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Bulls should be evaluated every year by a veterinarian and checked for overall health and soundness, as well as semen quality and motility.  |  File photo

Ferdinand bad example of acceptable bull

Bulls that pack on a few extra pounds 
may not have the stamina to breed the 
needed number of cows

Ferdinand, the bull famous in children’s fiction, just wanted to sit and smell the flowers. With that kind of attitude, Ferdinand wouldn’t be wanted in commercial beef herds. In fact, Ferdinand would sooner find himself in a batch of bologna than in the shade of a tree. There are several reasons bulls may not be […] Read more

Kathy Larson shows Jerry Sopatyk from Meacham, Sask., how to take a DNA tissue sample from an ear to determine parentage at the Western Beef Development Centre’s summer field day in Lanigan, Sask., earlier this year.  |  William DeKay photo

Who’s your daddy? Find the answers via sire parentage verification

LANIGAN, Sask. — A sire parentage verification study is beginning to bear fruit for researchers and ranchers. “The producers co-operating in this study have learned as much as we’ve learned,” said Bart Lardner from the Western Beef Development Centre in Lanigan. Year two of the three-year study just wrapped up, which is evaluating the use […] Read more

EPDs not high on the list for commercial bull buyers

Though they contain valuable information, EPDs are among many factors that go into decisions about sires

It’s impossible to say how many commercial cow-calf producers consider the expected progeny differences (EPD) statistics of bulls they plan to buy. Dr. John Basarab, beef research scientist with Alberta Agriculture, suspects that it isn’t very many. He thinks EPD data is a few levels down on the list of bull-buying considerations. First on that […] Read more


Bulls not equally prolific in the pasture

Producers expect breeding duties among their cows to be shared when they use multiple bulls in a pasture. However, DNA parentage data collected over three years at the Western Beef Development Centre near Lanigan, Sask., showed that some bulls are far more prolific than others. Some bulls sired as few as three calves while others […] Read more

Farmers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan grew more than three million acres of soybeans this year. | File photo

Push is on for prairie soybean plant

Farmers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan grew more than three million acres of soybeans this year. Almost all of those beans are exported to places like China, where they are processed into soybean meal and fed to livestock. Meanwhile, every year hog farmers in Western Canada import hundreds of thousands of tonnes of soybean meal from […] Read more


Beef calves should be vaccinated early to guard them against the risks of scours and pneumonia. | File photo

Low-cost producers must vaccinate animals

The vaccination program at the Western Beef Development Centre costs about $25 per cow annually. Whether producers consider that a lot or a little, the costs of illnesses, lost productivity and potential spread of disease could be much more than $25. Kathy Larson, research scientist at the WBDC near Lanigan, Sask., said bovine viral diarrhea […] Read more

Not all types of vaccines provide the same level of protective immunity, but the lives of calves often depend on this immunity. These new calves were playing in a calving pen at a ranch south of High River, Alta.  |  Mike Sturk photo

Nasal vaccines deliver solid infection protection

The best offense is a good defence, particularly when trying to protect young calves, says a scientist with VIDO

Intranasal vaccines offer the best protection against respiratory infection in calves, particularly when administered at branding and again at weaning, studies have found. Dr. Philip Griebel of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization in Saskatoon said bovine respiratory disease remains difficult to treat because it is so complex. Multiple viral and bacterial pathogens, combined with […] Read more

Research into cattle pain management showed that many producers provide pain relief to cows after difficult calving.  |  File photo

Pain relief both ethical and economical

The debate over whether producers need to provide pain relief to cattle is long over. It is both ethical and economical, says the animal welfare research chair at the University of Calgary’s faculty of veterinary medicine. “We don’t really need to have discussions about whether animals experience pain anymore or what causes pain. “The data […] Read more


Dehorning and castration are best done when animals are young, but it isn’t known at what age cattle are least likely to feel acute pain and/or recover best from experiencing it.  |  File photo

Pain management important but not straightforward

Pain mitigation when dehorning and castrating cattle is a requirement under the Canadian code of practice. It acknowledges that those procedures are painful but the study of pain in cattle is an ongoing and complicated process. Dr. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein of Agriculture Canada is in the midst of a five-year study on the topic, using $1.2 […] Read more