The Canadian Cow-Calf Health and Productivity Enhancement Network (C3H/PEN)

Project Title

The Canadian Cow-Calf Health and Productivity Enhancement Network (C3H/PEN)


Cheryl Waldner (Western College of Veterinary Medicine)

John Campbell (WCVM), Claire Windeyer (University of Calgary), Jessica Gordon (University of Guelph), Marjolaine Rousseau (University of Montreal), and Kathy Larson (University of Saskatchewan)

Status Project Code
In progress. Results expected in March, 2028 ANH.04.21C


Cow-calf production occurs in every province of Canada, but herd sizes, management practices, production systems, challenges and opportunities vary considerably in regions with significantly different climatic and geographical challenges. A good understanding of regionally relevant issues and production practices is key to developing appropriate cattle management and production recommendations and best practices. This project continues the work from the previous C3SN.


  • Examine diversity among Canadian cow-calf management systems and identify opportunities to enhance herd health and productivity tailored for their unique needs.
  • Support a nationwide network of cow-calf operations that will provide critical research opportunities generating timely data and biological samples to support sector resilience focusing on: reproductive performance, nutrition and environment, calf losses, production limiting diseases, animal welfare practices, biosecurity, antimicrobial use (AMU) and resistance (AMR).
  • Understand the economic impact of evolving herd management (e.g., extensive winter grazing and reproductive performance), factors impacting the uptake of preferred production practices and technologies, and emerging threats to sustainability (e.g., drought, heat, flooding).
  • Recruit a subset of herds for an in-depth study of individual animal BCS and calving data, samples from neonatal calves and post-mortem examinations to explore more detailed research questions than possible using surveys and production records alone.

What They Will Do

This network of 150 cow-calf herds will serve as a “living laboratory” to help answer key questions related to reproductive performance, winter feeding practices, and preweaning calf survival, three of the main factors affecting economic viability. Production data will be collected in spring to assess calving percentage and survival, and in fall to assess pregnancy rates and weaning percentages. Targeted annual surveys will gather producer data regarding specific management practices and will be followed up with telephone or online interviews in selected herds. More in-depth investigations regarding more specific questions (for example, relationships between cow BCS, neonatal nutritional status, antimicrobial use and animal health, welfare and reproductive outcomes) will be conducted on a subset of herds.

Herds will be selected to represent intensively-managed winter/early spring calving herds from Western Canada, extensively-managed late spring / early summer calving herds from Western Canada and smaller, more confined herds in Central and Atlantic Canada so that regionally relevant conclusions and advice can be developed to optimize reproductive, calving and calf productivity and management in all parts of Canada.


Information from this living lab will help the BCRC provide cow-calf producers from coast to coast with regionally-relevant animal production and management information.