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LONGRANGE vs. Conventional Dewormers 0.28 lbs./day more
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Average Daily Gain (ADG) in lbs. Difference ADG 0.24*
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Contents canadian cattlemen · june 2017 · Volume 80, No. 6
M A NAG E M E N T Carl Frook’s biogas digester.
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THREE STOPS AT ONTARIO FEEDLOTS H A N D L I NG
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They have a mat for that
Garlic is worth its salt for fly control. . . . . 26 Verified Beef Production . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
F LY CO N T RO L
Have you tried ACV yet?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
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Hints for negotiating wind and solar leases. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Garlic is worth its salt for fly control
Congratulations! To our June survey winner, Perry MacKinnon of Hunter River, P.E.I. This month’s survey is on page 42. Cover photo: Our photo john Greig
Comment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Newsmakers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Our History. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Research on the Record. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Nutrition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Free Market Reflections. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Vet Advice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Prime Cuts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Straight from the Hip. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 CCA Reports. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 News Roundup. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Purely Purebred. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 The Markets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Market Talk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Sales and Events. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 C a t t l e m e n · J U NE 2 0 1 7
By Gren Winslow
Our inventory numbers seem high
he Census of Agriculture is important. It’s a way of correcting all the estimating we do between censuses about our economy, our industry and even our society. Every five years we take a snapshot to give us a more accurate picture of what is going on in the country so we can refocus and stay on track. Of course it takes some time for that new picture to come into focus as the number crunchers toil to pull out the trends that are buried in all this data. A case in point is the inventory of cattle and calves that Statistics Canada publishes every January and July. These are merely estimates based on surveys that are then corrected every five years. So the first real result from the census that has a bearing on the beef industry will show up when the next July inventory report comes out. Now I don’t pretend to understand all the statistical wizardry that goes into blending census data into the regular flow of statistics but the early indications suggest this July inventory report will be one the industry will be pouring over pretty carefully. Stats Canada put the total inventory of cattle and calves last July at 13.2 million head. But the census taken on May 10 last year and released on May 24 this year came in at 12.53 million. Using that 13.2 million number from last July and subtracting all the animals that were marketed in the fall and winter, Stats Canada came up with a total estimated cattle inventory of 12.065 million head in January 2017. But the census indicates we may be lower than that by some little bit. So you can see why I think this year’s July report is going to draw some interest. Let’s try beef cows. The number of beef cows on July 1, 2016 was 3.8 million; the census on May 10 put it at 3.7 million, down about 100,000. The number of beef heifers remains disappointing. In its regular July 2016 report Stats Canada reported 640,800 beef heifers for replacements and 1.207 million for slaughter. The census puts the number of heifers for beef herd replacement at 674,378, so there is a bit of a bump there. But the number of heifers held for slaughter and feeding came in at 903,741. So our total is down which you would expect if the cow numbers are off by 100,000. Here are a few more stats: • Steers one year and over: 1.646 million last July; 1.573 million on the census. • Calves under one year: 4.297 million last July; 4.045 million on the census.
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So the gist of this census is we’ll probably correct our inventory numbers down come the fall when the July report is published. Let’s see what else the census can tell us. Oh yes, farmers are another year older, with the average age creeping up from 54 to 55 over the past five years. Sadly, the largest segment is still the over-55 category. It would be nice to know what the breakdown would be for the beef industry but unfortunately they still haven’t broken age brackets down by commodities. This is hardly a new trend, and given the consolidation that continues across the entire agriculture industry I’m not convinced it is an indicator of anything other than the fact that farmers have such an enviable lifestyle they keep on working. At the same time the number of farmers has declined, again, to 271,935, which must include anybody who ever sold anything from a rabbit to a steer and wheat to spinach at a farm market. Analyzing the number of farmers, particularly in a commodity like beef cattle, is a bit of a mugs game. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, for example, claims to represent 68,500 beef farms. They might be excited to know that 75,307 farms reported cattle in this census. Of course, this includes vealers, dairy producers and a lot of hobby farms. I tend to focus on beef cows as an indication that someone is in the business for the long haul. The number of farms reporting breeding cattle declined nearly 12 per cent over five years to 55,956, according to Stats Canada. But as often happens in census reporting I couldn’t see how they arrived at that number. The inventory table shows 53,837 farms reporting beef cows in 2016, compared to 61,425 in 2011, which is a decline of a little over 12 per cent. Also in 2016, 35,267 reported replacement beef heifers, 14,971 had heifers for slaughter and 47,182 reported bulls a year and over. A provincial breakdown of farms reporting beef cows when it comes out will be a little more interesting. The breakdown in 2011 was 4,575 in Quebec; 11,567 in Ontario; 6,668 in Manitoba; 14,074 in Saskatchewan; 18,618 in Alberta and 3,839 in B.C. We’ll have to wait a little longer for the 2016 numbers. Whatever the true number is, it will be down, which will come as no surprise to anyone involved in beef production. More details will be coming out of the census over the coming weeks but none is likely to have as big an impact on this industry as the correction in our inventory numbers. c
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THE INDUST RY
NewsMakers Francis Andres is the new executive vice-president of Canada Beef. Working with the board of directors he will lead all aspects of the organization’s domestic and internaFrancis Andres tional market development and promotion efforts and as the senior officer will essentially replace former president Rob Meijer who resigned unexpectedly last September. Andres’ background is in global branding of food and agricultural products in North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and North African. Fawn Jackson, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association manager of environment and sustainability has been appointed to a federal species at risk advisory committee set Fawn Jackson up by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The committee is comprised of a group of experts from a number of stakeholder groups that was set up to provide advice on how to improve the implementation of the Species at Risk Act. Rancher Miles Anderson of Fir Mountain is another committee member representing the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association. Alyssa Henderson from Bashaw is the 2017 recipient of the 4-H Alberta Premier’s Award. She has been a member of the Central Lacombe 4-H Beef Club for seven years and as the Alyssa Henderson Premier’s Award winner she, along with 14 new 4-H ambassadors, will spend the next year representing 4-H Alberta across the province. Members of the British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association elected new directors from four zones through a mail-in ballot last month just in time for the association’s annual meeting in late May. Renee Ardill of Fort St. John and Judy Madden of Dawson Creek will represent B.C. Peace River; Jon Solecki of Francois Lake will represent Skeena; John Anderson
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of Merritt and Leroy Peters of Heffley Creek were elected in Thompson and Brian McKersie from Canal Flats and Larry Rast of Creston will represent the Kootenay region. The remaining members of the board facing election in 2018 are: Erin Durrell and Larry Garrett from Central; Duncan Barnett and Grant Huffman from the Cariboo; and Linda Allison and Doug Fossen from the Okanagan. McKersie is the current president of the BCCA and Garrett is vice-president. Alison Blair of Blair Land & Cattle Company in Pine Lake, Alta., won the first place trip package to Lexington, Kentucky, for ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference for her “My Farm. My Future.” video. Blair farms with her husband Aaron, and their three sons, Tyson, Corbin and Griffin. The Livestock Markets Association of Canada elected Rob Bergevin of Foothills Auctioneers Inc. at Stavely, Alta., as president at its May AGM in Lethbridge, Alta. Scott Rob Bergevin Anderson of Winnipeg Livestock Sales, moves to past president; Heartland order buyer Rick Wright of Virden, Man., stays on as executive administrator; and the new vice-president will be decided at the board’s first meeting. Craig Jacklin of VJV Ponoka, Alta., joins the board alongside Larry Witzel, Ontario Livestock Exchange, Waterloo, Ont.; Brock Taylor, Taylor Auctions, Melita, Man.; Jim Abel, Stettler Auction Mart, Alta.; Peter Raffan, Mountain Markets Association, Armstrong, B.C.; Bryan Daynard, Calgary Stockyards, Alta.; and Rhett Parks, Whitewood Livestock, Whitewood, Sask. Don Guilford of Clearwater is the new chairman of the Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiative’s research farm management committee. He replaces Ramona Blyth of MacGregor who had been filling a double role as president of the board and chair of the research committee. She remains president of the volunteer association that manages the MBFI research program at three sites. The MBFI is a Brandonbased collaborative effort of Manitoba Beef Producers, Ducks Unlimited Canada,
Manitoba Forage & Grassland Association and Manitoba Agriculture. Blyth and her husband Harold run Rosehill Cattle Company, a commercial cow-calf and cropping operation. Alan Jackson, an order buyer for JGL Livestock, is the new president of the Livestock Marketers of Saskatchewan. Tyler Cronkhite, manager and auctioneer at Cowtown Livestock Exchange in Maple Creek is vice-president. Past president Stewart Stone, COO of Heartland Livestock Services, rounds out the executive. The other board members are: Blair Brooks, Meadow Lake Livestock Sales; John Williamson, Mankota Stockman’s Weigh Co.; Pat Tellier, Saskatoon Livestock Sales; Scott Johnstone, Johnstone Auction Mart; Rhett Parks, Whitewood Livestock Sales and Roy Rutledge, Weyburn Livestock Exchange. George Baxter of Alberta and Graham McLean of Ontario were elected to the Canadian Angus Association board of directors last month for three-year terms that become effective after the CAA annual meeting June 10 in Brandon. Baxter and his wife Laura operate Count Ridge Red Angus near Bassano, Alta., where they run 200 purebred Red Angus cattle and 100 Red Angus-influenced commercial cattle. He replaces the retiring Doug Reid of Reid Angus at Cochrane, Alta. McLean and his brother Murray run a small purebred herd on their cow-calf and cropping operation near Melbourne, Ont. He replaces CAA past president Tammi Ribey of Paisley where she operates a 25-year-old veterinary practice. Ribey will chair the third Canadian Beef Industry Conference when it moves to Ontario in August 2018. Maritime director Trevor Welch, Quebec director Ryan Currie and Manitoba director Shawn Birmingham were all elected by acclamation in their respective regions. Jeff Peters, a beef producer at Inverary, Ont., has been appointed to a panel by federal Public Safety Minster Ralph Goodale to offer advice on the best way to re-establish penitentiary farms. Peters is one of four famers on the panel, including Diane Dowling, who operates an organic dairy and beef farm near Kingston. c
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our histo ry
The Morley Trading Post From the Canadian Cattlemen, August 1950
housands of travellers on the Canadian Pacific Railway going through Morley, forty-two miles west of Calgary, have noticed with passing glances a small frame building just East of the Station and outside the railway’s right-of-way fence. Few if any small Trading Posts in the West have a more interesting history than this insignificant small structure. It was built back in 1881 by two men whose names are not forgotten as old-timers and pioneers. They had their fingers and money into about everything that would make the West grow. As railway contractors, mail and coach drivers, ranchers, bankers and trading post proprietors, they were gamblers in many enterprises that made all men respect them in more ways than one. A large office building on Eight Avenue West in Calgary still stands in their memory. The first Stage Lines to run from Fort Benton to Calgary and Edmonton was one of their ventures. Soon the business grew until lines of freight wagons pulled by many teams of horses and sometimes yokes of Oxen were a semi-weekly sight on the Macleod Trail. These were to supply the growing country with all commodities that the new settlers required. His Majesty’s Mails were carried for several years before the railway entered the country. Their paper and endorsements were accepted like Canadian Bank Notes of today. Horses being in great demand by this business, they completed a ranch Southeast of Morley, between the Station and the Jumping Pound, which was known for years for the S & L brand letters taken from the surnames of the two men — Scott and Leeson. In 1881 to supply the ranch with a ready stream of food and equipment they built the place known as the Morley Trading Store. Very soon the trading post had hundreds of customers; ranchers from all directions came to trade and to buy; and over eight hundred Indians did not have to travel miles to get rid of their furs. The country was full of fur in the days of sixty and seventy years ago, and the Stony Indians were well known as the best hunters
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of the mountain tribes. Besides the Indian horses and the Indian fur, fence posts and firewood were always in great demand by the farmers farther east, and all of these things the little store absorbed. In the seventy years past this store has weathered all ups and downs of the world’s trade and commerce. It has changed hands six times since the last partner, George Leeson, died in the early part of this century. Each time the change occurred it is well worth noticing the sterling qualities of the new owners; they were true Western men, all of them with the spirit of fair dealing and their given word was never broken. Always they were looked upon by Indians more as Father Confessors than just as store-keepers, and the store was regarded as a retreat — a retreat they could go to with all their trouble for sound advice and counsel. No Indian would go hungry if these men had the rations to fill his belly, though they knew that months might go by before the debt was paid. The slow annual Treaty payment, or the slower money paid by the Agency for work done ahead of the actual cash payment. The Agency welcomed such an arrangement because in many instance they were unable to make any advances, and as a result these Traders filled a very critical need at times. Not always were the Indian Agent and the Post Trader the best of friends; this made it difficult for the Trader to get his credits from the Indian Office. There eventually came a time the Trader had to trust to the Indian’s honor to pay when he received his money from the Agency direct. During the Flu Epidemic of 1918 the Indian Agent told the Trader of that time to feed the Indians and do the best he could. This the Trader did for some ten days, emptying out his shelves and organizing the whole Reserve into a field hospital until the doctor finally arrived with nurses and took over. Disregarding all the help that the Indians got from the Trader, the Agent refused to acknowledge the debt of food and medicines. Because the Trader had not received the request in writing to succor the Indians, the debt was never paid, and finally
forced the only assignment that this little post had ever experienced. It was not always easy sailing for the shopkeeper, and the fact remains today that because the Post was on the Canadian Pacific Railway’s right-ofway and through the good dispensation of that Company, hostile Indian Agents could never banish the store from existence as might have happened if it had occupied Department land. Hardly a week had gone by in the past thirty years when the Indians at Morley were not asking some just request from Ottawa. Five years ago the Indian Department saw fit to buy more land for this Reservation (which they did with accumulated Indian funds). Previous to this, the Stony Indians were often in desperate circumstances ; this, in spite of the fact that the Trader might be more than generous. Many councils were held between the Traders and the Indians. Much writing was done by the Traders and their friends to Ottawa officials. These constant demands on the part of the white friends of the Indians have finally borne fruit — now a new agreement is or has been made by the present Parliament of 1950. There is no doubt that without this constant championing of the Indian on the part of the Traders, the present good economic conditions of the Reserve would still be many years in the hatching. These Traders were characters in their own making and many are the stories they could have told. Following the Leeson and Lineham ownership of the store came McDougall and Graham, the former a well-known rancher at Cochrane and Morley. They sold to Frank Wellman who, getting himself established as a rancher, sold to Norman K. Luxton. Apparently not able to make a living in Banff during the first war, and turned down for military service, Luxton took up to increase his acquaintance with the Stonies, and to run the Post for three years. Then Fred Graham, the same man as above, bought out the Luxton interests. He came from Ontario as a small boy when his family settled in Morleyville. Fred was well adapted for this Post, having grown up among Indian children. He is one of the few white men who can fluently speak the
Sioux language. At one time he was also Sheriff of Calgary, succeeding Isaac S.G. Van Wart. Next Rodgers, Graham’s head man, bought out the Graham interests and ran it until he died. He was followed by the present owner, L. Kidd. Some of the early managers of this place were Robert Scott of Leeson and Scott; Fletcher Brayden who became one of the leading fur buyers from all the North West Territories. Howard Sibbald, a well respected man and eventually Superintendent of Kootenay Park, was also Indian Agent at Morley and Gleichen. Fred Kidd, now living in Edmonton, was really and truly the Indian’s
friend, and he was a relative of George Leeson. Frank Wellman, a small rancher, always had a boost for the Indians. Norman K. Lexton of Banff has never ceased to champion the rights of these folk, who at the time owned all the country they so dearly loved to hunt and roam. Rodgers, a newcomer, even with his Scottish carefulness never turned a hungry Indian down. Of the present owner, Lloyd Kidd, the Indians say, “He’s a good man.” Not least of them all was William Graham Sr. J.P., father of Fred, who staked out his ranch on the Ghost River along the present No. 1 Highway. He was one of the early settlers brought into this country by the
great pioneers, the late David McDougall and his brother, the Reverend John, who were also neighbors and a big addition to the growing Morleyville, ranching some of the earliest general purpose horses as well as cattle. In the 70 years of its life the Morley Trading Post has never changed its architecture; it stands today exactly as Leeson and Scott had planned, carrying with it down through the years many memories of the Old Pioneers. c For more of the past from pages of our magazine see the History Section at www.canadiancattlemen.ca.
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By Debbie Furber
These mats woven from recycled tires are made to protect cattle from injury in high-traffic areas.
