How (and Why) These Eastern Canadian Cow-Calf Producers Changed and Defined Their Calving Periods

There are many interconnected variables that affect, or are affected by, calving season. Considerations such as infrastructure and facilities to remove and house bulls following a defined breeding season, herd size, regional market prices, targeted weaning time and labour availability are a few factors that impact a calving period.

These producers did their homework and planned ahead before shifting their calving seasons in order to meet the needs of their particular farms and families.

Spencer Yeo, Nova Scotia – Shorten Calving Period from Twelve to Six Weeks

Six years ago, Spencer Yeo who now farms in Nova Scotia had a large calving window, with the bull in year-round. About 60% of his herd calved during a 12-week timeframe but there were always stragglers which meant a lot of extra nights checking cows. Yeo had a small herd and was selling calves direct from the farmyard. With a mix of weights and smaller calves pulling the average price down, he saw an opportunity for change.

Spencer Yeo, Nova Scotia – Shorten Calving Period from Twelve to Six Weeks


“If you’re going to adjust your calving window, you need to make sure your cows are in good shape to do it successfully.” – Spencer Yeo, Nova Scotia

Yeo aimed to transition to a six-week calving period to help with time management as he also works off-farm full-time. He chose to aim for February calving because it is typically a little warmer then, in his region. It is also a time of year when he has the most free-time, and it was when the majority of his cows were already calving so he was working with the herd versus against them.

The transition occurred within a single year with the breeding season shortened to May 1 through mid-June. Preg checking occurred in August, and any open females were sold. This worked well as cull cow prices were seasonally higher in August versus later in the fall, which resulted in extra income. Bull management includes the option of leasing out for a few months or selling after the breeding season. Yeo replaces the bull every two years, so only has to deal with a bull in the off-season every other year. Continue reading

Adapting to a Changing Climate

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.
beef cattle grazing alfalfa in bloom
I had a National Geographic poster of “Ice Age Mammals of the Alaskan Tundra” on my bedroom wall when I was a kid. It showed herds of prehistoric muskoxen, horses, wolves, lemmings, bears, lions, mammoths, camels, saber-toothed tigers, mastodons and humans marauding across a vast, grassy expanse 12,000 years ago. The muskoxen, bears, wolves and lemmings still live in Alaska. The lions, camels and horses moved to other parts of the world where the climate suited them better. The saber-toothed tigers, mammoths and mastodons went extinct. When archaeologists found the frozen remains of these animals, they dug deeper and uncovered the fossils of duckbilled dinosaurs from millions of years earlier when conditions were hot and tropical.

Earth’s climate is always changing. Volcanoes, bogs, soil and animals exhale greenhouse gases, and plants and the oceans absorb them. Since industrialization, human burning of fossil fuels has emitted greenhouse gases faster than the natural environment can sequester them. Climate models predict how changing greenhouse gas levels will impact future global temperature and precipitation patterns.

Climate models resemble economic models – both are constantly being tweaked and improved as better data becomes available, and both are subject to “noise” that temporarily obscures long-term trends. Economic forecasters consider historical and current data about an industry and the larger economy to predict future trends. Unforeseen shocks like BSE or a pandemic cause significant short- to medium-term disruptions that might make people think the economic model is broken. But over time, long-term trends shine through (e.g., trends towards agricultural consolidation with fewer and larger pharmaceutical and equipment companies, farms, feedlots, packers and retailers). Similarly, volcanoes, solar dimming or cyclical El Nino or La Nina weather patterns can temporarily obscure long-term climate trends. Even if we don’t like where trends are pointing, understanding them can help us respond appropriately. Continue reading

Cracking the Code on Grazing Management Terminology: Animal Units, AUMs, & How to Apply Them


mixed beef cattle grazing green grass
Does it feel like grazing management information is shrouded in acronyms and terms that boggle the mind on first glance? Do you struggle to decipher terms like animal unit equivalents? And how does one go about calculating AUMs and then applying those numbers? Be reassured, you’re not alone! There’s a lot going on when sorting through the finer points of grazing management and figuring out how to work through the many calculations.

A good starting point is defining a grazing animal in terms of how much forage it requires to meet its nutritional demands. We know that grazing animals’ forage needs differ depending on class, weight, age and stage of production. And in order to account for those differences, it’s helpful to create a baseline in order to quantify forage demand. Continue reading

USask Announces New Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization Chair

Bree Kelln, Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization chair at University of Saskatchewan


Bree Kelln is the new Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization Chair at the University of Saskatchewan.
(Photo:  Janelle Wilson)

Related: New Research Chair at USask will Help Maximize Environmental, Economic Benefits of Forage Crops

By Brett Makulowich, University of Saskatchewan

Bree Kelln has been selected as the new Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization (IFMU) Chair for the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

Kelln will be the first person to hold the new research chair position that was created to address a gap in forage research. A 2012 assessment concluded lack of research and development investment in the Canadian forage industry meant advances in forage had not kept pace with developments in other crops. The beef and cattle industry are increasingly seeing forages as a high-value feed source that also provide significant environmental benefits.

“We’re delighted to welcome Bree Kelln into her new role at the University of Saskatchewan,” said Dr. Angela Bedard-Haughn (PhD), dean of the USask College of Agriculture and Bioresources. “She brings a wealth of knowledge from her previous experience with industry that involved agronomy, livestock, and extension.” Continue reading

Coming Soon! A New, Improved User Experience at BeefResearch.ca


Coming Soon! A New, Improved User Experience at BeefResearch.ca
Canada’s premier online resource for science-based beef cattle and forage information is evolving into an even more valuable resource for beef industry stakeholders.

For almost a decade, BeefResearch.ca has been a hub for timely content and practical tools for Canadian beef producers, veterinary teams and researchers. In the coming weeks, the BCRC will launch new web functionality that will greatly improve the user experience. Thanks to the Check-Off dollars that beef producers have invested in our industry, and support from Canada’s Beef Science Cluster, the BCRC is able to enhance BeefResearch.ca and continue to develop useful resources to meet the needs of the industry.

Stay tuned for the unveiling of a new and improved BeefResearch.ca this spring! Sign up to be notified when this and other new beef or forage information drops. Continue reading