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May 2011 $3.00

SHIPPING CATTLE TO GERMANY Mark and Tina Stewart Ponoka, Alta.

Publications Mail Agreement Number 40069240

It’s breeding season and you want: Cattle that consistently produce premium yielding carcasses Ease of calving Excellent fertility Highly marketable calves year after year Calves that qualify for the Angus “tag with benefits” Good muscling, natural marbling and superior feed conversion Adaptable to all weather conditions

You need an Angus bull.

Canadian Angus Association 142, 6715 - 8 Street NE, Calgary, AB T2E 7H7 1-888-571-3580 •

Visit to find Angus breeding stock CAA_Cattlemen_May2011.indd 1

25/04/2011 10:14:26 AM

May 2011

Volume 74, No. 6

Established 1938 ISSN 1196-8923 Cattlemen Editorial: Editor: Gren Winslow 1666 Dublin Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3H 0H1 (204) 944-5753 Fax (204) 944-5416 Email: Field Editor: Debbie Furber Box 1168, Tisdale, SK S0E 1T0 (306) 873-4360 Fax (306) 873-4360 Email:

FEATURES Maxed out at 315 cows......................................................8 Should i deworm my cattle before pasture?................. 10 Flood a precursor to anthrax...................................... 11 Does your business need rest?........................................ 12 Shipping longhorns to germany.................................... 18 Cody schooten — cyl graduate.................................... 22 Mapping disease trends in cattle herds......................... 24 Beef watch....................................................................... 29 Verified beef production................................................ 37 Departments


COMMENT............................................... 4 NEWSMAKERS......................................... 6 LETTERS.................................................. 6 NUTRITION............................................ 16 VET ADVICE.......................................... 26 STRAIGHT FROM THE HIP...................... 28 HOLISTIC RANCHING.............................. 33 RESEARCH............................................ 34 PRIME CUTS......................................... 36 CCA REPORTS...................................... 38 SPIRITED VIEW..................................... 39 NEWS ROUNDUP................................... 40 PURELY PUREBRED............................... 44 THE MARKETS...................................... 47 MARKET TALK....................................... 49 SALES & EVENTS.................................. 50

“Congratulations to our May sur vey winner, Paul Villeneuve, Saint-Apollinaire, Que. This month’s sur vey is on page 42.”

Advertising Sales: Deborah Wilson Box 19, Site 3, RR 1, High River, AB T1V 1N1 (403) 325-1695 Fax (204) 944-5562 Email: Head Office: 1666 Dublin Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3H 0H1 (204) 944-5765 Fax (204) 944-5562 Advertising Services Co-ordinator: Arlene Bomback (204) 944-5765 Fax (204) 944-5562 Email: Publisher: Bob Willcox Email: Associate Publisher/Editorial Director: John Morriss Email: Production Director: Shawna Gibson Email: Assistant Production Manager: Farrah Wilson Email: Director of Sales and Circulation: Lynda Tityk Email: Circulation Manager: Heather Anderson Email: Contents  of  C attlemen   are  copyrighted  and  may  be reproduced only when written permission is obtained from the editor and proper credit is given to Cattlemen. Cattlemen and Canadian Cattlemen are Trade Marks of Farm Business Communications. Cattlemen is published monthly (with the exception of July and 2 issues in Februar y and October) by Farm Business Communications.  Head  of fice:  Winnipeg,  Manitoba. Printed  by  Transcontinental  LGMC.  Cattlemen is printed with linseed oil-based inks. Subscription rates in Canada — $33 for one year, $49 for 2 years (prices include GST). Manitoba residents add 7% PST. U.S. subscription rate — $35 (U.S. funds). Subscription rate outside Canada and U.S. — $55 per year. Single copies $3. We acknowledge the financial support of the Govern­ment of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund (CPF) for our publishing activities.

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LIVESTOCK PUBLICATIONS COUNCIL The  editors  and  journalists  who  write,  contribute  and  provide  opinions to  Canadian  Cattlemen  and  Farm  Business  Communications  attempt  to provide accurate and useful opinions, information and analysis. However, the  editors,  journalists,  C anadian   C attlemen   and  Farm  Business Communications,  cannot  and  do  not  guarantee  the  accuracy  of  the information  contained  in  this  publication  and  the  editors  as  well  as C anadian   C attlemen   and  Farm  Business  Communications  assume  no responsibility  for  any  actions  or  decisions  taken  by  any  reader  for  this publication based on any and all information provided.

Cattlemen / may 2011 3

c o m m e n t

by Gren Winslow

The CCA wish list Here’s what cattlemen asked for. Now let’s see what they get


efore the federal election the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) put out a summary of policy issues important to the cattle industry. It was a crib sheet — something producers could use to grill candidates on issues that influence their bottom lines. Now that the election is over it seems this crib sheet could be used as a report card for the next year or two. Something you could use to see how the new government is looking after your industry, and how successful the CCA is in lobbying the new Parliament. So, here’s your policy checklist for 2011. First on any list is improved market access for Canadian beef. Forty per cent of our beef must be exported in one form or another. Thus, trade always rates high in discussions with government, especially now that the agriculture department has taken trade under its wing with the creation of the Agricultural Market Access Secretariat. As a first move, the CCA wants more money for the secretariat. It is still too small a group to do what it must, which is undertake multiple trade negotiations. The trade targets for this new government as defined by the CCA are: • Resolve the WTO dispute with Korea through a commercially meaningful settlement, and finalize a Canada-Korea free trade agreement. At press time the industry was once again waiting day-by-day for news of a breakthrough on this front. The Korean government has continuously sent out signals that it wants a negotiated settlement versus one imposed by the World Trade Organization (WTO). So do the Canadians. Trade sources as of late April had heard the framework for an import protocol on under30-month beef had been worked out and only the fine details remained to be ironed out. This could be the first issue to tick off the CCA wish list but, as of late April, there was no deal. • Increase the age limit for shipping beef to Japan from 21 to 30 months. Ultimately, this should be a first step toward regaining full access to this market but so far a 30-month rule looks no closer now than it did when Japan first established it. Age verification to identify 21-month supplies has been marginally successful in opening this market. • Realize the commitment of Chinese President Hu to restore access for Canadian beef and tallow. • Restore access for over-30-month beef to Mexico.

4 Cattlemen / may 2011

• Secure access for Canadian beef to the EU within a comprehensive trade agreement. Canada has already gained access to the U.S. 20,000-tonne duty-free EU quota and is finalizing details on an additional 3,200-tonne quota in exchange for dropping its objections to the EU requirement on hormone-free beef. The next target is to modernize the hormone-free protocol and other production requirements that hinder access to the EU. A trade team has put a new protocol together which is currently being reviewed by CFIA before it is sent to the EU for approval. • Obtain full access to Taiwan for beef under 30 months of age. • Get full under-30-month access to Russia with facility approvals. U.S. mandatory country-of-origin labelling remains high on the list of issues facing cattle producers. The CCA and the entire trade encouraged the last government to launch a WTO trade action against U.S. COOL. Now the CCA will be asking the new Parliament to start targeting U.S. products for retaliatory duties if the WTO trade panel sides with Canada. Ideally, the CCA would target products from areas represented by Congressmen and Senators who oppose changing the COOL rule to label meat processed in the U.S. as U.S. beef. Canada is a big market for U.S. food products. We spend $12 billion a year on U.S. fruits, vegetables and processed foods alone. On competitive issues the CCA will be asking the new MPs to support policies and regulations based on science that don’t put Canadian cattlemen at a disadvantage to producers from competing nations. They will also be seeking more long-term funding for applied practical research to support innovation in the cattle industry; a biofuels policy that eliminates mandated usage and tariffs on imported fuels; and regulations based on appropriate management of the real risks to the environment and food safety from farming practices. Given the dissatisfaction with national business risk management programs that gave rise to numerous competing ad hoc provincial programs, the CCA will encourage the new Parliament to work with the provinces to bring in a national cattle price insurance program patterned after the Alberta program where government and producers share the premiums. That’s the wish list. All that remains is to see how many items we can tick off by year end.


more... ® Metacam is a trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica GmbH.

long-acting relief from pain and inflammation that lasts for up to 3 days.1,2

Metacam, the most trusted veterinary NSAID in Canada, is now available in a new formulation to relieve pain and inflammation from dehorning and diarrhea* in cattle. Plus there’s more:

• convenience in a single subcutaneous injection • duration of action and efficacy (half-life greater than 24 hours) • comfort with a faster return to health and increased weight gain * Research has shown that calves diagnosed with diarrhea and treated with Metacam according to label directions, return to health faster and have improved appetite and increased weight gain.

new formulation and label claims 1. Schneider T., Philipp H., Kleeman R. Clinical efficacy of meloxicam (Metacam) in cattle with respiratory disease. World Buiatrics Congress;2002 August 18-23; Hanover, Germany. 2. Okkinga K., Salamon E., Hamel U., Philipp H., Justus C. Comparative clinical efficacy of a single versus 3 subcutaneous injections of meloxicam as adjunct to antibiotic therapy for the treatment of respiratory diseased calves. World Buiatrics Congress;1998 July 5-10: Sydney, Australia.

