This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the May 2021 issue ofCanadian Cattlemenmagazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.
Pasture plants are generally classified as decreasers, increasers and invaders. Decreaser species are the plants you want to see and your cattle prefer to eat, so they face the most grazing pressure. Increaser plants tend to thrive when the decreaser species are challenged by overgrazing, drought or other sub-optimal conditions. Invaders (weeds) proliferate when increasers and the remaining decreasers are so weakened by overgrazing or environmental extremes that they have a hard time competing for nutrients, water and sunlight.
Healthy, productive pastures are dominated by decreasers. The composition of the decreaser community in healthy native rangelands was shaped by thousands of years of natural selection and environmental pressures. In tame pastures, humans take the wheel from Mother Nature as we seek to establish and maintain a stand of tame decreaser species that can be productive and long-lived in our particular soil and climate conditions. In both native and tame pastures, good grazing managers adjust stocking densities, grazing intensities, grazing and rest period length and frequency, etc. based on annual and seasonal variations in growing conditions to maintain pasture health and optimize long-term forage and animal productivity. Continue reading →
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 one 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 two of this series.
Although located in different regions across the country, the following three producers all agree that being able to change and adapt is key when implementing new practices on their operation.
Rotating Wintering Sites in Treed Landscapes
Dean Manning – Nova Scotia
Dean and his family have a mixed farm in the Annapolis Valley near Falmouth, Nova Scotia. There they raise vegetables to sell at farmers’ markets and have a herd of 80 Angus crossbred cattle. Farming in this unique area, alongside all forms of agriculture from greenhouses and wineries to dairy and hogs, has provided the Mannings with opportunities and challenges. With a limited land base that is surrounded primarily by housing developments, the Mannings realized that to produce more they had to become more efficient as expansion is not an option. The advantage is that land is very productive, and the moisture received makes for favourable growing conditions for forages and other crops. Continue reading →
The Forage U-Pick project was supported by over 13 different organizations through contributions of time and expertise. Funding was provided by the Beef Cattle Research Council, Alberta Beef, Forage and Grazing Centre, Saskatchewan Forage Council, and the Government of British Columbia and Government of Canada through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
Forages for hay and pasture are essential for beef production. Ensuring forage species are well-matched to growing conditions improves establishment rates, yield, vigour and quality. This can reduce costs, improve utilization and number of grazing days, and increase profitability. Using accurate production information can produce positive impacts on beef and forage productivity, sustainability, and competitiveness.
While the old nursery rhyme says Mary the contrary used several odd techniques to get her garden to grow, Canadian beef producers are relying more on new forage varieties, new forage blends and new management approaches to not only produce more grass, but also help to extend the grazing season.
Producers are looking for different things from forages — that includes varieties that come into production early and hold their quality later, varieties and species that tolerate drought, others that don’t mind wet feet, legumes that have high production but minimize the risk of bloat, and grasses, legumes and even annual crops with the versatility to be grazed, baled or silage — these are among the features being evaluated and incorporated into forage mixes across the country. Continue reading →