GFM Network News


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

A newborn black angus calf with it's mother

Research backs value of implanting calves

Improved weights in the range of 20 to 30 pounds per head

Cattle folks know that in a perfect world calves should be castrated as soon as possible after ingesting a bellyful of colostrum, as this reduces stress and limits the sickness caused when this procedure is completed later in life. Desired results also include reduced aggression, lowered sexual activity, controlled reproduction, producer safety, higher-quality carcass grades, […] Read more


Replacement time is your best chance to improve the foundation of your cow herd.

Don’t get sentimental picking replacement cattle

Keep the best of your own, or look to buy quality heifers

Often in late fall and early winter, many producers face the task of adding replacement heifers to their cow herd, both from their own weaned heifer crop and potentially from other breeders. This routine process often yields mediocre and mixed results, so the question might be: “What can be done to take some of the […] Read more

These aren’t your daddy’s cow herds

These aren’t your daddy’s cow herds

No more kick ’em out and forget ’em for progressive producers

Long before the time when the grass comes in thick and green and the summer winds start to blow, progressive cattlemen begin to prepare their cow-calf herds for the grazing and breeding seasons ahead. The days of rounding up the herd just before you send them to pasture, slapping on a few ear tags, chasing […] Read more