NEWSMAKERS Cattlemen across Canada were marking the passing of Ross Beattie last month. He and his wife Marjorie farmed at Staynor, Ont. Ross was elected president of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association in 1964 and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association in 1968-69. Former CCA general manager Charlie Gracey remembers Ross as the first president of the CCA from Eastern Canada and that his election helped turn the CCA into a truly national organization. Ross replaced Gerard Guichon as president of the CCA at a time when lobbying efforts were underway to make the first major change in the beefgrading standards. Members of the Alberta Farm Animal Care presented three awards of distinction at their annual meeting last month in Red Deer. The awards recognize people who have made exceptional contributions to farm animal care in Alberta. The 2011 awards went to Morris Airey, the recently retired director of animal protection for the Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; Dr. Steve Mason, who championed animal care in numerous articles on dairy, beef and sheep production, including some in this magazine; and Dr. Clover Branch, who teaches about animal welfare and food animal behaviour at the University of Alberta. Marty Seymour is the new CEO of Canadian Western Agribition in Regina. Brought up on a mixed farm in Carn-

LETTERS Civics lesson

I’m commenting here on two references in your April 2011 issue of CANADIAN CATTLEMEN: • In your Comment (pg. 4) entitled “They’re off and running” you incorrectly refer to the federal budget and the resulting fall of the government. • In the News Roundup section under “Government — Beefing up the Cattle Sector” you refer to the ill-fated budget. These references are a clear misunderstanding of the facts of the matter. The government was defeated on a motion of misconduct. The government was charged with “Contempt of 6 CATTLEMEN / MAY 2011

duff Seymour spent his professional career to date in marketing and business development in agriculture since graduating with a bachelor of science in agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan. He takes over from Jason Pollock who resigned to return home to the family ranch in Maple Creek, Sask. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association has named 16 successful recipients of a Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Development Program mentorship for 2011. They are: Jeff Braisher and Haley Rutherford from British Columbia; Ellen Hondl, Mark Lyseng, Kelsey Brandon, Becky Fenton, Lindsay Smith, Virgil Lowe and Christy Goldhawk from Alberta; Allison Porter, Tara Mulhern Davidson, Sarah Anderson, Sheldon Kyle and Ryan Beierbach from Saskatchewan; Cody Krentz of Manitoba and Amanda Rosborough from Ontario. Terry Gompert, the University of Nebraska Extension Educator who conducted workshops on mob grazing, grass-fed beef and Holistic Management in Canada, died in late March after suffering a heart attack. Cattle producer Darcy Eddleston was re-elected chairman of the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency for 2011 at the group’s annual meeting last month. He represents the Alberta Beef Producers on the industry-driven board. Veterinarian Pat Burrage representing Parliament” by a house subcommittee for failing to provide financial information as required. The motion of contempt is unique in Canadian and Commonwealth history and is perhaps largely a reflection of the lack of cooperation between members/parties in the House. The Speaker of the House gave the government ample opportunity to respond to the subcommittee’s request for information — two months in fact. My concern here is not just with the misrepresentation of what transpired in the House but with a growing lack of understanding, by the Canadian population, of how a Westminster-style parliamentary democracy functions. Living so close to the U.S., Canadians are tending to map their presidential system on to our parliamentary system.

the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association moved up to vice-chair replacing Rick Wright of the Livestock Markets Association of Canada who remains on the board. Terry Kremeniuk of the Canadian Bison Association remains finance chairman but Mark Elford of the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association replaces Burrage as director at large along with Dan Darling of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. New to the board this year are Duncan Mackey of the Alberta Cattle Feeders Association, James MacLean of the Canadian Livestock Dealers Association and Bob Lowe of the Alberta Beef Producers. A seat at the board table was opened for the Canadian Sheep Federation and the Canadian Beef Breeds Council was granted associate membership. PrioNet’s executive director, Janie Toth, retired at the end of March. Dr. Michelle Wong, PrioNet’s current director of scientific programs and training was named interim executive director until a replacement is named. Quebec Ag Minister Pierre Corbeil is setting up a team of 15 beef extension advisers to provide technical, agronomic and genetic advice to beef producers. The money for the new team comes from the $100-million federal/provincial fund set up to help producers adjust to changes in Quebec’s ag income stabilization program over the next five years. Producers interested in the new service should call 1-888-830-6340. C A few points… The real power in our government rests with the MPs. Each MP represents his constituency and is entrusted to act on his constituency’s behalf. The structure of “parties,” “cabinet,” and the “prime minister” are organizational structures that are secondary to the power of the MPs. The notion of a coalition makes no sense in a parliamentary system. The government itself is a coalition of MPs. Having members voting along non-party lines should be encouraged as it makes our system more democratic. These MP represent our interests not the interests of the PMO, cabinet, or a party. Otherwise it’s not a democracy it’s some sort of oligarchy. DAVE DOCKENDORFF POWASSAN, ONT.

THE RIGHT WAY * to capital gains



Synovex implants improve growth rate and feed efficiency of cattle without adversely affecting tenderness, carcass quality or consumer acceptance compared to non-implanted animals.1-2-3.

1 Platter,W.J., J.D. Tatum, K.E. Belk, T.E. Engle, J.A. Scanga, G.C. Smith, 2001. Effects of repetitive use of growth promoting implants on beef carcass quality and consumer ratings of beef palatability. Colorado States University Final Report To The Beef Quality Assurance Advisory Board. National Cattleman’s Association. 2 R.H. Pritchard. 1999. Comparison of Lifetime Implants Strategies For Beef Steers On Production And Carcass Variables. Final Report to the South Dakota Beef Industry Council. 3 Withbank, C.W., E.W. Hawkins, D.K. Lunt and T.E. McCullum. 2000. Anabolic Implants And Meat Tenderness. J. Anim. Sci. 78 (suppl.1):160.

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MAXED OUT AT 315 COWS The Bos family expanded when many others were leaving the business


erald and Jeannie Bos combined efficient grazing and direct marketing to transform their mixed farm into a 315-cow beef operation in the past five years. The family’s story really begins back when Gerald’s parents left a dairy farm in Holland and immigrated to Canada to take up grain farming near Rapid City, Man. He was just a kid at the time. Later, in 1990, after he joined his parents in the farming operation, he convinced them to mix things up a bit by adding a beef herd. Then about five years ago, after Gerald and his wife Jeannie were managing the operation they took the decision to zero in on beef. It was a bold move when you consider the challenges that the beef industry was facing back then. “I took the Ranching for Profit course at a time when we were sitting on the fence as to which way to go,” Gerald explains. With the mixed farm, we weren’t big enough to be efficient in either grain or beef. We also needed to start replacing equipment and I knew we couldn’t afford to replace both the grain and haying equipment.” Having a bigger cattle herd has certainly made their operation more attractive to cattle buyers. Enough so that for the past four years he’s been able to direct market their yearling steers right from the farm. He accepts tenders for a week then gives the successful buyer a week to pick up the cattle. Once buyers find out you have a large group on offer he says they want to come out to take a look. Getting them to buy proved more difficult the 8 CATTLEMEN / MAY 2011

first year because they hadn’t bothered to sort the cattle beforehand and the weight spread discouraged bidding. Meanwhile, their pasture plan has moved along nicely. Some 1,500 acres of grain land has been sown down to a mix of forages including tall fescue, Russian wild ryegrass, timothy, smooth brome, alfalfa, clover and cicer milkvetch for pasture and hay. They now have 2,400 acres fenced for grazing and 1,060 reserved for hay. Each grazing quarter is divided into four paddocks of about 40 acres depending on the lay of the land that can be further divided as needed with a single electric wire. Bos says the people at Ag Canada’s agri-environmental services branch and Manitoba’s water services board were of great assistance taking the land elevations and designing the pasture pipeline. Their forage mixture has worked well in that it allows them to graze any paddock any time of the year. The variance in growth pattern of each forage species means every paddock has at least one type of forage in its most productive growth stage from spring through fall. Starting with a different paddock each year at the start of the grazing season changes the time when each paddock is grazed as well as the length of the rest period, which varies from 25 days to 60 days depending on the season. All of the forages have been retained in the mix, although the clover has been somewhat disappointing. Alfalfa has been a particularly strong performer on their land. They put up their own hay and purchase straw windrows from neigh-

Gerald Bos bouring farms that Gerald bales and hauls off the field. They also operate a custom straw baling and hauling service — mostly flax straw for the fibre plant at Carman. When it is available Gerald will purchase hailed-out or frosted crops for greenfeed. He rents a wrapping machine to make silage bales when there is danger of a damaged crop drying down too quickly. A large local deer population has discouraged their use of swath grazing, although Gerald says they may give it another try in a different location away from the river. They’ve had better luck grazing hay bales placed every second day in paddocks targeted for improvement by the manure and residue. The herd is divided into three groups for the winter. The mature cows graze hay and straw bales. The bred heifers and heifer calves are in a

separate bale grazing system and the steers in another. In recent years, they have purchased as many as 800 fourto five-weight steers each October to background with their own calves. The calves are backgrounded on hay and screening pellets to gain 1.6 to 1.8 pounds per day, which also meets the nutritional needs of the bred heifers. Hay bales are placed out every other day but the pellets are fed once a day from a feeder made from a tractor tire mounted on the front-end loader so that it rolls along the ground. The feeder holds 1,750 pounds of pellets that drop through a single eight-inchsquare hole leaving 30-pound piles every 15 feet. That works out to about four to five pounds of pellets per head. The steers are pastured together until mid-August when they are sold by tender directly off the grass. With a high percentage of alfalfa in his pastures Gerald has successfully managed to avoid bloat by moving the cattle to a fresh paddock every afternoon. That way he never turns hungry cattle into a lush stand. Early in

the growing season a 40-acre paddock is needed to meet daily requirements. Later, once forage growth accelerates he splits the paddocks into cells to provide a day’s grazing. Bred heifers are pastured together and the others graze with the cows until they are divided into breeding groups prior to the June 25 start of the breeding season. Heifers that make the cut go into a separate grazing rotation. Those that don’t are sold at the market since there aren’t enough of them to tender as a group. Cows and bred heifers are rotated every second or third day. They calve on grass in May and June with the heifers coming in three weeks later than the heifers. Gerald finds this gives the heifers a bit more time to flesh up on grass prior to calving and reduces the length of time they have to carry the calf. They wean in early December. Cows without a calf at foot are culled before the breeding season and open females are culled after preg-checking in December. The genetic makeup of the herd is

gradually changing from a SimmentalAngus cross cow to a smaller-framed cow with the use of Pinebank North America bulls on the top 100 cows to generate replacement heifers. The bulls are offspring from Angus Wai Group lines bred in New Zealand for efficiency on a forage-based system and are raised at Spirit View Ranch, near Rycroft, Alta. Simmental bulls are used on the remaining cows and Red Angus bulls on the heifers as terminal crosses. Labour will be the key determinant of the future direction for the farm. Jeannie has her own interior decorating business and even with help from Gerald’s parents during haying season, the herd is almost too much for them to handle as it stands. Their son, Justin, helped them this winter but their oldest, Jordan, is currently taking agribusiness at Lakeland College in Vermilion and their daughters Jessica and Julia are still in school. So while they are stretched a bit right now there is still hope that the Bos Family Farm will someday pass to a third generation. C — Debbie Furber

Want to know if Chicago feeder futures hit $135? Do you have a certain price in mind for when you want to sell, but don’t want to spend all your time watching a computer? We have a solution — or actually two. • Log on to Commodity Watch at You can set an alert to receive an email when a futures contract reaches your chosen level. • If you’re not by a computer, no problem. The Cattlemen smartphone app has the same feature. Available free at, it also brings you real-time weather from the WeatherFarm network, headlines from our daily news service and twice-daily audio market reports from Farm Market News The Canadian Cattlemen Mobile app is currently available for Blackberry devices – Android and iphone apps coming soon.

