Rebuilding with Homegrown Heifers Versus Purchasing Breeding Stock

This is a guest post by Huiting Huang, Research Analyst at Canfax Research Services.
beef producer on horseback checking cattle in lot
Severe drought, high feed costs and limited feed availability in 2021 forced many producers to liquidate a portion of their cow herd. One of the consequences of a smaller herd is the higher cost per cow as overheads are spread over fewer animals. Therefore, when feed is available and pasture quality and quality allow, rebuilding the herd is desired in order to efficiently utilize available resources (such as land, labour, facilities and machinery) and to minimize equity loss.

With various drought conditions across the country, producers are likely to have different plans and timelines for herd rebuilding. Some might be planning to rebuild in 2022 if the drought abates, but those who are in a prolonged drought may need more time for pastures to recover.

Recovering from drought is a challenging period and requires strategic decision-making with considerations of the trade-offs of different rebuilding options from the economic, animal performance and land productivity perspectives.

To better understand the different rebuilding options, Canfax Research Services conducted an analysis focusing on the potential economic trade-offs of rebuilding with homegrown heifers or purchased breeding stock. Continue reading

Always Look a Gift Cow in the Mouth

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.
beef cattle in sale barn
This year’s feed situation is forcing many cow-calf producers to make very difficult decisions. Those who are short of feed may cull their herds harder than usual or look for alternative feeding arrangements to winter some or all their cows. Others with feed carryover from previous years may be tempted to custom feed other people’s cows, or to expand their own herds. Those who are selling cows this year may rebuild their herds in a year or two when the weather is more promising. In short, there are potentially a lot of cows changing hands, either permanently or temporarily.

Regardless of whether you’re buying now, buying later or considering custom feeding, remember that there’s more to the decision than price alone. Some apparent opportunities can bring significant hidden costs. This lesson was illustrated recently in a project led by John Campbell and Cheryl Waldner, with co-workers from the Universities of Saskatchewan and Calgary (Biosecurity Practices in Western Canadian Cow-Calf Herds and Their Association with Animal Health; Canadian Veterinary Journal 62:712-718). Continue reading