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Call for Proposals: Beef Production Economics (2017-2018)

Canfax Research Services (CRS) invites proposals for Beef Production Economics. The deadline is June 24, 2016 at 11:59 PM MT.

CRS is partnering with the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) whose mandate is to establish research and development priorities for the Canadian beef cattle industry and manage national check-off funds allocated to research.

The BCRC developed the second Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Growing Forward II Strategy.  The Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster was a five year initiative (April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2018).  It brought together Canada’s largest public and industry funders of applied beef research, and focused dollars and priorities on a comprehensive outcome-based research program directly aligned with industry’s vision and priorities. CRS is doing a limited call for proposals under this program for beef production economics covering the period between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018.

Research Outcomes

Clearly defined research priorities for the Beef Production Economics have been established.  Please refer to the research priorities highlighted below before deciding to submit a project.

Application Forms & Information

Proposals must be prepared using the CRS proposal and budget forms.  Copies of the form are available by emailing Proposals will be shared with the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association and Manitoba Beef Producers.

Project Timeframe

Projects up to twelve months in length may be submitted, but preference will be given for projects that are up to nine months in duration; unless the need for a longer timeframe can be demonstrated.

Submission of Proposals for Research

Given the timelines and focus of this call for proposals, if you are interested in submitting please contact Brenna Grant at 403-275-8558 ext.505.

Research Priorities 

For the competition, CRS welcomes any proposals that work towards the achievement of the research priorities outlined below.

The beef industry has defined two core research objectives under which more specific priorities are established:

  • To enhance industry sustainability and reduce production costs, priority outcomes are to enhance feed and forage production, quantify the environmental impact of Canada’s beef industry, increase feed efficiency, decrease the impact of animal health issues and production limiting diseases, and ensure animal care.
  • To improve beef demand and quality, priority outcomes are to reduce food safety incidences, define quality and yield benchmarks supporting the Canadian Beef Advantage, and improve beef quality through primary production improvements and the development and application of technologies to optimize cutout values and beef demand.

Beef production research is funded by the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) under their mandate for technology transfer. A major factor for adoption of new technologies is the economic impact it will have on their operation. Looking at the short, medium and long term economic impact of adopting new and different production practices is critical to encouraging adoption of technologies that improve productivity.

Applicable priority areas include:

  • Animal Health and Welfare
  • Feed Grains and Feed Efficiency
  • Forage and Grassland Productivity

All proposed research should give strong consideration to the following overarching aims:

  •  Build on existing research results with cost:benefit analysis to inform technology transfer and adoption of research results on‐farm
  • Improved communication, collaboration and understanding between researchers and industry
  • Encouragement of interdisciplinary teams.

Outcome #1: Cost:Benefit of adopting different management practices or technology

  • Cost of adopting recommended BMPs, particularly around Sustainability and Ecosystem Services (e.g. practices that reduce Greenhouse Gases)
  • Cost of adopting various management practices (e.g. winter feeding programs, fertilizing forages, vaccination ‐ connection to Antimicrobial Use and Resistance)
  • Adoption rates of various technologies
  • The cost to the producers (and the public) of not utilizing the innovations currently available, including those recommended for climate adaptation.
  • Forage cost of production ‐ Cost:Benfit of different management strategies, rejuvenating pasture options quality, rainfall, yield.

Outcome #2: Develop Producer Decision Making Tools

  • For example, BCRC has already developed tools for pre‐conditioning, pre‐checking, natural breeding and the impact of body condition on cow productivity and profitability.
  • Grading differences impact on COP and profitability of feedlots Outcome #3: Evaluate the Cost of Disease to the Canadian Beef Industry

Outcome #3: Evaluate the Cost of Disease to the Canadian Beef Industry

  •  Cost of various production limiting diseases, low reproductive efficiency, and animal stress (e.g. predators)

Outcome #4: Improve understanding of farm involvement in ecosystem service programs and carbon tax implications

  • What is the value of grassland carbon under a carbon tax? What is required for proof of management by producers and the cost of providing it?
  • What is the value of maintaining wildlife habitat, water storage, etc.
  • Ecosystem Service payment programs – how to set them up to be successful at a local, regional, provincial and national level

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


david werenkaMay 12, 2016

I thin the Canadian beef industry would be wise to look into the long term effects of glyphosate and gm feed on our cattle.
(copy and paste)


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Reynold BergenMay 24, 2016

Hi David

Product safety testing is, fortunately, overseen by government bodies, not industry. The level of scrutiny that crop protection products go through is very analogous to those that animal health products go through (see /files/pdf/canadas-veterinary-drug-approval-process.pdf for an overview).

The effect of feeding transgenic vs conventionally-bred crops have been studied. Here are some examples from the Journal of Animal Science (J Anim Sci) and Canadian Journal of Animal Science (Can. J. Anim. Sci.):

J ANIM SCI 1995 73:2752-2759
J ANIM SCI 2005 83:2826-2834
J ANIM SCI 2005 83:400-407
J ANIM SCI 2003 81:2600-2608
J ANIM SCI 2006 84:135-144
Can. J. Anim. Sci. 2003 83: 299-305
Can. J. Anim. Sci. 2008 88: 85-95



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John MaltmanJune 27, 2016

Hi Dr. Reynolds, I am interested in your comments on the improvements to rate of passage and digestibility of chopped forages versus forages consumed as long hay. I am a nutritionist with a company which manufactures hay processing equipment. There are U.S. researchers who state dramatic improvements can be had for producers who will process (chop) hay for their livestock. It seems simple enough but the uptake of this approach is still not general. What are you thoughts at this point?



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Reynold BergenJune 27, 2016

Hi John

Alberta Beef Producers funded some research on this a few years ago. The lead researcher was Barry Yaremcio of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

In a nutshell, processing / chopping can increase passage and intake and improve digestibility for low quality forages, but only if the cows actually consume it. There are concerns about feed wastage, especially when bales are processed onto the ground. Smashing up the stems will improve their digestibility. But most of the nutrition is in the leaves, and if the processor pulverizes the leaves into dust, the nutrients will settle onto the ground. If they don't get eaten they won't benefit the animal, and just become expensive fertilizer. So the benefit of bale processing may drop even more with higher quality forages.

I believe Barry's research has been submitted to Professional Animal Scientist, so it should be peer reviewed and available there in due course. This article refers to that research as well:

The Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey found that 46% of respondents used bale processors as part of their winter feeding practices. (

Bale, swath and stockpiled grazing are also pretty common ways to reduce the time, fuel, equipment and manure handling costs of feeding the cow herd in winter, particularly in Western Canada. Bale unrollers and processors may be preferred in areas where deer eat the feed before the cows get a chance. Other producers who are particularly concerned about meeting the nutritional needs of their cattle also feed a silage-based total mixed ration on the ground. Many use a combination of different winter feeding methods.

I hope this helps.



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John MaltmanJune 28, 2016

Thanks for your comments. It sounds like we need producers to use more troughs with their bale processors. Like any piece of equipment it should be used to deliver the results and less waste is on everyone's mind. Less than half of producers are using bale processors to capture the value of reducing cut length but those using them may not have all the advantage unless troughs are used to prevent the loss of the highly valuable small particles. I feel the message could be use them but use troughs as the delivery point rather than the ground. Not such a tough adjustment to improve feed utilization. Thanks again for your help.


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