Canadian Cattlemen Mobile is sponsored by

Cattlemen / may 2011 9




nternal parasites (worms) and external parasites (flies, lice, and mites) are very common in cattle and at any one time, essentially all animals are infected to some degree. The type of parasites, the level of infection and the impact on health and performance does greatly vary upon the season. It is well recognized that severe infections with parasites can cause clinical disease such as rough hair coat, anemia, diarrhea, weakness, severe weight loss, loss of appetite and pneumonia. However, it is the subclinical infections that have the greatest impact on herd health and profitability to producers.

What problems do they cause? Many species of worms live in the digestive tract of cattle and some live in the lungs (lung worm) and around the eyes (eyeworm). Intestinal parasites reduce growth rates in calves and yearlings and cause weight loss in cows and bulls by impairing appetite and reducing the absorption of nutrients. Infected cows produce less milk, further affecting weight gain in nursing calves. Lungworms can cause serious and even fatal pneumonias in cows, calves and yearlings.

When are cows and calves infected? The worm life cycle begins with the passage of eggs from the cow in the manure at the beginning of the grazing season in May. The eggs hatch and the larvae migrate onto the vegetation where they are consumed by cattle grazing the pasture in a cycle that can be repeated several times over the growing season. By the end of the summer without control, cows and calves can become heavily infected and pastures contaminated with larvae. In Canada the larvae are killed by freezing but some survive the winter in a dormant state inside cattle until spring when the life cycle is repeated.

When is the best time to treat? The key to parasite control is to pre10 CATTLEMEN / MAY 2011


Cost of treatment

Weight gain (lb.)

Total benefit (hd.)

Cow-calf pair

$0.75 – 3.00

19 (calf only)



$0.50 – 1.50



*Based on 600-700 lb. steers March 4, 2011 price $1.42/lb. and 800-900 lb. steers price $1.25/lb.

vent or reduce pasture contamination over the spring, summer and fall grazing period. This is best achieved by treating all the cows, calves and bulls in the late May and early June before they are put on pasture. This eliminates the surviving worms in the animals which stops the shedding of eggs before it starts.

What are the economic benefits? Numerous studies in Canada and the Northern U.S. have shown deworming increases weight gains in calves an average 19 pounds and yearlings 33 pounds over the summer (see table). Conception rates improve in dewormed cows as they are not losing weight. In addition, animals that are not stressed with a worm burden have a more active immune system and are more resistant to infections.

What are the treatment choices? There are several. Macrocyclic lactones (ivermectin, doramectin, moxidectin) are available in pour on and injectable preparations. These products kill adult worms, developing larvae and inhibited larvae in the intestine and the lung. They have the advantage of also killing ectoparasites (mange, lice, flies and grubs). The benimidazoles (fenbendazole, albendazole) are oral products which also control adult worms and larvae but have no effect on ectoparasites. The topical deworming agents are frequently preferred as there is less stress on animals and fewer chances of treatment accidents (broken needles, aspiration of product).

How long do deworming agents work? Macrocyclic lactones have a residual effect meaning the drug continues

to kill ingested larvae and ectoparasites for weeks following treatment.

Do I need to treat all my animals? As the pasture is the source of infection and reinfection of cows and calves, all animals need to be treated before they are introduced to the pasture. Infected animals that are not treated can infect the whole herd.

Do some treatments also control flies? Macrocyclic lactones do kill horn flies. They also leave a residue in the manure that kills fly larvae.

Do I need to deworm in the fall too? By fall cows and calves will have accumulated worm burden and need to be treated for both internal and external parasites such as lice, grubs. There is a significant economic benefit to deworming cows and calves in the fall.

In summary • Deworm cows, calves and bulls before they are turned out to pasture. • Use a dewormer that kills adults, developing larvae and inhibited larvae. • Use a dewormer that also controls flies if insecticide tags and oilers are not used. • Retreat cows, calves and bulls in the fall. • Consult your veterinarian or beef specialist about products and programs that best meet your needs. C — Dr. Merle Olson Dr. Olson is a veterinarian at the University of Alberta and research director of Alberta Veterinary Laboratories.




y any measure, the 2011 snow pack makes flooding in many areas on the Prairies almost a certainty. Any flooded land in anthrax endemic areas should be considered high risk and cattle grazing low, wet, or previously flooded land should definitely be vaccinated. The warning comes from veterinary authorities across Minnesota, the Dakota’s and the Canadian Prairies. Anthrax is a highly fatal disease that can affect all mammals, including humans. The disease is caused by a spore-forming bacterium called Bacillus anthracis. Animals generally acquire the disease from grazing grassland and mixed forested regions contaminated by spores. Cattle, bison, sheep, goats and horses are highly susceptible to anthrax. Other animals such as pigs, dogs, and cats are less susceptible, but can sometimes be infected through repeated exposure. Birds and wildlife, other than bison, are at a lower risk of contracting anthrax. When exposed to environmental conditions outside an infected carcass, Bacillus anthracis produces highly resilient spores that remain viable in soil for many years (perhaps a century or more). Ingestion of spores from soil as animals graze starts another cycle of infection. Wind erosion during drought, flooding and any activity that disturbs topsoil can all bring anthrax spores in close contact with grazing animals. Flooding of endemic areas percolates spores buried in soil toward the surface and in contact with grazers. Soil erosion compounds the situation and may actually play a role in the transport and seeding of spores into areas previously unaffected. Once ingested, activated anthrax spores revert to bacteria that rapidly multiply releasing powerful toxins that cause clinical disease, which often culminates in death. Some researchers believe Tabanid species (large biting flies) can play a role in transmitting anthrax during outbreaks. Humans are susceptible to anthrax infection; however it is rare to find a human case of anthrax associated with an animal outbreak if proper precautions are taken during the handling and movement of affected animals and carcasses. The principal source of anthrax infection in humans is direct or indirect contact with infected animals or carcasses, and through occupational exposure to infected or contaminated animal products. Although most anthrax outbreaks in recent history have been recorded in beef cattle and bison, anthrax can also occur in dairy cattle and horses. In highly susceptible species like cattle, the time between the first onset of symptoms and death can be a matter of hours. Often the first sign of anthrax in a herd is discovery of dead animals that appeared normal just hours before. Animals discovered before dying appear distressed and may have difficulty breathing. Most stop eating and drinking and often develop swellings under the jaw where the head joins the neck and lower abdominal areas. Body temperature may or may not be elevated. After death, the animal carcass may leak bloody fluids from the rectum, nostrils or mouth and bloat rapidly. Rigor mortis might not occur. Anthrax can appear similar to other potential causes of sudden death in cattle like blackleg and malignant edema. Suspect carcasses must be handled carefully to prevent

A swollen, congested spleen from an animal with anthrax. accidental spread of anthrax spores to the environment and humans. For that reason producers should contact a veterinarian when animals die suddenly. Anthrax is diagnosed by examining blood (or other tissues) for the presence of the bacteria and samples must be collected carefully to avoid contamination. Normally, a post mortem is not performed on animals suspected of anthrax. Anthrax is found worldwide and been described in historical documents since ancient times. In Canada, cases have occurred from Alberta to western Ontario, with repeated outbreaks in the Mackenzie Bison Range in the Northwest Territories and Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta. Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta have all had problems with anthrax in domestic herds. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency recommends that all ranchers on the Prairies vaccinate cattle against anthrax, to curb recent outbreaks that have been the worst in decades. Vaccination prevents anthrax in most animals for about one year. The attenuated, live spore (Sterne strain) vaccine is licensed in Canada, and can be used in cattle, sheep, horses, goats and swine. While the most common form of Bacillus anthracis can be treated with antibiotics like penicillin, animals receiving any form of antibiotic treatment at the time of, or shortly after, vaccination may not respond adequately to vaccine. Animals as young as two weeks of age may be expected to respond fully to the vaccine, although risk of disease is low until animals are exposed to spores through grazing. Anthrax is a “reportable disease” under the Health of Animals Act. All suspected cases must be reported to the CFIA for immediate investigation. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will impose control measures wherever anthrax is confirmed. This year’s risk of anthrax is high in certain areas. Producers at risk need to discuss the pros and cons of anthrax vaccination with a veterinarian. The wait-and-see approach with anthrax is often a regrettable choice. C — Dr. Ron Clarke CATTLEMEN / MAY 2011 11




