Applications open for Beef Researcher Mentorship Program

Applications for the 2015-16 term of the BCRC Beef Researcher Mentorship Program are now being accepted. The deadline to apply is June 1, 2015.

The program launched in August 2014 to facilitate greater engagement of upcoming and new applied researchers with Canada’s beef industry. Three inaugural participants were selected for a pilot phase. Each researcher was given a travel budget and paired with mentors – innovative producers and industry experts – for a one year term (ending July 31, 2015). The pilot participants have helped shape the program, and each of them report having a very successful and valuable experience through the opportunities provided. Their feedback has noted highlights including: Continue reading

Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation established

For immediate release

April 27, 2015

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) today introduced a new award that honors outstanding researchers for their contribution to the competitiveness and sustainability of the Canadian beef industry. The Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation will publically recognize scientists and academics that are actively involved in strong research programs aligned with industry priorities, continually engage with industry stakeholders, and demonstrate their passion and long-term commitment through leadership, teamwork, and mentorship.

“We recognize that researchers have options, within and outside of agriculture. They can focus their energy on exploring any number of questions,” said Tim Oleksyn, BCRC Chair and producer from Shellbrook, SK. “Those of us who make a living on beef production are very grateful to those who choose Continue reading

Grazing Management

Grazing management cattle
Effective grazing management on pastures not only ensures high forage yield, sustainability, animal health and productivity, all of which impact cost of production, it also benefits the pasture ecosystem.  Innovations in pasture management give producers greater control to support the environment (e.g. biodiversity) but also allow them to better use pasture resources for food production.

Pasture is a critical resource in the cattle industry. An effective management plan requires good understanding of pasture production, realistic production goals, effective grazing strategies and timely response to forage availability and environmental changes. Managing grazing lands so that they are productive and persist over time requires knowing when to graze certain species, if they can withstand multiple grazings/cuttings within a single year and how much recovery time is needed to prevent overgrazing (which is a matter of time not intensity).

Animal Health and Performance

Pasture management can affect animal health. For example, some rapidly growing pastures lack certain dietary inputs, such as roughage, dry matter and various minerals that are important for good rumen function and maximum production. This can lead to animal health issues associated with mineral deficiencies, as well as scouring and bloat, which limit weight gain and in extreme cases can cause death.[1]

A study completed in 2006[2] showed that selection of genetically improved sainfoin varieties could produce…

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Celebrate beef industry’s continual environmental improvements on Earth Day

This post was written in collaboration with Fawn Jackson, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association Manager of Environment and Sustainability.

Click to open fact sheet
Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22nd, began in the 1970’s and is often cited as the start of the modern environmental movement. But it isn’t just for the hippie children of the 1970’s anymore. Today Earth Day is recognized globally by people from all walks of life as a way to foster and celebrate environmental respect and behavioural changes that lessen our impact on the earth.

Cattle producers across Canada, who Continue reading

Will Swath Grazing in Late Summer Help Maintain Alfalfa in Rested Perennial Pastures?

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

Numerous studies have shown that maintaining 40% alfalfa in a forage stand is the most economical way of improving soil fertility, forage yields and animal grazing performance. Unfortunately, alfalfa drops below the 40% threshold level after several years of grazing.

Alfalfa drops out of perennial pastures partly due to Continue reading

Forage Quality

Matching forage quality to animal needs is part of cattle management as nutrient requirements of cattle change throughout the year based on the stage of the production cycle.  When feed grain prices are high, a high-quality forage can provide a lower cost ration than a low quality forage supplemented with a concentrate.  Failing to provide all the nutrition a cow needs due to low quality forage can have animal health and performance consequences that directly impact cost of production (COP) (e.g. loss of body condition, dystocia, lower milk production, and delayed returning to estrous).  This can be largely avoided by feed testing, particularly when hay is of an unknown quality.

Stage cut, fertilization and grazing intensity determine forage quality, and it refers to the plant’s ability to provide digestible, absorbable, essential nutrients at levels that meet the animal’s physiologic needs. Forage quality is a function of voluntary intake and nutritive value (nutrient content and digestibility).1 It is typically assessed by measuring crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fibre (NDF), and acid detergent fibre (ADF) (Kerley 2004)2

Protein and Energy

Proteins and energy are the most essential nutrients in cattle diets. Crude protein (CP); calculated from total nitrogen content, is an important indicator of the total protein content in a forage crop…

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