GFM Network News


Most consumers want to know where their food is coming from, how it’s produced and to feel confident it’s safe and supports their values.

Sustainability closely linked to beef marketing

Consumers do want to know how beef is produced and who's producing it

It could be said that marketing and sustainability of the Canadian beef industry are joined at the hip. Without one, the other suffers. Dorothy Erickson, manager of veterinary services for Zoetis in Saskatoon, believes beef’s constructive marketing requires an understanding of its relationship to sustainability. “When we look at the big picture, I think it’s […] Read more

A proper vaccination program as calves head out to pasture can help reduce the risk of common respiratory diseases.

Vaccination one tool to curb ‘summer pneumonia’ in calves

It’s important to keep calf immunity strong from birth to weaning

When young nursing calves become sick on pasture, the term “summer pneumonia” is often used to describe their situation. Technically, it’s a misnomer, says Russ Daly, extension veterinarian at South Dakota State University. Calf producers typically refer to it this way, as it happens on pasture matching up with summer in North America, as opposed […] Read more


The recommendation is to figure out the objectives for your beef herd, and then select uniform breeding genetics, as best possible, to help you reach those goals.

Quality, uniformity needs to be planned when breeding cattle

A willy-nilly approach to breeding will produce willy-nilly results

Strategies for breeding cattle must be reinforced by multiple targeted objectives that factor in operational goals, marketing possibilities, environmental demands and resource availability. For the cow-calf producer, the two basic objectives are quality and uniformity. One of the leading factors affecting calf uniformity is distribution throughout the breeding and calving seasons — a long breeding […] Read more

Mixing it up — benefits of crossbred bulls

Mixing it up — benefits of crossbred bulls

Hybrid bulls are a good way to achieve several improved performance parameters

It’s common knowledge that crossbreeding produces heterosis — the hybrid vigour with qualities superior to those of both parents. Crossbreeding is often reserved for females in the herd, but more producers are looking at the males to identify potential benefits and profit opportunities. Breeding sires not fitting the purebred slot are considered hybrids or composites. […] Read more


A backgrounding target is something that is constantly moving, depending on the owner’s long-term plan.

Backgrounding options and considerations

Penchecker Diary: What's the risk level? What’s the end game?

The term ‘backgrounding,’ while often used in the cattle-feeding industry, provokes a certain level of misunderstanding from farm to farm. Many feedlots and cow-calf producers have zeroed in on its true meaning, while others may practise an imprecise version. Candace Wenzel DVM at Roblin Vet Services in Manitoba says that at times it’s an unfocused […] Read more

If you don’t have the numbers to make a truck load lot, it may be worthwhile to team up with another producer.

Numbers matter when marketing cattle

Genetics may not matter as much as larger, more consistent lots

The definition of marketing for some cow-calf producers could be “rounding up the calves, loading them into trailers and sending them to the local auction market.” While this method will put a cheque in the bank account, it’s not likely the optimum definition to tie the financial proficiency of an operation to. Advertise herd genetics […] Read more


The cost of pregnancy and depreciation of an animal are two costs people often don’t value enough, says one Montana cattle producer.

Breeding strategies might break the accepted mould

Think about what you're trying to achieve and the best way to get there

A change in direction for a cow-calf producer’s operation is sometimes required for a wide range of reasons from market shifts to personal finances. To modify breeding strategies or reproductive timelines and tactics, several decisions need to be made. Billy Whitehurst, owner and operator of Makale Livestock in Whitehall, Montana, has been in the cattle […] Read more

All these yearling Simmental bulls look pretty good. How do you know which will work the best for your beef operation?

Contractors can help to fill the bull roster

Experts have the contacts and understand the terminology

It’s a tried-and-true saying: “Plan for a healthy calf per every reproducing-age female each year.” But that strategy may at times demand that to get all females covered at breeding season, it becomes necessary to purchase bull power. For some cow-calf producers this can be a time- and energy-consuming task for which they are ill-prepared, […] Read more


Cows need their space at calving — even just a few minutes alone so they can properly bond with the calf.

There is a reason pregnant cows prefer to isolate

Being alone at calving is natural, and improves bonding

The act of a pregnant cow seeking isolation and birthing a calf without interruption to establish a strong and healthy bond is never guaranteed. It can be a fragile chain of events in need of support. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef Systems extension educator Aaron Berger sees the process as complex. “Weather conditions, the environment the […] Read more

There are a number of tools and apps available to make herd management easier for even the most technologically challenged.

Use records to make better herd management decisions

Record-keeping can help identify areas of strength and weakness

When farmers and ranchers discuss herd management over coffee at the local diner, there is often a glazed look on many of the faces as they nod robotically in agreement with the speaker. “Herd management” has become a fancy all-encompassing term that by its sheer size can suck the air from any room. Every producer […] Read more