am betting that by the time you read this, the grass is turning green and I am well past working on my pasture plans. That’s because I am working on them now. It is very important for my operation to have my graze periods and my rest periods for each pasture planned out well in advance. If you have followed my articles, you know the grazing concepts that are very important in my grass management — graze period, rest period, stock density, and animal impact. A short graze period is important to prevent the second bite. We do not want to be grazing a plant when the roots have low energy reserves. It is the root reserves that we are managing, not the top of the plant. The graze period has to be short enough so that the animals are not allowed to re-bite a plant after it has started to put up a new leaf. If the plant is grazed when the root reserves are low, we are overgrazing. Right! Okay, graze period is easy. Move the cattle before the plants start to regrow. Then we go to a seminar or a conference and you hear a speaker talk about the importance of rest. Well, “he” said that we need a “35-day rest period.” Wait a second. Every environment is different and every farm is different and every year is different. My ideal rest period might change from year to year depending on the conditions, the health of a pasture or my goal for the particular piece of land. It also changes throughout the season, depending on growing conditions. The key to good pasture management is the ability to adapt, change and adjust your plan. The rest period is not the same in Alberta as it is in Texas, Ontario or New Zealand. But the concept of rest is the same everywhere. It is because we are managing the same issue as the graze period. We are managing the roots. We want to give the plants adequate time to recover before regrazing. If the rest is too short, then root reserves will not have time to replenish before the next grazing. If the plant is grazed when the root reserves are low, we are overgrazing! Both the graze period and the rest period have to be managed to prevent overgrazing. So how do we figure out our rest period? That depend on three factors: moisture, season and forage health. Moisture is first. A very dry environment might require a 365-day rest period or a “once over” grazing plan to be sustainable. With very little rainfall, the soil will need plenty of residue left and a long recovery to maintain a healthy stand. We really need to build our water holding capacity in this type of environment. On the opposite end, a very high rainfall 12 CATTLEMEN / MAY 2011

area or a pasture under irrigation might start with a 25-day rest period and you might graze each paddock three or four times per season. And then we have everything in between. What if you are in a semi-dry area? Maybe a “one and a half” rotation is needed? This would mean that half of your paddocks would get grazed twice, and the other half would only get grazed once during the season. Ideally, the following year you would graze them opposite so that the other paddocks only get hit once. This would put our first rest period around 60 days. How about a twice-over rotation in an environment with a little more rainfall? We would plan to hit every paddock twice throughout the grazing season. Our first rest period might be around 40 days. As you can see, the environment plays a big part in determining your rest period. Next is rate of growth. Early in the season we usually have the spring flush then in summer growth slows down. As the growth slows we want to lengthen the rest period to allow more recovery time. When the growth is fast, we might want to make sure the rest period is shorter so that the plants do not mature and go to seed. In a drought the same principles apply; the plants are growing slower so we increase the rest period. On the other side of the coin, this lengthens our graze period which is okay now due to the slower growth. A quick rule of thumb: when plants are growing fast, move fast, when they are growing slow, move slow. Don’t forget forage health. Last season I backed my first rest period off by more than 20 days due to the previous two years of drought. I was concerned about the health of the forage and wanted to manage for the land. I under-stocked and allowed more residue to remain and purposely allowed some plants and some paddocks to go to seed. Nothing is sustainable without another generation to follow behind so I wanted to add organic matter and add to the seed bank. One key piece to the puzzle that even a lot of experienced grazers still overlook, is managing for the rest period. Instead of looking at the paddock you are grazing and deciding if it is time to move or not, you need to look ahead at the paddocks you will be grazing next month. The question is not “is this paddock done?” It is “What stage of growth will the other paddocks be in when I get there?” “Will the rest period be adequate?” Finally, be ready to adapt to changing conditions. I have yet to make a grazing plan that I carry out exactly as planned. Continued on page 14

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When I do my plan I pick my desired rest period. From that, I set my average graze period per paddock, keeping in mind early spring paddocks have less forage and fewer ADAs. Some paddocks will be more productive and each pasture will vary. That is why I set an average graze period. Now you can run through your whole grazing season on paper and set some target dates. Target dates are important to keep your rest period on track. If you are behind your target, you need to speed up your rotation. If you are ahead, slow down and/or destock. It is not as simple as moving every Saturday. We are managing the root systems, and you can’t see them. My point is if you read an article, listen to a speaker or attend a conference, don’t forget — your farm is different than everyone else. You need to learn the grazing concepts and be able to adapt them to your operation. You can’t copy what someone else is doing. I believe that these four grazing concepts are the key to a profitable business in agriculture. The graze period, rest period, stock density and animal impact will have a huge economic impact on our industry over the next generation. Does your business need some rest? C — Steve Kenyon Steve Kenyon runs Greener Pastures Ranching Ltd. in Busby, Alta.,, 780-307-6500, email

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N u t r i t i o n

by John McKinnon

Canadian beef for nine billion guests! John McKinnon is a beef cattle nutritionist at the University of Saskatchewan


his month I am going to take a bit of a different slant to the topic of nutrition. One of the great things about working at a university is the opportunities you have to meet a wide variety of students and visitors from all over the world. Last month at the University of Saskatchewan we had the privilege of hosting Dr. Robert Thompson, professor emeritus from the University of Illinois at UrbanChampaign and advisor to government agencies in the United States and the United Nations and World Bank. Listening to Dr. Thompson was a thoughtprovoking experience. His presentation was entitled “Feeding Nine Billion — the Challenge of Doubling the World’s Food Supply.” His most striking point was that with the world’s population projected to reach nine billion by 2050, the global demand for food will double. His projections were based on the fact that half of the increased demand will be due to population growth (six to nine billion people), while half will come from an increase in purchasing power of consumers in many of today’s developing countries. The challenges we will face in meeting this increased demand for food are daunting and include competition for arable land and fresh water with the growth of massive urban centers, increased industrial demand for world grain supplies, climate change and the potential for social and political unrest that comes with 40 per cent of the world’s population living on less than $2 a day. The essence of his presentation was that “we” will be faced with doubling the world’s food supply on basically the same arable land base that exists today and with reduced water resources. How we meet this demand will be one of the great challenges facing society. To this point, advances in technology including increased cereal grain yields, intensive aquaculture and livestock development and the ability to increase our agricultural land base have for the most part allowed the agriculture sector to keep food production on an even pace with global demand. However, Professor Thompson does not believe that we can rely on the solutions of the past to meet the challenge of feeding nine billion people and as an agriculture community we will have to be much more focused on the efficiency of agriculture production if we are to avoid the unthinkable outcome of failing to meet this demand. What does this mean for Canadian beef pro-

16 Cattlemen / May 2011

ducers? Without a doubt increased demand due to increased purchasing power in countries like China speaks well for the potential to increase exports of Canadian beef. High-quality, grainfed beef is our strength and we should be well positioned to develop these export markets. However if Professor Thompson is right, livestock producers will be faced with the challenge of operating in an environment of shrinking natural resources. We see this today with a third of the U.S. corn crop going to ethanol production and all indications are that this use will increase in the foreseeable future. The immediate effects on cattle feeders have been higher feed costs. In Western Canada and I am sure in Eastern Canada as well, we are seeing first hand competition between urban and agriculture interests for land and water not just in terms of prices, but in access to these resources. How will this competition influence the structure and development of the Canadian beef industry? This is an interesting question. Increasingly we hear calls for less-intensive beef production systems and for a move away from implementation of technology that can improve efficiency and reduce production costs. A classic example is the increasing resistance to the use of feed additives such as ionophores or growthpromoting agents that increase feed efficiency and lean tissue growth. I have a hard time rationalizing why we would not use these products. If we have faith in our government regulatory bodies, then safety is not an issue. Quite simply their use results in more lean beef on less feed! Never mind that they put more money in your pocket, they are part of the solution to meeting an increasing demand for food on reduced resources. Similarly when it comes to the argument that intensive cattle feeding operations are part of the problem and not the solution, I get confused. While I have no issues with those who act on opportunities with niche markets, I do not see how less-intensive cattle feeding systems can address Dr. Thompson’s challenge of doubling the world’s food supply on fewer resources. If Canadian beef producers are going to have a share of this increased global demand for food, particularly in those countries with rising income levels, then we need to remain focused on production of high-quality beef in the most efficient manner possible. In case you are not aware, there is no more efficient production system than a well-run Canadian feedlot.

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SHIPPING LONGHORNS TO GERMANY Plenty of red tape but worth the hassles involved


ark and Tina Stewart’s first experience exporting live cattle out of Canada had a storybook ending when their shipment of 24 Texas Longhorn cattle left the Calgary airport in Cargolux containers bound for Germany on March 8. “It has been exciting for us,” says Stewart. “I’m sure there have been Longhorns shipped to Europe in the past, but this is the first time in a long while.” It began more than a year ago when a couple from Germany called the Stewarts out of the blue to learn more about their Longhorn cattle. Stewart, who is the president of the Alberta Texas Longhorn Association, assumes the couple found their name on the association’s website. They were familiar with the Longhorn breed because other producers in Germany had been bringing in Longhorn embryo and semen from the U.S. After talking a few times by phone, the potential buyers set up a website about Longhorns to test interest in the breed in their country. The number of hits was what convinced them to do something different by bringing Longhorn genetics into their herd. “They came and stayed with us a week and just wanted to spend all of their time with the cattle — they took more than 800 pictures,” Stewart says. “We took them around to see other Longhorn cattle, then they called back later wanting to buy some of ours.” The Stewarts set the price and the buyers looked after all of the costs and arrangements to get the lot of nine bred heifers, 11 heifer calves and four bull calves to their farm in Germany. The original plan was to ship them last fall, but, like any good story, there were twists along the way that made the ending that much sweeter. The Stewarts were responsible for ensuring the cattle met the health requirements for importation into Germany. This meant more than a year of testing and working their entire herd three times, once every four months, to reach a leukosis-free status. Once


Mark and Tina Stewart air freighted their cattle to Germany in early March. certification was obtained, the specific animals selected by the buyers entered their 40-day quarantine period and started their rounds of export testing for at least seven different diseases. Some of the animals were through the squeeze 12 times during the year and the Stewarts are very thankful for all of the help they received from the veterinarians, family and friends during the whole process. The breed’s prized horns raised some questions about loading density in the shipping containers. At approximately $15,000 per container, the cost of shipping added up in a hurry. The learning experience was that it is much more practical to ship younger animals with less horn growth. The plane landed at Luxembourg and the cattle were trucked directly to the farm in Germany for their quarantine period. The new owners are now busy talking with reporters and giving farm tours. “The experience was very worth-

while and definitely, we would do it again,” Stewart says. It has opened the door to a new and large market opportunity for the Longhorn business and they look forward to accommodating their buyer and others in the future.