They have a mat for that
ittle did Dale Goetz know that his idea for weaving treads from old tires into mats to prevent cattle injuries in high-slip areas at the family’s feedlot would eventually become the footing for Double D Family Mat Shop as well. He established the mat shop in 1995, at first hand-cutting used tires to make antifatigue mats for work areas. After a time, things went so well that they leased the feedlot and set up the mat shop at Park, Kansas, where they now have three children working in the business. Today they use a machine Goetz invented to strip off the treads precisely and quickly, which are then woven together by hand and fastened at the joints, ends and sides with stainless steel hardware to produce sturdy mats that protect
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livestock from injury in handling areas. The sidewalls are now a mere byproduct given away as weights for silage covers. The standard Double D Cattle Mat is a heavy-duty mat woven from steel-belted treads for high-use areas where sure footing not only prevents injuries, but has a calming effect on cattle. A common use is in front of headgates where slips and falls are most apt to happen but operations use them in all sorts of places — alleys of all shapes and sizes, tubs, bud boxes, loading/ unloading ramps and in sales rings, says daughter Christin Merwald, who looks after the marketing side of the family business. The mats were lasting about a year at a packing plant handling 4,000 head per day; however, the company has been able to dou-
Customers now include packing plants, beef and bison feedlots, ranches, dairy, hog and other small-livestock farms, auction markets and veterinary clinics
ble the lifetime by sorting out the heaviest treads for packing plants. Merwald estimates a standard Double D Cattle Mat would last about 10 years under normal use at a feedlot and at least 15 years in a cow-calf operation. Neil Thauberger, cattle manager at JBS Lakeside Feeders, Brooks, Alta., hasn’t had to replace any of the Double D Cattle Mats which they installed 3-1/2 years ago this April. The mats in their hospital barns run 30 feet down straight alleys to the headgate, while the ones in the processing barns stretch 20 feet splitting each way coming out of the chute and for another 15 feet outside the door. Cleaning is as easy as rinsing them down with the firehose at the end of each day. “All JBS yards use Double D Mats because we follow best practices for beef quality and care and comfort to ensure the best for our cattle,” Thauberger says. “This is a better system by a long shot for the welfare of the cattle than what we had before — rebar for traction and sandboxes for cushioning coming out of the chute.” The proof is in the noticeable reduction in lameness since installing the mats. Double D offers a lighter-weight mat made from baler belts that is often the choice for use on scales and in stock trailers. These mats are fastened with stainless steel flat-head carriage bolts and were initially designed for farms with hogs or other small-hoofed livestock. Customers now include packing plants, beef and bison feedlots and ranches, dairy, hog and other small-livestock farms, auction markets and veterinary clinics in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Both styles come in ready-made sizes of three or four feet wide by, six, eight, 10 or 12 feet long, or six-by-six feet, but most mats are custom made to fit customers’ needs for specific shapes and sizes, Merwald explains. There’s also the option of having three-inch wide flatiron worked into the weave at the ends to help with lifting if necessary or bolting to the floor if desired. As our issue went to press the company was looking for a dealer in southern Alberta to help customers in Canada measure and order mats to fit their needs. In the meantime, Canadians can contact the Kansas shop directly for guidance on measuring. Some operations mail in plastic patterns of the exact shapes they need. Merwald says many people who dropped by the family’s booth at the Alberta Beef Industry Conference viewed the mats as a novel idea. A few felt the mats would also www.canadiancattlemen.ca
work well in winter as the woven pattern wouldn’t be as slick as the normal surface in their holding areas under snow and freezing cold temperatures. She says the interest at the Alberta show mirrors an overall trend the family has noticed in recent years. Between new research findings on animal welfare and consumer pressure, producers and packers seem more willing to invest in mats nowadays. Dr. Temple Grandin of Colorado State
University supports the use of the mats for high-traffic areas such as scales, unloading areas and processing facilities. While most of the large beef-producing businesses in the U.S. have adapted to using mats as a best practice for slick areas in their facilities, Merwald says their sales of Double D mats are now trickling down to mid-sized and small operations. For more information visit www. ddfamilymats.net/ or call 1-888-377-2879. c
Oral Pain Prevention for Cattle
“All the cattle were mothered up very well.” “The next day after branding they looked very normal to me and that is what we were really looking for in a product. It was something that we will certainly be doing again. We’ve found good benefits to it and for the price of it I wouldn’t see why we wouldn’t do what we can to relieve as much stress as we possibly can.”
Kim, Jack, Je
ssica & An
Meloxicam Oral Suspension is an excellent tool for the humane treatment of calves at the time of castration.
For more information on pain prevention, contact your veterinarian or visit solvet.ca Solvet is a subsidiary of Alberta Veterinary Laboratories Ltd.
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managem e n t
By Debbie Furber
TALkING about euthanasia
For humane euthanasia of cattle, the point of entry of a projectile should be at the intersection of two imaginary lines, each drawn from the outside corner of the eye to the base of the opposite horn. The entry point should be high in the centre of the forehead but not between the eyes. Illustration courtesy of jan shearer, iowa state university
hen cow-calf producers talk about the need to euthanize an animal, their first thoughts turn to those that are sick or injured and whether the animal is likely to recover. If it hasn’t responded to care and is suffering, then there is really no other option. This decision isn’t made lightly, as Dr. Melissa Moggy learned from interviews with 15 producers as part of a larger research project for her masters of veterinary medical science at the University of Calgary. Many cow-calf producers rely on advice from their veterinarians and some have their veterinarian do the euthanasia. The final call, however, is entirely in producers’ hands. It would be remiss not to consider whether an animal is still strong and healthy enough to be transported to a local abattoir or packing plant. Concerns in this situation revolve around meat quality, withdrawal times for medications, the animal’s well-being and the likelihood of it arriving in adequate condition. Producers tend to think of an animal’s ability to freely access feed and water as a good indicator of its quality of life. It follows then that animals most likely to be euthanized on the farm are those with a broken leg or unable to stand. Cow-calf producers spend a lifetime caring for animals, so it’s not surprising euthanasia is a topic they don’t talk much about even though
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it’s almost inevitable when raising cattle. So Moggy wasn’t surprised that this was a sensitive subject for many producers, and some acknowledged it was a topic that should be discussed, and an area of weakness for them. The 15 were drawn from 84 producers who responded to Moggy’s full-length questionnaire exploring management practices associated with pain and stress in cattle. All are participants in the Western Canadian Cow-Calf Surveillance Network, a collaborative effort between the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon and University of Calgary faculty of veterinary medicine to recruit cow-calf herds representative of the sector across the Prairies for the purposes of gaining insight into production practices through surveys such as hers. The weakness overall wasn’t with the methods chosen for humane euthanasia of an animal. Those are clearly laid out in the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle (the beef code). The shortcoming showed up in how they confirmed insensibility and death. Most used at least one approved method to confirm death, but only a quarter of them followed the beef code’s required process in its entirety. Of the 73 producers who said they’d euthanized an animal in 2014, 68 per cent followed up by checking for breathing, 62 per cent checked the corneal reflex, 47 per cent
checked for heartbeat, 38 per cent checked for limb movement, 15 per cent checked for vocalization, seven per cent checked jaw tone, and eight per cent didn’t do any of these. Producers were allowed more than one answer to this question. The updated beef code offers guidance on this subject. The first step is to confirm insensibility during the several minutes it takes for respiration and cardiac activity to cease. An insensible animal won’t blink when the eyeball is touched. Signs that an animal is not insensible include eye movement, vocalizing and attempts to lift its head or get up. Confirming death by checking for both heartbeat and respiration is important whether an animal has been euthanized or presumed dead from natural or accidental causes. Feel or listen for a heartbeat in the left lower chest area, just behind the elbow. An insensible animal may have slow and erratic breathing as respiration and chest movement come to a stop. It was surprising, too, that approximately 13 per cent of the 84 producers had not euthanized any animals on the farm that year. “On the optimistic side, it could mean that they had no sick or injured cattle, or they shipped them while they could still make the journey,” says Dr. Claire Windeyer, who supervised Moggy’s research.
“What I worry about is producers might be letting animals die naturally or shipping unfit cattle. I don’t think anyone would do this intentionally. In the case of natural deaths, they may be reluctant to euthanize a favourite cow, hoping it will recover. In the case of unfit cattle, they may be unaware of how stressful the trip might be or not recognize the fitness of the animal to travel. Either way, we need more dialogue in the industry on the need to euthanize animals on the farm.” Several studies evaluating the well-being of cattle arriving at packing plants indicate there is still room for improvement. The beef code’s transportation section includes an appended illustration of the decision tree and lameness descriptions for handy reference when evaluating whether animals are fit, compromised or unfit for transport. There are three issues surrounding onfarm euthanasia: timeliness, doing it properly, and making sure you do it properly by confirming insensibility and death. Timeliness is related to the practice of culling mature animals before health issues or failing body condition are apt to become a concern, as well as dealing with animals that are sick or injured. Windeyer gives an example of a downer cow after a difficult calving. If the cow keeps trying to get its back end underneath itself to stand, it’s a good sign that the nerves are still working and it still has the ability to use its muscles. On the other hand, if the hind end is completely paralyzed due to muscle death from being compressed by the weight of the cow over time, or the cow takes a turn for the worse despite your best nursing efforts, euthanasia may be the best choice for the well-being of the cow. The animal is unlikely to recover once the muscles die. “When a cow is down, euthanasia needs to be done early enough to prevent suffering, but not too soon so as not to give the animal a chance of recovery. As long as you are providing feed and water and a soft place for the animal to lay while you nurse them along, that’s not neglect. My rule of thumb is that I’ll keep trying as long as the animal keeps trying,” Windeyer says, adding that producers should discuss the prognosis for recovery in each individual case with their veterinarian. Understanding the proper way to carry out euthanasia may help make the process easier. The beef code outlines the requirements for the use of gunshot and captive bolt guns for calves and mature cattle. Approved euthanasia drugs are acceptable only when given by veterinarians. The beef code stipulates that non-ambuwww.canadiancattlemen.ca
latory cattle must not be dragged or forced to move before euthanasia, that euthanasia must be performed by competent personnel, and that the equipment must be maintained according to manufacturers’ instructions to ensure it functions properly. Further suggestions include use of the safest and least stressful method of restraint when animals must be restrained and asking your veterinarian about the use of sedation for unmanageable or aggressive cattle.
When deciding on what’s best in your situation, consider human safety, animal welfare, your skill level, carcass disposal and the potential need for brain tissue for diagnostic purposes. The beef code is available on the National Farm Animal Care Council’s website, www.nfacc.ca. To receive a hard copy contact the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, 403-275-8558, or your provincial affiliate. c
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cover • M A NAG E M E N T
By John Greig
Three stops at Ontario feedlots
arl Frook’s biogas digester has had far-reaching effects on his business, while reducing his environmental footprint. Frook feeds cattle at his feedlot near Elmwood, Ont., for McCall Livestock, but the real interest for farmers visiting on a recent beef tour was his biogas digester, one of the only ones operating on a beef farm in Ontario. “The environmental benefit is huge for not only our cattle and animal husbandry, but when we are putting liquid back onto the field,” he said on the tour of three beef feedlots in south Bruce County hosted by Jones Feed Mill, Elanco and Metzger Vet-Chesley Vet. The manure from the feedlot goes into the digester, along with other food wastes trucked
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to the farm. What comes out of the digester is methane, burned in engines placed on his property and two other nearby properties. There is a liquid portion — pathogen free — that is separated from the solids and spread on the fields. The solid digestate is then reused as bedding for the cattle. After processing in the digester the bedding has less bacteria than straw, says Frook. Frook has his brother-in-law, an accountant, to thank for the idea to install a biogas digester. “He told me about the Green Energy Act and the Feed-in Tariff program through the provincial government,” says Frook. “So we went at it. We enquired about it. We took a 40-hour biogas course through OMAFRA,
hired a consultant, and we applied and we were awarded some contracts.” They did the economics and it made sense. Frook has become a leader in biogas development in Ontario and is a member of Cornerstone Renewables, a co-operative of 12 members, mostly livestock farms, but also a greenhouse and university research facility with biogas digesters. Their employee sources organic material from across the province to supply the digesters. The organic material, mostly waste from food processing, is an important part of the process and produces more electricity than just manure by itself. Frook can bring in 10,000 tonnes of food waste each year to power his digester, which he likens to managing a cow’s rumen. You
Carl Frook fuels his biogas digester with cattle manure and off-farm food waste.
Eby’s barn provides a great environment for cattle and workers.
have to keep it well balanced and if it goes out of whack, then it takes quite a bit of work to rebalance the digestion process. They work with a biogas engineer who helps them keep everything working well. Recently, it’s working so well that Frook had to flare off gas every day, enough to run another engine for 11 hours per day. While you don’t want too much gas, it’s worse to have too little since you don’t get paid for electricity generated. Not far from Elmwood, west of Walkerton, is Chris Freiburger’s beef farm. He also took advantage of the Green Energy Act, covering the south-facing roof of his barn built in 2010 with solar panels. It produces 250 kw, although the production varies depending on the amount of sun and time of year. Freiburger says his newest barn, a clear span metal post and truss building holds 1,200 head of cattle. It doesn’t, however, have any handling or loading facilities, which created some questions from farmers on the tour. Behind the barn three levels of railing, of the type usually used to keep cars from going off the road at steep embankments, create a corridor for the cattle to follow to two other barns www.canadiancattlemen.ca
Chris Freiburger covered his barn roof in solar panels rated at 250 kw.
and the handling facilities Freiburger uses to process cattle and load and unload them. “It gives me lots of flexibility and I like that,” says Freiburger, who custom feeds some cattle and feeds some that he owns. A lot of activity also takes place in the farm’s drive shed where a full truck and trailer can fit on an 80-foot scale. All cattle trucks are weighed in and out and they also do some custom weighing. The guts of the solar power system are also housed in the shed, an impressive bank of inverters and controllers where Freiburger monitors the system. Freiburger says the solar project has been a good investment and requires little maintenance other than some cleaning, which is done from a catwalk across the top of the building. Across the county, near Kincardine, the Eby family also finishes cattle in a barn built in 2013. At JSE Farms, Steve Eby owns the cattlefeeding side of the business and his father Stan owns the land. Stan is well known to cattle producers, having shepherded the industry through the BSE crisis as the president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. Steve Eby has high standards for the cattle
he buys, usually through Schaus Land and Cattle. “We challenge Wally (Schaus) to deliver cattle that will perform,” he says. They need to be of known origin, with high health status and all vaccinated. All are from western farms. He points to a group of cattle that were gaining four pounds per day with a feed conversion of 6:1. Eby says there isn’t much he would change in this barn. It’s comfortable for the cattle, especially in the summer. “It’s beautiful for the cattle and their performance stems from that,” he says. The barn is also labour efficient. Cattle are currently fed in a bunk from a lane down one side of the barn. Eby says he is interested in the potential for replacing the bunks with a robotic feed pusher popular in dairy barns. The barn is bedded, with no slats, and cattle can be locked into the back or the front of the barn when cleaning the pens. A catwalk runs above the pens for easy observation of the whole pen so poorContinued on page 16
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M A NAG E M E N T
Continued from page 15
Su p p ly concer ns
doing calves that sometimes hide out at the back of a pen can be spotted quickly and treated. Eby keeps careful track of his production and financial numbers and is one of a group of cattle feeders who get together to share production numbers and best practices. He’s also part of the Elanco benchmarking program that plots farms against their peers in Canada and the U.S. “You have to be disciplined about it,” he says. Eby has not installed a biogas digester, or solar panels, but his operation was the first in Ontario to be certified under the newly expanded Verified Beef Production Plus program, and he also took part in the McDonald’s sustainable beef program. He says the audit process to become certified was pretty simple. The auditors wanted to see how he processed cattle and also looked at his scale and mixer wagon, along with asking lots of questions. “Don’t let it scare you,” he says. “You just have to write down when you do the things that you already do on the farm.” c
The challenge with Ontario calves Calves from Ontario generally continue to miss the quality mark for larger feedlots in the province which continue to rely on cattle from Western Canada for the uniform lots of vaccinated cattle they need. “We need 200, 300, 400 head together because that’s our pen size,” says Steve Eby, who runs a feedlot near Kincardine. They fill their pens August to September, a time when Ontario calves in sufficient numbers of the same sex and common genetics are not always available. Carl Frook runs a feedlot near Elmwood, Ont., and he also finishes mostly western calves, although he allows that his best-performing pen of cattle in 2016 was 215 head of cattle from northern Ontario.
Chris Freiburger, who finishes cattle in several barns on his farm near Walkerton also buys only western cattle for similar reasons. There are some bright spots in Ontario, however. Dr. Peter Kotzeff of Metzger Veterinary Services in Chesley, who has monitored vaccinated calf club sales at the Keady Livestock Market for years, told a recent feedlot tour group that the average pull rate for Ontario calves in feedlots was 16 per cent versus eight per cent for western calves. But of the 3,600 calves sold through the calf club sales at Keady last year, the average pull rate was six per cent. “The producers here that know me know that my philosophy has always involved management. Management is the base of everything,” says Kotzeff.
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By Debbie Furber
Beef Centre of Excellence under new management
athieu Paré knew he had a big chef hat to fill when he assumed the role of director of the Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence from Marty Carpenter, who officially retired on March 1. Since opening its doors in March 2015, the centre has welcomed people from 168 domestic companies, 116 small- and medium-sized businesses, 42 international missions and 36 domestic missions. Activities are designed to meet the needs and interests of each group with the focus on carcass utilization to drive value back to the carcass and Canadian beef in general. The CBCE’s team at Calgary works with market development staff in Canada and other countries to host food-service and retail clients who buy or are interested in buying Canadian beef. They look for cuts that are underutilized in clients’ markets and specialty products that would help build the Canadian beef brand to be a bigger part of their business. In food service, they are looking for cuts that are profitable and cutting-edge. To date, people from Latin America, Mexico, Japan, China, Taiwan, southeastern Asia, Korea, the Middle East and Russia have visited the centre to learn more about the Canadian beef advantage. The visits start with a tour of a ranch because there is nothing more authentic than seeing where the cattle are raised. Next, it’s on to a feedlot to hear about the science behind why they do what they do, and to a plant to learn about food safety protocols. The diversity of the centre’s clients and Canadian beef is a combination Paré appreciates as well. This Calgary native is no stranger to adventures in culinary pursuits himself. He was known to forage the province far and wide for edible plants and animals before his inquisitive nature took him across Canada, into Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean to explore local cuisine and exotic ingredients. “Pairing landscape with food service, or sharing taste-of-place is my focus. Heightening guest enjoyment through creative menu and event theming is my way to achieve this,” Paré says. Fine dining on ribeye roast served aboard the Royal Canadian Pacific while rolling through southwestern Alberta’s rolling hills and ranching country
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comes to top of mind. Charcoal grilled tenderloins of Alberta beef paired with Dungeness crab boil on the beach for wedding dinners in Tofino, B.C. is the ultimate surf and turf, showcasing one of his favourites, outdoor cooking.
