Purebred bulls that are bought at sales held months before breeding season will likely need to be rechecked.  |  File photo

Earlier bull sales can complicate semen evaluations

Purebred bull sales in all breeds appear to be happening earlier and earlier in the year, some even occurring in December. This is months before many cattle producers plan to use them in their breeding programs. It can create difficulties for veterinarians to get these bulls’ semen evaluated ahead of time. Both sellers and buyers […] Read more

Good disinfectants are necessary for every farm and ranch. | File photo

Biosecurity farm practices are often just common sense

With the arrival of calving season, now is the time to talk about biosecurity. Just like we have learned principles to prevent the spread and contraction of COVID-19 between humans, similar principles apply to most infectious diseases in livestock production. The diseases vary between species, but many principles remain the same. Cleaning and disinfection in […] Read more

The health measures that have been put in place to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus also apply to animal agriculture, such as during calving season when neighbours are discouraged from visiting farms because of the potential for calf scours to spread.  | File photo

Animal health emergencies share similarities with COVID

I want to talk about two potential threats in Canada — foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever. Both possess huge threats from an animal health perspective. There is no doubt COVID-19 has made the average consumer more aware of how viral transmission occurs, plus the steps we can take to mitigate its spread. The amount […] Read more


Alberta has successfully kept out the Norway rat for 70 years.  | Jamie Rothenburger photo

Alberta needs to stay vigilant with its rat control efforts

Alberta’s roughly 70-year experiment with rat eradication is the envy of the world. And what the province has achieved is a remarkable feat. Alberta has prevented the establishment of breeding rat colonies through a strong commitment to keeping these rodent pests out. The Norway rat, known by its scientific name as Rattus norvegicus, is a […] Read more

Reproductive culls run about five to 10 percent of the herd in a normal year.  |  File photo

Producers must make many decisions when culling cows

It’s the time of year for pregnancy checking and herd processing. It is also a good time to consider culling, especially for non-pregnant cows, but others as well. Then you need to make a plan to market those animals. Producers need to make a lot of decisions regarding how and where to move the cull […] Read more


COVID-19 has affected production lines and distribution networks. Plant slowdowns and closures have put production behind and led to batch failures of vaccines. | File photo

Vaccine shortages can be managed

Market shortages, especially involving vaccines, are going to be more commonplace in the future. COVID-19 has affected production lines and distribution networks. Plant slowdowns and closures have put production behind and led to batch failures of vaccines. The just-in-time production and inventory model the world once thrived on means vaccines shortages are inevitable. But there […] Read more

Implants are a way of repartitioning an animal’s hormones, and zero withdrawal regulations make the meat safe to eat.  |  File photo

Beef industry faces challenges but also scores successes

Cattle producers have always been resilient and the last few years have seen many new developments. The beef code of practice has highlighted animal care and many sections stress the need for painkillers or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for procedures such as castration, brandings or dehornings. There are many products used to reduce pain and […] Read more

Keeping extra medical supplies on hand has become critical for cattle operations, despite the just-in-time delivery systems that have become commonplace.  |  Jeannette Greaves photo

COVID-19 exposes fragile pour-on supplies

There was lots of talk about the supply chain when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in March 2020. Between agriculture, the transportation network and grocery stores, things kept ticking along and it seemed local products saw fewer supply interruptions. Meat fell into short supply when the large packing plants closed, but that was short lived. Less […] Read more


Sickness is generally the result of stressors leading to a weakened immune system. It varies year to year. | File photo

Reducing sickness in calves about more than vaccines

Veterinarians, nutritionists and those representing the pharmaceutical industry hear lots of queries and complaints that their ranch-raised calves, though vaccinated, still get sick. Why is that? One must really look at the whole process involved in raising a calf — the gathering, processing, weaning, feeding, watering and transportation — and reduce stress as much as […] Read more

With the arrival of summer when animals become more exposed to ultraviolet light, cases of photosensitization can occur.
 | File photo

Sunburn can cause significant problems for livestock

With the arrival of summer when animals become more exposed to ultraviolet light, cases of photosensitization can occur. In ruminants (cattle, sheep and goats), many causes can be caused by ingestion of certain plant species. As well, infectious causes such as liver flukes or leptospirosis can spark cases. The bottom line is that liver damage […] Read more