Salvaging a crop? Here are some things to consider when valuing a crop for feed.



With moderate to severe drought in many areas of Canada and the northern United States, many beef producers are looking for alternative feed sources to get their cattle through the coming months. With drought causing lower crop yields, many beef producers are hoping to work with neighbouring farmers to graze, bale, or silage crops. The question is how to value that feed in a way that provides value to both the farmer and the cattle producer.

When considering salvaging crops for feed, beef producers need to consider accessibility, availability, yield, transport costs, potential anti-nutritional factors or other animal health impacts, and feed quality. On the other hand, farmers are thinking about residue management, long term land impacts, contracted crop acres, costs to harvest, etc. When establishing prices, it is important to be clear in your communications about what each party hopes to gain as well as each party’s responsibilities. While grazing cattle on crop land or residues isn’t new, the salvaging of crops may put some unique options on the table for 2021.

The value of crops for livestock feeds calculator was developed to help beef producers work with their neighbors to determine a value for salvaged crops. For example, a barley field with 14 bu/acre of grain at current prices of $7.95/bushel results in a grain value of $111.30/acre. When you subtract the costs of combining the field ($32.33/acre according to the Saskatchewan Custom and Rental Rates Guide from August 2020) the harvest value is $78.97/acre. This provides a starting price to be considered. If a crop is being sold to a livestock producer as greenfeed, there is also the value of the straw.  Continue reading

Attn Researchers: BCRC Opens Call For Cluster IV Letters Of Intent *Webinar*



The Beef Cattle Research Council invites letters of intent (LOIs) for the fourth Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster. The application deadline for this call is October 1, 2021 at 11:59 PM MT.

The purpose of this call is to achieve specific objectives in the Five-Year Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy and the National Beef Strategy. This call for research LOIs is made possible by the recent increase in the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off in most provinces.

Approved projects can be up to five years in length and will commence no earlier than April 1, 2023, subject to the approval of the Beef Cattle Science Cluster by AAFC. Projects will be funded by Canadian cattle producers through the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off and matching funding BCRC will apply for through the Agri-Science Clusters Program under the next agricultural policy framework.   Continue reading

Experiencing Drought Stress? Ask the Experts



Large parts of Canada and the Northern Great Plains are currently facing mild to severe drought. With feed supplies low and demand high you may be considering non-traditional feeds for your cattle. If you are thinking about grazing something new, questioning your water quality, wondering about animal health concerns you should be watching out for, considering purchasing greenfeed from non-traditional crops, or have general questions about managing cattle during a drought, here is your chance to get answers straight from the experts.

The BCRC is putting together a panel of nutrition and animal health experts to answer your drought-related nutrition questions. Questions will be answered live during an upcoming webinar on July 29th at 7:00pm MST. Continue reading

The BCRC invites proposals related to proof of concept research and clinical trials

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) invites proposals related to proof of concept research and clinical trials. The application deadline for this call is September 1, 2021 at 11:59 PM MT.

With increased investment in research through the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-off, the BCRC has committed to provide research funding in two key areas that have previously had limited funding:

  1. Proof of Concept – proposals to help inform whether a concept is worth pursuing as a larger, more defined funding request
  2. Clinical Trials – proposals to validate practices or technologies that have been discovered through research projects and/or to facilitate the adaptation of technologies utilized in other sectors, commodities, or countries

The BCRC has committed funding to short-term projects in these two areas, with a maximum of $50,000 per project regardless of duration. Project duration should not exceed six months to one year unless a clear rationale can be provided demonstrating the need for a longer timeframe. Continue reading

Renewed Research and Extension Objectives Support a Thriving Beef Sector

Strategic and collaborative investments in research and technology transfer bolster the Canadian beef sector’s leadership in responsibly meeting rising global food production needs. Today, the Beef Cattle Research Council and its industry partners released a renewed five-year strategy to help target funding toward achieving highpriority beef research and extension objectives.  

The Five-Year Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy supports increasing productivity while building upon the sector’s leadership in environmental, social and economic sustainability. It builds upon the success of previous iterations and complements the National Beef Strategy’s ambitious 10-year goals 

Continue reading

Meet the Council: Unique marketing opportunities bring more profit to these producers.

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is made up of producer members from across Canada, 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 check-off allocated to research.

The following is part four 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 onepart two, and part three of this series. Regardless of what Canadian region beef producers are from, creative marketing strategies can help farmers profit as much as possible when they sell their cattle.