Pairing landscape with food service, or sharing taste-of-place is my focus. Mathieu Paré director of the Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence
He thinks of his new position as bringing his career full circle in a way with the opportunity to work with and learn from the expertise of the centre’s technical manager Abe Van Melle. The two worked together to deliver a culinary education program for meat department operators at Calgary Co-op stores when Paré was studying culinary arts at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and Van Melle was the lead instructor for the butchery program there. Paré achieved his Red Seal chef certificate topped off with a Governor General’s Bronze
Medal for achieving the highest standing of all programs in post-secondary institutions upon graduating in 2010. He is also a graduate of Tourism Management from Capilano University in North Vancouver. Between then and now, Paré fine-tuned his culinary skills to a professional degree, training in some of Western Canada’s greatest fine-dining kitchens including La Chaumiere, Rouge, Quail’s Gate Estate Winery, the Royal Canadian Pacific and the Wickaninnish Inn. The result is a style he describes as “classic technique and execution while maintaining some freedom for surprise, fusion and oneof-a-kind creativity.” Paré accepted the director position in January and spent the first couple of months training with Carpenter, who then closed out his time with the centre as guest chef at the Canadian Beef Branding Series during the Gulfood Show at Dubai, UEA. The CBCE is part of Canada Beef, which carries out market development activities with funding leveraged by Canadian producers’ national checkoff dollars. It was designed and built from scratch with the vision of serving as a training, communication, product research and development, and business development hub to showcase the Canadian beef brand and ultimately drive demand at home and abroad. The facility includes a 30-seat boardroom for meetings and formal presentations that can open up into a full demonstration theatre. There is a full commercial kitchen, a consumer kitchen and a hazard analysis and critical control point- (HACCP) oriented beef fabrication area where new cutting techniques are researched and demonstrated. All spaces are linked with high-definition cameras, microphones and screens for full broadcasting capability. Bookings for all or part of the facility are welcome via the initial inquiry form on the website or by calling the centre. Carpenter, who was the founding director of the centre, believes it is as unique as the Canadian beef brand itself — a true crowning achievement that all sectors of the value chain can be very proud of because it was built to serve the entire industry. Visit wwwcanadabeef.ca/centre-ofexcellence for more information. c
marketing Profitab l e c ut t i ng
Making the most of a carcass In a recent beef-cutting demonstration, Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence technical director Abe Van Melle gave a first-hand look at the added value to be coaxed from a beef carcass with creative butchering. The 28 per cent of a beef carcass categorized as prime cuts from the middle sells itself, but there are lots of opportunities to create value from less tender cuts that oftentimes have more distinct flavour. The plate, or front underbelly along the ribs, is a good example. As a source of beef bacon it demands three to four times the price of the other lesser cuts. With added marbling in the chuck today it can supply added value when turned into specialty steaks and steak cubes for deep frying. The petite tender from the shoulder clod is actually the third-most tender cut in a youthful carcass and Van Melle demonstrates how it can gain tremendous
value as a stuffed entree, beef Wellington or sliced across the grain into medallions. Proper trimming and cooking techniques make winners. The sirloin flap (thin cuts) located along the flank and below the loin used to go for hamburger but less so since the centre discovered some wonderful marinade recipes for this cut that make it a valued dish in Central America and Asia and is now very popular in Quebec. The tri-tip, although part of the sirloin, serves up best when slow roasted and cut across the grain after cooking because it comprises two parts with differing grains. The loin tail, which is one of the toughest cuts of all, is just starting to be explored for further potential and they’ve found already that it can be fall-apart tender when rolled with stuffing and long-braised with sweet gravy. For more on beef cuts and recipes to go with them, visit www.canadabeef.ca and search for “cuts by colour.”
CBCE technical director Abe Van Melle seeks added profits from carcasses.
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researc h o n t h e r eco r d
By Reynold Bergen
Environmental Goods and Services:
More Questions than Answers
he beef industry takes pride in how forage, grazing and beef production benefit the environment. These environmental goods and services (EG&S) include carbon sequestration, plant and wildlife habitat, reduced soil erosion, watershed recharging, scenery, etc. While consumers pay for beef, the EG&S are free. For instance, many ducks need grasslands and wetlands to nest and raise their young. Grasslands and wetlands also act like a sponge that absorbs excess moisture in wet years. A lot of grassland has been cultivated and/or wetlands drained to grow crops. This may have contributed to overland flooding and crop losses in recent wet years. If producers had been paid to preserve these grasslands and wetlands in recognition of the EG&S they provide (i.e. wildlife habitat and flood mitigation), would there have been fewer flood compensation payments? Before beef producers can be paid for the EG&S they provide, we need to be able to measure them and figure out what they’re worth. A BCRC–funded project led by the University of Manitoba’s Dr. Kim Ominski was published in 2015 (Challenges and Opportunities in Estimating the Value of Goods and Services in Temperate Grasslands – A Case Study of Prairie Grasslands in Manitoba, Canada). What they did: The research team focused on Manitoba’s grasslands. In addition to forage value, they identified 20 potential EG&S, and estimated the value of eight of them (carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, water quality, soil erosion control, soil formation, water treatment, recreation and aesthetics, and wildlife habitat). Forage and seed yields and prices were relatively easy to measure and value. The EG&S weren’t. For example, carbon sequestration data was limited, so they used data from grasslands at similar latitudes elsewhere in the world, and applied a carbon price from the Chicago Climate Exchange (this predated Canada’s carbon taxes). The amount of nitrogen fixed by forage legumes was estimated and priced the same as urea. Other EG&S were even harder to estimate and value. Water quality and benefits from reduced water and wind erosion were based on a previous study of the upper Assiniboine River basin in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The data on how well grasslands remove excess nitrogen and phosphorus from the soil wasn’t strong, so data from forests was used instead. The rate of soil formation in grasslands had been measured elsewhere in the world, and were assumed to be similar in Manitoba. Recreation and scenery values were estimated from hunting revenues. Wildlife habitat values came from a federal report about burrowing owl habitat in southern Alberta. Information from other international studies were used when no other estimates or values were available, and to supplement other data when appropriate. What they learned: A few key points were appar-
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ent. First, only a third of the total value from Manitoba grasslands (33 per cent) came from forage; the rest came from the EG&S. The largest EG&S contribution (42 per cent) came from carbon sequestration. No other EG&S accounted for more than 10 per cent of the total. The main thing this study found was how much we don’t know. We don’t have enough Canadian data to accurately estimate how much EG&S grasslands provide, and we don’t know what most EG&S are worth to society. What it means: Implementing an effective program to pay beef producers for EG&S will be challenging. Since existing national, regional and provincial level EG&S data is insufficient, how will EG&S be measured? If EG&S payments go to individuals, will EG&S be measured on each operation? Everyone knows someone whose operation isn’t as environmentally responsible as yours; should they be paid the same as you? What about producers who work hard to maintain habitat for burrowing owls or sage grouse but have fewer birds than last year? Will they be penalized because the birds haven’t stayed? Will producers be paid for carbon that was sequestered on native range a few million years before their grandparents immigrated, or just for newly seeded pastures? Will EG&S payments come from public tax dollars? If they do, what expectations will accompany them? For example, will civilians be able to freely roam private property and enjoy the scenery their taxes helped protect, as they do in Europe? Will EG&S be funded through the marketplace (e.g. consumer support for McDonald’s Sustainable Beef initiative), by paid hunting, or groups like Ducks Unlimited, who are supported by individuals who want to see duck populations’ habitats preserved? To answer these questions, more research is needed to measure how forage and beef production practices have an impact on greenhouse gas production and sequestration, soil health, watersheds and cycles, and plant and wildlife habitat. Regardless of how or whether producers are paid for EG&S, more knowledge of the EG&S that Canada’s beef producers provide will help the public understand that beef producers and environmentalists are often on the same side, and that Canada’s beef industry is environmentally sustainable. The Beef Research Cluster is funded by the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada with additional contributions from provincial beef industry groups and governments to advance research and technology transfer supporting the Canadian beef industry’s vision to be recognized as a preferred supplier of healthy, high-quality beef, cattle and genetics. c Dr. Reynold Bergen is science director of the Beef Cattle Research Council.
Leading the way in climate change By Trudy Kelly Forsythe
The CFGA is set to launch itself into a climate change leadership role within Canadian agriculture. It is doing so with the assistance of $656,000 from the $27 million Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP), which covers four priority areas of research: livestock systems, cropping systems, agricultural water use efficiency and agro-forestry. The purpose of the AGGP is to help the Canadian farming sector become a world leader in the development and use of clean and sustainable agricultural technologies and practices. It will also help farmers increase their understanding of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
CFGA PROJECT The research project led by the CFGA will work with farmers to leverage scientific research in forage management practices and seed genetic advancements to improve carbon sequestration in forage and grasslands across climate conditions in Canada. Its main goal is to demonstrate to farmers the carbon sequestration (sink) potential of their farmlands. “Producers know forages are valuable at capturing carbon,” says CFGA Chairman Ray Robertson. “However, until now, there was no way to quantify the full value of the ecological goods and services provided by the grasslands sector. Nor was there a way to quantify the economic value of the contributions made by individual landowners who increase soil carbon storage with their adoption of beneficial management practices and the use of new, high performance forage genetics. This project will change that.”
CANADIAN FORAGE & GRASSLAND ASSOCIATION www.canadianfga.ca Ph: 506-260-0872
MP Matt DeCourcey (Fredericton) and CFGA Executive Director Cedric MacLeod discuss details of the $656,000 carbon sequestration project announced in April.
PROJECT PHASES The first phase of the CFGA project, which is being led by Josh Lamont, is to develop an approved greenhouse gas quantification protocol for high performance forage management systems in Canada. “The protocol will be flexible enough to incorporate all climate zones in Canada where forages can be reasonably produced,” says CFGA Executive Director Cedric MacLeod. “This will expand and complement the existing work by Canadian researchers related to best management practices, forage and soil sequestration potential, both at the university research level and through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.” The second phase is to field test the approved protocol with forage producers across Canada. MacLeod says the test phase will gauge sector-wide opportunities for enhancing carbon sequestration and the potential to create carbon offset credits for Canadian
grassland managers. Outstanding gaps will be identified, as well as challenges in protocol implementation and record management.
COAST-TO-COAST In total, the AGGP is supporting 20 new research projects from coast-to-coast, from the University of British Columbia to collaborative research with conservation groups in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. They range in scope from studying GHG emissions from blueberry, potato and forage crops in B.C. to planting willow trees in areas irrigated by rivers in the Atlantic as a means to sequester carbon. “Investing in science and research now, at institutions like the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, will ensure that Canada’s agriculture sector remains innovative and sustainable for generations of farmers to come,” said Matt DeCourcey, Member of Parliament for Fredericton at the CFGA’s project launch.
managem e n t
By Debbie Furber
Hints for negotiating wind and solar leases Photo credit: Alberta Utilities Commission
easing land for commercial wind and solar power developments is an opportunity for additional revenue that might someday come knocking on your door. It’s a long-term commitment, so making an informed decision before signing on will go a long way toward smooth operations for you, your neighbours and the developer, says Jeana Schuurman with the Farmers’ Advocate Office (FAO), Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. In response to a surge of calls over the past year from landowners with questions about wind and solar leases, the FAO has worked with others to pull important considerations into a guide, Negotiating Renewable Energy Leases, and offer workshops on this topic. While the guide covers many points that span borders, some aspects will vary from province to province because of differing regulations that developers must follow, highlighting the need to contact your government for specific information. What’s driving developers’ interest in Alberta is the province’s new renewable energy target to add 5,000 megawatts (MW) per year of electricity generated from renewable sources (wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, biomass) to the grid by 2030, coupled with the move toward establishing a competitive capacity market to achieve the target by offering 20-year price support agreements for successful bidders. Wind and solar leases are not the same as oil and gas leases governed by the province’s Surface Rights Act because the right of entry for developers doesn’t apply, but neither do some of the safeguards for landowners. “In Alberta, you have the freedom to say no to having a wind or solar development on your land,” Schuurman says. If you decide to say no, the developer may
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find another spot nearby in which case the project could affect you without providing any revenue. In some locations, landowners have agreed to split the lease revenue when a project on one person’s land has implications for several others. The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) considers environmental, social and economic impacts in deciding if approving an application for any type of power plant is in the public’s best interest. It ensures that the developer engages with people in the project’s vicinity and that there is a fair review process for those directly or adversely affected by its decision. Concerns could be related to the increase in local traffic during construction and maintenance, the appearance of the project on the landscape, effects on wildlife and habitat, shadow flicker from turbine blades, sun reflection from solar panels, restrictions on activities such as hunting and aerial spraying, implications for future developments on adjacent property, and potential property devaluation. “Think of the full picture. Recognize that this is a community decision. Talk with your neighbours, lawyer, accountant and municipal government to get the full range of perspectives before signing a lease. Hearing their concerns and discussing how to address them will help prevent disputes in the long term,” Schuurman advises. Leases will be for 25 to 60 years. The lifespan for most of the equipment is around 25 years, but the developer may be interested in re-powering the facility instead of decommissioning and reclaiming it. Wind projects might require one acre for every MW of energy produced and the land surrounding the turbines can still be grazed or cultivated. Solar projects could need as many as seven acres per MW and
the land will be removed from agricultural production. As of April, the largest solar project application in the Alberta Electric System Operator’s connection process queue published on its website was a 150-MW facility, with most of the 40 applications being for smaller projects on a host’s site to supply on-site industrial needs. On the other hand, most of the 53 wind project applications in the queue were for connection to the grid, the largest being a 325-MW project. The developers have to fulfill certain requirements before the application goes to the AUC for consideration. As of April, seven solar and two wind applications were in the works, with four solar and one wind plant approved over the past 18 months. The increasing interest in solar developments is particularly notable, says AUC’s Jim Law, because only two had been received over the previous eight years. Lease payment
“We also want landowners to be aware that the compensation structure for oil and gas leases in the Surface Rights Act doesn’t extend to wind and solar,” Schuurman says. Lease payments offered could be a fixed amount regardless of the amount of electricity generated, a variable rate based on output, or fixed plus variable. The FAO recommends negotiating compensation with some fixed component to provide stability if output isn’t as strong as initially anticipated and a consistent payment from construction through the facility’s lifetime and reclamation. It could be beneficial to include a clause on periodically renegotiating the payment or a built-in inflation factor. Before negotiating a long-term lease, developers typically ask for a right of first refusal or to negotiate an option to lease for at least three
years to test the site’s potential. An option to lease doesn’t necessarily obligate the developer to carry out testing or enter into a long-term agreement with you. Schuurman stresses that there are no industry- or government-funded programs currently in place as there are for oil and gas to ensure landowners receive unpaid rentals or to deal with orphaned infrastructure if a renewable energy company goes under. Also keep in mind that the representative sent by a developer to negotiate the lease may not be a licensed land agent, therefore, not bound by the Land Agents Licensing Act standard of conduct that provides recourse if the representative doesn’t negotiate in good faith and follow all laws. Farming activities
Signing a lease gives the developer “exclusive and undisturbed” right to use the land covered by the lease for project purposes as it sees fit, so be sure to identify any structures or land features that should not be disturbed. The developer will register a caveat on the land title and require easements for collector systems that tie into the grid. Weed control has potential to become
a bone of contention between companies, landowners, and neighbours if not clearly outlined in the agreement. The developer is responsible for weed control on the lease, but you will need to discuss specific requirements you may have regarding how and when weed control should be carried out. Oftentimes, companies will contract the landowner to do this job, as well as other general site maintenance such as snow removal. The developer is also responsible for the cost of constructing and maintaining fencing necessary to protect the site and the agreement should cover any specific needs you may have, such as gates and cattle guards. Establishing an access protocol for regular inspection and maintenance after the facility is in operation is another important discussion, especially if you have concerns such as the proximity of the project to your home, biosecurity for preventing crop or animal diseases, introduction of noxious weeds, or fire hazards. Also address how disputes will be handled if either party fails to abide by the terms of the lease agreement. Mediation, arbitration or both are preferred over taking disputes to court because legal costs
could very well be greater than the initial damage amount. Have your lawyer review the developer’s insurance policy to make sure it is suitable for your operation, taking into consideration others who may come and go, such as custom operators, renters, or other leaseholders. The FAO recommends negotiating thoroughly around reclamation. The Alberta government has added solar and wind projects to the list of activities requiring a government reclamation certificate upon completion, but as of April the provincial standards were not yet in place. Soil testing before the project and after the initial disturbance is suggested as a way to help form a baseline if the land will someday revert to agricultural use. Some lease agreements only offer compensation for yield loss the year after reclamation even though it could take much longer for the land to yield to its former potential. For more information, see Negotiating Renewable Energy Leases at www. farmersadvocate.gov.ab.ca, contact Jeana Schuurman at 780-427-7956, or visit: www1. agric.gov.ab.ca/$Department/deptdocs.nsf/All/ agdex16246#questions. c
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hanges to farm safety regulations are expected soon — and that might not be a bad thing for Alberta farmers, says the president of the Alberta Federation of Agriculture. “Workers’ compensation or private insurance really is a great risk management tool for farms nowadays,” said Lynn Jacobson. “That protection against litigation is one of the big selling fac-
tors for workers’ compensation.” Oneil Carlier, the new NDP agriculture minister, has vowed to extend workplace safety regulations to farm workers who aren’t currently covered by workers’ compensation or Occupational Health and Safety regulations. Today, only around seven per cent of Alberta farm employers voluntarily carry workers’ compensation for their operations. But offering that protection — both for employers and employees — is one of the realities of farm-
ing today, said Jacobson, who farms near Enchant. “There’s getting to be more and more hired help on the farm and we’re employing more people,” he said. “It gives protection from litigation and other advantages, and if you don’t have it, there can be some serious consequences.” And farm workers today “aren’t just interested in a paycheque,” he said. “They’re starting to realize, ‘If I get hurt on this job, where’s the protection for my family?’ When it comes down to it, a farm that has some type of
protection for those people is going to have a lot easier time hiring people.”
