Drought-Related Resources for Cattle Producers

General

Experts Respond To Drought QuestionsBlog Post with Webinar Recording – August 10, 2021
Includes key points and the full recording of a webinar held on July 29, 2021 that answered producer questions about feeding cattle during a drought. https://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/expert-responses-to-drought-questions/

Decision Making During Drought – Blog Post – August 18, 2021
Considerations that may be helpful when making herd decisions such as culling, early weaning and winter feeding. https://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/decision-making-during-drought/

Drought Management Strategies – Topic Webpage
A complete overview that covers many producer considerations during and after a drought. Includes links to additional resources and calculators.
http://www.beefresearch.ca/droughtmanagement

Resources for Drought Management – Blog Post – April 29, 2021
Includes 8 tips for dealing with drought as well as links to BCRC and other resources that producers may find useful while in a drought.
http://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/resources-for-drought-management/

Feed Value, Options and Quality

Salvaging a Crop? Here Are Some Things to Consider When Valuing a Crop for Feed – Blog Post and Calculator – July 23, 2021
Intended to aid producers when determining the value of salvaged crop for feed.
http://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/salvaging-a-crop-here-are-some-things-to-consider-when-valuing-a-crop-for-feed/
* Note: Potential residue from chemical use should be a consideration. Download the VBP+ Salvaging Damaged Crops for Livestock Feed Fact Sheet.

Feed Testing & Analysis for Beef Cattle – Topic Webpage and Interactive Decision Tool
It is essential, especially in drought conditions, that producers test their feed and balance rations accordingly. This webpage includes information on how and why to test feed as well as an interactive calculator. Producers can input their feed test results to determine whether the feed should be supplemented based on the group of cattle they plan to feed it to. **It is important to note this tool does not take into account other antinutritional factors (e.g. nitrates and sulfates) that can be a more common problem with alternative feeds.
http://www.beefresearch.ca/research/feed-value-estimator.cfm

Alternative Feeds – Topic Webpage
With drought being so widespread, producers will be turning to different crops to help get them through the fall and winter. This webpage includes information on things to consider when feeding alternatives as well as specific information on many of the feed sources producers may be considering. http://www.beefresearch.ca/research-topic.cfm/alternative-feeds-100

Winter Feed Cost Comparison Calculator – Excel Calculator
This Excel-based calculator allows producers to compare cattle diets on a low-cost basis. It is not designed for balancing rations. http://www.beefresearch.ca/files/xls/Winterfeed_Cost_Calc_Final_Locked.xlsx

Water

Test Stock Water to Reduce Worry Blog Post – May 19, 2021
http://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/test-stock-water-reduce-worry/
What’s in Your Stock Water – Blog Post – August 27, 2019
https://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/whats-in-your-stock-water/
These two blog posts include information on why and how to test, where to send samples, and how to interpret results.

Water Systems for Beef Cattle Topic Webpage
Includes graphics on water quality and things to consider when setting up a new or temporary water source, as well as information on different types of watering systems.  http://www.beefresearch.ca/research-topic.cfm/water-systems-for-beef-cattle-104

What’s in your Water? Water Quality and the Economics of Pump Systems WebinarWebinar Recorded March 2019
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRixe81liXU&t=328s

Feed and Water Testing DemonstrationVideo Recorded August 2020
2020 Canadian Beef Industry Conference Bov-Innovation Session
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kY9apaZs1rw

Additional Resources

Pregnancy Detection ­– Topic Webpage
With low feed supplies, producers may consider early culling of open animals. This webpage includes information on pregnancy detection as well as a calculator that allows producers to determine whether preg checking will pay off on their operation.
http://www.beefresearch.ca/research-topic.cfm/pregnancy-detection-90

Mycotoxins ­– Topic Webpage
Many producers may be turning to feeds they aren’t used to feeding this fall. Mycotoxins are more of a risk in wet conditions but they still can be present when it is dry as well. This page includes information on mycotoxins, testing, and what producers can do about them:  http://www.beefresearch.ca/research-topic.cfm/mycotoxins-94

Creep Feeding – Blog Post – August 20, 2015
Nutritionist John McKinnon explains how creep feeding can reduce stress on cows during a drought and what to consider when making the decision to creep feed.
http://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/creep-feeding-mckinnon/

Body Condition – Topic Webpage
With short feed supplies it can be tempting to feed cows lower quality or less feed. Dropping body condition in cattle, especially those in later pregnancy in the fall and winter, can have negative effects on animal welfare, herd productivity, and long-term economics. This webpage includes information on how to accurately score body condition, the risks of low body condition scores, and a calculator producers can input numbers into to determine the economic effects of changing body condition scores in their herds.
http://www.beefresearch.ca/research/body-condition-scoring.cfm

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Attn Researchers And Extension Agents: BCRC Opens Two Calls For Expressions Of Interest



The Beef Cattle Research Council invites expressions of interest (EOIs) for research projects as well as for technology transfer and production economics projects. The application deadline for these separate but concurrent calls is February 26, 2021 at 11:59 PM MT.

