Is This a Good Investment?

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

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) projects featured in this column are funded by the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off. When the checkoff increased a few years ago, the BCRC’s budget rose from around 15 cents to 67 cents per head marketed. This allowed us to start some new research programs. Now that we’re a few years in I can update you on how they’re going.

One is our “Proof of Concept” program. Research is complicated and costly, so we have independent scientists review each research proposal to make sure it is scientifically sound and likely to achieve its goal before investing your dollars into it. Sometimes the reviewers say, “This is an interesting project, but it’s really costly, and it all hinges on an untested idea. It’d be better if they had some preliminary evidence that this new idea is worth pursuing, before funding a costly, full-scale project.”

In 2018 the BCRC started funding Proof of Concept projects to gather these preliminary results and help decide whether these new ideas are worth scaling up into full-scale research trials. Here’s what two of the first Proof of Concept projects told us.
intercropping corn and high-protein forages for better beef cattle nutrition
Exploring corn intercropping strategies to increase protein and profitability of beef cattle grazing:
Corn’s high yields and energy content make it a popular wintering grazing crop for some Western Canadian producers. However, it’s low protein content may make it unsuitable for younger, growing cattle. Seeding corn together with high protein forages may be a way around this challenge.

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Canada’s Beef Industry Supports Forage Research

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.


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A competitive cow-calf sector requires an adequate supply of forage. Increasing forage quality and yield allows more cow-calf pairs to be maintained per acre of forage, or reduces the number of forage acres needed to maintain the same number of cow-calf pairs.

Better yields come from the development of better varieties and production practices. Statistics Canada data indicate that canola yields have increased by 13.5 bushels per acre since 1980, while tame hay yields have dropped by more than half a ton per acre over the same time frame. This is partly related to Continue reading

Announcing the mentors in the Beef Researcher Mentorship Program

Last month we proudly announced the launch of the Beef Researcher Mentorship Program, a new initiative that will facilitate greater engagement of upcoming and new applied researchers with Canada’s beef industry. Three researchers were selected as inaugural participants: Drs. Emma McGeough, Bill Biligetu and Raquel Rodriquez Doce.

These researchers have now been paired with notable leaders in Canada’s beef industry. Mentors will help the researchers build the knowledge, skills and network needed to deliver successful applied research and extension programs of benefit to our industry through ongoing discussions and by initiating various introductions, tours and meetings. The mentors will be valuable resources of information about day-to-day cattle and forage production, industry structure and influences, and perspectives on industry challenges and opportunities at regional and national levels.

The BCRC is pleased to announce the 2014/15 Beef Researcher Mentorship Program mentors: Continue reading

Creating a forage industry chair to maintain research expertise


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Cow-calf producers in Western Canada have widely adopted extended fall and/winter grazing practices using both annual and perennial forages. However, competition with high value annual crops has resulted in higher land prices and decreased land base for forage production in many beef producing areas. Therefore, having expertise in integration of land, plant and animal management is critical to increasing the productivity of both the forage land base and cow herd.

Work funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster is supporting the establishment of a permanent Western Canada Forage Industry Chair at the University of Manitoba. The project will also provide leadership and technology transfer for Continue reading

Beef Researcher Mentorship Program launches

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NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release

August 5, 2014

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is pleased to announce the Beef Researcher Mentorship Program, a new initiative that will facilitate greater engagement of upcoming and new applied researchers with Canada’s beef industry.

Currently in the pilot phase, the Beef Researcher Mentorship Program intends to provide researchers with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the needs of the beef industry in a practical and meaningful way. Continue reading