g ra i n c r o p d e s p i t e re c e n t cutbacks in staff and locomotives. conGrain is, was and will con tinue to be Canadian Pacific Railway’s biggest cargo, John Brooks, vice-president of sales comand marketing for bulk com modities, said in an interview Aug. 6. And the historic railway founded in 1881 is investing to move even more in the future, he said. “Make no bones about it, grain is king at CP,” he said. “It is our life-bread. There is nothing we want to do more than move a lot of grain. “I think we feel pretty good about our handling capacity… to move this new crop.” see CP Rail on page 7 »
see COVeRAGe } page 7
High tunnel production has potential to extend the Manitoba grower’s season, says MAFRD’s fruit crops specialist Anthony Mintenko. He and the provincial PHOTO: LORRAINE STEVENSON LORRAINE STEVENSON vegetable crop specialist are evaluating fruit and vegetable crops for high tunnel production at the AAFC site at Portage la Prairie. PHOTO:
BY LORRAINE STEVENSON
Cost and paperwork
Co-operator staff / Portage la Prairie
There are “some misconceptions” about workers’ compensation that have made Alberta farmers reluctant to offer coverage to their workers, said Jacobson. “Some people don’t like that administrative role and the paperwork that is associated with the program at this point in time,” he said.
production system that extends the growing season, offers growers a competitive edge in the marketplace and potential to make more money sounds mighty tempting. That’s why fruit and vegetable growers were out in large numbers at Hort Diagnostic Days in late July to hear more about construction of high tunnels. This is the first year a variety of fruits and vegetables has been planted in the high tunnel built in 2014 at the Agriculture Agri-Food
Canada location in Portage la Prairie. Growers are keen to hear what Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (MAFRD) specialists are learning. High tunnel production is commonplace in other parts of Canada and in northern and central U.S. where nearly every type of fruit and vegetable is now grown, even tree fruits. MAFRD staff are researching how high tunnels work in Manitoba growing conditions. “We have a lot of recommendations from other places like Minnesota and Ontario about what to grow in a high tunnel but nothing for under Manitoba conditions,” said fruit
crop specialist Anthony Mintenko, who is evaluating day-neutral strawberries, early-season June-bearing strawberries, fall-bearing raspberries and blackberries at one end of the 100x15x7.5-foot tunnel. Provincial vegetable specialist Tom Gonsalves is experimenting with vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers at the other. High tunnels are like greenhouses, except they don’t have a double layer of poly, and no permanent heat or electricity. But they have a similar function — they keep cold out and, conversely, heat in. see ReseaRCheRs on page 6 »
COOL: U.S. challengeS canada’S claim» PAGE 3
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BY BRIAN CROSS
You don’t have to go far to find hazards on a farm, and that’s why new workplace safety regulations are inevitable, say farm leaders. PHOTOS: COURTESY Canadian agRiCUlTURal SafETY aSSOCiaTiOn
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senior executive with comCP Rail says the com pany is “well positioned” to move this year’s
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director with that organization. “I asked him if there will be any WAS NOW form of funding for cattle and hay, $32,900 $23,900 SOLDareas that are so and also for some $106,900 $95,900 dry that crop insurance for grain $59,900 won’t $49,900 farmers really cover every$224,900 $214,900 thing,” said the Magrath-area pro$249,900 $228,900 ducer. $250,500 $229,900 “He said that he will probably $250,900 $230,900 wait until after harvest is over and $249,900 $229,900 he gets the$49,900 crop insurance infor$59,900 mation back SOLD from the Agricultural Financial $75,900 Services $62,900 Corporation to $107,900 $99,900 see what the facts are. He’ll then $139,900 $129,900 find out which counties are in the $332,900 $299,900 worst shape.” Coming In That same stance was taken byWAS Federal NOW Agriculture Minister $315,900 Gerry Ritz $299,900 at a national meeting of $227,900 agriculture$199,900 ministers held in mid-
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More cops, more cameras or more common sense? What’s the best way to fight crime in rural Saskatchewan? Questions related to rural crime generated plenty of discussion during the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities’ annual convention in Saskatoon last week, and some controversy as well. SARM is one of the best barometers of public sentiment in rural Saskatchewan. At its annual convention March 14-16, the organization welcomed more than 1,000 delegates — mostly elected reeves and councilors — from 296 RMs across the province. And according to delegates attending the event, rural people are fed up with what they see as threats to their property and personal safety. “For a lot of (rural people), I think it’s a concern about RCMP coverage itself,” said SARM president Ray Orb, when asked about delegates’ frustration. “They don’t feel safe because there aren’t enough police out there to cover the whole province.…It’s (about having) the confidence that the RCMP are there and that when they’re called, they’ll be able to (show up) in a timely manner. Added another delegate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity: “Policing in rural Saskatchewan is inadequate and the criminals know it.… People in remote areas have had enough.” SEE PROTECT PROPERTY, PAGE 4
Cold weather doesn’t stop calving but at -23C Brenda Stahl takes a minutes-old calf to the warmth of the barn at the Cayley Colony near Cayley, Alta., earlier this month. FOR MORE CALVING PHOTOS FROM THE CAYLEY COLONY, SEE PAGE 70. | MIKE STURK PHOTO
Canada, China explore trade talks Eliminating tariffs could increase annual exports to China by $1.2 billion BY SEAN PRATT SASKATOON NEWSROOM
Farm groups are excited that Canada has launched exploratory free trade agreement talks with China. The Asian country accounted for $5.6 billion in Canadian agri-food exports last year, making it Canada’s second largest market after the United States.
China buys one-third of Canada’s canola exports and is an important market for soybeans, pulses, wheat, barley, beef and pork. A study commissioned by the Canola Council of Canada found that eliminating tariffs could increase exports of seed, oil and meal to China by up to $1.2 billion per year. That would be the equivalent of shipping an extra 1.8 million
tonnes of canola per year to that market, or 10 percent of annual production. “We see incredible opportunity for grow th in China and part of that opportunity hinges upon better market access,” said Brian Innes, vice-president of government relations with the council. SEE TRADE TALKS, PAGE 5
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Friday, September 15th C a t t l e m e n · J U NE 2 0 1 7
By John McKinnon
The Silage Pit has no Secrets!
ast month I wrote about the importance of variety when it comes to seeding barley for silage. When writing that article, I got thinking about the principles of making goodquality silage, particularly in relation to feed quality. What really brought this connection home to me however, was my experiences this past winter where I had the opportunity to watch several rather large silage piles slowly disappear as they were fed out. Now, I will admit that documenting the disappearance of 25,000 tonnes of silage is not the most stimulating experience; it does however, effectively highlight any management issues the operation had with harvesting, cutting, packing, covering and feeding. Let’s look at some of the issues I encountered, starting with moisture. In one case, the pit consistently averaged 70 to 72 per cent moisture over the winter. In another, the silage pit contained forage that was too dry (less than 60 per cent moisture), while in another the forage was quite variable ranging from 55 to 70 per cent moisture, depending on sampling date. In the case where the silage was at or greater than 70 per cent moisture the crop was harvested too early. Ideally we target 65 per cent moisture for cereals with acceptable ranges anywhere from 62 to 68, depending on harvest conditions. Silage that is too wet causes issues with excess effluent or seepage, as well as issues with feeding. Silage effluent is a waste of nutrients, is corrosive to equipment and a serious environmental issue. All good reasons to minimize its occurrence by targeting appropriate plant moisture levels at cutting. From a feeding perspective, particularly in the winter, rations that have too high a moisture content can have ice crystals throughout the feed and be subject to freezing in the bunk. Both conditions can limit feed intake of newly weaned calves. Also keep in mind that silage that is too wet can undergo abnormal fermentation that results in the growth of Clostridia bacteria and other undesirable micro-organisms (i.e. Listeria). In contrast, silage that is cut too dry (less than 60 per cent moisture) is difficult to pack and results in poor-quality silage due to an extended aerobic fermentation phase. Over-
C a t t l e m e n · J U NE 2 0 1 7
Silage cut too dry can cause overheating resulting in brown or burnt-looking patches.
heating can be an issue and the resulting silage will have pockets of mould and/or a brown or burnt-like appearance. The most common area of the pit to see this brown or burnt-like silage is the top 12 to 24 inches of the pile, particularly if the pit was not covered. However, as I indicate above there can be pockets of such material through the silage pit if not packed properly. From a nutrition perspective, this silage has reduced energy and protein values and is not as palatable to the animal. One of the factors that leads to poor packing is chop length. Forage ensiled with too long a chop length is hard to pack. This results in some of the issues with mould and heating discussed above. One good way to check on the efficiency of the forage harvester in terms of cut length, is to check feed bunks first thing in the morning. When silage varies in particle size, cattle will sort out the large particles (i.e. two to four inches) and leave them in the bunk. This changes formulated forage-to-concentrate ratios and diet nutrient specifications, potentially having an impact on performance. Unfortunately identifying issues with chop length when the silage is already in the pit is too late. The optimal time to check the efficiency of the forage harvester is during cutting. Most forage harvesters can be adjusted to a desired theoretical length of cut by varying cutting speeds, number and sharpness knifes, etc. Average cut lengths of one-half inch for barley and one-quarter to one-half inch for corn are fairly common. The goal is to keep particles longer than 1-1/2 inches to a minimum (less
than 10 per cent of total particles) such that sorting by the cattle is minimized. The final secret of the silage pit that I will illustrate is where the silage varies widely in moisture content from one week to the next. This variability influences the forage-to-concentrate ratio of the ration and causes headaches for bunk readers and feed truck drivers as this ratio needs to be adjusted to maintain formulated nutrient and feed additive levels. There are numerous reasons why this variability occurs, but in my experience it generally results when there are weather issues during harvest or where multiple fields/suppliers were used to fill the pit. You can’t do much about the weather but you should be able to coordinate cutting and delivery from multiple suppliers to optimize quality, particularly since you are paying for the feed. I often get asked the question does it matter — “so what if there are a few pockets of burnt or mouldy silage or a bit of long forage left in the bunk?” I think the best answer to this question is to do a bit of math — a bunker silo typical of many mid-size feedlots holds 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes of silage. At $45 a tonne, this represents a feed inventory worth up to $900,000. A better question is: “Can you afford to give up five or 10 per cent of this value due to poor silage management?” Remember the silage pit has no secrets! c John McKinnon is a beef cattle nutritionist at the University of Saskatchewan.
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fly cont ro l
By Debbie Furber
Garlic is worth its salt for fly control
eeding a little garlic powder to cattle does keep flies away and there are finally numbers to show it. Cows that received trace mineral (TM) salt fortified with garlic powder had 52 per cent and 56 per cent fewer flies on average than the two control groups that received TM salt alone during a summer-long demonstration project at Beacon Hill Community Pasture in the boreal forest fringe of northwestern Saskatchewan. Regional livestock specialists with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture took advantage of an opportunity that came their way last summer to start gathering hard evidence on this controversial fly-control method as part of an ongoing stock management project. Pasture manager Ed Sarrazin happened to mention that one patron had supplied garlic powder to mix with TM salt for his cattle the summer before and it seemed to really work. Obi Durunna, regional livestock specialist at Prince Albert, says he and his counterparts on the project, Jenifer Heyden at North Battleford and Naomi Paley at Yorkton, came up almost emptyhanded when they started looking for
C a t t l e m e n · J U NE 2 0 1 7
information on feeding garlic powder to repel flies. They found only one study and it showed that garlic powder at a two per cent inclusion rate with salt didn’t reduce horn fly numbers. Those are the pesky flies seemingly attached to the backs and sides of cattle by a magnetic-like field. When disturbed, horn flies lift up, but never fly away coming right back to continue feeding on the animal’s blood, taking as many as 30 meals a day until mating when the females leave to lay eggs in fresh manure. Producer testimonials on blogspots didn’t offer solid evidence for or against this practice. Some tout the merits of garlic powder for fly control and increasing mineral intake, while others say it makes no difference at all. The only way to know for sure would be to count the flies on cows fed garlic and on those not fed garlic in nearby pastures during the same grazing season because overall fly pressure varies from location to location and season to season. That’s exactly what they did for this project. The treatment group of 150 pairs received TM salt mixed with garlic powder
Garlic powder didn’t discourage salt uptake while reducing fly loads during the grazing season. Obi Durunna regional livestock specialist at Prince Albert
av e r ag e f ly cou n ts i n d i f f e r e n t g rou ps 200 180 Average fly contents
at 2.1 per cent of the weight of the TM salt starting on arrival, May 25. Control-1 was a group of 115 pairs and control-2 was a group of 150 pairs that received TM salt without garlic powder. The herds grazed in separate pastures about three kilometres apart during the demonstration period ending September 13. The Compass Minerals plant at Unity supplied 140 bags of SIFTO-Canadian Stockman Medi-boot Trace Mineralized Stock Salt. The patron whose cattle received the garlic treatment purchased bulk garlic powder from Masterfeeds and it was handmixed with the TM salt at the pasture. The garlic-TM-salt mix and the plain TM salt were fed in open tubs and delivered as needed to the respective pastures. Videos of each group were taken between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on June 1, July 6 and 21, August 10 and 30, and September 13. Still photos of the faces and sides of cows sampled were pulled from the videos and the Adobe Photoshop count tool was used to count flies visible in the photos. The videos were reviewed to observe fly-avoidance behaviours including bunching, tail flicks, head throws, leg stomps and side licks. Fly counts include face flies around the eyes, mouth and muzzle, horn flies clustered on the poll, back, sides and undersides, and stable flies sticking mainly to the legs. It was easy to see that face-fly pressure was light, whereas horn flies were out in full force. The season-long average for the cows sampled in the garlic group was 75 flies per cow. The cows sampled in the two control groups that received TM salt alone had average fly counts of 156 and 171. On June 1, there wasn’t much difference between average fly counts for the garlic and control-1 groups. The difference became quite striking 41 days into the trial with the garlic group averaging approximately 100 fewer flies per cow than control-1 on July 6. The fly load in the garlic group peaked at the July 21 count, averaging approximately 150 flies per cow. It then dropped by about half by August 10, which coincided with the highest average counts for both control groups. The average fly count on the cows in control-1 hovered just under 200 per cow on July 21 and August 10. The average fly count on the cows in control-2 was just over 200 per cow in July and neared 250 per cow on August 10. The fly count on cows in all groups decreased as fly pressure declined after
160 140 120
60 40 20 0
August 10 to the end of the trial on September 13. The garlic group consistently had the lowest fly count and exhibited the fewest fly-avoidance behaviours throughout the trial period. Overall, avoidance behaviours were observed in 35 per cent of the cows in the garlic group, 55 per cent of the cows in control-1, and 48 per cent of the cows in control-2. This resulted in a statistical difference between the garlic and control-1 groups, but not between the garlic and control-2 groups, nor between the two control groups. The avoidance observations didn’t reflect the fly-count pattern. In fact, fly avoidance was by far the highest on June 1 when fly loads were the lowest. On August 10, the average fly count on cows in both control groups was the highest of all for the trial period and yet the cows in those groups showed fewer avoidance behaviours than on August 30 when fly counts had dropped off. Average avoidance behaviours among the cows in the garlic group declined through July 21 to August 30, but popped up slightly on September 13 as these behaviours became less frequent in the control groups. The cattle didn’t seem to mind the taste of garlic, but neither did they go for it in a big way. Daily consumption was within the expected range, averaging 0.12 pounds of TM salt per head (cows plus calves plus bulls). TM salt consumption was 0.18 pounds and 0.15 pounds per head per day for control-1 and control-2, respectively. The cost of the 88 pounds of garlic powder fed from May 25 to September 13 worked out
to $1.46 per head. Comparatively, the cost to treat each animal with the long-acting pouron insecticide, Cylence, would have been $1.06 per application (averaged between three millimetres per calf and 10 millimetres per cow) with a second treatment recommended three to four weeks later. Durunna says the trial hasn’t been without a fair share of light-hearted comments about pre-seasoned steaks; however, nothing is known about the effect of feeding garlic powder for summer fly control on meat or milk products. The next question is whether feeding garlic powder could have negative implications for animal health or if garlic’s antibiotic properties reported in human studies might apply to cattle as well. The insect-repelling properties of garlic are attributed to alliin. Physical disturbance or wetting activates the transformation of alliin into allicin (diallyl thiosulphate). In this project, the allicin content of the garlic powder was 1.2 per cent and no adverse health effects were observed when incorporating garlic powder at 2.1 per cent of the TM-salt weight. All-in-all, Durunna says this project demonstrated that garlic powder is easy to feed and didn’t discourage TM salt intake, while reducing fly loads throughout the grazing season. The team will be collecting more data this summer with a trial set to get underway using Masterfeeds’ premixed garlicTM salt product containing five per cent garlic powder by weight. The cows will also be weighed at take-in and take-out. For more information, contact Durunna at 306-953-2772. c
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Free Mar k et R e flect i o n s
By Steve Dittmer
Baby Steps, Clues and Competition
he Trump administration has been hampered by the Democrat opposition party trying everything to delay confirmation of Trump appointees. So it was mid-May before the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was finally confirmed, nearly four months after the inauguration. That factor, plus Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s confirmation only a couple of weeks earlier, hampered the new administration’s momentum on trade. However, while the USTR normally leads trade efforts, there are indications Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross might be the cabinet officer leading Trump trade negotiations. Perdue’s announcement that he would fill a new USDA position of undersecretary for trade was good news to agricultural groups. Perdue is a free trader and this appointment should stengthen his position. Observers will have noted that while Trump has been pushing hard with executive orders and memos, Congress has not moved fast on anything. Congressional leadership’s decision to start with repealing and replacing Obamacare made for a rocky start. A very contentious issue was complicated by indecision among Republicans on the shape of the legislation. While the House thrashed out a decent beginning, the Senate decided to start writing a new bill. Meantime, the House is supposedly beginning tax reform legislation. It is hard to decide which of those two priorities are most important as they both carry huge political and economic impact. As neither house has demonstrated the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time, it will take a minor miracle to get both those issues resolved by fall. Such a pace is frustrating to both Trump and his supporters — many of whom are accustomed to a businesslike pace, rather than Congressional slow motion. All of that time has not been wasted, however. The slog has given business and agricultural groups that favour free trade more time to lobby Trump and his White House contingent. The tone of Trump’s rhetoric moderated for a while — then he would say something or do something to raise concerns all over again. His chiding of Canada’s dairy policy while in Wisconsin had to concern Canada’s livestock producers. Especially after he said Canada’s portion of NAFTA shouldn’t need much change. His NAFTA memo to Congress was less radical than many expected. Then he goes after Canadian softwood, an issue that’s been on the burner for years. After several comments by insiders that protectionist economist Peter Navarro was losing clout in the White House, the next thing we know, he’s writing a U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA. When that news leaks, Trump credited phone calls from President Pena and Prime
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Minister Trudeau for changing his mind, and he decides to negotiate, not withdraw. How much of that was political theater, softening up negotiation partners, and how much was a near miss for free traders is anyone’s guess. I’m suggesting to American cattlemen that they should expect to be just as much in the dark regarding Trump’s negotiating positions as his trading partners during negotiations. His style is about as far removed from Obama’s “telegraphing” and recent Republican leadership’s “cave-in first” styles as is possible. While the slow Washington pace has affected Trump’s agenda, North Korea’s belligerence and accelerating rocket testing has helped bring us a tutorial on Trump’s negotiating style. Trump’s constant China bashing during the campaign regarding trade and currency policies, as well as his abuse of trade regulations, was obviously a major factor in President Xi’s meeting directly with Trump so soon after the inauguration. Xi took Trump at his word that a huge chunk of China’s economy — exports to the U.S. — was at risk. The North Korean factor accelerated the need for a meeting. According to the joint statement, China will import U.S. beef, based on existing international standards, no later than July 16, 2017. Previously, negotiations had been hung up on two issues. The one Canadians already had a leg up on American producers was traceability. The other was the use of ractopamine during the last few weeks in the feedlot. Apparently, the need to establish some good will with the U.S. is overcoming those issues. That will mean more competition for Canadian beef in the Chinese market. However, given the size of the market and the relative newness of grain-fed beef to many emerging middle-class Chinese, it might not be such a bad idea to have two experienced marketing teams working the country, expanding the overall market for grain-fed beef and variety meats. Traditional Chinese tastes are more attuned to variety meats, and how long it will take them to become interested in volumes of muscle cuts is an open question. But we’ve learned some things about Trump’s negotiating style. If this is the normal Trump template, he likes to start things off himself, top leader to top leader. Beforehand, rattle your negotiating partners and make sure they know you are willing to walk if you are not getting enough of what you want. During negotiations, set deadlines and goals, then send in the top lieutenants to wrap things up in short order. It was encouraging but not definitive that Trump sent Ross and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to execute the China agreement. Ross is a free trader and Mnuchin appears open to it. However, Ross is an avowed China trader and fan, so that likely influenced his leadership role in this case. c
Steve Dittmer is the CEO of Agribusiness Freedom Foundation, a non-profit group promoting free market principles throughout the food chain. He can be reached at email@example.com.
