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

Eleven Ways to Avoid Feed Waste this Winter


Top layer spoiled silage in a bunk. Photo credit: Les Halliday

Harvesting, storing and delivering a beef herd’s winter rations are the largest expense for most operations. Even small improvements in a winter feed system can result in significant feed cost savings.

Whether a winter feed system uses a silage bunk or pit, baled forage, or swath grazing, significant feed waste losses can happen. Spoilage, mould, trampling, and weather are just a few examples of how losses can occur.

In addition to the expense of the feed lost, cow-calf operations can experience significant reproductive losses from spoiled or low-quality feed such as cows failing to rebreed the following breeding season and poor calf performance. Continue reading

Setting Goals and Adding Diversity is key for Intercropping

There is a lot of buzz in beef and forage production systems around the concepts of sustainability and soil health and the numerous different production practices that can support those ideas. Innovative producers are seeking ways to work within their landbase to become more efficient and improve their soils, whatever that may mean to them on their farms. Intercropping is one strategy that may help them achieve their goals.

What is intercropping? Is it different from planting cover crops, interseeding, or relay crops? How does intercropping fit in for beef and forage systems?

The lines are blurry but the goals are clear

Manitoba producer Alan MacKenzie considers intercropping to be two crops that are grown at the same time to be harvested together. The Nesbitt area cow-calf producer has been an organic farmer for twenty years and has used intercropping on-and-off as a tool on his mixed farm for the past decade. “I would say the main benefit is just trying to get some diversity and anytime we can get some legume in the mix for the nitrogen, that’s good,” MacKenzie explains. Continue reading

Bale Grazing Checks the Boxes for Three Canadian Producers

Editor’s note: The following is the final instalment of a two-part series that will help you to evaluate different considerations for bale grazing across Canada. Click here to read part one.

Beef farmers everywhere are looking to reduce costs, decrease their workload, and improve the carrying capacity of their pastures. Bale grazing is a production practice that can help.

There is a learning curve with any grazing method, especially when it’s planned for winter, arguably one of the most unpredictable seasons. Three producers across Canada share their experiences with bale grazing, provide their top tips, and explain why extending the winter grazing period has been a game changer on their farms.

John Duynisveld
Wallace, Nova Scotia

John Duynisveld operates a beef and sheep farm on 250 acres of pasture land on the north shore of Nova Scotia. He calves his herd of 25 to 30 cattle in May and June, and markets his grass-finished beef directly to consumers.

John says they started doing things differently on their farm after his dad attended a grazing seminar more than 30 years ago. Later, when he was working on his Master’s degree, grazing management became a big focus once again. “As you delve into more ways of trying to extend your pasture and ways to be more cost effective and labour efficient, bale grazing becomes sort of an obvious choice,” he says. They’ve been bale grazing for 20 years and purchase dry hay from a neighbour who sets the bales up in the field for Duynisveld. Continue reading

Beat Costs and Boost Yields with Bale Grazing

Editor’s note: The following is part one of a two-part series to help evaluate different considerations for bale grazing across Canada. Click here to read part two.

Many Canadian producers have taken steps to extend their grazing period and provide forage for cattle outside of confinement and away from corrals. Well planned extensive wintering systems have obvious benefits for reducing on-farm labour and yardage costs, but extended grazing also has environmental advantages for nutrient management and potential forage yield improvements.


Bale grazing enables producers to keep cattle away from confinement, depositing manure and nutrients on the landscape, rather than in the corral. Photo courtesy of Hans Myhre.

Different methods of extended winter grazing may include annual forages for swath grazing, corn grazing, and grazing crop residue or cereals. Perennial forages can also be stockpiled for later grazing. Continue reading

Combating Invasive Weed Species Webinar October 28th



Pastures can be impacted by annual, biennial and perennial weeds, and each region across Canada will have different weeds that are problematic. During the summer, cattle and feed are on the move, increasing the risk of bringing unwanted invasive species onto your farm. This webinar will cover tips for dealing with invasive weed control for different regions across Canada.

To learn more about invasive weeds and brush control in pastures, visit the new topic page!

Register for our upcoming webinar to hear from three subject matter experts as they provide information from regions across the country and answer your questions about combating invasive weed species.

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

When
Wednesday, October 28th at 7:00 pm MT

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

Continue reading

Registration now open for 2020/2021 Webinar Series



This year’s webinar series will cover a range of topics including record keeping, invasive weed species, and reproductive failure in the cow herd, all focused on practical, science-based information for Canadian beef producers.

Register here.
 You can register for as many (or all!) of the webinars you’re interested in at once. After you click the link above, be sure to scroll down to see and select for all six (6) dates.

See topics and descriptions below. Continue reading

New Resource: Record Keeping and Benchmarking Level 3



The final level of Record Keeping and Benchmarking resources for beef producers is now available.

Level 1 was previously launched for farm managers who are new to record keeping or who may already keep records but are unsure what information is worth keeping or how these records can be used.

The Level 2 resource was developed to build upon the themes covered in Level 1 but also goes more in depth on some of the analysis that can be accomplished once you have established a set of records. The purpose of Level 3 is to dig deeper into analysis and application of collected farm data.

The Level 3 resources include the following topics: Continue reading

The Benefits of Bringing Cattle and Crops Together

Grazing cattle on neighbouring farmland can have benefits to both the cattle producer and the farmer if done properly. From Saskatchewan to Manitoba and Ontario the following producers have had success with grazing cattle on neighbouring crop land.

Leanne Thompson and Tannis Axten are neighbours in southeastern Saskatchewan. The Thompsons own and operate a cow-calf and backgrounding operation with 500-800 head of mother cows as well as backgrounding cattle. The Axten family owns and operates a 6,000 acre grain farm that is highly diverse, focusing heavily on soil health and intercropping. Both operations have experienced mutual benefits by arranging to have the Thompsons’ cattle graze stubble and cover crops on the Axtens’ landbase. Continue reading

Winter Feed Cost Comparison Calculator – Regional Trends and Opportunities

Feed prices are driven by supply, demand and the price of alternatives. Winter feed presents the largest variable cost for producers. As producers look for ways to protect margins and minimize losses this fall, there are opportunities to be found in examining low-cost feed alternatives.

While the cost of some inputs cannot be controlled by any one operation, producers can control their budget for high-quality rations. Knowing where a crop may fall short on nutrition is a critical first step, and a feed test will point out where supplementary nutrients may be required for a herd. The next step is sourcing nutrients at the lowest price, choosing from a variety of feedstuff that offer nutrient balance. The Beef Cattle Research Council’s Winter Feed Cost Comparison Calculator is a decision-making tool that helps producers compare the cost of feed alternatives available in their area.

Regional Conditions and Trends to Consider                                                                            Continue reading