Working With Neighbours to Market Cattle

Ron Stevenson – Ontario

Ron and his family operate a 100 head commercial cow-calf operation in Walton, Ontario. Being located in the Great Lakes basin, rainfall is abundant in their area which is both a challenge and a benefit. Excess mud can cause animal health issues, especially in the springtime, but on the other hand, the Stevensons only need about 1.5-2 acres to support a cow-calf pair. Continue reading

Test Stock Water & Reduce Worry

When stock water appears abundant and water quality has been consistent in previous years, it’s easy to focus on other things but don’t overlook water testing. Poor quality stock water can lead to reproductive inefficiency, poor gains, disease and in extreme circumstances, death. Even when water supplies appear abundant, stock water may contain high levels of sodium, sulphates or other compounds that lead to toxicity.

cattle grazing near water


Photo credit, Tamara Carter

Water quality can be especially variable in surface water sources, such as dugouts, ponds or dams, and weather doesn’t necessarily need to be hot and dry to warrant regular testing. Precipitation levels in the previous years, groundwater recharge, runoff conditions, evaporation levels and adjacent land use can all impact water quality in both the short- and long-term.

It’s also important to monitor well water conditions. Quality in well water can change quickly, even if wells have had suitable water in the past.

Continue reading

“Beefed up” methods to study prebiotics

This guest post is written by Wade Abbott, PhD, a research scientist at AAFC Lethbridge focused on agricultural glycomics, functional genomics, carbohydrate modification and the gut microbiome in livestock.

The cattle industry is the largest source of farm cash receipts in Canada and contributes $18 billion to Canada’s economyAs the world’s third largest producer and exporter of high-quality beef and cattle, Canada’s beef industry is an essential component of global food security and the Canadian economy. To facilitate its ongoing efforts towards sustainable intensification and to shrink the environmental footprint of beef production, the industry has historically relied on technologies ranging from improved animal health management, feed processing and diet formulation, feed additives, and growth implants. Improved understanding of the respiratory microbiome, gut microbiome, and gut-lung axis will support researchers in their search for additional strategies to further enhance animal health and productivity and contribute to continued improvements in the sustainability of Canadian beef production.   

Preventable diseases and inefficient feed conversion present significant costs to the bottom line of Canada’s beef industryIn healthy cattle, beneficial microbes and host immunity keep pathogens in check and assist with digestion. The genetic make-up of both beneficial and pathogenic microbes is called a microbiomeThe gut and lung microbiomes are key players in the fight against pathogens and support the cattle immune system. New research also suggests the gut and lung microbiomes do not operate independently and can even influence each other through the gut-lung axis. That means that rumen acidosis may impact lung health, or BRD could impact gut health. If that’s the case, a more holistic approach to preventing or treating animal disease may be beneficial. Researchers are working to develop therapeutic tools that can strengthen the integrity of microbiomes.   Continue reading

To Sell or Background Calves? – Introducing the BCRC Backgrounding Calculator



“Should I sell or background my calves?” is a question most cow-calf producers face every year. Producers need to project whether it will be profitable to feed their calves on a backgrounding program rather than sell them at weaning. There are many deciding factors including current calf prices, cost of gain, and projected feeder prices. These variables are all different for each producer, depending on their cattle, and their cost structure, therefore each operation needs to crunch their own numbers.

The Beef Cattle Research Council’s new Backgrounding Calculator can help make the decision. This decision-making tool is designed to identify economic opportunities and risks from backgrounding cattle. Continue reading

On the Road Again

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

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced significant changes to Canada’s livestock transportation regulations in 2019. Previously, truckers could haul cattle for 48 hours before a mandatory five-hour feed, water and rest stop (unless they were within four hours of their final destination). The new regulations require an eight-hour feed, water and rest stop after 36 hours, with no four-hour grace period. The new regulations could have benefitted from some meaningful science.

Research that could have helped inform these regulations has been underway since 2018. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein and Daniela Melendez Suarez of Agriculture Canada’s Lethbridge Research Station are leading a major study to determine whether feed, water and rest stops provide measurable benefits to feeder cattle during long-distance transport. The January 2020 research column described their first experiment, which found that rest stops didn’t clearly benefit preconditioned cattle. Their second experiment is now published (Effects of conditioning, source and rest on indicators of stress in beef cattle transported by road; doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0244854). Continue reading