Trace minerals directly affect unborn calves

If the cow isn’t getting sufficient minerals calf development and strength suffers

Within the next few months, there will be a lot of newborn calves on the ground. Fair- to good-quality forage is quite plentiful this year and grain is a reasonable price, so most of the cow herds I have seen across Western Canada this winter are in good body condition for calving. But one area […] Read more

Gruesome, but sometimes necessary

Animal Health: When there’s no other options, a dead calf needs to dismembered for removal

Fetotomy is a veterinarian’s fancy word for cutting up a dead calf within the cow during the birthing. While it sounds gruesome the process still has a valuable place in a competent veterinarian’s bag of tricks. The object is to reduce trauma or minimize damage to the cow. The calf at this point is a […] Read more

Several options for winter grazing

Better to spend money on topping up nutrition than hauling feed

Winter grazing can work because it addresses one of the largest costs in maintaining a cow herd — yardage. For a simple definition, yardage is everything that is not feed. It includes tractors, fuel, depreciation on equipment, yard lights, fences, corrals and labour among other things. Some recent work in both Alberta and Saskatchewan has […] Read more

Short-term gains, long-term pains

The market still needs to discourage beef production — and that hurts

Fed and feeder cattle prices have been percolating higher recently as the markets adjust to lower-than-expected first-quarter beef production. Alberta fed cattle prices have been hovering in the range of $162 to $165, which is approximately $25 above break-even pen closeout values. Healthy feedlot margins allowed feedlots to bid up feeder cattle prices. Larger-frame steers […] Read more

Preparedness checklist for calving season

Animal Health: Start with clean facilities and equipment and have all supplies in stock

As with any work area on the farm, having the proper equipment, keeping it maintained, disinfected and the area properly stocked with pharmaceuticals, will help insure a successful calving season. The one critical and often-forgotten component is biosecurity. With many cows and their mothers moving through the calving area at a stressful time it is […] Read more

Important to understand the futures

Market Update: Learn to use hedging tools when selling calves

Over the past year, I’ve received many inquiries from cow-calf producers about hedging feeder cattle. Most producers calve during the winter or spring and sell their feeders in the fall or the following winter after backgrounding. We’ve all seen how the prices can change within a six- to 10-month period. One of the most common questions I […] Read more

Poor corn residue may need supplement

The wet fall can reduce feed quality of corn residue, create mould

In the last few years, many beef producers have taken advantage of corn residue as part of their cow herd’s overwintering feeding program. It’s a low-cost feed and for the most part, because early-gestating cows are allowed months of grazing without much trouble. Unfortunately, this wet fall has presented many challenges in feeding lower-quality corn […] Read more

beef on a winter pasture

Important to maintain proper BCS

Cattleman's Corner: Cows looking good going into winter still need to be fed

Warm temperatures and lots of rain right into fall regenerated pastures producing plenty of nutritious grasses for cattle. Many gestating cows are going into the winter, healthy and in decent shape. By feeding them well-balanced overwintering diets, we can continue this momentum, so these beef cows can get through a typical cold winter and be […] Read more

Watch for newer respiratory pathogens

Animal Health: One is a virus, the other a bacteria — both can be hard to identify

We have all heard of coronavirus being one of the main causes of viral scours in newborn calves. It alone, with a couple strains of rotavirus, are the two main viruses we see in scours vaccines. It also causes a winter dysentery (bloody diarrhea) in mature cattle, especially housed dairy cattle in the winter. What […] Read more

Ease weaned calves into backgrounding

It is difficult if not impossible to recover losses due to sick animals

Some ranchers hold calves over as yearlings, and some buy light calves in the spring to put on grass and gain weight. Some calves go into a confinement program and are fed a growing ration until they are ready to enter a finishing facility. Backgrounding covers a spectrum of situations that includes preconditioning before and […] Read more