Latest articles


Tips on getting a newborn calf breathing

Hanging them upside down doesn’t work and can make things worse

There are many traditional practices and old wives’ tales about how to get a newborn calf breathing — some of which are valid and helpful, and some that are not. Cody Creelman, with Veterinary Agri Health Services (VAHS), a five-veterinarian beef cattle practice at Airdrie, Alta., says there are a few practices that are actually […] Read more


To sell or background calves?

Risk Management Part 3: The futures and basis will guide key decisions

This is the third article on price risk management for feeder cattle. In the first article, I provided a review of using the average basis to project an expected forward price for 550-pound steer calves and 850-pound yearlings. In the second article, I answered some common questions from producers. I showed producers should factor in […] Read more



calf eating grass

Spring is welcome, but it brings its own issues for calves

Pen Checker Diary: Nicer weather comes with a whole parcel of animal health risks

Those of us in the agricultural field find ourselves continually affected by our Canadian weather. A constant of this weather is that it is continually changing, and when the bitter cold temperatures of winter begin to ease and the spring sun appears in its brilliance, Old Sonny and I tend to feel pretty good about […] Read more


Problems and benefits of twin calves

Animal Health: It is worth the extra management effort to save both calves

In my practice I often hear producers complaining about twins, mainly because often the focus is on the problems they can present. However, research done on a twinner population over the last 10 years in the U.S. found there to be a definite economic benefit with twins. So it is important to look at both […] Read more



Tighter feeder cattle availability ahead

Market Update: Drought in southern Plains has moved more cattle to feedlots

In mid-February, Alberta packers were buying fed cattle in the range of $273 to $275 on a dressed basis while live prices were quoted from $163 to $165. Fed cattle prices have been relatively flat so far this year. However, feeder cattle prices dropped sharply in January and failed to recover. This is largely due […] Read more


Feeder cattle basis analysis

Finishing at least some of your own calves is a diversification measure

In my previous article, I provided a brief overview of last year’s series of articles on price risk management for feeder cattle. In this column I will continue the discussion and also answer some of the main questions producers had last year. Cow-calf producers are becoming more familiar with the basis level for their local […] Read more



Proper diets take a bite out of wind chill

When temperatures dip, it’s time to torque up the ration

Beef cow diets developed at the beginning of winter when temperatures were mild are not adequate to meet their energy requirements when new year’s winds blow. That’s because pregnant beef cows need extra calories in order to keep warm, rather than burning up fat reserves needed for the upcoming calving season. Therefore, if it is […] Read more


More on feeder cattle risk management

Market Update: Looking a little deeper into messages from the market

In the winter of 2017 I wrote a series of articles about price risk management for feeder cattle. I discussed hedging feeder cattle on the CME feeder cattle futures and also conducted a risk analysis on the basis for feeder cattle prices in Manitoba. Read more: Understanding feeder cattle risk: Pt. 1 Read more: Understanding feeder cattle […] Read more



Dealing with contracted or lax leg tendons in calves

Animal Health: In many cases, time and a bit of physiotherapy will fix the condition

It is not uncommon during calving season for producers to end up with calves with contracted tendons (knuckling over) or the complete opposite — cases of lax tendons whereby the back of the fetlock is touching the ground. Although it is difficult to prevent these abnormalities, fortunately they only occur sporadically. Even so it is […] Read more


cattle herd

Flight zones can teach some lessons

Cattle behaviour may not be all that much different than how humans handle life

There are many things I have learned over the years about what makes a good pen checker in the feedlot. In my opinion, one of the most important is learning about the flight zones of cattle. Earlier in my career, I believed it was something you either understood or didn’t. There was no middle ground […] Read more