Forage stand mixtures

Establishing new pastures can be expensive and producers often prioritize stand life over yield. Seeding complex mixtures of grasses and legumes that maintain highly diverse botanical composition in pastures can contribute to increased persistence, yield stability and improved productivity. Yields benefit from including highly productive as well as drought-tolerant species. While some species will not persist beyond the first three or four years, other species in the mix can fill in the gap to maintain overall yields, to a degree.

Schellenberg (2013)1 assessed the productivity and crude protein content of forage stands to determine if species show complementarity in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. The fast growing and highly competitive species dominated biomass production in the early establishment phase.  Including less productive species in the forage sward had minimal impact on pasture productivity or nutritional value under good growing conditions. However, less productive species should be included in pasture mixes when they bring beneficial traits (i.e. increasing nitrogen availability, drought resistance) to the forage stand that provide ‘insurance’ for less optimal years.

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Reminder: Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey deadline is Feb. 28

Every cow-calf producer in BC, AB, SK and MB is asked to complete the survey. It takes about 35-45 minutes to complete and asks questions related to the 2014 calf crop, as well as typical management practices. Many of the questions are the quick check-box style. Any question a producer is unable to answer can be left blank. By participating in the Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey, producers can choose to receive a complementary report that allows them to compare their own operation with benchmarks (average numbers from a region).

Complete the survey online


Print a copy of the survey and send it using Canada Post

  1. Print hard copy:
  2. Print pre-paid postage label:
  3. Read the postage label instructions:

The deadline to participate is February 28, 2015. Results will be Continue reading

Establishing a long term surveillance network to support Canadian beef cattle research

Currently there is no structured surveillance program to collect animal health, management, or disease incidence information in the Canadian beef industry. When surveillance and research information for the cow-calf industry is required, significant time, effort, and resources are needed to recruit herds for relatively short-term projects. In the USA, the National Animal Health Monitoring Service (NAHMS) has a long term surveillance network that supports a variety of animal industries and is a critical resource for specific research initiatives. A similar strategy would be beneficial in Canada.

Funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster, researchers are currently working to establish Continue reading

Using Research Funds More Efficiently

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Canada has many cattle, forage and beef research funders. Some, like the Beef Cattle Research Council and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, fund projects all across the country. Others, like most provincial beef organizations and provincial governments have a more regional focus. Each funder generally operates completely independently from every other. Each funder sets their own priorities, makes their own decisions, and administers their own projects. They each do their best to fund research that will benefit their corner of the industry, but often don’t know whether another funder may already be supporting a similar project elsewhere in the country.

The Beef Cluster is an effort to get Canada’s beef research funders to communicate, coordinate and cooperate more closely. The first Beef Cluster (2009-13) began with check-off funding from Continue reading

Improved display on mobile

If you’re reading this on your smartphone or tablet, you’ll be happy to see that we’ve worked to improve the way our website appears on mobile devices. It’s now easier to look up information or read our latest blog posts while you’re away from your computer, like while you’re in the barn waiting for a heifer to calve or in the field with the tractor on auto-steer.

Speaking of website improvements, we’ve Continue reading

Pain Mitigation

Consumer pressure to avoid painful practices on cattle when possible, and to reduce pain when castration, dehorning, or branding are necessary, is building. The new Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle also makes strong statements about pain control.

The knowledge of pain in livestock has advanced steadily over the past 22 years. Behavioural and physiological indicators of pain have been identified, and researchers’ ability to measure animal responses associated to painful procedures have improved. Research has developed new pain control drugs that are registered for use in cattle in Canada, and knowledge is building on the appropriate dosage, routes of administration and synergy between anesthetics and analgesics.

Despite a considerable amount of research, cattle’s experience with pain is… Continue reading

Managing rumen health to improve productivity: Webinar Feb. 25

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

When the digestive system isn’t balanced and functioning properly, cattle’s feed intake and ability to utilize nutrients may decline, and the likelihood of

health problems and carcass value discounts can increase. A better understanding of the rumen can help to prevent or resolve problem situations and manage feeding to economically meet production goals.

Join this free webinar to learn about:

  • what is rumen health: balancing the needs of the microbes and beef cattle
  • the direct and indirect links of rumen health and productivity
  • strategies to optimize rumen health and productive outcomes

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New videos explain the National Beef Strategy

The National Beef Strategy was announced last month. Today the groups are pleased to release the following two short videos:

NtlBeefStrategyPart1 w play

NtlBeefStrategyPart2 w play
The National Beef Strategy is a collaborative effort by Canadian national beef sector organizations including the Beef Cattle Research Council, Canadian Beef Breeds Council, Canada Beef Inc., Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (and its provincial member associations), and National Cattle Feeders’ Association.

The National Beef Strategy promotes a united approach to position the Canadian beef industry for greater profitability, growth and continued production of a high quality beef product of choice in the world.

Find the Strategy and learn more at

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