In the life of a breeding bull, penile problems can develop. Because of the value of the bull, medical or surgical treatment is often called for, and prognosis is often reasonable. | File photo

Most penile problems found in bulls can be corrected

Today, most large-scale producers have breeding soundness exams carried out on their breeding bulls yearly. Almost every purebred 12- to 15-month-old bull calf will have a breeding soundness exam performed by a veterinarian. The consistency of this exam is very good in the profession. The ReliaBull scrotal circumference tape has made scrotal circumference measurements accurate […] Read more

Bull pens must be big enough to allow bulls to escape from one another. | File photo

Introduce bulls properly to protect health and welfare

Nothing frustrates me more than when big bulls are unnecessarily injured. This happens a lot when bulls are introduced or reintroduced to one another. It also happens when bulls are transported together in trailers. Bull pens must be big enough to allow bulls to escape from one another. Every time we move bulls, whether for […] Read more

Irons should be made from flat bar, at least 3/8 inch thick and about 1 1/2 inches wide, and then slightly bevelled on the face to no less than 1/4 inch wide. This will allow the iron to carry some heat from the fire to the hide without too much cooling. | Photo courtesy Suzanne Rose

If branding is deemed necessary, it must be done right

Branding remains necessary in many modern cattle operations because it is still the only permanent form of cattle identification. We must make the effort to do it well. In this column, we will look at hot iron branding. A good brand should be legible from quite a distance. In Alberta, Livestock Identification Services carries out […] Read more


Veterinary students need to be encouraged to enter large animal practice when they graduate. | File photo

Large animal veterinarian shortage starts with students

The shortage of large animal veterinarians in Western Canada is an age-old problem that seems to be improving with time. First, we have to look at the number of seats available for veterinary students in general. There is a rumour that seats for Alberta students went up with the addition of 20 seats at Alberta’s […] Read more

Bulls have an easier time of it with the new generation of semen collectors. | File photo

A new age arrives in breeding soundness evaluations

This article should have some good information for everyone: those thinking of evaluating for the first time, the seasoned veterinarian who has been doing it for many years for his clients and the new graduate veterinarian just getting into the process. Pulling out infertile bulls and finding bulls with other problems is now common practice […] Read more


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