Tightening the Calving Season: How to Increase Profitability Through Calving Distribution *New Video*

Calving distribution is the percentage of calves born in each 21-day cycle throughout the calving season. Each time a cow is not bred during a 21-day heat cycle, it can cost up to 39 lbs of weaning weight (assuming an average daily gain on calves of 1.85 lbs/day).

The benefits of a shortened calving season are numerous:

  • Having more calves born in the first 21 days of the calving season allows producers to market larger, more uniform groups of calves and increase their profit potential.
  • It increases cow longevity.
  • Heifers that were born earlier have greater pregnancy rates, remain in the herd longer and produce one more calf in their lifetime compared to those that calve in later periods.
  • Herd vaccinations are easier to time.
  • Increased uniformity allows easier comparison between calves.

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Bull Power – How to Calculate the True Value of a Herd Sire *New Video*

Bull selection is a key decision for cow-calf producers that will have implications for both short- and long-term profitability. A bull represents half of your herd’s genetics and will sire calves to be marketed or represent the future of your breeding herd.

With bull prices trending higher year after year, producers want to ensure that their investment is adding value to their operation in the right places while still working within a budget. Many bull traits have different impacts on your bottom line.

Before buying a bull, it’s important for producers to identify their breeding management goals so they can select a bull that will help accomplish them. It is important to evaluate how much a bull is worth to your farm or ranch, and identify a price to pay in which you will ideally break even during the lifetime of that sire.

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Calf 911 – How to Spot Dehydration in Young or Scouring Calves *New Video*

It’s a great feeling when a calf arrives on the ground safe and sound. Ideally, things go well, and cows and newborn calves thrive. However, it’s important for producers to take the time to look for signs of early illness in neonatal calves. Being able to recognize the symptoms of disease and dehydration in baby calves is a simple and effective practice that can make a big mark on your bottom line.

Calves with scours are at a high risk for dehydration and hypothermia. When calves infected with neonatal scours die, it is ultimately because of dehydration, not the pathogens that cause the disease. Having practices in place on your operation to identify, manage and rehydrate calves suffering from scours or other causes of dehydration can increase the chance of recovery and optimize the health and wellbeing of young calves.

Here are some steps producers can use to evaluate the dehydration and health status of young calves: Continue reading

Calf 911 – How to Manage Colostrum to Allow Newborn Calves to Thrive *New Video*

Ensuring newborn calves consume colostrum is one of the most important management strategies cow-calf operations can implement to promote healthy calves. Colostrum provides essential antibodies (like Immunoglobulin G or IgG) to a calf with virtually no immune system. Colostrum also contains fats, vitamins, proteins and other immune cells essential to provide the calf energy, warmth and the local immunity it requires to thrive in the first few days of life. This initial immunity will protect against calfhood diseases such as scours, navel abscesses, septic arthritis and pneumonia.

Calves that are born unassisted and uncompromised will typically stand and nurse from their mothers within one to two hours after birth. However, calves that experience a difficult or prolonged birth, have a swollen tongue, experience hypothermia or are a twin may be less vigorous and unable to stand and nurse during that critical period. A cow with a large udder, poor udder suspension and/or large teats may also limit a calf’s ability to receive adequate colostrum.

It is crucial for producers to observe newborn calves to make sure they have received colostrum and to intervene if necessary. Look closely to see if any of the cow’s teats have been suckled, feel if the calf’s belly is full and check the hooves to see if the rubbery capsule has been worn off to indicate standing. Checking a calf’s suckle reflex by sticking your fingers in the calf’s mouth is also a simple indicator to demonstrate whether the suckle reflex is weak and the calf needs to be supplemented with colostrum. Continue reading

Calf 911 – The Ins and Outs of Esophageal Feeding *New Video*

While the goal is to always have vigorous calves that nurse right away, and maternal cows that bring them up right, illness and suckling issues can be a reality. Esophageal feeding, also known as “tube feeding” or “stomach feeding,” is essential when a calf requires colostrum or if you are treating dehydration in a sick calf. Knowing how to properly tube feed a calf is critical to help support calves when they are at their most vulnerable. Here are a few tips to consider while tube feeding calves:  

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Announcing the Beef Researcher Mentorship Program Participants 2021-2022 *New Video*

Researchers are critical for our industry. Engaging researchers who study cattle, beef, genetics, feed or forage production with the Canadian beef cattle industry is mutually beneficial; it allows researchers to be better informed of what the industry needs are and more likely to share their findings with a practical, solution-based focus. The BCRC Beef Researcher Mentorship Program provides opportunity for new researchers to be paired with two mentors that are relevant to their career as well as a travel budget to attend industry events.

A new video has been released which provides more information about the researcher mentorship program. As past program mentee Robert Gruninger, a research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Research and Development Centre, said, “For me, the knowledge that I gained from the mentorship program has been invaluable not only for me being able to get the job that I’m in, but also to be successful in securing funding that has relevance to producers.”

Watch the new video:

The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is pleased to announce the participants in the 2021-22 Beef Researcher Mentorship program. Following an open application process, four researchers from across Canada have been selected. Each has been paired with notable leaders in the Canadian beef industry and given a travel budget for the next year, which will provide valuable opportunities for greater engagement with Canada’s beef industry. Continue reading

New Video: The Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation

In a new video spotlighting the Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation, 2020 winner Karen Beauchemin says, “It’s so fantastic to know that the work that we have been doing is important and recognized by the industry.”

The Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation is presented by the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) each year to recognize a researcher or scientist whose work has contributed to advancements in the competitiveness and sustainability of the Canadian beef industry. The 2021 award will be presented virtually at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, at 12:00 PM MST. To watch the award ceremony, you may register for the conference or use the following link: https://web.cvent.com/event/85eb671e-34f6-4cee-8c8b-4ecfb6435fac/regProcessStep1 and use the code: BCRCAWARDS.

Nominations for the award are welcome from all stakeholders of the Canadian beef industry and will be reviewed by a selection committee comprised of beef producers, industry experts and retired beef-related researchers from across the country.  Nominations are kept on file and reconsidered for up to two additional years. In such cases, the nominator will be contacted each year and given the opportunity to revise the nomination.

To be eligible, nominees must be Canadian citizens or landed immigrants actively involved in research of benefit to the Canadian beef industry within the past five years. Benefit to the industry must be evident in a strong research program aligned with industry priorities, a demonstrated passion and long-term commitment through leadership, teamwork and mentorship, involvement in ongoing education and training (where applicable) and active engagement with industry stakeholders.

Do you know a researcher to nominate? Nominations for the 2022 award will be accepted until May 1, 2022.

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The sharing or reprinting of BCRC Blog articles is welcome and encouraged. Please provide acknowledgement to the Beef Cattle Research Council, list the website address, www.BeefResearch.ca, and let us know you chose to share the article by emailing us at info@beefresearch.ca.

We welcome your questions, comments and suggestions. Contact us directly or generate public discussion by posting your thoughts below.

Calf 911 – New Video Demonstrates Effective Calf Resuscitation Strategies

The following is part one of a series of three posts on calving that include newborn calf management practices and intervention strategies to help producers create positive calving outcomes. Read part two for tips and tricks on colostrum and part three to learn about when and how to use electrolytes.

Calving is a natural process and most cows give birth to a healthy calf and everything goes as planned. However, there are times when things go wrong. Perhaps there is a malpresentation, such as a backwards arrival, or the calf’s foot is back. In some cases, perhaps calves do not take their first breath after a difficult labour. Here are a few tips to consider to get a calf up and going as soon as possible: Continue reading

Canadian steer carcasses are 125 lbs heavier than previous audit: Video



The 2016/2017 National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) completed a carcass grade cooler audit to assess marbling and lean meat yield.

Since the previous audit in 2010/2011, the number of Canadian cattle grading AAA significantly increased which has supported the growth of branded beef programs in retail and the restaurant sector.

Table 1: Changes in percentage of A grades from 2010/2011 to 2016/2017. Data source Canadian Beef Grading Agency (CBGA).

Yield grade performance has decreased over the same time period. Due to the increase in fat cover, fewer cattle are meeting the yield class 1 designation. In fed cattle, the cost to industry from discounts on yield grades has increased from $12.57/head or $32 million in 2010/11 to $12.81/head or $33 million in 2016/17.

The average steer carcass rate has increased from 857 lbs in 2010/2011 to 982 lbs in 2017. Larger carcass sizes present challenges because larger muscle sizes require steaks to be cut thinner to fit portion sizes on restaurant menus. Since 1975, carcasses have increased 7 lbs annually.

The ultimate goal is to continue to produce high marbling carcasses and maintain lean meat yield even at heavier carcasses. It is well known that marbling is the last fat to be deposited and has a positive effect on the eating quality of some cuts. However, there is a time-based relationship between muscle and fat deposition and fat will continue to accumulate without increases in muscle at higher live weights. The ideal carcass would be one that meets both a high quality and yield grade, for example Canada Prime or AAA and a Y1 yield grade.

Table 2: Carcasses meeting the AAA/Y1 grade in 2016/2017 compared to 2010/2011. Data source CBGA.

Learn more: 

Click here to subscribe to the BCRC Blog and receive email notifications when new content is posted.

The sharing or reprinting of BCRC Blog articles is welcome and encouraged. Please provide acknowledgement to the Beef Cattle Research Council, list the website address, www.BeefResearch.ca, and let us know you chose to share the article by emailing us at info@beefresearch.ca.

We welcome your questions, comments and suggestions. Contact us directly or generate public discussion by posting your thoughts below.

How much do Canadian consumers enjoy their home-cooked steaks? New video

To understand the satisfaction of Canadian beef consumers, a Retail Beef Satisfaction Benchmark was completed as part of the 2014-18 National Beef Quality Audit.

Goals of the retail beef study were to determine:

  1. the importance of tenderness, juiciness and flavour
  2. consumer satisfaction levels with Canadian beef steaks
  3. the tenderness of Canadian beef steaks

Consumer satisfaction with retail beef in Canada was assessed using four cuts of steak (boneless cross rib, top sirloin, inside round, or strip loin) from 75 stores across Canada. A total of 1200 randomly selected consumers were provided with one cut of steak, instructed to prepare it at home and to provide a score out of ten for juiciness, flavour, tenderness and overall rating. Consumers were screened to ensure they had some experience in preparing beef products and had consumed beef in the past year. The same retailers also provided 680 steaks which were tested for tenderness using a technique called the Warner-Bratzler method at Agriculture and Agri-Food (AAFC) laboratory in Lacombe, AB.

The consumer satisfaction assessment revealed that 79% of the test consumers gave an overall score of 7/10 or higher. Of the 1,200 consumers, 288 gave their steak a perfect rating (10/10). When the rest of the consumers were asked, “Why wasn’t it perfect?”, approximately 12% of study consumers felt their cooking methods were solely or partially responsible. The consumers’ main concern (46%) was with the texture (tenderness and juiciness) of their steak. Flavour and fat content were least often noted as a concern (9% and 6% respectively). Continue reading