Two Methods, Four Steps for Calculating Carrying Capacity



Carrying capacity, also known as grazing capacity, is the amount of forage available for grazing animals in a specific pasture or field. Calculating the correct carrying capacity will help you determine a proper stocking rate that maintains productivity of both your animals and forage while encouraging the sustained health of the grassland resources.

Stocking rate is the number of animals on a pasture for a specified time period and is usually expressed in Animal Unit Months (AUMs) per unit area.

One way to determine carrying capacity is to obtain past stocking rates and grazing management information and assess the condition of the pasture. But what if the historical stocking rate data is not available or you are unsure of its accuracy and reliability?

Carrying capacity can be calculated using several different techniques. All of them depend on some trial and error as they are monitored and adjusted over time. When calculating carrying capacity, it boils down to three questions:

  1. How much forage is available?
  2. How much of that forage can be used by grazing animals?
  3. How many animals can graze on that piece of land and for how long?


BCRC Carrying Capacity Calculator
The BCRC Carrying Capacity Calculator provides a road map for answering these questions using two separate methods: 1) forage estimates based on provincial guides and 2) field-based sampling, also known as the clip and weigh method. Each method contains four steps. Continue reading

Calving Records Will Be Especially Valuable This Year

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the March 2022 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.
red newborn cow calf on straw
Last month’s column profiled a beef cow productivity study that coincided with the massive 2001-02 drought that impacted most of Western Canada. That study got less attention than it deserved, because Canada’s entire beef industry became preoccupied with BSE in 2003. But research is an investment, and the lessons learned from research done two decades ago are still paying dividends today. This month’s column focuses on what that study learned about reproductive performance.

What They Did:

Dr. Cheryl Waldner and her colleagues from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine examined factors affecting the productivity of over 30,000 beef cows in more than 200 well-managed herds across Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Peace Region of B.C. Participating producers individually identified each cow and calf, recorded all calf births, maintained an active veterinary-client-patient relationship, had good animal handling facilities, pregnancy tested all breeding females, had a veterinarian evaluate all herd bulls, had an established spring or summer breeding season (i.e., didn’t calve year-round), and worked with the researchers to collect the needed samples and data. These results have been published in Theriogenology 79:1083-1094, Theriogenology 81:840-848 and Livestock Science 163:126-139.

What They Learned:

This spring’s calving records can help identify cows that are less likely to rebreed successfully or more likely to have problems next spring. Continue reading

7 Tips to Remember This Calving Season

Calving can be an exciting but challenging time. Luckily, there are some key actions you can take to set yourself — and your calves — up for success. Whether you are in the middle of calving season, or planning for the next, the BCRC has several helpful calving resources.

Here are seven tips to remember this calving season:

1. Do not hang calves upside down if they need help breathing.
Never hang calves upside down if they need help breathing
If a newborn calf requires resuscitation, put them in the calf recovery position, poke a clean straw in their nose, dribble a few drops of water in their ear or rub them vigorously. Hanging calves upside down actually makes it more difficult for the calf to start breathing. Fluid that drains from a calf that is hung upside down mostly comes from the stomach, not the lungs, and gravity will make it more difficult for the lungs to expand. See a demonstration in this short video: Continue reading

Applications Open- BCRC Researcher Mentorship Program 2022-23

Applications for the 2022-23 term of the BCRC Beef Researcher Mentorship Program are now being accepted.  The deadline to apply is May 1, 2022.

Four researchers were selected to participate in the program this past year. Each was paired with two mentors – an innovative producer and another industry expert. Each of the researchers have reported very successful and valuable experiences through the opportunities provided, including:

  • Meeting several producers and industry leaders with whom they ask questions and have meaningful discussions about cattle production, beef quality and safety, and the Canadian beef value chain
  • Establishing Partnerships with industry and other researcher to further their research programs
  • Attending industry events and touring farms and ranches to better understand the impacts, practicalities and economics of adopting research results
The BCRC is excited to continue to program and invite applications from upcoming and new applied researchers in Canada whose studies are of value to the beef industry. Such as, cattle health and welfare, beef quality, food safety, genetics, feed efficiency, or forages. A new group of participants will begin their mentorships on September 1st.The Beef Researcher Mentorship Program launched in August 2014 to facilitate greater engagement of upcoming and new applied researchers with Canada’s beef industry,Learn more about the program and download an application form HERE.

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The sharing or reprinting of BCRC Blog articles is welcome and encouraged. Please provide acknowledgement to the Beef Cattle Research Council, list the website address, www.BeefResearch.ca, and let us know you chose to share the article by emailing us at info@beefresearch.ca.

 

We welcome your questions, comments and suggestions. Contact us directly or generate public discussion by posting your thoughts below.

Call for Nominations- Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation

The Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation is presented by the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) each year to recognize a researcher or scientist whose work has contributed to advancements in the competitiveness and sustainability of the Canadian beef industry.

Nominations are welcome from all industry stakeholders. Download the nomination form here. Nominations must be submitted info@beefresearch.ca no later than May 1st with 3 or more letters of support that speak to the nominee’s influence on Canada’s beef industry.

Continue reading

Attn Researchers- Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) Call for Letters of Intent



The Agriculture and Development fund (ADF) provides funding for basic and applied agriculture research projects in crops, livestock, forages, processing, soils, environment, horticulture and alternative crops. It provides project funding of nearly $15 million per year and selected on the basis of the research’s potential to create growth opportunities or enhance the competitiveness of the Saskatchewan agriculture industry.

Any person, business or organization with an idea that may be of practical value to Saskatchewan’s agriculture and food industry is encouraged to submit a LOI. The principal/lead investigator of the project must be a permanent full-time employee at a public or private Canadian research organization.

Letters of intent for the ADF must be submitted online at https://arb.gov.sk.ca/ no later than April 14th. Successful letters of intent will be invited to submit a full application.

When seeking funding, researchers are encouraged to refer to the priorities and target research outcomes in the Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy.

Click here to subscribe to the BCRC Blog and receive email notifications when new content is posted.

The sharing or reprinting of BCRC Blog articles is welcome and encouraged. Please provide acknowledgement to the Beef Cattle Research Council, list the website address, www.BeefResearch.ca, and let us know you chose to share the article by emailing us at info@beefresearch.ca.

We welcome your questions, comments and suggestions. Contact us directly or generate public discussion by posting your thoughts below.