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

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

Meeting Your Production Goals: Records for Animal Health and Performance – Webinar January 13th



Keeping track of your animal health treatments and performance indicators throughout the year can be useful information to have when evaluating your production goals. Having readily accessible records can also be handy when marketing cattle to prospective buyers. This webinar will discuss the records for animal health and performance to support your production goals.

Registering on your smartphone? After you click ‘I am not a robot’, scroll up until you find the task to complete.

When
Wednesday, January 13th at 7:00 pm MT

  • 6:00pm in BC
  • 7:00pm in AB
  • 8:00pm in SK and MB
  • 9:00pm in ON and QC
  • 10:00pm in NS, NB and PEI

Continue reading

Calving Season Timing and Transition – Fast Forward, Rewind, or Press Play

For many cow-calf producers, calving season is a favourite time of year. After waiting 283 days, farmers are finally able to see the result of their breeding decisions as well as welcome a new crop of animals that will likely become a large portion of their annual revenue.

Just as every farm operates with an independent set of circumstances, and every farmer is unique themselves, calving season is going to look different on every operation. There is no one right method or time of year to calve a cow herd.

There are many interconnected variables that affect – or are affected – by calving season. Length and timing of breeding season, bull power, grazing and feed resources, target weaning time, marketing windows and methods, heifer development, mortgage payment deadlines, herd size, available labour, infrastructure, and tradition are a few different factors that play an important part in calving.

Looking at survey data over the past thirty years, there has been a trend, at least in western Canada, with producers transitioning from late winter/early spring calving in February and March, to later calving in April, May or June. Whether producers are thinking about making a shift in timing, or simply reassessing their decision to calve when they do, they should think about the risks and rewards of timing their most critical phase in cow-calf operations. What are the advantages or disadvantages of keeping the same season? What are the greatest challenges during calving on my farm and how can I manage them? What are the benefits of my existing calving season, and what are the drawbacks? How much labour do I need and how much do I have to get the job done?

The following producers have done their homework and planned ahead before shifting their seasons back or ahead in order to meet the needs of their particular farms and families. Continue reading

Reproductive Failure in the Beef Herd: Causes, Effects and When to Intervene – Webinar December 2nd



Reproductive failure can pose a significant threat for cow-calf operations, particularly when an issue affects a large portion of the cow herd such as early pregnancy loss. This panel of veterinarians will share case studies of reproductive wrecks on beef operations and how these operations overcame and solved the problem.


Registering on your smartphone? After you click ‘I am not a robot’, scroll up until you find the task to complete.

When
Wednesday, December 2nd at 7:00 pm MT

  • 6:00pm in BC
  • 7:00pm in AB
  • 8:00pm in SK and MB
  • 9:00pm in ON and QC
  • 10:00pm in NS, NB and PEI

Continue reading

Do Cattle Bacteria Contribute to Antibiotic Resistance in Human Medicine?

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

E. coli live in the digestive tracts of warm-blooded animals and birds. Most are harmless, some are beneficial, and some (like E. coli O157:H7) can be very dangerous. E. coli are also involved in antibiotic resistance.

“Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase producing” (or ESBL) E. coli are a major concern in human medicine. These bacteria are resistant to many antibiotics used in both human and veterinary medicine. Ordinary E. coli can cause urinary tract or bloodstream infections in people. They’re usually quite easy to treat with antibiotics. But if ESBL E. coli are responsible, the infection can’t be easily treated with antibiotics, and the illness can be much worse or even fatal.

E. coli rarely causes disease in feedlot cattle. But ESBL E. coli are still a concern, because antibiotic resistance genes are often located on “mobile genetic elements” that bacteria can trade with each other, even with completely unrelated bacteria. So antibiotic resistant BRD bacteria like Mannheimia, Pasteurella or Histophilus can spread their antibiotic resistance genes to each other, or possibly to E. coli. That’s like a border collie developing horns after a day of herding Herefords. Continue reading