GFM Network News


There are some pretty strict guidelines that define what is truly a closed beef herd.

Are you really running a closed herd?

You can’t be ‘a little bit pregnant’ or ‘mostly closed’

(Editor’s note: This column, written by Karin Schmid, Research and Production Manager with the Alberta Beef Producers, first appeared as a blog post on the Beef Cattle Research Council website at beefresearch.ca) A surprising proportion of producers believe they run a closed herd. The 2017 Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey requested reasons why certain management practices […] Read more

Allowing May/June calves to run with their mothers until mid-winter (February and March) is considered a more natural weaning cycle.

Wintering calves with their mothers

Most cows and calves will naturally wean themselves by February

Many beef producers are calving later in the year (April, May or June) rather than early, to be more in tune with nature. They have green grass at calving and less need for harvested forage when the cow’s nutritional needs peak during lactation. Along with later calving comes the necessity for later weaning. Some choose […] Read more


In this line of work, offspring are welcome on the job site.

A job interview for a cow

It is important to find out who is working for whom

I have heard the statement “My cows need to work for me.” This leads to the somewhat logical question of “If a cow works for me, what should a job interview look like?” and further what answers I should hope to hear. Knowing that cow depreciation and cow herd maintenance are the two biggest costs […] Read more



Cattle inventories continue to decline, StatsCan says

Canada's hog herd also down on year

MarketsFarm — Canada’s cattle herd in 2019 continued on its generally consistent path of declining numbers, according to new data Statistics Canada released Tuesday. Aside from a few slight increases in 2012, 2013 and 2018, Canadian cattle inventories have moved lower since 2005. At 11.2 million head, the reported number of cattle on farms in […] Read more



Make sure cows have a good body condition score and aim for a 60-day breeding and calving season.

A short 60-day breeding season leads to profit

Produces a more uniform batch of calves and higher weaning weights

The calving season is well underway on the Prairies, with some cow-calf operations calving with snow on the ground, while others plan to calve on pasture. Regardless of the starting date, the length of the calving season is directly related to the length of the previous breeding season. Research shows moving toward a desirable 60-day […] Read more

Give cattle some feeding area options with plenty of space.

Ease new cattle into the herd

Give cows time and space to sort out pecking order

Cows can be very aggressive, especially when establishing a pecking order, so you need to watch how new and especially pregnant animals are integrated into an established herd. Two cows fighting can result in a cow losing the calf because of the direct hits to the belly by the other cow’s head; a cow slipping […] 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

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