The purpose of these two targeted calls is to achieve specific objectives in the Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy and the National Beef Strategy. These calls for research and technology transfer EOIs are made possible by the recent increase in the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off in most provinces.

Approved projects, funded by Canadian cattle producers through the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off, will be required to use the industry funding to leverage additional funds from government or other funding organizations to fulfill project budgets.

Through extensive consultation with research teams and industry stakeholders to identify critical needs and key areas where the BCRC can have the greatest impact, target outcomes have been clearly defined for both calls. Please refer to the problem statements listed within the documents linked below before deciding whether to submit an EOI. Continue reading

Attention Extension Specialists and Production Economists: Upcoming Meeting about Two Extension Challenges



The current BCRC Call for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) related to technology transfer and production economics is focused on initiatives that will increase the efficacy of vaccination programs and utilization of feed test results by beef producers across Canada.

Join us on Thursday, February 11th to discuss opportunities, barriers and potential extension strategies to employ in these areas, as well as an overview of the funding application process and guidelines for EOI submissions.

In preparation for the online meeting, visit our website for complete information about the Call and to view the forms and downloads.

The virtual meeting will be held on Thursday, February 11, 10:00-11:00 am MT
9:00am in BC
10:00am in AB
11:00am in SK and MB
12:00pm in ON and QC
1:00pm in NS, NB, PE and NL

To join the Zoom meeting, you must register in advance.

Continue reading

Research Chair Proposal & Proof of Concept Proposal deadlines 2 Weeks Away

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) invites proposals related to the establishment of research chairs and proof of concept research and clinical trials. The application deadline for both calls is October 1, 2020 at 11:59 PM MT.

Currently, a shortage of scientific experts and research capacity in some areas of beef, cattle and forage research are hindering the ability to conduct priority research that supports improvements in productivity and demand and responds to emerging issues. To fill these gaps, the BCRC is exploring options to establish Research Chairs in key areas with investment of Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off funding in partnership with other funders.

To procure the strongest opportunities for capacity development and encourage matching investments, Research Chair concepts will be considered through an open call for proposals.  The BCRC welcomes proposals that work towards the achievement of its three core research objectives:

  • To enhance industry competitiveness and reduce production costs, priority outcomes are to enhance feed and forage production, increase feed efficiency, and decrease the impact of animal health issues and production limiting diseases.
  • 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 cut-out values and beef demand.
  • To improve public confidence in Canadian beef, outcomes are to improve food safety, strengthen the surveillance of antimicrobial use and resistance, develop effective antimicrobial alternatives, ensure animal care, demonstrate the safety and efficacy of new production technologies, improve environmental sustainability and measure the beef industry’s environmental benefits.

The intended start date for a Research Chair funded through this call will be July 2022, unless clear justification for an alternate date is provided and accepted by the BCRC. The interval between BCRC funding decisions and Research Chair start date is intended to allow time for necessary matching funds to be procured.

The BCRC intends to commit funding to support one Research Chair through this call with additional calls in subsequent years subject to annual BCRC funding allocations.

This research capacity development initiative, in support of the National Beef Strategy, is made possible by the increase in the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off in most provinces.

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 time frame.

The purpose of this call is to fund proof of concept research and clinical trials that will lead to the achievement of objectives in the Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy and the National Beef Strategy. Leveraging producer check-off funds allocated to approved projects with other industry or government cash contributions is encouraged but not required for this call.

All call-related information can also be found at www.beefresearch.ca on the Forms and Downloads page.

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The sharing or reprinting of BCRC Blog articles is welcome and encouraged. Please provide acknowledgement to the Beef Cattle Research Council, list the website address, www.BeefResearch.ca, and let us know you chose to share the article by emailing us at info@beefresearch.ca.

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

An(other) Ounce of Prevention

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

My first fire drill in grade one was absolute chaos, screaming and panic as we all circled the teacher, who was likely wondering how our parents had managed to keep us alive this long. By grade three, we yawned and strolled to the nearest door. Fire drills teach kids what to do when there’s no real threat, so that they react calmly and automatically if a real fire happens. Fire drills save lives. Vaccines are for disease what fire drills are for kids.