BUILDING TRUST IN CANADIAN BEEF
Talking turkey on attracting beef capital New thinking on investment could grow the beef herd, says economist
Canada’s beef industry likes the idea of vibrant cow herd and sector growth. But the topic of outside capital to accomplish that often raises red flags to beef producers big on family owned. Maybe it’s time to rethink that, says economist and capital specialist Michael Grant of the Conference Board of Canada. From his considerable experience in researching the food system, he says new thinking on outside capital could grow the beef herd and take the industry to the next level. There is a need and an interest, says Grant. As baby boomers retire, primary ag operations, many of them large, need to change hands. How are those young people going to capitalize those operations, unless they have inherited them? Banks, credit unions and government lending will continue to operate. Efficient operations will drive industry consolidation, but questions and concerns remain. In beef, about a third of operations are significantly less profitable than others, says Grant. When something is not performing at the same level as the best in the sector, investors see opportunity to go in and reap that return. They’ll do that unless there are barriers. Corporate farms are not bad farms. They often do a better job of environmental stewardship and standard practices because they have systems in place, and because they have more to lose. They weather the commodity cycles better because they have scale. Only the primary sector capitalizes itself through owner operator. Other food indus-
Global shortage of arable land may bring investors into primary ag.
try sectors and in fact other business sectors have much more aggressive capitalization approaches. Who would invest?
Grant sees lots of potential investor interest, but three key examples: Angel investor. High net worth individuals are investors in the tech sector. Institutional investors. They invest in infrastructure in other countries, why not primary ag? Food sector. Value chain already invests in transportation and processing. Industry positives, barriers
There are lots of positives for the beef industry for investors, says Grant. “Canada’s cattle operations have been innovative, working hard to create products people want and exploring new markets especially in Asia. We have some excellent farms with an enviable level of performance.” But there are barriers, he says.
Physical. Underperforming assets may be located where expansion is not possible. Managerial. Investors want the ability to deliver on a business plan. When resources are acquired within the sector the people doing the buying know the business. As you get further away from that owner operator you get people with less experience and that means more risk, and that narrows down the pool of investors. Regulatory. Regulations add cost. Think succession
“Who will be the next generation of managers in primary agriculture as the baby boomers retire?” asks Grant. “We have to have good managers come into the business.” He says lots of farmers are leaving the succession discussion way too late. “There are models of succession planning where you don’t have to transfer the equity over. Baby boomers are retiring in all industries so there are all sorts of ideas for succession planning.”
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By Steve Kenyon
Have you tried ACV yet?
any years ago I was very excited to hear Gerald Fry speak at a conference. He had some fascinating topics and I have been a huge follower of his ever since. I was also lucky enough a couple of years later to attend his course on Linear Measurement and Genetics. If you ever get a chance to see him, make sure you go! He has a vast amount of knowledge and is one of the humblest speakers I have ever met. One of the many tips I took from Fry is his use of apple cider vinegar (ACV) for my livestock. Right away I was excited about it and I asked him, “How much do I pour on?” He laughed as I soon found out that it is a nutritional supplement, not a pour-on. The first time, of course, I ran out and bought a cart full of four-litre jugs from the grocery store. (I’m sure they were wondering what I was stilling out on the farm with than much vinegar.) I was soon to learn that to get the real benefits from ACV, you need to use fermented apple juice which is left raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized to keep the “mother,” intact. This “mother” in ACV is the cloudy blob of beneficial enzymes, pectin, and trace minerals that float around inside the jug. Your typical grocery store ACV does not have this; although most grocery stores will carry an organic brand that does. It is very important in many of the benefits of ACV I will describe below. ACV is primarily acetic acid which is the same acid a cow produces in her rumen already to digest her feed. Why do I use it?
The first time I used ACV it was to help prevent or control internal and external parasites. As far as I have read, the only pest that it does not help control is liver flukes. I have done fecal samples a few times after use and every time we have had zero parasite eggs in the manure. It was not a perfectly controlled experiment by any means,
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but I did also test other animals on the farm at the same time that were not treated with ACV and we did find that there was a low number of parasite eggs found in their samples. I’m not saying ACV is a cure-all if you have a severe parasite issue, but along with some better genetic selection, good nutrition and a rotational grazing system, ACV can go a long way to help prevent any serious parasite loads. The acetic and malic acid in ACV raises the acidity in the stomach. It balances the pH back to normal, which creates an unfavourable environment for pathogens and internal parasites. It also stimulates the hormonal system which will allow the animal to secrete oils from the skin to help control external parasites. ACV can also be applied externally to help control ringworm. I learned quickly that ACV is rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements as well. The potassium levels are quite high which helps maximize the nutrition from feed; especially calcium, phosphorus and copper. ACV also increases butterfat and body fat production. It basically improves digestion. Regulating the rumen helps to prevent scours, bloat, gas, reflux and indigestion. I have read claims numerous times that the high potassium levels will also help reduce birthing difficulties and improve calf vigour. By balancing the pH, ACV also buffers the rumen and overall blood pH which prevents or reverses acidosis and ketosis. It is full of beneficial probiotics (good microbes) and nutraceuticals (nutrients with medicinal benefits), which will strengthen the immune system. It improves disease resistance to detrimental bacteria, viruses, yeasts, fungus and the natural pectins in ACV will bind to the unwanted toxins to be excreted by the body. ACV contains high levels of malic acid which helps cleanse and heal the liver for better detoxification of toxins. Adding ACV to drinking water will
also keep waterers free of algae and mosquito larvae. Many will tell you that ACV will improve the texture and flavour of the meat and will not create any off-flavours to milk, meat or eggs. This nutritional supplement is not just for cattle. There are many benefits to other types of livestock as well. We have added it to our feeder pig operation and we can visually see the difference in their skin texture and performance. We added ACV to the pigs’ drinking water as well as to their swimming pool. We have been very impressed with the results. There are many benefits to horses, sheep, goats, hogs and chickens if you care to Google it. Another resource that I have used over the last couple of years has been Dr. Will Winters. He is very knowledgeable on ACV and I would highly recommend you looking him up at www.willwinters.com. I order my ACV in 55-litre barrels or you can get it in 1,000 litre totes. Many people use ACV as a nutritional supplement in their own diets as well. There is lots of information out there if you just look for it. I know that some of you will argue that this is just a hoax pushed by the organic industry. That is fine if that is your opinion and I understand if you do not agree with me. I tried it and have seen the results. I also am using the wisdom of respectable mentors in the industry like Gerald Fry and Dr. Will Winters who have been using ACV a lot longer than I have. There is a bit of an issue right now as the increase in human consumption of ACV has caused a limited supply for livestock. It is hard to get. Maybe if you are out there in the apple industry, there is a new profit centre just waiting for you to jump into? Let me know if you do as I am almost out. c Steve Kenyon runs Greener Pastures Ranching Ltd. in Busby, Alta., www. greenerpasturesranching.com, 780-307-6500, email firstname.lastname@example.org or find them on Facebook.
Glacier Media strengthens its weather, ag-technology team CHATHAM, ON and CALGARY, AB – Glacier Media, a leading Canadian business information news, insights and data supplier, is pleased to announce that it has hired Jonathan Neutens as President of its Weather Innovations Consulting (WIN) group. Neutens, who has more than 20 years experience in North America’s agribusiness sector, will lead the team at WIN to scale its business in the ag-technology space, building on the existing range of weather-driven products and services WIN currently offers its clients in North America, the United Kingdom and Europe. “We’re very pleased to attract someone of Jon’s calibre to complement the great team at WIN,” noted Glacier Media EVP Bill Whitelaw. “His hiring is key to our plan to scale the range of tools we offer to Canadian and global agriculture as part of the sector’s shift to smarter and more data-driven solutions.” Neutens has held senior level executive roles at some of the leading companies in North American agriculture, including Nufarm and Syngenta, and served on the sector boards for CropLife Canada and CleanFarms Canada. He launched his career in their
family, market-leading ag-retail operation, and he has owned and operated his own enterprise software business. “Jon is bringing to us exactly the right blend of strategic and ‘in-field’ experience; he’s plugged into some of the key shifts currently shaping Canada’s agriculture sector and the role it plays globally,” noted Whitelaw. Neutens is a graduate of the University of Guelph with an undergraduate agribusiness degree and holds a Masters of Business Administration degree from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. “I am excited to join Weather Innovations and Glacier Media in this capacity. WIN’s founder, Ian Nichols, has been quietly building and ground-proofing a suite of products and services for over 15 years... in this space currently coined ‘decision’ or ‘smart-ag’. Many companies in this space have yet to get to this level of ground-proofing, and I am eager to grow WIN`s presence and establish it as the leader it is in this sector shift in agriculture”. For more information, please contact Bill Whitelaw, Executive Vice President, Glacier Business Information. 1-403-462-5108
About WIN: Weather INnovations Consulting LP (WIN) is a company originally developed at the Ridgetown Campus of the University of Guelph under the project name, Ontario Weather Network (OWN). The company specializes in building turnkey monitoring, forecasting, and data-modelling solutions for use across a number of agricultural crops, bringing the best and highest quality data and information into practice. Its vision is to make high quality weather-based modelling standard practice in farm level decision-agriculture, minimizing risk and maximizing return. WIN is experiencing rapid growth with customers in North America, the United Kingdom and Europe. About Glacier Media: Glacier Media is a Canadian business information and media products company. It provides news, market information and sector-specific data within North America and internationally. Glacier is headquartered in Vancouver. Its primary operations are in Canada as well as London, England. It is publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under GVC. The company provides news, data and analysis in a range of business sectors. These sectors include: Agriculture, Energy, Mining, Real Estate and Environmental Risk. Glacier also owns community newspapers and websites in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
vet aDvi c e
The Battle Against AMR Drags On
he CVMA (Canadian Veterinary Medical Association) has embarked on an exercise to script another chapter into the debate on prudent use of antibiotics in animals. Its plan: participation in an antimicrobial use (AMU) workshop of Canadian veterinarians, veterinary researchers and educators, government officials and species-group stakeholders working in the areas of swine, poultry, beef, dairy, small ruminants and companion animals; the intention: to identify AMU stewardship issues of concern, anticipate needs for veterinary practitioners, address information gaps and discuss ways to communicate and engage new “tools” in using antimicrobials in food production. Veterinarians in general grow frustrated and disappointed with the seesaw battle over antimicrobial stewardship. Producers on one hand want access to drugs, including antimicrobials, at a reasonable cost and without rigorous veterinary oversight, which often comes with an awkward regulatory burden. Most understand the implications of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and its impact on human health. Most understand the importance of using antimicrobials prudently to preserve them as important production tools in agriculture. The big question that exists today, as it has for two generations, is how do we get there? Veterinarians often shoulder the blame for how antimicrobials get used or misused by producers, and certainly are looked upon as logical stewards to fix the problem. There are few veterinarians who don’t cringe when thinking about yet another expert advisory committee; another round of presentations — many reiterations of basic information we have known for at least 20 years; probably another white paper outlining a raft of position statements, guidance documents, proposed regulatory changes, animal health strategies, and sets of prudent use recommendations. The CVMA’s attempt, once again, to move the AMR issue forward is laudable; success will depend on finding key partners capable of sustaining the effort and unafraid of finding answers to the hard questions. As recently as September 2016, the CVMA urged Health Canada to make regulatory changes to close loopholes in force since 2002, identified at the time as high priorities
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by the Health Canada Advisory Committee on Animal Uses of Antimicrobials and Impact on Resistance and Human Health. The CVMA remained part of the Ad Hoc Committee for Antimicrobial Stewardship that grew out of the 2011 National Conference on Antimicrobial Stewardship in Canadian Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. For a second time, the committee identified Canada’s vulnerability around existing regulations related to active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and rules granted under own use permit (OUI) provisions. Regulatory agencies were told both required urgent attention and change. Fifteen years later, the problems remain on the table and part of every discussion on antimicrobial use. About 450 million years ago, animals made one of the most important decisions in Earth’s history: they crawled from nourishing seas and started living on dry, desolate land. At that moment, humanity’s problems with superbugs probably began. The evolutionary history of antimicrobials made them unique for unlike any other drug, use of an antimicrobial in one patient can compromise its efficacy in another. Taking it one step further, we now know that antimicrobial use in one species compromises the use of that antimicrobial in other species. Veterinarians understand, many producers understand, but the average consumer standing at the meat counter at a supermarket has difficulty fathoming how and why antimicrobials get used in food production. We have to get better at telling our story about our individual roles in food production and generate the courage to make necessary changes to back claims of sensible and rational antimicrobial use. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that there are approximately 700,000 human deaths each year from antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) infections. The toll on human health results in a vicious circle with hard economics attached. FAO estimates that antimicrobial resistance could cause low-income countries to lose more than five per cent of their GDP and push up to 28 million people, mostly in developing countries, into poverty by 2050. Though evolution progresses in microscopic steps, it is unrelenting. Everyone in agriculture also knows that answers are seldom found in repeating what’s been tried
before. For starters, let us reach decision points on: • Eliminating extra-label drug use when unnecessary. • How to streamline the drug approval process for new animal drugs and the concurrent use clearance of combinations used in animal feeds. • Following the U.S. example of legislating exclusion of antibiotics for growth promotion in feed and water and increasing veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use, while escalating both the regulatory desire and ability to enforce regulations. • How to prevent the unscrupulous importation of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from foreign, second-rate manufacturing sources that ultimately get used in on-farm mixing operations. • Tightening or eliminating the import of drugs under existing Own Use Import (OUI) provisions, some of which are not approved for use in Canada. If Canada is not careful, responsible drug use could potentially become entangled in the debate on trade. The real or imagined differences that exist between Canada and the U.S., plus misreading the interplay of antimicrobial use in animals and food safety easily becomes skewed, presenting the opportunity for nontariff barriers to trade by competing nations. AMR is presently a flashpoint in human health and fingers get pointed toward animal production. From a production perspective, antibiotics are often implicated as a “negative” and from it spring mistaken impressions about food safety in the eyes of consumers. We must preserve the balance between responsible use, sound production practices and the necessity of maintaining acceptable standards of care. I implore the guardians of animal health to establish, once and for all, workable guidelines on prudent use and for the agencies responsible for laws of the land to declare, “We’ll make it happen.” Both are achievable. c Dr. Ron Clarke prepares this column on behalf of the Western Canadian Association of Bovine Practitioners. Suggestions for future articles can be sent to Canadian Cattlemen (email@example.com) or WCABP (firstname.lastname@example.org).