Lean Longhorn beef The Stewarts own and operate MSW Meats near Ponoka, direct marketing a variety of meats from the store on their ranch and through a number of farmers markets in the area from Red Deer to Wetaskawin. Specializing in lean meat products, they raise Longhorns, bison, elk, chickens, turkeys and pheasants. The beef is processed at a local provincially inspected plant and sold as frozen product. Stewart has been involved in the beef industry in one way or another for most of his life and, quite frankly says he became disillusioned with a lot of facets of the conventional industry. Continued on page 20

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Continued from page 18

He was frustrated with having to pamper his high-input mother cows along and tired of taking whatever price the buyers wanted to pay for the calves in the fall. They began direct marketing in 2002 and found it to be a rewarding experience, not only because it allowed them to set their own price, but because

they connect with consumers who have taken the time to do some research about what they buy and eat. They brought Longhorns into the picture in 2005 and sold all of their other commercial cattle in the fall of 2009 in order to focus on their purebred Longhorn business. Stewart says the Longhorns have proven to be everything the breed is known for and all they were looking for in a beef

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animal — low-maintenance and high quality in the finished beef. The Longhorn breed is best known for its genetic traits for survival stemming from its heritage rooted in Spain and transplanted into Mexico in the early 1500s. They roamed into the Texas plains where they mated with other types of cattle abandoned by settlers. Only the strongest survived. Thousands were gathered from the wild for meat production following the civil war. The U.S. government established a foundation herd of true Texas Longhorns in 1927 as the coming of fencing and British breeds pushed the Longhorns to the brink of extinction. Survival starts with the cow’s mothering ability. She had to quickly deliver a nimble, hardy calf and get it up and going within minutes to keep pace with the herd, offering it protection against the elements by parking it near whatever shelter Mother Nature provided and relying on the herd instinct to help protect it from predators. Those innate characteristics have not been bred out of Longhorn cattle in the effort to shape beef animals to modern-day production systems. Considering the breed’s long history south of the border, Longhorns are a relatively new breed in Canada. The first animals were driven across the border at the dawn of settlement on the Prairies in 1876, but breed numbers dwindled to next to nothing by the early 1900s after railroad expansion made it possible to import beefier British breeds from Europe. Purebred Texas Longhorns weren’t reintroduced to Canada until 1969. The Alberta Texas Longhorn Association, which is affiliated with the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America, was established in 1982 and has 30 members today. Longhorn calves have always been top-of-the line stock for roping and cutting events and the hides and horns remain popular as nostalgic touches in interior decorating. The value of the breed in commercial beef herds has traditionally been in the calving ease for first-calf heifers. Only in recent years have feeding trials proven the carcass and performance merit of Longhorns and Longhorn crosses in the commercial feedlot setting. For more information, visit www. C — Debbie Furber

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ody Schooten always wanted to know what makes packing plants tick. Taking part in the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (CYL) pilot program gave him the opportunity to do just that by spending some one-on-one time with two experienced men: Scott Entz, general manager of Cargill Meat Solutions at High River, and Derek Hill, facilities manager of Cargill Value-Added Meats at Spruce Grove. Schooten feels he was chosen to participate in the program because he exemplifies what young people face when making a start in the beef industry. He is already a partner with his dad and two brothers in the family’s 10,000-head feedlot, John Schooten & Sons Custom Feedyard, near Diamond City, Alta. He and his brother Shane also started their own business, S&C Schooten Farming, to earn money while buying into the feedlot so as not to jeopardize their parents’ retirement. S&C Schooten Farming offers custom silage chopping, manure hauling, fieldwork and cattle feeding services. Schooten’s CYL objectives focused on learning more about cattle markets, marketing strategies for various types of cattle and what would make his animals more attractive to packing plants, along with exploring alternatives for value-adding and expanding their operation in the future. Considering his mentors’ busy schedules, he feels fortunate to have been able to meet personally with each of them for an afternoon and connect by email and phone whenever questions arose. Entz also put him in touch with one of Cargill’s head buyers. “Cargill is a big company, but now I can put faces to it,” he says. “It helped me understand the beef business better by learning more about how they grade and market the beef and, in turn, what type of animal the plant desires and what our cattle need to be to top the market. The buyer explained some of the company’s programs, such as the grid and the certified Angus programs, and the type of cattle they look for to fit into those programs.” Schooten also had an opportu22 CATTLEMEN / MAY 2011

Derek Hill congratulates Cody Schooten (l) on receiving his CYL graduate award at the 2011 CYL national forum. nity to tour both facilities and was impressed with the efficiency at both locations. It was something he probably never would have had a chance to see otherwise. The idea of expanding his operation with an organic or hormone-free sideline has crossed his mind, so one of his objectives was to learn more about the potential for those sectors. Entz provided contacts for a couple of large feedlot operations that have been involved in finishing organic and hormone-free beef. Schooten found out that the time needed to manage a specialized production stream is the greatest challenge for this type of operation and the main reason people don’t stick with it. His final objective was to research and create a PowerPoint presentation about the feeding industry, which he says was a great way to gain a broader perspective on his sector and where it’s headed. Schooten managed to arrange time to attend the CYL Fall Forum to meet other CYL participants and industry representatives. Cindy Delaloye, general manager of the Canadian Beef Grading Agency explained how cattle

are graded and where camera grading fits in. Canfax manager/senior analyst Brian Perillat gave him a true picture of where cattle inventories are located, and Mauricio Arcilia with the Canadian Beef Export Federation gave him a new perspective on Canada’s export markets and the products demanded in those markets. “Knowing that kind of information can benefit our company,” he says. “If we know what new markets will be around the corner we can be ready to sell that certain kind of beef and have a competitive edge when the market does open,” he adds. “It’s easy to get stuck here and not really see the outside world. We put our checkoff money in but don’t really know where it’s going, so it’s good to get out and get a refresher. I want to know more about my industry because I hope to be here for a long time.” His dad has been active with industry organizations and though it’s a path Schooten may follow, he realizes it’s a big commitment and says now just isn’t his time. However, his dad gets his and his brother’s full support when he has to be away

because they know it’s important for producers to be involved in the industry. Not many careers offer the opportunity to work with family every day and that’s one of the best things about the beef industry as far as he is concerned. “There has been a negative atmosphere and our industry has had its challenges, but I think we have such a vibrant industry,” Schooten says. “I meet a lot of young people who are still involved and they are hard workers and ambitious. I think our industry is in good hands going into the future.” Schooten was looking forward to attending the Northlands Farm and Ranch Show in Edmonton at the beginning of April, when the grads of the CYL pilot program would be recognized at a banquet and he would have a chance to meet the 16 candidates who will be taking part in the nationwide CYL program this year. C — Debbie Furber This is one of a series of stories on the five young leaders from Alberta who participated in the 2010 pilot for the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (CYL) development program, an initiative of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association with support from CYL foundation partners, Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency and Cargill, and sponsorship from Canadian Cattlemen. The CYL program provides industry-specific training and mentorship opportunities for youths, ages 18-35, to gain the expertise and business skills needed to lead the cattle industry into the future. For details on the 2011 nationwide program, visit www.cattleWH PP - 7 x 5 -:AGI 11-02-17 11:34 AM Page 1

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Cattlemen / May 2011 23




umbers by themselves have little purpose until they are arranged and presented in a way so they tell a story that means something to the reader. The Alberta Veterinary Surveillance Network (AVSN) is a case in point. The Veterinary Practice Surveillance (VPS) component of AVSN gathers animal health data every day over a secure website from beef and dairy veterinary practitioners in Alberta. No reference is made to either the herd or the owner’s name. This is just raw data but when summarized it provides a pretty accurate daily snapshot of the overall health and existing disease trends in Alberta’s cattle herd. Colleagues south of the border have counted on USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) since 1983 to provide much the same service across the United States. While very different in scope and method of reporting, information generated by the two systems provides interesting comparisons between Canadian and U.S. cattle industries. In 2007, about one in every three of the 2.08 million farms and ranches in the United States had beef cows. The average herd size back then was 42. In the same year Statistics Canada reported a similar breakdown — 27 per cent of Canadian farms had beef cattle but the average herd size at that time was 61 head. In Alberta, 53 per cent of farms have cattle and the average herd size is 189 head.

Information sources In the U.S., veterinarians were identified by the highest percentage of operations as an important source of information (54 per cent) 24 CATTLEMEN / MAY 2011

followed by other producers (25 per cent), extension specialists (22 per cent) and producer associations (16 per cent). Published material like beef magazines and agriculture journals were considered important sources of information for 18 per cent of cattle operations surveyed; 13 per cent favoured information from company salespersons.

Overall reproductive performance Depending on which data set is used, the number of North American beef cows and heifers exposed to bulls or artificially inseminated that actually wean a calf may be as low as 71 per cent (17.4 per cent open at the end of breeding season, 2.3 per cent lost during gestation, 6.4 per cent lost near birth, 2.9 per cent lost between birth and two weeks). These figures suggest that the economic engine of the beef industry is wavering right off the starting line.

