Cattle are particularly susceptible to fog fever if they are suddenly moved from a dry and overgrazed pasture to a situation where there is unlimited access to lush regrowth. These free-ranging cattle roam the Highwood River Valley in the mountains west of Longview, Alta., during the summer. Once fall arrives, they are rounded up and brought to lower elevations. | Wendy Dudley photo

Risk of fog fever in cattle potentially higher this autumn

In many parts of Western Canada, we have suffered through a significant drought this grazing season. As well, in some areas we have seen some precipitation late in the summer and early fall, which has resulted in regrowth of forages on pasture. These are ideal conditions for a potentially fatal condition known as fog fever, […] Read more

Drought-stressed crops can significantly accumulate nitrates, which can cause problems if fed to cattle this winter. | Mary MacArthur photo

Drought raises possibility of nitrate toxicity this year

Nitrate poisoning in cattle is a potential issue to be aware of in years with significant drought. There will probably be significant amounts of drought-stressed cereal crops that are fed to beef cattle this winter in parts of Western Canada and we know that drought-stressed small grains and corn can accumulate nitrates to a significant […] Read more

Early weaning can be a management tactic that might prove beneficial in some situations. | Getty Images

Early weaning in next year’s calf crop may offer advantages

In a year with significant drought issues in many parts of Western Canada and limited pasture, early weaning can be a management tactic that might prove beneficial in some situations. Dry cows have lower nutritional requirements than lactating cows and therefore may be able to improve in body weight and body condition score if their […] Read more


A few studies have shown a weak correlation between the number of face flies and the prevalence of pinkeye, but the results are far from conclusive. | File photo

Pinkeye can be a challenging health condition to prevent

It is the time of year when cow-calf producers occasionally need to deal with a frustrating disease known as pinkeye. The term pinkeye refers to any kind of inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye. This is perhaps more of an “umbrella diagnosis” or clinical syndrome as there are numerous causes of these infections including […] Read more

Several bacterial agents can cause calf diarrhea, and most of these agents tend to result in calves getting diarrhea within the first week of life. | File photo

Age of onset provides clue to cause of diarrhea in calves

Calf scours, or calf diarrhea, continues to be one of the significant causes of calf mortality in beef cattle herds. Dr. Jennifer Pearson from the University of Calgary published data from the Western Canadian Cow-Calf Surveillance Network that documented an overall pre-weaning calf mortality level of 4.5 percent and a pre-weaning treatment rate for all […] Read more


It’s a good time to remind beef producers to think about getting your cow’s water sources tested for quality, especially if they rely on dugouts, sloughs or shallow lakes and in some cases deep wells. | File photo

Monitor water supply because quality can change quickly

As I am writing this article, it has been a very dry spring in many parts of Western Canada. Our snow seemed to melt early and much of it seemed to evaporate and the sloughs and dugouts did not seem to fill with much runoff. Hopefully, by the time this article is published, we will […] Read more

It would be wonderful if we had a simple test for libido in bulls, but unfortunately we don’t. | File photo

Reproductive success can depend on sexual motivation

Reproductive success is key to profitability for cow-calf operations. To achieve this success, two things have to happen. First, our breeding cows and heifers must cycle early in the breeding period. Second, they must conceive when bred. The first factor is largely influenced by the nutritional program and body condition of the cows and heifers. […] Read more

The birthing period and the subsequent first few days of life have been shown to be the most hazardous time of a calf’s life. | Mike Sturk photo

Dystocia, calf vigour and colostral intake all connected

As the weather begins to warm up, many beef herds in Western Canada are in the midst of calving season. Producing and weaning live calves is an obviously critical component of cow-calf profitability and problems that occur at this time can have significant consequences. The birthing period and the subsequent first few days of life […] Read more


Despite our best preventive strategies we will still see some calving difficulties even in well-managed herds. | File photo

It’s important to know when to intervene during calving

At calving time, we would prefer to have every cow and heifer calve on their own and deliver a live calf. We try to ensure this by wisely selecting bulls in terms of birth weights and EPDs for calving ease, by ensuring a top-notch heifer management and selection program, and by providing good nutrition and […] Read more

In most cases, the most common way of introducing a new infection into a herd is through the purchase of animals. | Mike Sturk photo

Size of a cattle herd’s bubble can affect disease risk

I spoke to a veterinarian in Western Canada this week who was dealing with a significant disease outbreak in one of his client’s herds. The cow-calf producer had a number of cows abort and now at calving time, they had a significant number of calves dying with what appeared to be septicemia, which is a […] Read more