By Steve Kay
DEVIL’S IN THE DETAIL
he announcement on May 4 that China will start accepting U.S. beef on or before July 16 had U.S. industry leaders applauding the Trump administration and excited about supplying this giant market. Their enthusiasm was understandable — U.S. beef has been shut out of China since late 2003, when the U.S. reported its first BSE case. But as the Canadian industry knows all too well, the devil is in the detail. The announcement gave no hint of what China’s requirements for U.S. beef will be. The two countries have one more round of technical consultations planned and China’s requirements might emerge after that. Only then will the U.S. industry be able to gauge how much of the beef it produces is even eligible to be exported to China. The key issues will be growth promotants, ractopamine and traceability. China requires other countries that supply beef to it to verify that only naturally occurring implants are used, that the beef is ractopamine-free and traceability from a calf ’s birth to the beef box. As Canadian producers know, China bans beef produced with synthetic hormone growth promotants and betaagonists. These are the requirements for beef imported from Australia and other countries as well. U.S. cattle feeders still widely use Optaflexx (ractopamine hydrochloride) in finishing cattle. China does not allow U.S. pork produced with ractopamine so it’s inconceivable it will make an exception for beef. China has a long-standing policy against synthetic implants (essentially trenbolone acetate). It’s instructive to see what occurred when it imposed its rule on Australian beef in May 2014. Naturally occurring hormone implants based on estrogen were deemed acceptable. But the Australian industry and authorities were worried about producers’ inability to make distinctions
between the two. So they voluntarily banned the use of all implants on cattle targeted for China. A Chinese notice to the trade at the time said “any detection of a synthetic hormone, or a detection of a naturally occurring hormone at levels higher that the normal physiological levels will result in rejection of the consignment and possible delistment of the plant.” Product is tested at the port of entry and exporters run significant financial risk. So the U.S. industry might take the same approach as Australia did. Another hurdle for the U.S. is China’s traceability requirements. China reopened its market to Canadian beef last fall. On October 8, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency noted: “China requires that the beef exported from Canada to China must be produced under the Canadian Beta-Agonist Free Beef Certification Program developed by the Canadian beef industry.” Further, the cattle from which the beef is derived for export to China must meet several requirements, importantly “each animal has a unique identity, the farm of origin (place of birth) can be traced, and the cattle should be slaughtered at less than 30 months of age.” Assuming China’s requirements for U.S. beef are consistent with its requirements for other countries, very little beef will be eligible for export to China unless cattle producers and cattle feeders significantly adjust their production systems. The U.S. has had a Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC) program in place since 1999. But only a tiny percentage of the 30 million cattle slaughtered in the U.S. in 2016 went through the program. USDA says that on average its umbrella companies, and the ones approved by USDA, direct enroll around 150,000 to 175,000 new calves each year in the program. Much of their beef goes to the European Union. If so few producers are in the NHTC program now, I doubt that many more will join to market beef to China. c
A North American view of the meat industry. Steve Kay is publisher and editor of Cattle Buyers Weekly.
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straigh t f ro m t h e h i p
By Brenda Schoepp
The Interrelationship in Animal Protein
onsumers around the world are making their needs very clear when it comes to animal protein. The Nielsen Global Health and Ingredient Sentiment Survey (2016) revealed what folks do not want in food. Surprisingly, the respondent results were consistently universal. Respondents were overwhelmingly concerned and did not want hormones or antibiotics in food in North America (54 per cent), Latin America (59 per cent) and in Europe (65 per cent). Africa and the Middle East had greater concerns than North Americans at 55 per cent of the population shunning food containing or perceived to contain antibiotics or hormones. Continue around the globe to the Global South and 69 per cent of respondents in Asia-Pacific also shun food containing antibiotics or hormones. In all regions, over 50 per cent of consumers said they did not want to eat GMO food with the lowest concern in North America at 51 per cent and the highest concern in Europe at 59 per cent. This tells us that GMO resistance is global in context and greatly affects consumer purchases. Sodium and carbohydrates were a greater concern in North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Africa/Middle East than in Europe. And gluten was a factor for 29 per cent of the respondents in Asia-Pacific and 32 per cent in Africa/Middle East compared to 23 per cent in North America. The data indicates that Europeans are the least concerned about salt, gluten and carbs while the Asia-Pacific market is very conscious especially in regards to hormones and antibiotics (69 per cent) and gluten (29 per cent). Interestingly, there was a question specific to beef and red meat. In North America 18 per cent of respondents do not want beef or red meat in their diet compared to 16 per cent in Latin America and 13 per cent in both Europe and the Africa/Middle East region. The greatest rejection of beef or red meat in the diet came from the Asia-Pacific region (24 per cent), which is concerning, as this is a major target market for Canada.
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Rabobank managing director, Deborah Perkins shared her thoughts on the future of animal protein with Meatingplace editor Lisa Keefe (March 2017). She explained that packers will need to continue to be more responsive to consumers. Moving forward she urged that “all aspects of the value chain have to be economically viable in the long term” which invites another range of responsibilities to the protein industry. As there is bound to be more animal protein in the future, Perkins referred to the interrelation of all protein industries. There is very little evidence of proteins taking an interrelational, non-competitive view of each other in the past, even though they face the same challenges when it comes to what consumers will not eat as highlighted in the Nielson study. And the fact that the non-animal protein uptake is on the rise is a shadow on all animal protein industries. From an environmental perspective, the push is on for consumers to believe that animal protein is a high user, if not abuser of energy, land and water. This is cited from environmentalist manifestos to scientific nutritional research. So it is not beef specifically that is under the microscope but all animal protein, products and practices that are associated. Looking back from a global perspective on what consumers will not buy; it is clear that there is a linkage between the proteins that should be catching the attention of the beef industry. If any protein industry continues to produce food with hormones, there will be push-back. How do we collectively prepare for this? What research needs to be done? What message needs to be articulated regarding appropriate antibiotic use, GMO feed ingredients and additives, specifically sodium in prepared products such as sausage? In Perkins’ checklist of survival tools she referred to successful clients and their adaptation to technology, innovation and sustainability or in her words “people you want to do business with.” If we look at these in terms of the protein industry and weave them into the beef specific then we have the beginnings of a conversation. Historically, animal proteins were
produced on small Canadian farms and their existence complemented each other. Farmers knew to keep pigs separate from fowl to avoid disease transmission and how to use excess production for the benefit of the other. And although this is highly sustainable and innovation and technology can be applied to this model, it is unlikely to mass produce to the current demand. But the model does work because of the interrelationship between human and animals and between the varieties of proteins themselves. Can we launch a discussion from a point of understanding that there are interrelations, identify them and then focus on specific actions? Who needs to lead? In Keefe’s interview with Perkins it was clear that there were leadership competencies that were attributed to successful business and industry. First, leaders must understand the complexities of the entire value chain. To date, the industry is still broken into individual representation of specific production or processing points (who sit at the same table) with the final consumer as a separate component. This needs to change and markets clearly understood. Look again at the data in the Nielson study. The areas that industry is trying to sell into are the most resistant to the product. Can we accept that the reactive nature of a traditional industry such as beef is not keeping up with the speed of other proteins and there could be a great benefit in discussions that focus on controllable issues that are relevant to the advancement of the animal protein industry? Looking to the future it is clear that we will not convince consumers to eat our product unless we change it. Are we ready to engage our scientists, empower our producers and work as an animal protein team? Food for thought as we face a hormone-, antibiotic-, GMO-, gluten-, sodium- and carbohydrate-free future in animal protein. c Contact Brenda through her website: www.brendaschoepp.com. All Rights reserved. Brenda Schoepp 2017
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CCA repo rts
By Dan Darling
OUR NEGOTIATING POSITION
he beef cattle business is an interesting one in that there are many factors at play in determining a successful year from a less successful one. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) does a lot of good work to ensure the long-term competitiveness of the industry, including advocating for responsive business risk management tools and disaster programming to help with external risk factors beyond a producer’s care and control like severe flooding or drought. Another element of risk is currency fluctuations in the Canadian dollar. Over the last month, the loonie had been at its lowest level in over a year. The downward pressure is attributed in part to political influences related to the U.S. wishing to initiate a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trump administration’s resurrection of the softwood lumber dispute with Canada. The upside to this currency scenario is that while North American cattle markets have been strengthening, the weaker Canadian dollar has added an extra boost to Canadian prices. This has added to the profit margins cattle feeders are seeing. The Canadian dollar is a big driver in the Canadian market and can add volatility to our markets. While a weaker Canadian dollar is good for cattle prices, a stronger Canadian dollar can take a bite out of local prices. The Canfax rough rule of thumb in the current market is that a one cent move in the dollar can have an impact on calf prices by about five cents per pound and yearling prices by about three cents per pound. Therefore, if the Canadian dollar were to drop three cents, price projections improve 15¢/lb. on calves, but if the dollar were to rise three cents, expected calf prices drop 15¢/lb. The chilling effect of Trump’s threats of trade actions on currency markets provides a mildly interesting and ironic backdrop to the NAFTA renegotiation scenario. Meantime, going forward Canadian beef producers can count on the CCA to continue to provide a solid effort to ensure fair market access to the U.S. Canadian beef producers strongly support keeping the existing NAFTA provisions on beef trade intact. Over the past month, CCA has been sharing its perspective on the renegotiation of NAFTA with industry counterparts and government officials. CCA vice-president David Haywood-Farmer discussed the issue with counterparts at the Mexican cattle producer convention in Durango, Mexico. During the trilateral leaders’ meeting, U.S., Mexican and Canadian cattle producer associations agreed on the need to have a common position in the anticipated NAFTA renegotiations. In Ottawa, CCA staff John Masswohl and I presented to the Standing Committee on International Trade. The CCA feels the unlimited duty-free beef trade that NAFTA enables between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico
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reflects the true integrated nature of the North American beef cattle industry. Moreover, NAFTA’s ability to provide market access without tariffs or quotas for either beef or live cattle trade is an example of how free trade should work and such access should be preserved, CCA advised. We requested that NAFTA’s existing rules of origin for beef remain as they are. These rules of origin determine which products are eligible to be traded duty-free amongst the NAFTA countries. Under these rules, either beef that is “wholly produced” in the NAFTA territory or transformed from a live animal into beef in a NAFTA country is eligible for NAFTA treatment. It also means that importing beef from a non-NAFTA country and shipping it to another NAFTA country does not provide a back door, which is why we’ve advised these rules to stay as is. Maintaining dispute settlement provisions in NAFTA and seeking to improve enforceability of NAFTA panel decisions were also recommended. Strengthening the NAFTA option would provide the Canadian beef sector with a meaningful alternative to the World Trade Organization (WTO). CCA told the committee it understands that a U.S. protectionist group is advising the Trump administration that the renegotiation of NAFTA is the ideal forum to reinstate the repealed country-of-origin labelling (COOL) legislation for beef and pork. In addition to being counter to Canada’s interest, such a move would jeopardize American jobs. Should the Trump administration formally include such a demand in its NAFTA position, CCA advised that Canada reject it unequivocally and work with U.S. allies to demonstrate how U.S. jobs depend on livestock trade with Canada. On the topic of market access, I recently met with Commissioner for Agriculture of the European Union Phil Hogan, in Ottawa, along with representatives of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance. Hogan was in Canada to promote the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and lead a mission of EU businesses to the SIAL Canada show. The discussion focused on opportunities for Canadian agricultural exporters in Europe and resolutions of outstanding issues for the grains and oilseed and meat sectors. I emphasized that while the Canadian beef sector had been a major supporter of the CETA and that CCA’s support has always been based on the potential beef access that the CETA offers, it’s also conditioned on the resolution of the remaining technical issues. The commissioner’s response confirmed that the CCA’s strategy of working to submit a rock-solid application to the European Food Safety Authority and work co-operatively with the government to dispel misperceptions and biases in European member states is sound and necessary. Until next time. c
Dan Darling is president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
TH E IN DUSTRY
LMAC’s industry champion Danny Skeels (centre) accepts the limited-edition bronze auctioneer figurine from peers (l. to r.) Dean Edge, Blair Vold, Rob Bergevin and Chance Martin. Photo: Lee Hart
Livestock marketing champs
A new recognition program to honour peers from the past was introduced to celebrate the 20th running of the Canadian Livestock Auctioneering Championships during the Livestock Markets Association of Canada’s 38th annual convention in May. Leonard Patterson of Dawson Creek, B.C.; Bruce McCall of Brussels, Ont.; Peter C. Gregory of St. Boniface, Man.; Terry Schetzsle of Veteran, Alta.; Sheldon Nicholson of Yorkton, Sask.; and LMAC’s inaugural secretary-treasurer John Milne of Lethbridge, Alta., are the first names to be inscribed on the LMAC Memorial Honour Roll. The honour roll is one way to keep alive the names of people who in their own special ways have left a positive mark on livestock marketing in their provinces, explains LMAC executive administrator Rick Wright of Virden, Man. Each year, provincial members will name one person to the honour roll and LMAC has the option of naming someone whose contribution has been nationwide. Danny Skeels, a beef producer and auctioneer from Rimbey, Alta., was honoured as the second-ever recipient of LMAC’s industry champion award. Wright says this award is reserved to be given occasionally to an individual who stands out as having contributed to the wider good of the livestock marketing sector. It was first presented five years ago to Steve Primrose of Lethbridge, Alta., for his dedication to the traceability file. www.canadiancattlemen.ca
Skeels, who has been the head auctioneer for Vold Jones Vold (VJV) for 27 years, won LMAC’s first Canadian Livestock Auctioneering Championship in 1998 and went on to earn a string of international and world titles. More than that, Wright adds, Skeels continues to give back as an industry promoter, professional, volunteer and mentor. It’s no coincidence that six of the 20 auctioneering champs through the years have been from the VJV fold. Blair Vold of Ponoka, Alta., is this year’s inductee into the LMAC Hall of Fame joining his dad, Ralph Vold, who was the inaugural inductee in 2010. (Canadian Cattlemen, August 2010) Blair Vold Perlich Bros Auction Market received a special award in celebration of reaching the half-century mark as a family business, now owned and managed by the second and third generations. The Perlich family joined with the Alberta Livestock Markets Association to host this year’s auctioneering championship and convention at Lethbridge for the first time ever. Darren Rebalkin of Meadow Lake, Sask., who calls the sales at Meadow Lake Livestock Sales, topped the field of 30 contenders for the 2017 auctioneering championship Darren Rebalkin buckle. Ryan Konynenbelt of Nobleford, Alta., with Southern Alberta Livestock Exchange, is the reserve champion
followed by Albert Carroll of Omemee, Ont., with Ontario Stockyards in third, Tyler Slawinski of McCreary, Man., with Gladstone Auction Mart in fourth; and Donnie Peacock of Swift Current, Sask., with Heartland Livestock Services in fifth. Jordie Waters of Nanton, Alta., who sells for Foothills Auctioneers and VJV, earned rookie-of-the-year honours, while William Haalstra of Dunnville, Ont., with Ontario Livestock Exchange, received the mostimproved auctioneer award. Judges Ryan Hurlburt (2016 champ), Gene Parks, Robin Gilroy, Dave Ropp, Doug Haughton and Danny Rosehill scored contestants on their clarity and voice control, chant, professionalism/confidence/ calmness/mannerisms, enthusiasm, and general impression. Ken McDonald of Indian Head, Sask., with the Weyburn Livestock Exchange, was recognized by his peers as the most congenial auctioneer, and Joe Perlich of Perlich Bros at Lethbridge was the pick for the people’s choice award. Heartland Livestock Services, Swift Current, Sask., was named stockyard of the year. The LMAC event rotates to Saskatchewan next year with the Parks family of Whitewood Livestock Sales hosting the auctioneering competition in conjunction with the convention at Moosomin the last weekend of May.
