USask Announces New Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization Chair

Bree Kelln, Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization chair at University of Saskatchewan


Bree Kelln is the new Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization Chair at the University of Saskatchewan.
(Photo:  Janelle Wilson)

Related: New Research Chair at USask will Help Maximize Environmental, Economic Benefits of Forage Crops

By Brett Makulowich, University of Saskatchewan

Bree Kelln has been selected as the new Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization (IFMU) Chair for the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

Kelln will be the first person to hold the new research chair position that was created to address a gap in forage research. A 2012 assessment concluded lack of research and development investment in the Canadian forage industry meant advances in forage had not kept pace with developments in other crops. The beef and cattle industry are increasingly seeing forages as a high-value feed source that also provide significant environmental benefits.

“We’re delighted to welcome Bree Kelln into her new role at the University of Saskatchewan,” said Dr. Angela Bedard-Haughn (PhD), dean of the USask College of Agriculture and Bioresources. “She brings a wealth of knowledge from her previous experience with industry that involved agronomy, livestock, and extension.” Continue reading

Protect Your Investments

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the January 2022 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

beef cow cleaning newborn calf in winter snow
Producer surveys suggest that 5 to 8% of calves typically die before weaning. High winter feed costs mean you’ve already invested a lot in the 2022 calf crop. That investment is lost when calves die before weaning. Scours and respiratory disease are two leading causes of preventable disease and death in young calves.

Calves rely on antibodies from the cow’s colostrum to fight off common pathogens. If the cow herd is well-vaccinated and well-fed, and if calves consume adequate amounts of high-quality colostrum within the first few hours of life, maternal antibody levels can remain high for several months.

The downside is that maternal antibodies can interfere with injectable vaccines. Vaccines help the immune system practice, like a fire drill. The first attempt may be awkward, slow and uncoordinated, but repeated practice improves performance next time. Similarly, the immune system responds better each time it’s exposed to a pathogen. The second (booster) vaccination produces a stronger and longer-lasting response than the initial (priming) vaccination. If the calf is given a vaccine injection while high levels of maternal antibody are circulating in the calf’s blood, those antibodies will block the vaccine before the calf’s own immune system gets a chance to practice. That defeats the purpose.

“Mucosal” vaccines given in the nose (intranasal) or mouth (oral) avoid this problem. These vaccines work differently than injectable vaccines so maternal antibodies do not interfere with them. Nathan Erickson and colleagues at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine demonstrated this in a recent study funded by your Canadian Beef Cattle Check-off (Evaluation of bovine respiratory syncital virus (BRSV) and bovine herpesvirus (BHV) specific antibody responses between heterologous and homologous prime-boost vaccinated western Canadian beef calves; PMID: 33390597). 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

Growth Promotants and the Environment

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the October 2021 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.
growth promotants improve feed efficiency of beef cattle and also have environmental benefits
Growth promotants dramatically improve the growth rates and feed efficiency of beef cattle. Trenbolone acetate (TBA) behaves like testosterone and is used in several feedlot implants (Component, Revalor, and Synovex). Melengestrol acetate (MGA) behaves like progesterone, a pregnancy hormone. Some feedlots feed MGA to suppress estrous cycles and riding activity in heifers until a few days before slaughter. Ractopamine (Actogain, Optaflexx) is a feed additive that improves weight gain, feed efficiency and leanness in the last 28-42 days before slaughter.

Growth promotants also have environmental benefits; reducing the number of days (and amount of feed) needed to finish cattle means fewer days producing greenhouse gases and manure, and less water, feed and fossil fuel inputs per pound of beef.

Animals metabolize and excrete these growth promotants over time – that’s why growth promotant residues in beef are too low to pose any risk to consumers. But do these excreted residues and metabolites pose a risk to the environment? How long do they persist in soil and manure, and is there a risk they could enter surface or groundwater?

A Beef Cluster study led by Frank Larney and co-workers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Research & Development Centre and the University of Saskatchewan’s Toxicology Centre is examining these questions. Their first study was published earlier this year (Ractopamine and Other Growth-Promoting Compounds in Beef Cattle Operations: Fate and Transport in Feedlot Pens and Adjacent Environments; Environmental Science & Technology. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c06450). Continue reading

New Research Chair at USask will help maximize environmental, economic benefits of forage crops

SASKATOON – A new Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization Chair will be established at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) to connect the study of soils, plants, animals, economics, and ecosystems to tap into forage crops’ full range of benefits.


The new Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization Chair will connect the study of soils, plants, animals, economics, and ecosystems. (Photo: Cassidy Sim).

“The Chair will help to address concerns raised for a number of years by producers searching for expanded forage management information,” said Matt Bowman, chair of the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) and a producer from Thornloe, Ont. “We need the science in order to better manage complex forage systems, implement effective utilization strategies, and understand the associated environmental benefits created through the dynamic soil-plant-animal interface.”

Funding for the research chair will be provided from a variety of sources. Industry contributions include $2.5 million from the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) and $1 million from the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association (SCA). The governments of Canada and Saskatchewan will provide $750,000 through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at USask will contribute $320,000. Continue reading