Producers must be careful when switching their cattle from one type of pasture to another because it can cause lung conditions such as acute bovine pulmonary edema and emphysema.  | File photo

Change in diet can produce respiratory problems

Acute bovine pulmonary edema and emphysema are two lung conditions that can occur with sudden pasture changes

Acute bovine pulmonary edema and emphysema can occur when animals are suddenly changed from dry pastures to lush green ones or from dry hay to healthy pasture. Dr. Nathan Erickson of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan said problems arise from metabolism of certain proteins, when toxic products end up […] Read more

Artificial respiration may be needed if a calf isn’t breathing and other options have been unsuccessful. | Cody Creelman photo

Newborn calves sometimes need CPR

Calves that aren’t breathing need their airways cleared and extra encouragement; artificial respiration is a last resort

In a normal, easy birth, the calf starts breathing as soon as the umbilical cord breaks and its face and nose are uncovered. But sometimes after a hard birth, the calf goes too long without oxygen and doesn’t start to breathe. If the cord started to detach during birth, it will die unless it starts […] Read more

Another cow may try to claim a heifer’s calf if calving occurs in pasture.  | Heather Smith Thomas photo

Calming nervous heifers can help improve calving

Heifers are sometimes confused or indifferent toward their newborn calves. They may ignore their calf or kick when it tries to suckle, prompting the calf to try suckling other cows and causing further confusion. Dr. Andy Acton of Deep South Animal Clinic in Ogema, Sask., says heifers can be confused if suddenly moved into the […] Read more


A cow checks out its newborn calf.  | Heather Smith Thomas photo

More cattle producers opt for later calving season

There are many good reasons why later calving makes sense, but it can be challenging in dry years when pastures are of poorer quality

Deciding on the appropriate calving season for any given operation involves consideration of many factors. Whether it’s early calving in January-February, spring calving in March-April, births in the summer months or even fall, the choice hinges on climate, marketing goals, feed costs and availability, breeding season challenges and management constraints. Each producer must weigh pros […] Read more

A calf with pneumonia or scours that is outside in bad weather is at high risk for hypothermia.  | Heather Smith Thomas photo

Cold newborn calves may require special care

Rectal temperature and condition of the ears, tail and feet can help producers decide whether they should take action

Calves born during blizzards or cold weather become immediately chilled, and older calves may also suffer frostbite if they don’t have shelter. Any calf with a body temperature below 38 C needs warming. Dr. Steve Hendrick of the Coaldale Veterinary Clinic in Coaldale, Alta., says windbreaks and bedding can help prevent frostbite in baby calves […] Read more


Ensuring that young bulls are fed more than mature bulls can make a significant difference in their breeding performance. | Heather Smith Thomas photo

Feed ration important in young bulls

Animals that are fed well during a critical six week window before weaning will reach puberty faster and be more fertile

Young bulls need more attention and care than mature bulls, according to Dr. John Kastelic, a veterinarian and professor of cattle reproductive health at the University of Calgary. “There’s a critical window of bull development from about six weeks of age up to weaning age. If bull calves are fed really well during that time, […] Read more

Bedding and a good windbreak are needed in at least two locations so that if younger bulls bother an older bull, it has somewhere else to go.  |  Heather Smith Thomas photo

Bulls need special attention during winter

Lice protection, deworming , mineral supplements and access to clean, unfrozen water are ways to keep them in top shape

Bulls need as much winter care as cows do to ensure they are in top shape for the next breeding season and management depends on available facilities for keeping them separate from the cows. “Don’t forget to vaccinate them and provide the health care they need,” said Dr. John Kastelic, a professor in cattle reproductive […] Read more

The Biggs slaughter their animals and dry age the beef on the ranch before taking it to their cutting facility near Calgary.  |  Biggs photo

Direct beef marketing not for ‘faint of heart’

Some producers sell into niche markets like natural, organic and grass fed, while some market beef themselves in a pasture-to-plate program. By selling direct to consumers, producers can set their own price and be better paid for their efforts. Dylan and Colleen Biggs of TK Ranch near Hanna, Alta., sell meat to customers who want […] Read more