How Telemedicine Can Be a Tool to Support the Health of Your Herd

Bov-Innovation: How telemedicine can be a tool to support the health of your herd


Pictured from left: Dr. Elizabeth Homerosky, Dr. Eugene Janzen, Alberta rancher Stephen Hughes and Dr. Tommy Ware

Picture this: you are checking calves and notice one is wobbly and having trouble. The closest bovine veterinarian is two hours away, but you are unsure whether this calf truly requires medical attention. You don’t want to waste the veterinarian’s afternoon, or yours, checking on what might be a non-emergency, but you could use an expert opinion. It may be possible to video call for a quick answer.

Veterinary telemedicine provides a unique opportunity to improve and streamline the way producers access their veterinarians and how veterinarians provide care to rural producers.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I guess a video is worth a thousand miles,” says Elizabeth Homerosky, DVM, Msc, DABVP, who practices near Airdrie, Alberta. “It’s hard for us to get to a lot of these operations quite regularly throughout the winter, so we feel like we have eyes on the cows and eyes on the place.”

In the following clip, presented during last year’s Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC) Bov-Innovation session, Dr. Homerosky and Dr. Tommy Ware, DVM, both with Veterinary Agri-Health Services, discuss the value of videos captured by producers as another tool to help monitor and treat herd health issues in remote locations.

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Be Mindful of Minerals

What mineral supplementation do I need and when do I need it?

Beef producers might know they should supplement their herds with mineral, but trying to wade through all the choices at the livestock supply store can be overwhelming. Commercial suppliers seem to make claims and offer something different, but with tubs and bags of every colour and price available, how to you know which one is right for your herd? What minerals do your cattle actually need and how is it best delivered?

total mixed feed ration for beef cattle


In general, beef cattle producers should be supplementing mineral to their herds whether they are grazing or being fed a winter ration.

Megan Van Schaik, a Beef Cattle Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) says there are some key things producers want to look at. In general, producers should be supplementing mineral to their herds whether they are grazing or being fed a winter ration.

Van Schaik says there are a host of variables that impact mineral nutrition and deficiencies in beef herds. “They present in many different ways and alarm bells usually go off when we see reproductive issues,” she says, but adds that mineral status can be linked to general health problems and even calf abnormalities. Mineral deficiencies can also cause less obvious production losses that can be easily avoided with proper supplementation. Continue reading

Basics of Backgrounding – Veterinary & Expert Insights Across Canada Webinar November 17th



Are you new to backgrounding? Join us as we discuss some common challenges that producers face when backgrounding calves. This presentation will be useful for those who have backgrounded calves, are currently backgrounding, are new to backgrounding weaned calves or are considering doing so in the future.

Register for our upcoming webinar to hear from three industry experts from across Canada as they provide insight and answer your questions about how to implement or improve your backgrounding operation.

This webinar also qualifies for 1 continuing education (CE) credit for registered veterinary technologists and technicians. A total of 3 CE credits will be available over the course of the BCRC 2021-22 webinar series. For more information on CE accreditation for RVT’s, please contact Dana Parker (parkerd@beefresearch.ca)

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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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Registration Now Open For 2021/2022 Webinar Series



This year’s Beef Cattle Research Council webinar series will cover a range of topics including backgrounding, record keeping and grazing plans, all focused on practical, science-based information for Canadian beef producers. 

Register here. (This link will allow you to register for the entire webinar series.)

See topics and descriptions below. Continue reading