pathogen involved requires a separate test. Effective control of these diseases can benefit from a rapid and cost effective diagnostic test where all relevant pathogens can be tested for in a single assay.

Research currently underway and funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster is working to develop two Continue reading