A number of strategies have been developed in an attempt to reduce the stress of weaning.  |  File photo

Reduced weaning stress is important goal for producers

If you drive into many small towns on the Prairies with a livestock auction yard at this time of year, you might be greeted by the chorus of bawling calves. Most of these calves are headed to feedlots after being recently weaned at their home ranches. Weaning is a stressful event for calves and it […] Read more

There are advantages to administering medication by dart guns in the pasture, but there are also potential problems.  |  File photo

Delivering drugs by darts can extend withdrawal times

Remote drug delivery systems such as dart guns are often used to administer sedation or tranquilizers to wildlife species that need to be restrained. Dart guns can also be used to administer tranquilizers to cattle that have escaped and can’t be restrained in holding facilities. It appears that some of the newer pneumatic dart gun […] Read more

Attention to detail is important when planning lice control

The vast majority of beef cow-calf producers in Western Canada will use a pour-on endectocide product for parasite control, usually at some point in autumn. Most of those producers are mainly concerned about lice control. Using the pour-on product has become such a routine procedure that many of us don’t pay a lot of attention […] Read more


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