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A vision of what the beef industry needs

Big Picture Thinking Part 1: The Canadian beef industry needs to think big to optimize its potential

Editor’s Note: This is part one of a three-part series by Alberta rancher and consultant Sean McGrath with his vision for the Canadian beef industry. A vision statement can be one of the most powerful tools available to a company. It sets the big-picture goal for a business and provides a framework for communication. A […] Read more

Defuse the potential for agriculture ‘Madvocacy’

Public Perception: Even with the facts, sometimes it is important to just listen

It seems that every day we are inundated with many opinions and ideas on what primary agricultural producers really need to do to improve the environment and serve our many masters. Based strictly on demographics, many of these intentions come from folks with little to no farm involvement or even those with an axe to […] Read more

Some myths and facts about EPDs

It’s only a genetic prediction, but still a useful tool

One of the main areas that I have worked on in my consulting business is genetic selection and the development and use of genetic evaluation technologies. In the more than 20 years I have been working in the field, it is interesting many of the same myths and challenges continue to appear, all during a […] Read more

Can you afford to select cows for longevity?

Keeping old cows isn’t improving performance of the beef herd

One of the biggest costs on a cow-calf operation is cow herd depreciation. For most of us, even if we are not aware of it, cow depreciation is our second-highest expense after cow herd maintenance. It is a problem often ignored because cull cows generate cash flow, but having cows drop out of the cow […] Read more

A two-step (plus) grazing plan

Use the grass, but don’t abuse it — allow for recovery time

Often I see people’s eyes glaze over and a sense of disconnect when talking about grazing plans — surely after caring for cattle all winter, we can just turn them out in the spring and go round them up in the fall. Like most of agriculture now, the pressure for returns on a land base […] Read more

More details on Step 3 of the two-step grazing plan

Use the grass, but then give it a chance to recover before coming back

Step 3 of the two-step grazing plan could also be titled, “How To Not Graze,” as this by far seems to be the biggest challenge facing pastures in Western Canada and perhaps around the world. In order for grazing to be successful, we first have to grow forage, and in order to do this to […] Read more

Where does grass come from?

Aside from the obvious answer, it is important to have a grazing plan

We do some apparently strange things on our operation. We are short on cropland and long on native rangeland in our resource mix, so we run smaller cows and calve later than many of our neighbours. We also try to extend our grazing season, particularly the grass component, for as long as is humanly or […] Read more

Multi-benefits of multi-species pastures

Collecting plenty of solar rays above ground benefits soil health below ground

I am a big fan of diversity in both perennial and annual grazing situations. In some ways multiple species are more difficult to manage than less-diverse plant communities. In a multi-species scenario every action and in particular its timing will favour one species over another and shift the balance of power in the pasture. The […] Read more

Managing the carbon crop

The objective is to return more carbon to the soil than is released

One of the best parts of writing for Grainews is the people who contact me to question/disagree or express some interest in an aspect of a story I have written. I confess I have sometimes written pieces just to engage healthy discussion. I have always had an interest in the “global warming” debate and have […] Read more

Are you a (soil) health nut?

Any treatments applied above ground will eventually affect what happens below your feet

I was eternally blessed to enter the University of Saskatchewan while Les Henry was still teaching at a time when we were “forced” to take at least an introductory soil science course. I learned a lot in that introductory course; mostly about how much I didn’t know (and how much Dr. Henry did). But more […] Read more