A recent study found that the average mortality from birth to 24 hours in calves from cows averaged 2.1 percent and in calves from heifers averaged 3.6 percent.  |  File photo

Benchmark data helps producers manage calf losses

Previously, I wrote about the economic importance of the calf-crop percentage. The calf-crop percentage is defined as the percentage of calves weaned per cow exposed to the bull. The calf-crop percentage is an easily measurable productivity trait and doesn’t require a lot of detailed records other than some inventory numbers at various times of year. […] Read more

Prairie farmers moved breeding later with lower results.  |  File photo

How does your herd measure up: Part 1: Non-Pregnancy Rates

One of the most important economic criteria that determines profitability is the calf crop percentage. This is defined as the percentage of cows weaned per cow exposed to the bull. Obviously, having a live calf to sell is the ultimate objective of most cow-calf enterprises and a failure to produce a calf can have a […] Read more

BRD has long been a cause of calf losses, through sickness or death. Preconditioning has proven successful in helping avoid those costs.  |  Michael Raine photo

Pre-conditioning has major impact on calves’ immunity

Bovine respiratory disease has always been the most common cause of sickness and death loss in Canadian beef cattle and most of these losses occur shortly after weaning in calves that have been weaned, sold through an auction system and directly enter into the feedlot. Data from a National Animal Health Monitoring Study in 2011 […] Read more


Vets explore link between ureaplasma and infertility

I was recently involved in a disease investigation where the presenting complaint was infertility. This particular cow-calf herd had cows that were continuing to cycle despite several breeding attempts. It was a particularly well-managed herd with excellent nutritional management and a good vaccination program. As part of our investigation, we took vaginal swabs from some […] Read more

Water quality, plant toxicity and fog fever can all arise during drought, potentially affecting livestock health.  |  Cheryl Hare photo

Drought brings additional livestock challenges

It appears substantial areas of the Prairies have potential to experience significant drought once again this summer. Years in which we have significantly less than normal rainfall can have major effects on pasture quality and forage ability. As well, the impacts on animal health can be significant and far ranging. First, we should have major […] Read more


Managing crypto disease challenging for producers

Cryptosporidium parvum, commonly known as “crypto,” is a microscopic parasite, (a single-celled protozoan organism) that can cause diarrhea in humans and animals. Cryptosporidium are very similar parasites to coccidiosis, but unlike coccidiosis, crypto is a zoonosis in that it can infect people and has caused some large outbreaks of human disease in Canada and the […] Read more

A recent study found that 97 percent of cow-calf producers vaccinate their cattle with at least one type of vaccine.  |  File photo

Vaccine use rises in western Canadian cow-calf herds

Recent measles outbreaks in North America and Europe have occurred as vaccination rates of children drop off due to anti-vaccination movements. I’m glad we don’t have a major anti-vaccination movement in the beef industry. In fact, we now have some evidence that the opposite trend is occurring. A recent study in the latest issue of […] Read more

Because of the economic significance and prevalence in dairy, there has been a great deal of research on the incidence and types of lameness in dairy cows. However, in the beef cattle industry, we have not had the same amount of research that quantified the prevalence and types of lameness.
 | File photo

New research quantifying lameness in feedlot cattle

Lameness in cattle is an obvious animal welfare issue. Lame cattle appear to experience extreme pain, have difficulty moving to feed and water, and in some severe cases, may need to be humanely euthanized in a timely fashion. It has long been recognized as a significant economic issue as well. For example, in the dairy […] Read more


Producers report more itchy cattle complaints this winter

I’ve been hearing many complaints from cattle producers and veterinarians about major issues with cattle and potential external parasites this winter. This year there seems to be an exceptionally high number of complaints about this issue, and in many cases the problem is associated with lice infestations. There are two specific types of lice that […] Read more

PED virus demonstrates why biosecurity needed

The latest case of a porcine epidemic diarrhea virus outbreak in Alberta emphasizes the immense importance of strong biosecurity protocols for livestock operations. Pork producers have some of the strictest biosecurity protocols of any livestock sector in Canada and they are continuing to try to improve their biosecurity practices and emergency response planning in an […] Read more