When an animal is exposed to a disease-causing microbe, the immune system activates a variety of self-defence weapons to combat it. The immune system often responds a bit slowly the first time the microbe is encountered, because it’s starting from scratch. But the immune system has a “memory” that allows it to respond much more quickly and automatically the next time that microbe re-appears.

Like a fire drill, a vaccine mimics exposure to disease-causing microbes without causing the disease. Nearly all vaccines recommend two doses, given a few weeks apart. The initial vaccination is like the fire drill in grade one. It teaches the animal’s immune system to recognize particular features of a microbe that causes a specific disease. The second “booster” dose given a few weeks later is like the fire drill in grade three. It stimulates the immune system’s memory and generates a much stronger and long-lasting immune response and enables the immune system to spring into action if the microbe itself appears. Reproductive diseases also require an annual booster for the breeding herd. Proper vaccination allows the animal’s immune system to respond much more quickly, automatically and effectively when a real disease challenge occurs. Continue reading

Attention Researchers and Extension Agents: BCRC Opens Two Calls for Letters of Intent



The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) and Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) invite letters of intent (LOIs) for research projects as well as for technology transfer and production economics projects. The application deadline for these separate but concurrent calls is August 7, 2020 at 11:59 PM MT.

The purpose of these two targeted calls is to achieve objectives in the Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy and the National Beef Strategy. These calls are made possible by the recent increase in the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off in most provinces, along with funds provided and administered by ABP. Producer check-off funds allocated to approved projects will need to be leveraged by other industry or government cash contributions. Match leverage funding does not have to be confirmed at the time an LOI is submitted but must be in place prior to BCRC contracting an approved project.

Target outcomes have been clearly defined for both calls through extensive consultation with research teams and industry stakeholders to identify critical needs and key areas where the BCRC and ABP can have the greatest impact. Please refer to the target outcomes listed within the Call for Letters of Intent documents linked below before deciding whether to submit an LOI.

All call-related information can also be found at www.beefresearch.ca on the Forms and Downloads page.

Continue reading

Canadian Cattle Industry – Virtual Town Hall – April 16, 2020



Please join* the NCFA, CCA and Canfax for a Canadian Cattle Industry Virtual Town Hall event happening Thursday, April 16, 2020. Janice Tranberg, President of the National Cattle Feeders Association, Dennis Laycraft, Executive Vice President of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, and Brian Perillat, Manager and Senior Analyst at CanFax will provide updates on the current state of the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following their updates, they will take questions from the audience.

Register Here

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

*Registration will be limited to the first 500 people. A recording of the Town Hall will be available following the event for those unable to attend. Continue reading

More uniform calf crops: Shorter calving seasons can improve the bottom line

For many producers across Canada, calving season has just begun or will soon begin. For other producers this is the time to shift gears into the start of the breeding season. Establishing and maintaining breeding momentum is important. Once a cow is bred in the first part of the breeding season, she has a greater likelihood of breeding back early in the years to follow. Cows that are bred early will have calves that have greater potential to gain by weaning time, resulting in a uniform calf crop and improved profitability.

There is an opportunity for producers to evaluate their calving distribution and the impact it has on their bottom line. Now is a good time for farmers and ranchers to incorporate any changes they want during breeding season, such as when to pull their bulls, that will affect next year’s calf crop.

Each time a cow is not bred during a 21-day heat cycle, it can cost up to 48 lbs of weaning weight (assuming an average daily gain on calves of 2.3 lbs/day). Having more calves born in the first 21 days of the calving season allows producers to market larger, more uniform groups of calves and increase their profit potential. Continue reading

Alternative Feeds: New Web Page



On most cattle operations, feed represents the largest single variable input cost. Livestock producers continually examine ways to reduce this cost and explore options to efficiently and safely feed their livestock. While hay, pasture, other forages and grains make up the largest component of livestock feed, there are many alternative feeds that can supplement and even improve the diet. Cost effective procurement of non-conventional feeds can increase profitability across the operation.

When faced with reduced supplies of good quality hay due to declining production acres and weather events such as late spring frosts, excessive rains or drought, many producers seek alternative feeds for their livestock. While these alternative feed sources can offer flexibility and low-cost options, feed testing and advice from a livestock nutritionist is recommended to ensure nutritional requirements of the type of cattle being fed are being met. Continue reading