Economics of Preg-checking: a 2017 Update

The major economic benefit of preg-checking is the cost-saving of wintering open cows. However, it has been noted that preg-checking is not always worthwhile, as the increased revenue due to higher prices in the spring and the additional weights put on in the winter could more than offset winter feeding costs.

The economics of preg-checking depends on the cull cow market price, the management system employed by the producer, feed and overhead costs, and veterinary costs. As market dynamics change every year, it is important to consider the current market situation when making preg-checking decisions.

Alberta cow prices experienced an impressive rally in the first half of 2017 but the seasonal decline has been sharp since Continue reading

Attention researchers: SCAIDF call for proposals

The Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association Industry Development Fund (SCAIDF) has announced a call for proposals. The deadline to submit letters of intent is September 29, 2017. 

Projects may be between 1 and 3 years in duration. Most successful projects request a maximum of $50,000 per project, regardless of project duration. Projects can request more than this amount, provided they have also received or requested funding from other funding groups and can demonstrate the necessity of a larger request for funding.

More information about this call for proposals including priority areas and instructions for submitting an application are available at their website: 

Announcing the Beef Researcher Mentorship Program 2017-18 participants

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is pleased to announce the participants in the 2017-18 Beef Researcher Mentorship program. Following an open application process, three researchers have been selected. Each has been paired with notable leaders in the Canadian beef industry and given a travel budget for the coming year, which will provide valuable opportunities for greater engagement with Canada’s beef industry.

Mentee: Dr. Mika Asai Coakwell
Mentors: Lance Leachman, Ryan Beierbach, and Michael Latimer 

Mika Asai Coakwell, Ph.D
. is the new Assistant Professor of Animal Genetics at the University of Saskatchewan. She grew up in Saskatchewan, attending elementary school, high school and university in Saskatoon. She began her MSc studies in bovine genetics in the department of Animal and Poultry Science, after graduating with BSc in Biology and Archaeology at the UofS. Mika completed her PhD at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland examining epigenetic events in cloned cattle. Upon returning to Canada, she began studies in a new field, ocular genetics, in Edmonton, Alberta as a post-doctoral fellow. There, she studied genes implicated in human ocular defects. She subsequently became a research associate in the department. Her current research interests are in beef cattle genetics, particularly in muscle and bone growth and development. Other interests include the study of inherited disease in cattle and companion animals. Continue reading

A Canadian perspective on the red meat allergy

This guest post is written by Shaun Dergousoff, PhD, a research scientist at AAFC Lethbridge focused on tick populations and arthropod vectors of livestock disease.

Several recent news articles have reported a connection between tick bites and allergies to red meat products in the United States. This is often framed as an emerging and alarming public health issue, but should it be a concern for the Canadian public and the beef industry?

The “red meat allergy” was first identified in Australia with several hundred cases diagnosed since 1985, and was recognized in thousands of people in the southeastern United States over the last couple decades. This allergy also occurs in fewer people from several other countries around the world. Based on reported cases, it appears that allergy to red meat is about as common as allergy to peanuts, occurring in only 0.1% of the American population.  Those who are affected can have very serious and even life-threatening anaphylactic reactions after eating red meat products.

The source of the red meat allergy was a mystery until Continue reading

Registration open for 2017-18 BCRC webinars

This year’s BCRC webinar topics include winter feeding, results of the latest National Beef Quality Audit, managing forages and other production practices.

View and register for our upcoming webinars below. To register for all of them at once, register for any one of them and select the option to be automatically registered for all remaining 2017-18 beef webinars.

We recommend registering for all webinars that you’re interested in regardless of whether you can attend during the date/time listed. By registering, you’ll receive reminders to attend the live event plus receive a link that allows you to watch the recording at any time. It’s no problem if you register and miss the live event, however joining live is recommended as it gives you the opportunity to interact and ask questions.

BCRC webinars are available and free of charge thanks to guest speakers who volunteer their time and expertise to support advancements in the Canadian beef industry, and through the Knowledge Dissemination and Technology Transfer project funded by the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster.

Recordings of all of our past webinars can be found on our webinars page.

