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Things I learned in Saskatoon

Just when I thought I knew it all, (or is it that I didn’t
want to learn anymore) I spent a day at the Saskatchewan Beef and Forage
Symposium in Saskatoon, this week, and got a bad case of information overload.

I was only able to catch 13 of the 17 presentations during
the day, but here are some of the highlights. (Many of the presenters were
students at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) working on their Masters

degrees – so young and yet so smart.

  • Alison
    Ward is working on a project to see if genetic testing might one day help identify cattle who could benefit from Vitamin A supplements to improve carcass marbling. Vitamin A does affect marbling and some cattle may have a genetic disposition to
    better handle vitamin A than others. If genetic testing can identify
    those cattle, supplements could be used to improve carcass quality. 
  • Dyan
    Pratt, selected a glamorous project where she is collecting the liquid
    from rotting carcasses to get a chemical analysis. The whole point of this
    is, if there is ever a major disease outbreak and large numbers of cattle
    have to be euthanized and buried, she wanted to evaluate the impact of
    this liquid or leachate on soil and groundwater. It appears the leachate
    would be very high in ammonium sulphate, phosphorus, chloride and other
    compounds, so proper citing of these disposal grounds and even SRM
    disposal is important to protect the environment.
  • Brooke
    Aitken, of Eyebrow Saskatchewan and a student at the Western College of
    Veterinary Medicine (photo at right) 
    is trying to determine if there is a way to identify overly
    aggressive cattle in a beef herd.BrookeA2.jpgSome goofy heifers just make poor
    mothers, and of course other aggressive females, at calving, injure and
    kill ranchers every year. Some limited surveys she has done shows that 70
    percent of producers report having ‘dangerous’ cows, and 70 percent of
    those producers have been injured by cattle. Surprisingly only 50 percent
    of injured ranchers say they culled overly aggressive cattle. (Maybe Brooke should be evaluating the 50 percent of producers who don't cull crazy cows). 
  • Alin
    Gannon, at U of S, is looking at the potential of using the bran from
    wheat used in ethanol production as a feed source for feeder cattle.  Research results are preliminary,
    but it appears the high fibre bran can replace barley in a feed ration and
    still produce good gains.
  • John
    McKinnon, who is way to old to pass as a student, is currently Saskatchewan Beef Industry Chair in the Department of
    Animal and Poultry Science at the University of Saskatchewan. He has, for
    several years, been evaluating the use of Dry Distillers Grain (DDG) from
    ethanol production as a livestock feed source. While a lot of the DDG used in Canada comes from corn
    ethanol plants in the U.S., as much as 500,000 tonnes of wheat DDG is
    produced in Canada. Looking at DDG used in backgrounding rations,  McKinnon’s research shows wheat
    DDG can be a very cost effective ingredient for backgrounding, however he notes it is high
    in nitrogen and phosphorus, so any surplus nutrients end up in manure
    making it a challenge to properly manage manure application so it doesn’t
    overload the environment.


More reports later.









About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.



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