Attention researchers: LOI deadline six weeks away

CORRECTION: This blog post was mistakenly published with the headline “less than two weeks away”. Be assured that the LOI deadline is indeed January 13, 2017. Apologies for the confusion!

In preparation for the third Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster, the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) announced in mid-November that they invite researchers to submit letters of intent (LOIs).

Researchers should refer to the BCRC’s priority research outcomes before deciding to submit a LOI.

LOIs must be must be submitted no later than January 13, 2017 at 11:59 PM MT in electronic format using the BCRC’s Letter of Intent form. Researchers will be notified by February 15, 2017 if they have been invited to submit a full proposal.  Continue reading

Tips to improve calf health this calving season

We know that disease causing agents are present in beef cattle herds, even when the most careful biosecurity procedures are followed. In general, basic management of calves and calving groups will play a greater role in whether or not calves get sick than the presence or absence of most disease causing pathogens.

During a webinar hosted by the BCRC in 2015, Dr. Claire Windeyer, veterinarian, professor and researcher at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, discussed management during the calving season that can lead to healthier and more productive calves. During the webinar, she provided numerous tips on how to manage both cows and calves to reduce disease incidence and increase calf survival rate.

Here are three highlights from that webinar, followed by the full recording: Continue reading

Non-O157 STEC

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

There are between 50,000 and 100,000 different serotypes (strains) of E. coli. Most are harmless, some may be beneficial, but some produce a very dangerous Shiga toxin. Shiga toxigenic E. coli (STEC) can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain in people. E. coli O157:H7 is the most well-known STEC, but it is not the only one.

All STEC’s carry at least one stx gene coding for the Shiga toxin, an eae gene coding for a protein that helps E. coli attach to the intestinal surface, and a wzx gene that codes for an “O” antigen. All three of those genes must be present in the E. coli cell for it to be a STEC.

Food safety risks due to E. coli O157:H7 are well known, and the beef industry has made great progress in controlling it. Non-O157 STEC infections are rarer, but in 2011 Continue reading

Attention Researchers: BCRC Opens Call for Letters of Intent

In preparation for the third Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster, the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is now inviting researchers to submit letters of intent.

What is the Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster?

The BCRC developed the first and second Beef Cattle Industry Science Clusters under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Growing Forward Strategy.

The first Cluster was a four year initiative (April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2013). Industry and government funding commitments through the first Cluster totaled $10.5 million directed to 32 research projects. The research activities involved 51 lead researchers at seven federal sites and five universities in six provinces, in addition to Continue reading

Results of the Beef Research Priority Survey

How Your Input is Influencing Future Research

Earlier this year the BCRC developed an online Beef Research Priority Survey. The Survey asked participants to rate the importance of research issues listed in the 2012 National Beef Research Strategy.

We were very pleased to receive over 500 responses.

Over half of the respondents were producers. Most were cow-calf producers (49%), with smaller numbers of seedstock breeders (5%) and feedlot operators (4%). Other responses came from veterinarians, researchers, abattoir staff, government staff and industry staff.

Every province was represented. More producer responses came from western (85%) than central and eastern Canada (15%). Nearly half of the responses were from producers 40 years of age or younger. This indicates that the producers who responded to the survey are more likely those looking forward to a long future in the beef industry.

We sifted through all of the responses in detail with greater focus on the responses provided by producers, as well as veterinarians’ responses where appropriate (e.g. animal health, welfare and antimicrobial issues). We paid special attention to issues that were identified as ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ important by at least 75% of producers and vets, as well as issues that were rarely rated as ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ important. We also compared responses between eastern and western Canada for issues where geography may be expected to play an important role (e.g. forage and feed grain issues).

Here’s what you told us… Continue reading

Managing young calves to prevent disease: Webinar December 8

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

Calves are at a higher risk for sickness and disease in the first months of life. Join this webinar to hear this veterinarian’s tips on how to manage calves through this critical time for a healthier, more productive calf crop.


Thursday December 8, at 7:00 pm MT

  • 6:00pm in BC
  • 7:00pm in AB
  • 8:00pm in SK and MB
  • 9:00pm in ON and QC
  • 10:00pm in NS, NB and PEI 

Interested but aren’t available that evening?
Register anyway! This webinar will be recorded and posted online at a later date. All registrants will receive a link to the recording and additional learning resources. By attending the live event, you’ll have the opportunity to interact and ask questions too.

Register now


Find and register for more BCRC webinars here, including:

  • Swath and bale grazing strategies – November 23, 2016
  • What is the environmental footprint of beef production? – November 28, 2016

Watching on a tablet or mobile device?
If you plan to join the webinar using your tablet or mobile device, you will need to  Continue reading

Antibiotic Alternatives

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Antibiotics are a tremendously valuable tool in livestock production. For example, at this time of year, groups of light-weight, freshly weaned, shrunk-out calves with an unknown vaccination or nutritional history arriving at a feedlot after being transported long distances from pre-sort sales in cool, wet fall weather are likely candidates for bovine respiratory disease (BRD). Treating these calves with a preventative antibiotic (metaphylaxis) after they arrive at the feedlot can greatly reduce health problems, suffering and death losses in these calves during their first few weeks on feed.

Bacteria will develop resistance to antibiotics that are used routinely on the ranch or in the feedlot, so these antibiotics will become less effective for preventing or treating disease. This doesn’t directly translate to a concern about antibiotic resistant bacteria in retail beef.
In fact, antibiotic resistance surveillance has Continue reading