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Cow-Calf Producers’ Opportunity to Compare their Production Levels

Cow-calf producers, do you wonder how your operation compares with others in your region, province or herd size range on matters like conception rate and weaning weight? A joint effort representing the cow-calf industry from BC to Manitoba is helping Western Canadian cattle producers do just that.

By participating in the Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey, producers can choose to receive a complementary report that allows them to compare their own operation with benchmarks (average numbers from a region).

The survey takes about 35-45 minutes to complete and asks questions related to the 2014 calf crop, as well as typical management practices. Many of the questions are the quick check-box style. Any question a producer is unable to answer can be left blank.

The complementary report will help producers see the aspects of their operation that they’re doing exceptionally well in, and the areas that have the greatest room for improvement. For example, the report will show a producer whether the conception rates of his cows in 2013 was higher or lower than nearby herds and herds of a similar size. That way, he’ll know whether he should work with his veterinarian, nutritionist and/or regional extension specialist to have fewer of his cows come home from pasture open, or if other production goals are a higher priority for him to focus on to improve his productivity and profitability.

The findings of the survey will be used in a number of ways, including to identify which management practices are linked to strong production performance, and to guide extension and research efforts that are most likely to lead to improvements in the industry.

Current industry benchmarks are dated; they’re based on a study conducted in Alberta in 1998. The 1998 survey found that the average cow:bull ratio was 26:1, the average wean weight was 576 lb, the average breeding season length was 93 days, and the average conception rate was 95.6%. It also found that on average 48% of cows calved in the first 21 days of the calving season, that 30% of operations quality tested their forage, and that less than 50% of operations pregnancy checked. It will be interesting and valuable to see how cow-calf production in Western Canada has changed since then.

Every cow-calf producer in BC, AB, SK and MB is encouraged to complete the survey. All of the information collected will remain confidential. Information cannot be linked to individual operations as data will be aggregated into averages and benchmarks.

Complete the survey online



Print a copy of the survey and send it using Canada Post

  1. Print hard copy:
  2. Print pre-paid postage label:
  3. Read the postage label instructions:

The deadline to participate is February 28, 2015. Results will be available in Spring 2015.

This survey is the result of a joint effort between the Beef Cattle Research Council, the Western Beef Development Centre, Canfax, the BC Cattlemen’s Association, the Alberta Beef Producers, the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association, the Manitoba Beef Producers, and the BC though MB provincial Ministries of Agriculture.

For more information, visit the Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey webpage or contact the survey representative in your province:

British ColumbiaAlbertaSaskatchewanManitoba
Clint Ellison
BC Ministry of Agriculture
Ph: 250-260-4613
Barry Yaremcio
Alberta Agriculture & Rural Development
Ph: 403-742-7926
Kathy Larson
Western Beef Development Centre
Ph: 306-930-9354
Ben Hamm
Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
Ph: 204-425-5050

In the news

Cow-calf survey to document changes in Western Canada’s industry
The Western Producer

Cow-calf producers needed for benchmark survey
Alberta Farmer Express

Survey To Paint Picture of Cow-Calf Sector Across Western Canada

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