Death losses Two-thirds of calf losses occur between birth and 500 pounds with about one-third of the losses happening beyond that point. Overall, 1.7 per cent of the U.S. beef cattle inventory is lost to non-predator causes annually. Operations with one to 49 cattle lose a higher percentage than operations with 500 or more cows. Clinical conditions observed and reported by Alberta practitioners through VPS are categorized into “syndromes.” Between Jan. 1, 2006 and Dec. 31, 2009, there were 2,810 reports posted from cow-calf operations for neonatal calves less than six weeks old. To no one’s surprise, gastrointestinal syndromes topped the list of neonatal diseases. The top six neonatal disease syndromes included:

gastrointestinal disease, lameness, miscellaneous swelling and edema, respiratory, neurological/recumbent and sudden death. These six represent over 90 per cent of conditions observed in young calves presented to clinics or observed during farm visits. Within the gastrointestinal syndromes, the common infectious diseases represented a significant proportion of conditions reported by practitioners. Based on clinical signs and history the causes of intestinal infections were most often attributed to bacteria like E. coli and other infectious agents like rotavirus, coccidia, cryptosporidia, coronavirus and clostridia. Intestinal accidents, abomasal ulcers and rectal prolapses were also commonly reported. Of the lameness cases, 75 per cent were related to trauma, another 14 per cent to arthritis and joint infections. Omphalophlebitis (navel infection), hernias and abscesses were major entries under among miscellaneous swellings and edema syndromes. Common causes of respiratory disease included bovine respiratory disease complex (BRD), necrotic laryngitis, aspiration pneumonia with a significant number categorized as simply a respiratory condition. Within the group of neurological/ recumbent syndromes reported by practitioners, bacteremia/septicemia (generalized infections), meningitis, trauma and vitamin/selenium deficiency were clinical conditions noted most frequently. A number of others were lumped under neurological signs or inability to stand. While many of the sudden and unexplained deaths in calves remain undiagnosed, bacteremia/septicemia, peritonitis (infection involving the

Let the

Good Times ROLL! Join us June 5 - 7, 2011 in Swift Current for the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association 98th Convention and Annual General Meeting. After years of poor prices and general negativity in the beef industry, producers are finally being treated to better times. This year’s convention will focus on the bright spots in the industry and how producers can capitalize on these opportunities. Attendees will be treated to insight and perspectives from expert speakers regarding a number of areas related to beef production including the environment and the economy.

ing of the abdominal cavity), abomasal ulcers and heart failure were the most probable diagnoses made during service calls to cow-calf clients. U.S. survey numbers provide several interesting comparisons. Under NAHMS, the six leading causes of death losses in calves from birth to weaning included: respiratory problems (31.8 per cent), digestive problems (21.2 per cent), problems related to calving (17.7 per cent), unknown (11.5 per cent), weather related (7.6 per cent) and other causes, which included lameness and injury (3.5 per cent). Calving difficulty, technically dystocia, remains a major cause of death loss in cow-calf herds everywhere. Some authors suggest it could be responsible for up to 33 per cent of all calf losses either as a result of calves born dead or dying of injuries suffered during birth and that over 15 per cent of long-term breeding problems is induced because of difficult calving. A sound management program to reduce dystocia and rapidly identify cattle experiencing dystocia is critical to cattle welfare and farm profitability. High “undifferentiated,” “unknown” and “other” numbers in most disease-based surveillance systems reflects the economic reality associated with routinely ordering lab tests in a clinical practice, and the general lack of access to diagnostic services, even in Canada’s biggest livestockproducing province. C — Dr. Ron Clarke

The SSGA invites all those involved in the beef industry to come and learn, share and enjoy the entertainment at the 98th Convention and Annual General Meeting!


Convention & Annual General Meeting June 5 - 7, 2011 Living Sky Casino, Swift Current, SK p: 306.757.8523 e: w:


Lame BuLL = No BuLL Getting cows bred on time is pivotal to the success of every cow-calf operation. And the most vital animal on the breeding field often gets the least consideration...the bull. Producers spend a great deal of time and money ensuring that the bulls they purchase have the right genetics for their cow herd. Many producers also recognize the value of an annual breeding soundness examination before the breeding season. But far less attention is paid to protecting these reproductive assets from a common infection that can undermine a successful breeding season. Footrot is caused by the bacterium Fusobacterium necrophorum, an organism commonly found in the digestive tract of cattle. Any surface contaminated with manure may contain this organism. F. necrophorum can also escape from the rumen and circulate internally. An animal’s environment plays a role in the development of footrot. Wet, muddy conditions or rough, abrasive terrain can cut or bruise the skin between the toes, creating the right conditions for the bacteria to multiply and cause disease. The first signs of footrot are swelling just above the hoof and lameness in the affected foot. As the swelling increases, the toes spread apart and the animal becomes increasingly lame. Ultimately,

the skin between the toes dies and breaks open, releasing infected debris and the foul odour associated with footrot. Decreased appetite and weight loss are secondary effects. Although rarely fatal, the condition can result in tendon sheath infections and arthritis if not treated promptly. Furthermore, footrot is contagious because the infective material released from the feet of affected animals increases the likelihood that other animals will be exposed. The cost of footrot is much higher than the price of treatment. A lame bull, especially one that is lame on a hind foot, is unlikely to breed many cows. If he quits working, even for part of the breeding season, you may be faced with late and open cows in the fall. That means more culled animals, more late-born calves and shorter calving to breeding intervals for your cows next spring. The good news for producers is that a footrot vaccination is available that can decrease the incidence and severity of this disease in your herd. Combined with a sound nutrition program and good health management practices, footrot vaccination can help keep the upcoming breeding season on track. Talk to your herd veterinarian about prevention strategies for your herd. FuSoGaRD®




© 2011 Novartis Animal Health Canada Inc. Fusogard® is a registered trademark of Novartis AG; Novartis Animal Health Canada Inc., licensed user. 3289-1-05/11

3293-1E NAH FUSOGARD CAN Cattlemen Advertorial.indd 1

11-03-14 9:37 AM



Preventing the blemish of downer cows

nimals unable to stand or walk without assistance are a major welfare issue for the beef and dairy industries. Unfortunately, it took the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company incident in 2008 to sound the need for review. Video footage of downers being dragged or treated inhumanely in processing facilities varnished an entire industry and created an attitude of zero tolerance among consumers. The old saying that a person who doesn’t stand for something will fall for anything rings true around the subject of downer cows. While change is a constant part of life, change for the beef industry generally occurs in slow motion, making adjustments easy to overlook and hard to measure. The Westland/Hallmark incident proved the exception in that virtually overnight the public and political disgust triggered a flush of new rules dealing with downer animals.

Getting better If there is a “downer season” for beef cows, we are now in it. Regardless of our effort to prevent downers, they are unavoidable in the cattle business. And each downer presents ethical, moral and legal considerations for producers. Attitude and tradition often become barriers to change. Getting better starts with planning. An important first step in dealing with downer cows is to develop a plan beforehand with your veterinarian. Prevention is one side of the plan. Managing downers when they occur is the other. Prevention starts by identifying potential downers and times when this risk is highest. For beef cattle, calving season and early spring are the worst for downers. Obstetrical injuries during calving are the single biggest cause of hind leg paralysis. Injuries from slipping and falling on frozen surfaces often complicate the picture. Metabolic problems also rank high as a cause of downer animals. This year, any thought of an early spring has long withered. Many producers are dealing with the double jeopardy of poor-quality feed over an extended cold spell and thin cows in late pregnancy. Steps taken now to improve nutrition of the brood cow are essential. Hypomagnesemia (low blood magnesium) in late winter and grass tetany on early pastures kill many cows every year. An elevated intake of potassium (K) decreases absorption of magnesium (Mg) from the gut. High levels of protein and potassium in new pasture growth are predisposing causes of grass tetany, which often affects the best cows nursing the best calves because top-end cows draw heavily on calcium and magnesium for milk production. Animals initially exhibit a depressed appetite and a dull, lethargic appearance that progresses to a staggering gait, nervousness, excitability, muscular tremors, collapse and convulsions. Mortality among untreated clinical cases may exceed 30 per cent. Low blood calcium


and the paralytic signs of milk fever can confound signs in herds suffering from mineral imbalances. Research has shown that when the ratio of potassium to the sum of calcium and magnesium (the tetany ratio) is less than 2.2, there are few cases of tetany. To avert potentially serious problems in high-risk herds this spring, producers should work with a veterinarian to analyze feed and blood samples. Diseases like metritis (uterine infections) and mastitis can be predisposing causes. Appropriate supplementation with minerals and ration adjustments prevent problems. Downers should be considered emergencies. There’s a good chance that cows down for more than three hours on a hard, cold surface probably are not going to get back up. If necessary, downers should be moved to a sheltered area where food, water, and medical treatment can be provided while being protected from the elements, other cattle and wildlife. Downer animals can be rolled onto skids, or a plywood sled, and moved safely. Slings and lifts, if available, help. Downers animals need to be placed on a straw pack or deep bedding. A 25- to 30-centimetre layer of sand beneath the straw pack in a hospital pen is ideal. Sand helps minimize muscle and nerve damage, provides traction, and decreases sores and urine scalding. Cold, hard ground or cement intensify muscle and nerve damage, compounding any disability. While moving and positioning downer animals, make an effort to assess its level of distress. Check for fractures and other traumatic injury. A critical part of managing downers is estimating the chances for recovery as early as possible. When the prognosis is poor, as would be the case with a fractured long bone, euthanasia is indicated. Prolonging the suffering of any animal when a positive outcome is in doubt for economic reasons is not acceptable. A veterinarian can help make essential decisions around prognosis and assist with medical treatment. Mature cows will drink up to 80 litres a day and most cannot drink out of a standing five-gallon pail while lying down. A rubber feed tub with 12 to 15 centimetre sides works well for water. Long-stemmed hay provided free choice is recommended. When all else fails, simply waiting for an animal to die is inhumane. In this day and age, everyone in the production chain involving live animals must have the capability, plus the skill to end life humanely. Many do not. Be it the use of an appropriate captive bolt, gun or veterinary administered drug, humane euthanasia must be part of any plan for dealing with downer animals. 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 ( or WCABP (


