Dealing with Dehydrated Calves – When and How to Use Electrolytes

The following is the final articles in a series of three posts featuring calving management practices and intervention strategies to help producers optimize newborn calf health and well-being. Read part one to learn about resuscitation techniques and part two about colostrum.

Supplementing young calves with electrolytes is sometimes necessary. Electrolytes are given to calves showing signs of dehydration, usually due to scours. In the case of calf scours, most calves that die from scours don’t actually succumb to the virus or bacteria causing the symptoms, but rather die from dehydration. Adequately rehydrating calves when they are sick is key for calf survival. Here are a few things to remember when rehydrating calves: Continue reading

The Key to Setting up a Healthy Calf for Life? Colostrum

The following is part two of a series of three posts featuring calving management practices and intervention strategies to help producers optimize newborn calf health and well-being. Read part one to learn about resuscitation techniques.

Newborn calves are born with virtually no immunity of their own. Unlike other mammals, a cow’s placenta does not allow antibodies to pass from the mother to the calf during pregnancy, which means the calf must receive its initial immunity from the antibody-rich colostrum, or first milk, of the cow. This initial immunity is essential because it provides protective antibodies against many of the diseases that affect newborn calves, such as calf scours, navel abscesses, arthritis and pneumonia. If the calf is at risk of not having adequate colostrum, such as if it had a difficult birth, is a twin, is delivered via c-section, has a weak suckle reflex, or hasn’t sucked in the first few hours of life, supplementation is recommended. If a calf requires colostrum supplementation, here are a few things to consider. Continue reading

Calf 911 – New Video Demonstrates Effective Calf Resuscitation Strategies

The following is part one of a series of three posts on calving that include newborn calf management practices and intervention strategies to help producers create positive calving outcomes.

Calving is a natural process and most cows give birth to a healthy calf and everything goes as planned. However, there are times when things go wrong. Perhaps there is a malpresentation, such as a backwards arrival, or the calf’s foot is back. In some cases, perhaps calves do not take their first breath after a difficult labour. Here are a few tips to consider to get a calf up and going as soon as possible: Continue reading

Get ‘em out, get ‘em up, get ‘em fed, write ‘em down… Rawhide!

A version of this article, written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the January 2021 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

It’s called calving difficulty for a reason. They’re difficult to deliver, it’s difficult for the calf to survive, it’s difficult to watch it die, and it’s difficult to lose the $1,250 the calf could have sold for in fall. The Beef Cattle Research Council’s 2019 Adoption Rates of Recommended Practices by Cow-Calf Operators in Canada report indicated that around half of all preweaning death losses occur within 24 hours after birth, with a significant proportion of those attributed to calving difficulties. How you help a calf in the first few hours after a difficult birth is critical to determining whether it will survive to weaning or not.

It’s well known that providing timely calving assistance, effective calf resuscitation and colostrum are critical. But how you do these things is just as important as what you do. These calves have already been through a lot – providing the wrong kind of help can make it harder for them to survive. Sometimes doing the wrong thing is also harder for you. Continue reading

What’s been done and what’s next? An update from our Executive Director, Andrea Brocklebank

We are pleased to provide our annual report in two formats to highlight some of our deliverables and challenges in 2020. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with feedback at info@beefresearch.ca.

Who is the BCRC?

Video guide:

0:38-1:32 – Who we are
1:33-5:40 – How we were impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic
5:41-11:46 – What we are funding
7:25 – Example: Cattle transport and rest stops research (Learn more here.)
9:20 – Example: Nutritional value of beef compared to other protein sources research (Learn more here.)
10:36 – Example: Environmental sustainability of beef production (Learn more here.)
11:47- 19:58 – How we deliver research results to you
15:32 – Example: A tool for producers to help evaluate feed test results (Try it here.)
17:37 – Example: Carry capacity calculator (Try it here.)
18:37 – Example: Forage U-Pick interactive tool (Try it here.)
19:59-22:56 – Our priorities in 2021

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is Canada’s industry-led funding agency for beef, cattle and forage research. Its mandate is to determine research and development priorities for the Canadian beef cattle industry and to administer the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off funds allocated to research. The BCRC is led by a 14-member Council, comprised of 13 producers and one member at large, who proportionally represent each province’s research allocation of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off.

The BCRC is completing its third year of a ten-year plan presented with the increase in Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off in 2018/19. The allocation of check-off funding to beef research increased to be in line with the National Strategy recommendations – acknowledging historic under funding of research and the need to address many significant priorities.

BCRC continues to operate within a 10-year plan in an effort to manage multi-year research funding contracts (3 to 10 years in length). This plan is built on the assumption that provincial allocations of the national check-off to research will remain unchanged moving forward. Continue reading

Have 15 Minutes? Make an Impact on the Future of Beef Research



As someone who follows the BCRC Blog, you’re almost guaranteed to be what we call a ‘Canadian beef industry stakeholder’, meaning you

  • own or manage beef cattle,
  • conduct research on beef, cattle or forages,
  • are a large animal veterinarian,
  • own or work for an abattoir/beef processor,
  • are a government employee in a beef-related role,
  • work or volunteer for an organization that actively supports the beef industry, or
  • have another valuable role that supports and relies on Canadian beef production.

You hold a stake in the industry, so the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) relies on your input on research and extension issues.

When you answer these 16 questions by March 5th, you will inform the next five-year Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy and impact the long-term competitiveness of the Canadian beef industry.


Continue reading

Top 10 Articles of 2020



Throughout the past year, the BCRC published two or three times a week on our blog. Most articles offer science-based perspectives on issues impacting Canada’s beef value supply chain, from cow-calf production and feedlot through to retail. Some of the articles feature new research, while others focus on beef production tips and practical insights.

Below is a list of the BCRC’s Top 10 blog posts of the year (plus a bonus post, because it’s 2020 and we all deserve a little something extra).

What were some of your favourite articles from the year? Which posts do you think should have made the list? Comment below and tell us what you would like to see in 2021. Continue reading

Meet the council: thinking outside the box pays off

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is made up of producer members from across Canada, representing and appointed by each of the provincial beef organizations that allocate part of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off to research. The number of members from each province is proportional to the amount of provincial allocation to research.

The following is part three in a series to introduce you to this group of innovative thinkers that set BCRC’s direction by sharing practices, strategies, or technologies that they have integrated into their own operations. Read part one and part two of this series.

Although location and climate vary among these three producers, trying new and different systems have helped them save time and money, and enabled them to diversify their operations.

Corn Grazing to Get Cattle Through the Winter

Ryan Beierbach – Saskatchewan

Ryan and his family ranch near Whitewood, Saskatchewan, where they try to keep cattle grazing as many days of the year as possible. Cattle are selected to tolerate winter on the prairies as they strive to select easy-doing, deep and thick heifers as replacements. They use Hereford bulls on Black Angus cows then use Angus bulls on the heifers they keep as replacements. Continue reading

Are E. coli Really Becoming More Heat Resistant?

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

The past few columns have talked about how antibiotic use contributes to antibiotic resistant bacteria. The same survival-of-the-fittest principle applies to environmental stresses like heat.

Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli (STEC, including E. coli O157:H7) are the main food safety concern in Canadian beef processing facilities. High temperatures kill E. coli, so for many years large beef processing facilities have used hot water and steam to sanitize knives, equipment, carcasses and meat, and refrigeration to inhibit subsequent microbial re-growth. But if packing plants routinely use heat-based treatments to combat microbial contamination, will STEC and other E. coli eventually become heat-resistant and pose a risk to food safety? Continue reading