2017-18 BCRC Webinars:

Refining corn grazing recommendations – October 12, 2017, 7:00pm MT
Speaker: Bart Lardner, PhD, Senior Research Scientist at the Western Beef Development Centre 

Thinking about turning your cattle out on corn? Want to be sure you are up to date with the latest corn grazing recommendations? Join us to Continue reading

Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein receives 2017 Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation

For immediate release
August 16, 2017

L-R: Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, Matt Bowman, BCRC Vice-Chair, Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein, Ken Perlich, Perlich Bros Auction Market, Andrea Brocklebank, BCRC Executive Director

Calgary, AB – A nationally and internationally respected researcher of beef cattle health and welfare has been awarded the 2017 Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein, PhD, was honored tonight at the 2017 Canadian Beef Industry Conference.

Dr. Schwartzkopf-Genswein is a Senior Research Scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lethbridge, Alberta and holds adjunct appointments at several universities. She has made phenomenal contributions to advancements in the competitiveness and sustainability of the Canadian beef industry through her passion and dedication to progressive science, and exceptional collaboration, leadership and communication.

She was honored to receive the award, stating “Those of you who know me will know that this award means a lot to me. My dream will be to work with the industry as long as I can and to be as useful to you as I can.”

Dr. Schwartzkopf-Genswein’s scientific leadership is exemplified through her contributions to early disease detection, feeding behavior, stress assessment, and acidosis, and she has been instrumental in advancing the knowledge and practices related to beef cattle transportation, lameness and pain mitigation. Her research results and expertise has Continue reading

Another Look at the Costs and Benefits of Swath Grazing

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

Well-managed swath grazing has well-known economic benefits for producers. But research results from a study funded by the Beef Science Cluster showed that it can have environmental benefits as well. Dr. Vern Baron and coworkers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lacombe Research Station recently published Swath grazing triticale and corn compared to barley and a traditional winter feeding method in central Alberta (Canadian Journal of Plant Science 94:1125-1137) and Effect of winter feeding systems on farm greenhouse gas emissions (Agricultural Systems 148:28-37).

What they did: A five-year winter feeding study was conducted in central Alberta (2008-09 through 2012-13). Angus x Hereford and Red Angus x Charolais cows were fed barley silage, barley grain, barley straw and hay in confinement, or swath-grazed on triticale or corn for 120 days. Confined cows were Continue reading

Attention researchers: Quebec-Ontario Cooperation for Agri-Food Research Competition

Proposals are invited for the 2017-2018 Quebec-Ontario Cooperation for Agri-Food Research Competition.

Letter of Intent Submission deadline: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. EST

Research Priority Areas
This call for proposals is focused on climate change.   Proposals are solicited that will generate new knowledge and/or technologies in the following areas:

  • Research to evaluate climate change impact on soil health and develop best practices
  • Research to determine climate change impacts on food processing and food safety including development of adaptation and mitigation strategies

Who May Apply
Universities and non-profit, non-governmental applied research centres are eligible to apply. Each application must be submitted jointly by a research institution based in Quebec and another based in Ontario.

Other public or private research institutions and organizations can contribute to the project as research team members or partners/co-funders. This includes colleges, government departments, industry associations and businesses.

How to Apply
The competition consists of a two-stage application process, and each project requires a co-lead from an Ontario and Quebec institution. The application form, as well as the competition guide with complete program and submission details, is available at:

Drought Management Strategies

Due to the current drought conditions in several parts of the country, we’ve pulled this article from our archives. It was originally posted in July 2015.

For timely timely information on weather and climate relevant to the agricultural sector in Canada, visit Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Drought Watch webpage

Whether in the form of pasture, stored forage, or supplements, feed is the largest variable input cost in cow-calf operations. A big challenge is to feed the cow in a way that meets her current and future nutritional requirements for maintenance, lactation, maintaining a successful pregnancy, giving birth and getting rebred within 80-85 days of calving as cost effectively as possible. This challenge is obviously much greater during drought, when feed is scarce and expensive.

Aside from moisture, one thing that will help keep you and your cows from experiencing a wreck this summer is knowledge. We’ve pulled together a good list of resources that can help you and your herd get through the drought.

So pour yourself a coffee or an iced tea, and delve into the links below. After a few hours of reading, you’ll likely have a few new plans to keep your cows and grass in good shape, and to keep from shelling out more money for feed or vet bills than need be this year and down the road.

Let us know if the information you’re seeking isn’t here, or if we’re missing some valuable information you’ve found elsewhere so that we can add those links to Continue reading