GRI gets the green light for tame pastures
Putting numbers to three observations that form the Grazing Response Index (GRI) will give you a good idea as to whether your management practices will benefit, harm or have no effect on plant health in the long run. GRAZING INTENSITY Grazing intensity
% utilization % utilization native tame
Continued on page 38
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GRAZING FREQUENCY Times plants could be bitten 1
Continued from page 37
If the scores for grazing intensity, grazing frequency, and opportunity for regrowth during the growing season on a pasture add up to a negative overall GRI score, then you’ll know right away that small problems could become big problems over time if you continue with the same practices on that pasture. Individual scores for each of the three observations will tip you off as to adjustments that could be made to better the score next year. Scores from year to year will indicate whether you are on the right track. The GRI was developed at Colorado State University and is widely used south of the border as a simple way to evaluate grazing effects on native grasslands between full rangeland health assessments every five years or so. Agrologists with Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatchewan and Manitoba found that the GRI method proved out on native pastures here (Canadian Cattlemen, July 2015). The unanswered question was whether the GRI would be useful for monitoring tame pastures because growth habits of tame species and their responses to grazing differ from those of native forages. Findings from a three-year project putting GRI into practice on three tame pastures in the black soil zone of east-central Saskatchewan say yes, but with minor modifications to scoring. According to the Saskatchewan Forage Council’s report on the project, the grazing intensity index has been adjusted to account for the fact that tame forages usually tolerate heavier grazing than native forages. Grazing cages to block cattle from grazing representative areas within a pasture help with estimating the percentage of forage grazed off during each grazing period there. Scoring grazing frequency is the same for tame and native pastures. The difference is that only the longest grazing period in a tame pasture is scored even if the cattle graze there multiple times over the season.
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3 or more
Grazing frequency is an estimation of the number of chances cattle would have had to graze the same plants more than once during a single stay in a pasture. Plants will grow tall enough within seven to 10 days to be bitten off a second time, so take the number of days cattle were in the pasture and divide by seven or 10 to estimate how many times the plants may have been bitten. Research has already established that one defoliation will benefit plants, two will have little effect, but three or more during a single stay in a pasture will have negative consequences for long-term plant health. opportunity for regrowth Opportunity for regrowth during the grazing season Full season
Most of the season
Scoring the opportunity for regrowth on each pasture at the end of the growing season is the same for tame as for native forages. The difference here is that six weeks of rest is deemed to provide a full season of regrowth for tame pastures. The six weeks is under average growing conditions, so think about how factors such as the mix of forage species, time of grazing, amount of precipitation, insect pressure or frosts may have reduced the potential for full regrowth during the six weeks. In conclusion, the authors suggest the GRI method allows for a simple way to focus on one or more aspects of grazing management that may be negatively impacting pastures. For example, if a negative score is generated based on the frequency value, this can be improved by using temporary fencing to ensure that cattle are moved more frequently. If all pastures are generating negative scores for the intensity factor, this may indicate the farm is overstocked and herd numbers should be reduced or that additional grass or alternative feed sources be provided. They also found the GRI to be userfriendly as it doesn’t require much technical expertise, time or money. Grazing cages
and photos are useful, but simply marking the calendar to show the days in and out of each pasture would give enough information to get started. The full report with sample worksheets for tame and native pastures is on the SFC website, www.saskforage.ca. AAFC’s report on the original evaluation of GRI for monitoring native pastures can be found at: publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2014/aac-aafc/A59-22-2014-eng.pdf.
New Lacombe research abattoir in the works
The official start on a new abattoir and food safety laboratories for meat research will mark the Lacombe Research and Development Centre’s 110th year as a federal research facility. The new facility entered the detaileddesign stage by May 1 but it will be 2019 before it is up and running to federal standards for harvesting cattle, hogs, small ruminants and bison. LRDC has been a hub of agriculture research since the early 1900s when the Lacombe Board of Trade lobbied Ottawa for a Dominion experimental farm to be located on the outskirts of this central Alberta community. The early emphasis on beef cattle and swine production and animal husbandry was expanded over the years into carcass evaluation and management practices that affect meat quality and yield. A mid-century hog study that revealed direct measurement of fat and lean as basic requirements for evaluating carcass composition evolved into beef carcass dissection studies in the 1960s. Back then all the cutting had to be done at nearby packing plants. A bid to build a research abattoir was approved in 1970 but didn’t become a reality until 1984. Meat quality scientist Jennifer Aalhus says plans to renovate the abattoir have been around since 2002, but the cost to upgrade an old plant into a top-of-the-line research facility are now nearly the same as putting up a new building, with the added benefit that a new one will last twice as long. The new plant will feature a modernized food production area suited to the use of new technology, such as cold and hot carcass grading cameras, and a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scanner. Space has also been allotted for future equipment needs, LRDC’s capacity to link meat-quality
NEWS ROU NDUP
research to research on livestock, feed and forage, safety, nutrition and meat consumption led to its designation as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s national meats centre of excellence. Today, the station is home to an 80-sow farrow-to-finish swine unit and a 300-head Angus x Simmental research cow herd calving in February and March. Simmental genetics were introduced in 2014 to implement a crossbreeding program that mirrors commercial herds and maximizes heterosis. All of the cattle are allotted to different research projects focused on grazing evaluations, methane emissions, residual feed intake, genomics and environmental factors related to meat quality traits, feeding strategies, carcass evaluations and grading techniques,
alongside investigations into strategies for chilling, hot-boning and post-slaughter electrical stimulation to improve meat quality. Further along the value chain, research in recent years have studied fabrication management and packaging strategies (tray sealers and smart films to preserve meat’s bright colour at retail), aging, marination, cooking recommendations for mechanically tenderized steaks, and controlling blown vacuumpack spoilage of primal cuts in storage. Scientists in the meat chemistry and microbiology labs delve into questions surrounding meat nutrients (bioactive lipids, protein and vitamins), oxidative changes (colour, protein and fat), meat safety (detection and control of bacteria that cause spoilage or sickness), and eating quality (flavour, tenderness).
Today’s flavour-sensory lab is a highly controlled environment set apart from the cooking area where each taste-tester cubicle is linked to the computer so they can enter their evaluations directly into the database. Testers are local people who have been trained for this job and are willing to be available as needed.
Biochar could be a game changer
A multi-pronged research project based in Alberta aims to assess whether feeding biochar in backgrounding and finishing Continued on page 40
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rations could be a way to reduce methane emissions created during enteric fermentation in the ruminant digestive system. Biochar can be manufactured from any type of feedstock with a fibre component — wood waste from saw mills, coconut or other nut hulls, and even bio-wastes that typically go into composting systems are a few examples — says Alberta Agriculture beef and forage specialist Barry Yaremcio. The pyrolysis process involves controlling the burning temperature and oxygen supply to prevent complete combustion of the feedstock. This produces raw biochar, which is further processed into a consistent product. In May, InnoTech Alberta at Vegreville was close to finishing analyses of six types of biochar derived from nut or wood sources and submitted by the U.S. manufacturer, Cool Planet. Samples were tested to detect
any toxic substances that could be harmful to animals, people or the environment, as well as the suitability of biochar as an animal feed supplement. This information will be needed to establish standards for biochar products and for Canadian Food Inspection Agency approval for its use as a cattle feed ingredient rather than simply as a colourant in minerals. Another large part of this study will determine whether any reduction of methane or hydrogen emissions, or improvement in feed efficiency or average daily gain depends on the inclusion rate of biochar in the ration. A team at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Research Centre will carry out a 200-head, 200-day trial involving three inclusion rates in the feeding program to take calves from approximately 500 pounds to finished weight. Differences in methane and hydrogen production will be measured in metabolic chambers where individual animals can be housed and fed the three levels of biochar in their rations. Manure and urine samples from cattle fed in the chambers and manure samples
from the outdoor trial pens will be analyzed for methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions. They will also look at differences between the use of straw and shavings for bedding. A University of Alberta team will be studying the effect on soil structure, nitrogen retention and water retention in plots where manure from the calves in the control and each of the three biochar groups has been spread. Crops will be grown on the fertilized plots for three years because it takes approximately that long for nutrients to be released from manure. Quality and yield measurements will be collected to evaluate effects on nutrient cycling, microbial activity and carbon sequestration. Likewise, a University of Manitoba team will carry out in vitro rumen studies to investigate why and how biochar affects concentrations of the various types of microbes in the rumen, overall rumen efficiency and methane emissions. The final economic analysis will consider any differences in growth rates, days on feed, total yardage costs, feed costs and crop production efficiency.
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Alberta Agriculture’s main role will be delivering project results to producers to put the findings into practice. The University of Lethbridge is the coordinating body for all of the project components made possible with $1.75 million from the federal Agricultural Greenhouse Gasses Program. Yaremcio says recent results from the Leng et al. feeding trials in Laos and Australia are very encouraging. The group reports a 20 per cent reduction in methane emissions corresponding with a 20 per cent improvement in average daily gain without an increase in feed consumption when biochar was included in the rations for growing steers. The current Alberta study will tell if biochar proves out in the Canadian environment when fed with locally grown feedstuffs. If so, he sees this as the first research step in a real game changer for all sectors of the beef and dairy industries, not only as a way of reducing methane emissions and improving feed efficiency with the possibility of protocols for carbon credits, but for potential animal health benefits yet to be fully explored as well.
Animal health It’s that anthrax time of year
Anthrax spores can lurk in soil for decades and there’s no telling where the disease will pop up from year to year. All it takes is something that brings spores to the surface and the stage is set for an outbreak in cattle that happen to ingest them. Predicting when anthrax will occur in Canada is fairly predictable though. Provincial departments of agriculture and their chief veterinary officers generally recommend vaccinating livestock before turning them onto pastures in regions where anthrax deaths have occurred in the past. Announcements to be on the watch for signs of the disease are common as daytime temperatures rise into the 20 C range from early summer to early fall. Cases outside that time frame are usually traced to anthrax spores in dust on feedstuffs from contaminated fields. According to the Beef Cattle Research Council’s (BCRC) anthrax fact sheet, the “perfect storm” for an anthrax outbreak is a heavy rain or flooding in spring to bring spores to the surface and a drought later on that causes cattle
to graze close to the ground and pick them up, but either a drought or a flood is enough to increase the presence of spores. Spores can be ingested in soil particles, from dust on plants or by drinking standing water where spores concentrate. Wind and water erosion, excavation for pipelines or water sources, or even deep tillage of cropland for annual forage crops can also expose anthrax spores. BCRC reports that the most significant outbreak in Canada was in 2006. It took more than 800 animals on more than 150 premises in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. A follow-up study in Saskatchewan concluded that farms where outbreaks occurred had higher levels of flooding, wetter pastures, shorter pasture grass length, and higher density of animals in a pasture. It also found that the timing of vaccination after the first observed case in a rural municipality (in cattle herds that were not previously vaccinated) affected herd survival rate. As can be expected, the sooner that herds were vaccinated, the lower the death loss on a farm. Continued on page 43
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The period between ingesting the spores and their germination to produce anthrax bacteria that release the deadly toxins is approximately seven days and then death comes quickly, often within hours. The first sign of anthrax is usually sudden death of otherwise healthy cattle. The second telling clue is blood or bloody fluid oozing from body openings and an absence of rigor mortis because the blood doesn’t clot properly. This is anthrax bacteria’s survival mechanism. They need oxygen to advance to the spore state and once again be stable in the environment. Remembering that all tissues are likely to be infected in animals that die from anthrax, it’s important to prevent the spread by leaving the carcass where it lies and securing a tarp over it to prevent scavenging. Although birds aren’t susceptible and carnivores are highly resistant to anthrax, both can disperse infected tissues across great distances. Contact your veterinarian to take and submit samples to a lab to confirm the
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diagnosis, discuss vaccination and/or antibiotic treatment, and how to burn the carcass to destroy the bacteria. Deep burial is an alternative in locations where burning isn’t an option. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency stopped becoming involved with anthrax investigations as of April 2013; however, the disease remains on the list of federally reportable diseases. Provinces now have their own anthrax response plans to advise producers and their veterinarians on reporting and handling an outbreak. Producers are generally responsible for all costs related to farm visits by their veterinarians, vaccines and medications, and carcass disposal. Some provinces cover the cost of the initial lab test to confirm the diagnosis. Saskatchewan, for one, places short-term movement restrictions on the herd until seven days after the last death and reimburses the veterinarian for farm visits to ensure proper carcass disposal and to apply and remove the movement restrictions. For more information go to www.beefresearch.ca, or your provincial agriculture website. c
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NEWS ABOUT YOU
By Mike Millar
PurelyPurebred n It’s with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to a true friend and mentor to the purebred industry. Elaine Hiller of Calmar, Alta., passed away April 27 at the age of 49. Elaine, along with her husband Doug and son Wyatt, ran Hiller Hay Farms and had started their 1st Annual “Colours of Fall” prospect steer and heifer sale last September. Of the many stories that have been told about her all have a recurring theme: her commitment to youth and junior shows, her laughter, love of good cattle and good friendships. If it was your first junior show and you had butterflies in your stomach, Elaine always had a way to make you laugh and calm the nerves. Many of these stories can be found on Facebook by searching for #bookofelaine. The standing-room-only crowd that attended her funeral at the Cow Palace in Olds on May 4 was a testament to the love felt by all for her in a cattle facility that she loved. Thank you Elaine for touching our lives and making the world a better place! The show road won’t be the same without you. n Canadian Junior Limousin Association Impact Show and Canadian Limousin Association (CLA) annual general meeting is to be held July 27-30, 2017, in Portage la Prairie, Man. Any young Limousin enthusiast is welcome to participate for a one-time fee of $25 to become a CJLA member. A tentative schedule, registration form and accommodation information can be found on the CLA website at: limousin.com/juniors/cjlaimpact-show/. The CLA annual meeting is set for the evening of July 29. n The 50th Anniversary Canadian Limousin Association National Show and Sale will be hosted in 2019 by the Ontario Limousin Association at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. The selection of the local was made by the CLA membership who cast their votes for the Ontario bid to host the anniversary event. The Canadian Limousin Association is looking forward to working with the OLA to make this a memoral event but in the meantime it is encouraging all of its provincial affiliates to plan their own 50th anniversary event during 2019 to celebrate this milestone for the breed in Canada.
C a t t l e m e n · J U NE 2 0 1 7
Suggestions are always welcome. My phone number is 306-251-0011 Email: mike.millar@ fbcpublishing.com
Left to right: Brett Jensen, auctioneer; Donnie Peacock, auctioneer; Lee Crowley, manager (Heartland Livestock Services, Swift Current); Bob Toner, director of business development Sask./Man.; and Brian Good, senior director of business development B.C./ Alta. (Canadian Angus Association).
n The Canadian Angus Association presented Heartland Livestock Services from Swift Current, Sask., with its Auction Market of the Year Award last month at the Livestock Markets Association of Canada annual conference in Lethbridge. The Heartland Swift Current facility was built in 1991 and covers 130 acres. There are 60 holding pens with water and feed, and 90 receiving pens. The auction area seats 150. The facility also boasts a large kitchen area with seating for 40 and a large office space. In an average year manager Lee Crowley and Heartland’s team puts 109,000 head of cattle through the ring. In the last 25 years they’ve handled 2.7 million head. The Auction Market of the Year Award was introduced in 2006 to recognize and honour those auction markets that work hard to promote Angus cattle. Auction markets across Canada have been recognized for their support of the Canadian Angus feeder sales program. n The Government of Canada through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP) has invested $1 million to increase the adoption of genomic technologies in Canada’s cattle sector. Money will be allocated by the Canadian Beef Breeds Council to offset the cost of genotyping for individual breeds to increase the use of this technology to improve the Canadian herd. Canadian Limousin producers have access to GGP-LD (low-density) and GGP-HD (high-density) tests at a 50 per cent discount as long as funding is available in 2017. All GGP-LD and GGP-HD tests include molecular breeding values (MBVs) which are required in order to generate genomically enhanced EPDs (gEPDs). Testing may be done from a new sample or a sample already on file at the lab. Testing must be requested through the Canadian Limousin Association. n August 4, 5, and 6 will be the Manitoba Youth Beef Roundup’s 10th annual event in Neepawa. This exciting three-day event will
bring together junior members, 4-Hers, and enthusiasts from all across the province. The show is organized by representatives from various breeds that have been involved with national and provincial shows in the past. Their goal is to prepare young entrepreneurs in the livestock industry through a variety of competitions and events to match all interests and skill levels of the participants. Some of the events are team grooming, individual and team judging, showmanship, marketing, sales talk, impromptu speeches, art, photography, scrapbooking, as well as cattle classes. New in 2017 for the 10th anniversary are workshops on low-stress cattle handling and beef industry advocacy, plus competitions in stockman’s knowledge, public speaking and the Roundup Ambassador competition. Invitations have been sent to all the clubs to enter their local 4-H Champion Females in this year’s show. Roundup is looking after the entry fees for these champions. All this plus an Ag Challenge competition, a cook-off, cattle
shows and scholarships make this a must event for juniors this summer. For details check out Manitoba Youth Beef Roundup Facebook page or contact chairperson Lois McRae at 204-728-3058 n Anice Thomas is the new breed development officer of the Canadian Angus Association. She will work with Kajal Devani, the CAA’s director of breed development on the CanaAnice Thomas dian Angus Performance Program and the Commercial Angus Identification and Performance Program. Thomas is from Jamaica and completed her undergraduate degrees in general agriculture with a major in animal science at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education in Jamaica and the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago. She later completed a masters at the University of Guelph and has been working in the beef industry for the past five years with the production arm of Feedlot Health Management Services.
n Prizes for the Canadian Angus Foundation’s 6th annual “Building the Legacy” fundraising auction on Saturday, June 10, 2017, in Brandon continued to roll in last month. Phil Birnie of Wraz Red Angus donated a Pick-of-the-Herd 2017-born heifer calf. This four-generation operation crops 1,200 acres and calves 200 purebred Red Angus females on a land base of 2,560 acres, so the auction winner will be selecting from approximately 100 heifer calves born this year! Their selection has to be taken before September 1, when Birnie determines his “Pride of the Prairies” female production sale consignments. Another prize is a semen package from the Canadian Western Agribition Grand Champion and RBC Supreme Champion Bull EF Titan 545 donated by the Enright family of Renfrew, Ont., and co-owner Cavanhill Farms. He was first named Supreme Champion Bull at Expo Boeuf in Victoriaville, Que., last Thanksgiving. He was also the Canadian Angus Association’s National Gold Show Program Junior Champion Bull for 2016.