A moral choice


remember when milk came in glass bottles to the door at Grandma’s house in town. As an antique collector, I have many of them displayed in our home. When I was again able to buy milk in a glass bottle, I did so because it evoked a lovely memory of being in the company of my grandmother. For others it may be the smell of apple pie, Sunday roast beef or BBQ steaks on Friday night. Whatever your memory holds, it influences the buying decisions you make. In the Joseph Pine and James Gilmore book entitled THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY, the authors set the stage for the act and the art of successful selling through the directed transformation of the customer. Steak on the BBQ achieves this with very little staging because the experience is front and centre in the buying decision. Steak is often served for special occasions when one is relaxed, enjoying a cool beverage, on the deck or beach during great weather. When we think of steak on the BBQ, we think of friends and warmth. It is a feel-good experience and that memory drives us right back to the beef counter. One could assume that steaks need little in the way of upgrading to the point of transforming the customer. That simply is not true. Not only have the promoters of beef had to change the message to ensure the memory was jolted, the size of the steak is smaller (think medallions) and there are more offerings in terms of ethnic flavours, presentation and nutritional information. Like all good business plans, the steak needs to be reinvented every few years with a new brand and staged to lead the client to a memorable experience. When we take into account the rest of the beef carcass, the pizzazz starts to fizzle. We can’t point to the middle meats, the smallest percentage of a carcass in terms of primals, and call beef a success story. The data proves otherwise. Beef continues to lose ground in domestic per capita consumption. It most certainly is important to generate value by creating something new or improving on the product, but we have to ask if that is enough. This is a world of instant exposure. In seconds, the public knows your story and it is important to recognize that our behaviour has the strongest influence on consumer acceptance. For beef, the negative press regarding housing and slaughter and the open debate on food versus feed versus fuel is not bringing us any converts. The public forum in which legislation is discussed impacts the perception of beef and plays directly into consumer buying habits. Fear and uncertainly dull the memorable experience. To help understand the transformation process of commodities, Pine and Gilmore use the classic example of the birthday cake. The first economy was


the focused on agricultural commodities and during that time, a mother would bake a cake from scratch, using basic ingredients for a few pennies. As industry evolved into more manufacturing, mother could buy a cake mix and add to it, easing her time and effort, at the cost of a few dollars. In the service economy, the economy which we have recently experienced, mother drove to the bakery to buy a cake for $20. Today, cake is optional in the experience economy where mother arranges for an event that may cost a hundred dollars, such as a trip to the amusement park, swimming or paintball. The children relate to the cake as a memorable part of the experience that is staged. When we study this analogy and apply it to beef, it is fair to say that much of the industry still operates in the commodity economy. Other manufactured goods and commodities understand the value of staging an experience. In a recent ads for Moxies Restaurant there is no mention of food. Car commercials don’t advertise cars, they advertise the thrill of driving and some companies even invite you to design autos. The new and very emotional Quebec Milk ads will lead you back home and have you drinking out of a glass bottle with your heart on your sleeve and tears in your eyes. Consumers are demanding teachers. When industry reacts swiftly to clients’ feelings in a reassuring and positive way, it results in a great experience and an atmosphere of trust. When Starbucks coffee sales plummeted, CEO Howard Schultz decided it was “time to tell their story and put the truth about Starbucks on the table.” He also reminded his worldwide team that “social and digital media play a huge role and as economies continue to struggle, customers will look at ethical stances in their decisions.” As a final word, Schultz reminded his staff “Starbucks was responsible to deliver on the expectations of the customer.” This was not about coffee; it was about making someone’s day better. Consumer transformation may seem a monumental task and the beef industry is often limited by resources and exceptionally slow. We could use a little independence from the layers of internal and external bureaucracy and creative artistic direction. The customer does not know, nor care, about our structure or politics. They only want to remember that when they ate beef it was a great experience, one that they would like to repeat and share. A moral choice is part of all commerce for both sides. We want beef to be that choice and a memorable experience for all. — Brenda Schoepp Brenda Schoepp is a market analyst and the owner and author of BEEFLINK, a national beef cattle market newsletter. A professional speaker and industry market and research consultant, she ranches near Rimbey, Alta. Contact her at


MAY 2011

A service for cattle producers from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and CATTLEMEN magazine

CANADIAN CATTLE INVENTORY January 1 (’000 head) Thousand head 2010 2011 Bulls 232.1 222.2 Beef cows 4,391.0 4,273.0 Dairy cows 981.0 987.0 Dairy breeding heifers 450.7 443.1 Beef breeding heifers 516.4 531.6 Beef slaughter heifers 899.8 852.0 Steers 1,141.7 1,081.7 Calves 4,292.3 4,069.4 Total 12,905.0 12,460.0

% change -4.3% -2.7% 0.6% -1.7% 2.9% -5.3% -5.3% -5.2% -3.4%

Source: Statistics Canada

Canadian Beef Cow Numbers Year/year per cent change – January

20% 15%   10%   5%   0%   -­‐5%   -­‐10%   07  











-­‐15% 80  

Total beef cow inventories were down 2.7 per cent or 118,000 head to 4.27 million head to be the lowest since 1995. Despite significantly improved pasture conditions this summer, beef cow numbers were down in all provinces. Cow marketings were encouraged by strong cow prices which reached summer highs of $60/cwt. While producers continue to liquidate the herd, it is occurring at a slower rate than what was seen two years ago. Beef cows in British Columbia were down 2.5 per cent to 192,000 head, the smallest on record since the start of the series in 1976. Alberta beef cow numbers declined 2.6 per cent to 1.68 million head, the smallest since 1994. Saskatchewan beef cow numbers were down 1.5 per cent to 1.3 million head, the smallest since 2002. Manitoba saw the largest decline in beef cow numbers, down six per cent to 503,000 head the smallest since 1996. Ontario beef cows were down 3.6 per cent to 321,000 head the smallest on record. Quebec beef cow numbers at 220,000 head are down 2.2 per cent and have returned to 2003 levels. Alberta’s beef cow herd represents 39.4 per cent of the national herd, followed by Saskatchewan with 30.4 per cent, Manitoba with 11.8 per cent, Ontario with 7.5 per cent, Quebec with five per cent, and B.C. with 4.5 per cent. The average herd size in Canada grew from 1996 to 2007, but has declined since then from 133 head to 129 head per operation. The surprise in the inventory numbers was the number of beef heifers retained for breeding at 531,600 head, which was up 2.9 per cent from its extremely low level in 2010 at 532,000 head. This is the number of heifers producers expect to calve in the spring and the increase, albeit small, is encouraging to see as breeding decisions would have been made well before the higher prices seen last fall. Producers are beginning to look at low inventory levels and improved prices and decisions around retention and/or purchase of heifers are becoming more top of mind for many. At the same time current bred heifer inventories are the lowest in 20 years and would have to increase substantially, in conjunction with reduced cow marketings, before any increase in cow inventories becomes a reality. Whether producers, after successive years of losses and greater volatility, are ready to expand remains to be seen. There is still the option that heifers currently being backgrounded will be bred this summer. It is important to note that any increase in heifer replacements will reduce fed cattle supplies and beef production over the short term providing further strength to cattle prices. Dairy cow numbers were up 0.6 per cent at 987,000 head after being up 0.3 per cent last year. The last time dairy cows increased was 1994-95 with 1982 and 1961 being the only other two years of increases recorded since 1960. The percentage of cows born prior to 1999 has decreased from 12.6 per cent in 2009 to 9.1 per cent in 2010 and 8.7



per cent in 2011 or 457,400 head. The majority of these are beef cows with only 14,000 head or 1.4 per cent of dairy cows being born prior to 1999 as of January 1. The percentage of beef cows born prior to 1999 has decreased from 14.5 per cent in 2009 to 10.7 per cent in 2010 and 10.4 per cent in 2011 or 443,400 head. The inventory of calves under one year of age was down 5.2 per cent or 222,900 head to 4.07 million head. The number of steers (>1 year) also declined 5.3 per cent to 1.08 million head with heifers for slaughter down 5.3 per cent. Supplies of beef feeders and calves outside of feedlots are down 7.4 per cent or 321,000 head at 4.01 million head, this is just under 2001 when only 4.07 million head were outside of feedlots.


The Statistics Canada January 1 2011 inventory numbers showed that the Canadian cattle herd declined by 3.4 per cent or 445,000 head to 12.46 million head. There were a number of revisions to historical data which makes the year over year per cent changes misleading.

Source: Statistics Canada

U.S. CATTLE INVENTORY U.S. cattle inventory numbers decreased as of January 1, 2011, with total cattle and calves down 1.4 per cent at 92.58 million head, the smallest since 1958. This is the fourth consecutive year of declining inventories in the U.S. Beef cows were down 1.6 per cent or 500,000 head at 30.86 million head, while dairy cow numbers were actually up one per cent at 9.15 million head. The U.S. calf crop at 35.7 million head is down one per cent from 2009 and is the smallest since 1950 when it was 34.9 million head. Beef replacement heifers were down five Continued on page 30 CATTLEMEN / MAY 2011 29

BEEF WATCH Continued from page 29

Alberta versus U.S. Fed Steer Price AB Fed Steer

$100 $80 $60 $40















$20 Source: Canfax, Cattle-fax


Alberta versus Ontario Fed Steer Price

January 1, million head




% change


Total cattle & calves





All cows




Beef cows




Dairy cows




Heifers >500 lbs.




Beef repl. heifers




Dairy repl. heifers




Steers >500 lbs.




Bulls >500 lbs.




Calves <500 lbs.




Source: USDA Jan.1, 2011 Cattle Inventory Report

CATTLE PRICES Fed cattle prices have averaged $105/cwt in the first quarter, $23/cwt high than 2010. Fed cattle prices have moved higher on tight supplies in North America with an inventory gap between yearlings and calves coming to market as winter storms have impacted calf performance. In addition lighter carcass weights and reduced slaughter days at packing plants has reduced beef supplies and supported boxed beef prices, which have increased $25/cwt from January to March. Strong export demand for North American beef and pork has also been noted as a supportive factor in the fed cattle market. Alberta fed cattle prices averaged $109.53/cwt in March. While Canadian fed cattle prices have been at these levels before it was when the Canadian dollar was at US$0.67 not US$1.02. When looking at fed cattle prices in U.S. dollars record highs are being made this spring with an average of $116/cwt in March. Alberta 550-pound calf prices averaged $149/cwt in the first quarter, $36/cwt higher than 2010. This is the highest first quarter average since 2001. With cattle prices moving up, renewed optimism has many asking if the cattle industry will enter an expansion phase in 2011.