Most recently, www.comresafaris.co.za and www.angusbreeder.net donated a South African Hunting Package to the foundation’s auction. nDon’t forget to register for the 10th Anniversary T Bar C Invitational Golf Tournament. The event is run June 19 and 20 at Dakota Dunes Golf Links in Saskatoon. Over the past nine years T Bar C has raised over $400,000 for youth programs but this is the last year for this event so come on out and be part of the final round. A big thank you to Bryan, Ted, Chris and everybody at T Bar C Cattle Co. for giving back to our agriculture youth. For more details give Bryan a call at 306-933-4200 or go to www.tbarinvitational.com to register. n Canada Beef is teaming up with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts across the country to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday through a series of unique culinary exchange events with talented chefs from across the globe to promote Canada’s food identity. Continued on page 46
AUG 15 - 17, 2017 AT THE BMO CENTRE ON STAMPEDE PARK, CALGARY, AB
Register at www.canadian beefindustry conference.com FEATURING A RANCH RODEO & KEYNOTE SPEAKER JON MONTGOMERY Interactive workshops, a tradeshow, market outlooks, and presentations PLUS excellent networking opportunities including a golf tournament and tour @CDNBeefConf
Images courtesy of Kathrin Lowe (left) and Canadian Cattlemen’s • The Beef Magazine (above)
C a t t l e m e n · J U NE 2 0 1 7 45
PU R E LY PU R E B R E D
Continued from page 45
n Not many kids under 21 want to head to school but ask Owen Grundy, 13, about Stock Show University and it’s a place he’d go every day — if he could. Stock Show “U,” with “professors” from all over North America, makes its debut in eastern Ontario August 5 and 6 this year at the Metcalfe Fairgrounds. Previously it was featured in Lindsay. It’s a free educational clinic where stock show youth are taught “proper techniques for washing, blow-drying, clipping, grooming, brushing and just generally getting their animals ready for the show ring,” says Chris Grundy, eastern Ontario contact for R.K. Farm Supplies. Grundy and his son Owen are keen enthusiasts of the two-day event. Kids are up at 4 a.m. to prep their animals — that means washed, blown-dry, fed and watered — for the professors’ arrival at 8 a.m. The event is for kids from 4-H clubs in Ontario and Western Quebec, or any who want to learn proper showmanship techniques. Each participant brings a halterbroke animal. This is Owen’s third year. He
took on his first cow at five but decided two years ago to invest in a Shorthorn; this year he’s showing a Hereford. He’s been showing since he was six and his wish, or hope, is to go all over North America as a fitter. He’s shown across Ontario, been to multiple Hereford Bonanzas in New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta and was Champion Junior Showman in Fredericton in 2015. In 2014 he was Junior Champion Groomsman in Lindsay. And, after Stock Show U this year, he’ll head to Victoriaville, Que. Chris points out that the university was scheduled before the fairs start in the fall so kids can take what they learn there to the shows. Callyn Hahn is one of the “professors.” She’s dean of Stock Show University and hails from Woodbine, Iowa. She’s knowledgeable about Shorthorns and calf genetics, and participated in livestock judging while at college and university. They usually have one instructor for every 10 students. You must preregister by July 4. For further information, contact Chris Grundy at 613-293-0742 or email@example.com. c
Owen Grundy works on Heatwave using skills he learned at Stock Show U.
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Exchange Rates and Their Effect on Canadian Exports
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Market Su mma ry
By Debbie McMillin
TheMarkets Fed Cattle The fed market over the past four weeks of our reporting period was exciting. A $14 jump in the second week of May had fed steers averaging $191.51/cwt — $37 over last year and the highest average since the summer of 2015. The fed market to then was up 20 per cent since January and 48 per cent from the lows of last fall. Then, the next week, prices lost more than $11/cwt bringing the Alberta fed cash average to $180.02/cwt, still nearly $20 higher than last year. Tight supplies of market-ready fed cattle in Canada and the U.S., plus healthy exports and storms across feeding regions in the U.S. left packers short on supplies to fill orders. The profits over the past couple of months encouraged sellers to pull inventory forward, which in turn has decreased carcass weights and, ultimately, total tonnage, creating the need to slaughter larger numbers to generate the required production. Carcass weights in Canada year-to-date are 847 lbs., which is more than 50 lbs. lighter than a year ago and the smallest steer carcass average since May 2014. Fed slaughter in Canada is down five per cent from last year, and fed exports are down 19 per cent at 108,719 head to date.
Feeder Cattle Even as the fed market pulled back in mid-May, feeder prices pushed up in all classes. 550-lb. feeder steers traded between $238 and $250/cwt with differences based on group size and quality. This is still $76/cwt less than
feeders were fetching in midMay 2015. The rally in the feeder market has changed many marketing plans for backgrounding and grasser operations. Cattle purchased last fall for grass this summer went to auction early which pushed up the numbers on a hot market with buyers looking for grass cattle and feedlot replacements. More than 500,000 cattle have moved through auction markets to date in 2017, an increase of 18 per cent over last year. Eastern buyers have been active buyers of heavier feeders, while western buyers have shown interest in all weight classes. Feeder cattle exports to date totalled 65,993 head, 44 per cent fewer than last year at the same time.
Non-Fed Cattle D1,2 cow prices gained through April and May on a strong seasonal trend fuelled by tight supplies and good demand for grinding and trim meats, with Alberta prices averaging $109.98/cwt on May 12, $8.34/ cwt more than last year and $28 better than the low last fall. Canadian D1,2 cow prices have averaged $16 better than U.S. utility cows so far in 2017. Our non-fed slaughter has dipped in recent weeks but year-todate cow slaughter is still seven per cent above last year, while cow exports are lagging by 40 per cent at 50,601 head. Bull exports are down 12 per cent on 17,565 head. c Debbie McMillin is a market analyst who ranches at Hanna, Alta.
DE B’S OUTLOOK Fed Cattle It would appear the spring high has been hit for 2017. That said, front end supplies will remain tight near term as feedlots are very current heading into the summer. Summer markets typically trend lower; however, several factors could ease the drop. U.S. buyer interest should support local markets with packers looking for inventory. China, when it opens to U.S. beef, will create additional demand for cattle and our low Canadian dollar should shift cattle south to fill the need. Beef demand should remain strong; however, high beef prices are a concern moving forward. Feeder Cattle Pasture conditions are good in many areas at the start of summer and buyers continue to seek grass cattle while feedlots are pulling cattle forward to capture positive margins, all of which leaves empty pens that need to be filled. Having both grass and feedlot buyers in the market supported the feeder market going into summer when volumes dwindle. High-quality packages will continue to see premiums. Further out, keep an eye on fall grain supply projections. Muddy conditions has delayed seeding in some parts of the Prairies. Our low dollar also supports the feeder market so any upward move would be a negative as we try to look ahead to the fall run. Non-Fed Cattle Many of the cows put on feed through the winter have already moved through the system. Some calving loss cows will still come to market, however volumes will tighten in this market as the cows and calves are turned out to pasture. The fundamentals for the non-fed market look positive with tight supplies and good summer demand for grinding beef and trim. D1,2 cow prices generally slip sideways through the first part of summer before trending lower as anticipation of the fall run builds.
C a t t l e m e n · J U NE 2 0 1 7 47
M A R K ETS
Break-even Prices on A-Grade Steers
190 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Canfax weighted average price on A-Grade steers
Break-even price for steers on date sold
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Ontario prices based on a 50/50 east/west mix
Market Summary (to May 6, 2017)
May 2017 prices* Alberta Yearling steers (850 lb.) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $189.27/cwt Barley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.72/bu. Barley silage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46.50/ton Cost of gain (feed) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57.65/cwt Cost of gain (all costs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89.09/cwt Fed steers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181.00/cwt Break-even (October 2017) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149.91/cwt Ontario Yearling steers (850 lb.) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $170.70/cwt Corn silage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39.92/ton Grain corn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.74/bu. Cost of gain (feed) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75.15/cwt Cost of gain (all costs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108.61/cwt Fed steers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160.59/cwt Break-even (November 2017) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145.86/cwt *Mid-month to mid-month prices Breakevens East: end wt 1,450, 183 days West end wt 1,325 lb., 125 days
Total Canadian federally inspected slaughter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 901,221. . . . . . . . . . . 847,379 Average steer carcass weight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 904 lb.. . . . . . . . . . . . . 937 lb. Total U.S. slaughter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11,233,000. . . . . . . 10,620,000
Trade Summary Exports 2017 2016 Fed cattle to U.S. (to April 29). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103,212.. . . . . . . . . . . 117,065 Feeder cattle and calves to U.S. (to April 29) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63,961.. . . . . . . . . . . 98,224 Dressed beef to U.S. (to March). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125.90 mil.lbs.. . . . . 136.64 mil.lbs Total dressed beef (to March). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177.74 mil.lbs.. . . . . 177.39 mil.lbs IMPORTS 2017 2016 Slaughter cattle from U.S. (to March) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 *Dressed beef from U.S. (to March) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63.91 mil.lbs. . . . . . 56.08 mil.lbs *Dressed beef from Australia (to March) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.78 mil.lbs. . . . . . .26.36 mil.lbs *Dressed beef from New Zealand (to March) . . . . . . . . . . . 10.50 mil.lbs. . . . . . . 13.08 mil.lbs *Dressed beef from Uruguay (to March) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.48 mil.lbs. . . . . . . 18.70 mil.lbs Canadian Grades (to May 13, 2017) % of A grades +59% 54-58% Prime 0.2 0.5 AAA 17.5 23.5 AA 18.9 9.2 A 1.1 0.2 Total 33.4 37.7 EAST WEST
Total graded 223,439 712,419
Yield â€“ 53% Total 1.5 2.2 22.0 63.0 3.7 31.8 0.0 1.3 27.2 Total A grade 98.3%
Total ungraded 10,414 6,234
% carcass basis 82.3% 84.3% Only federally inspected plants
C a t t l e m e n Âˇ J U NE
market ta l k
By Jerry Klassen
Fall prospects for feeder cattle Markets are understood looking backwards but must be traded looking forwards. — Larry Williams
’ve received many inquiries over the past couple of weeks in regards to the feeder cattle market. The recent price activity has surprised many producers and analysts, including myself. After a rather bearish outlook earlier in winter, the feeder cattle market has traded sharply higher since early April. I thought this would be a good time to review the price activity earlier in winter and spring and then discuss the expected market direction for the fall period. Since January, the April live cattle futures were trading at sharp discount to the cash trade causing feedlot operators to market fed cattle very aggressively. Weekly beef production was expected to experience sharp year-over-year increases, especially from April through August which kept the futures market under pressure. Feedlot operators were unable to bid up the feeder market because they couldn’t lock in a profit in the deferred positions. At the same time, feedlot operators continued to push cattle forward and marketing weights dropped below year-ago levels. The cash market for live cattle started to percolate higher in March but the futures remained at a sharp discount. The rally in the cash market was viewed as temporary or seasonal and ideas were the trade would drop to the futures level during the April delivery period. This caused feedlots to be extra aggressive on marketings. Operations on both sides of the border became extremely current to the point where the weekly slaughter pace started to ease. Instead of having a year-over-year increase of nearly 30,000 head per week, the weekly slaughter was only up 5,000 head per week from last year and actual weekly beef production was similar to year-ago levels because the marketing weights were lower. Then on the weekend of April 29, a severe snowstorm in the U.S. southern plains along with excessive moisture in the Midwest made roads impassable in many counties. Packers had to bid up to cover their nearby requirements. The market environment was like a brewing volcano with the late-spring snowstorm being the trigger that caused the eruption. Alberta fed cattle prices reached up to $197 during the first week of May only to slide back to the mid-$180s during the following week. The feeder market was relatively flat from January through March. Prices were slightly higher in April as feedlots had experienced a prolonged period of very good margins. The feeder market only surged higher in late April and early May as fed cattle prices reached near
historical highs. Now producers are asking: “Where do we go from here?” At the time of writing this article, 800-pound steers were priced around $215. The fed cattle break-even price for October or early November is about $163 for these steers. It appears that feedlots have bid up the price of feeder cattle until margins are quite narrow. The fed cattle price projection for September through November is in the range of $155 to $165 so feedlot margins run the risk of moving into negative territory in the fall period if feeder cattle prices continue to strengthen. The December live cattle futures are currently trading at US$118 which is about C$161. Basis levels have been abnormally strong and there is no reason to think this will change for the remainder of the year. Feeder cattle prices have likely run their course for the time being. We would need to see a significant change in live cattle prices to justify higher feeder market. Choice wholesale beef prices reached up to US$247 in mid-May while select product was quoted at US$225. The wide spread between choice and select reflects the number of green cattle coming on the market. If wholesale prices can stay at the higher levels, the fed cattle market will also be well supported at the current levels. However, U.S. third quarter beef production is projected to reach 6.8 billion pounds, 300 million pounds higher than last year. Keep in mind that September and October are usually periods of seasonal low demand. Producers should be cautious for the third quarter. We’ve seen in past years that large swings to the upside can be followed with sharp swings to the downside. This recent rally in the market is a prime opportunity to buy some put options on the live and feeder cattle futures for fall marketings. The nearby market has incorporated a risk premium due to the current environment and this has pulled up the deferred futures for both live and feeder cattle. I think it’s prudent for producers to watch weekly beef production numbers to see if supplies increase as expected. Secondly, watch wholesale prices to confirm the consumer demand is stepping forward at the higher levels. Retail prices have been grinding lower so retailers will increase prices moving forward, but this takes time. c Jerry Klassen manages the Canadian office of Swiss-based grain trader GAP SA Grains and Produits Ltd., and is president and founder of Resilient Capital specializing in proprietary commodity futures trading and market analysis. Klassen consults with feedlots on risk management and writes a weekly cattle market commentary. He can be reached at 204-504-8339.
C a t t l e m e n · J U NE 2 0 1 7
12-14 Foothills Forge and Grazing Association three-day grazing school, Gem, Alta. 19-20 T Bar C 10th annual golf tournament, Saskatoon, Sask. 20 Western Beef Development Centre field day, Termuende Ranch, Lanigan, Sask. 21-26 World Angus Forum, Edinburgh, Scotland 22-23 UCVM Beef Cattle Conference, “Raising Healthy Beef Cattle in a Changing World,” Spyhill Campus, Calgary, Alta.
uebec Junior Simmental Beef Show, Q Brome, Que. 7-16 Calgary Stampede, Calgary, Alta. 17-21 Canadian Junior Hereford Bonanza 2017, Abbotsford, B.C. 18-20 Ag in Motion Outdoor Farm Show, Langham, Sask. 20-22 Canadian Junior Angus Association National Junior Show Showdown 2017, Lloydminster, Sask. 20-23 Alberta Wild Rose Simmental Classic, Lacombe, Alta. 27-30 15th Annual Canadian Junior Limousin Impact Show, Portage la Prairie, Man. 29 48th Annual Canadian Limousin Association annual general meeting, Portage la Prairie, Man.
S askatchewan YCSA Tiger Lily Classic, Prince Albert, Sask. 2-6 Canadian Charolais Youth Association Conference and Show, Barrie, Ont. 4-6 Manitoba Youth All Breeds Beef Roundup, Neepawa, Man. 10-13 National YCSA Simmental Show and Canadian Simmental Convention, Fredericton, N.B. 15-17 Canadian Beef Industry Conference, BMO Conference Centre, Calgary, Alta.
5-7 B eef Farmers of Ontario Cow-Calf Roadshow, New Liskeard, Ont. 12-14 Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show, Woodstock, Ont.
25-28 Manitoba Ag Ex, Brandon, Man.
J TL Industries Stockade Roundup, Exhibition Grounds, Lloydminster, Alta. 14-16 Canadian Forage & Grassland Association Conference, Delta Guelph Hotel and Conference Centre, Guelph, Ont.
estern Canada Conference on Soil W Health, Radisson Hotel Edmonton South, Edmonton, Alta. c
A DV E RT IS ER IN DEX Advanced Agri-Direct Inc. Ag Growth International Airdrie Trailer Sales Alberta Vet Labs Beef Cattle Research Council Boehringer Ingelheim Calgary Stampede – International Ag Committee Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show Canadian Angus Assoc. Canadian Charolais Assoc. Canadian Forage & Grassland Assoc. Canadian Hereford Assoc. Canadian Limousin Assoc. Canadian Shorthorn Assoc. Canadian Simmental Assoc. Canadian Speckle Park Assoc. Genex Cooperative, Inc. Greener Pastures Ranching Ltd. Hi-Hog Farm & Ranch John Deere Kubota Merial Canada Inc. Nester Livestock North American Lincoln Red Tru-Test Inc. Weather Innovations Zoetis Canada Inc.
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