Million head


US Fed Steer


US $ per cwt

per cent indicating producers were not looking to expand any time soon. The smaller calf crop combined with aggressive placements into feedlots last fall because of poor winter wheat pasture conditions reduced the number of feeders and calves outside of feedlots to 26.7 million head, which is down 3.4 per cent from last year. Larger placements of lighter-weight calves have increased U.S. cattle on feed numbers as of March 1 to be five per cent above year ago levels. When Canada and U.S. inventories are combined, it shows the North American cattle herd down 1.6 per cent at 105 million head, with the Canadian herd representing 12 per cent of the total. Canada’s share of the North American herd has fallen from a high of 13.6 per cent in 2005 back to 2000’s percentage. North American inventories are down 5.4 per cent or 5.95 million head from the peak of 110.99 million head in 2006.


$110 $100   $90   $80  















$70 Source: OCA, Canfax

BEEF COW CULLING RATES Canadian marketings have also been encouraged by the strong cow prices, which reached a high of $60/cwt live last summer with an annual averaged of $54.50/cwt. Alberta D1,2 cow prices have averaged $20/cwt higher than 2010 in the first quarter at $68/cwt and are following the trend established in 2001 when the annual average was $64/cwt with a summer peak just over $80/cwt. Higher prices are encouraging producers to bring older culls to town. However the question remains as to whether they are replacing those older cows with new genetics. The beef cow culling rate was down to 11.8 per cent in 2010 from 12.8 per cent in 2009. While still above the long-term average of 10 per cent, which would imply further contraction, smaller marketings in 2011 could easily put beef culling rates under the 10 per cent mark. In the first quarter of 2011, cow slaughter is down 16 per cent and cow exports are down 39 per cent. This means marketings are 21 per cent below 2010 levels and 19 per cent below the 20 year average. While cow marketings provide a good indication of herd reduction, it is only half the story. Understanding the number of heifers being retained as replacements is important for determining if inventory reduction is actually taking place. A herd can expand with large cow marketings as long, as heifer retention is higher and more than offsets cow marketings.

Canadian Total Cattle & Calves January 1 16

Million head

14 12   10   8  

1906 12   18   24   30   36   42   48   54   60   66   72   78   84   90   96   02   08  


Source: Statistic Canada

REPLACEMENT RATIOS The replacement ratios table illustrates the relationship between feeder and fed cattle prices. Replacement ratios have been moving higher since bottoming in the second quarter of 2010. In the first quarter of 2011, steer calves in the west are at 1.43 compared to 1.38 in 2010 or 1.27 in 2009. Heifer calves are at 1.36 in the west compared to 1.24 in Q1 2010 and 1.04 in 2009. Ratios are significantly better for calves than shortkeep steers which are only at 1.14, down from 1.15 in Q1 2010 and 1.08 in Q1 2009. While the ratio for yearling heifers has improved to 1.19 from 1.14 a year ago, the ratio for yearling steers has actually declined to 1.20 from 1.21.

Replacement Price Ratio

Canadian Beef Cow Culling Rate 18%

15 yr avg = 10%

16% 14%

(Replacement cattle price divided by slaughter price) Yearling heifers

Yearling steers

Shortkeep steers


(400500 lb.)

(500600 lb.)

(600700 lb.)

(700800 lb.)

(800900 lb.)



1.12 1.17 1.12 1.20 1.27 1.28 1.28* 1.16 1.10 1.07 1.05 1.05 1.13 1.05 1.03 1.02 1.04 1.12 1.14 1.22 1.23 1.27 1.26 1.22 1.20 1.24 1.16 1.21 1.23 1.30 1.32 1.36*

1.23 1.26 1.19 1.30 1.29 1.37 1.38 1.27 1.25 1.20 1.15 1.19 1.19 1.14 1.12 1.14 1.15 1.27 1.21 1.32 1.27 1.34 1.33 1.34 1.32 1.38 1.27 1.33 1.29 1.37 1.40* 1.43*

1.06 1.07 1.08 1.11 1.16 1.21* 1.16 1.05 1.03 0.99 1.02 1.00 1.06 1.02 0.97 0.96 1.02 1.06 1.10 1.13 1.13 1.18 1.13 1.12 1.11 1.14 1.12 1.13 1.16 1.20 1.20* 1.19

1.10 1.13 1.09 1.25 1.16 1.31* 1.21* 1.13 1.10 1.08 1.07 1.09 1.11 1.09 1.01 1.05 1.04 1.13 1.12 1.18 1.16 1.24 1.17 1.21 1.15 1.21 1.15 1.16 1.18 1.25 1.22 1.20

1.06 1.06 1.04 1.06 1.17 1.21* 1.20* 1.11 1.07 1.03 1.03 1.02 1.09 1.07 1.01 1.02 1.01 1.08 1.07 1.10 1.15 1.18 1.14 1.16 1.11 1.15 1.10 1.09 1.14 1.18 1.16 1.14

10% 8% 6% 4% 2% 0% 68 71 74 77 80 83 86 89 92 95 98 01 04 07 10


HEIFER SLAUGHTER RATIO Heifer marketings (domestic slaughter plus live exports) in 2010 were up five per cent, as a result of larger overall fed supplies caused by the 55 per cent reduction in feeder exports in 2009. The heifer-to-steer slaughter ratio dropped modestly from 0.74 in 2009 to 0.73 in 2010. This is still well above the 15-year average of 66 per cent, indicating most producers were not retaining heifers in 2010, but this is down from the high reached in 2008 of 0.77 and points towards a slower reduction. Large heifer slaughter over the last two years means that there will be limited supplies of heifers to breed and consequently limiting any growth over the next two years. The big question in 2011 is what will happen with heifer retention? If the current trend in cow marketings sticks throughout 2011 and they are down 20 per cent to 637,800 head, heifer retention has to increase by 20 per cent or 106,200 head to keep the national herd steady. If cow marketings are down 30 per cent to 558,000 head, heifer retention only has to increase by five per cent or 26,400 head to keep the herd steady. Heifer slaughter is only down a modest five per cent in this first quarter of 2011 as yearlings placed in August and September had not yet seen the dramatic increase in prices that calves did in November and December. Heifer slaughter is expected to decline as the year progresses and fewer calves were placed.

Steer calves



Source: Canfax Research

Heifer calves




*Record highs, East and West

Continued on page 32



Beef Watch is prepared by the staff of Canfax and Canfax Research Services, divisions of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association

Continued from page 31

Canadian Heifer Slaughter Ratio 80%

15 yr avg - 66%

75% 70% 65% 60% 55% 50% 45%




















Source: AAFC, CBGA, Canfax, Stats Canada

THE CATTLE CYCLE A typical cattle cycle runs 10 to 12 years as the industry responds to market signals. However when market signals are mixed, highly uncertain, or when outside forces such as trade barriers or drought occur the cattle cycle may be delayed or even reversed for a period of time. Also since the cattle cycle focuses on the supply side, consumer demand, which is the other side of the equation, can also influence things. Therefore in years when the cycle is not apparent it is not that it is not there but that outside forces are temporarily limiting or having a larger influence on producer decisions. What have previous turning points in the cattle cycle shown us? The cycle of the 1970s was driven by soaring domestic demand with increasing per capita disposable income. The cycle of the 1980s was stagnated with the recession and high interest rates in the first half of the decade resulting in a slow sell off of the national herd. A jump in calf prices in the fourth quarter of 1987 (up 16 per cent) kicked off a decade of expansion driven by a low Canadian

dollar and growing beef and live cattle exports. This growth phase lasted until 1996. Despite calf prices increasing 31 per cent from Q4 1996 to Q4 1999 inventories declined. Growth did not resume until 2000 after prices had increased another 10 per cent. So what prevented growth from 1996 to 1999? Feed grain prices increased 42 per cent in 1995 and over the next five years averaged 46 per cent higher than the previous five years. Therefore, it took four years for the higher feed grain prices before calf prices increased enough to offset this and encourage further expansion of the national herd. So where are we in the cattle cycle? Similar to the 1990s feed grain prices have averaged 21 per cent higher in the last five years compared to the first five years of this decade. At the same time Q4 calf prices were 10 per cent lower. In 2010, fourth-quarter calf prices at $110/cwt were only four per cent higher than the 2000-05 average. This implies that calf prices last fall were not high enough to offset the increase in feed costs seen over the last ten years. Not to mention a par Canadian dollar compared to a $0.67 dollar in 2000 and crude oil at US$100/barrel versus US$27/ barrel in 2000. In order to adjust for feed grain prices alone would require prices this fall to be 15 per cent higher at around $130/cwt. In the first quarter 550-pound steer prices have average $148/cwt in Alberta. So while liquidation has slowed, prices will need to hold steady at current levels to send a strong enough signal to producers to expand. The last cattle cycle ran from 1996 to 2005 (peak to peak) with four years of liquidation from 1996 to 1999 followed by six years of expansion from 2000 to 2005. The current cattle cycle is expected run from 2005 to 2015 approximately. With five years of liquidation 2005 to 2010 followed by one year of consolidation or stabilization of the cow herd in 2011 before entering four years of expansion. Feeder prices tend to lag compared to fed prices, with peak prices potentially being two years after inventories peak (2014-17). Therefore a heifer having her first calf in 2011 will have calves through the highest price years of the current cattle cycle.

Sign-up for daily ag enews and never miss a beat. We do our best to keep you up to date on farm news with our family of print publications, but if you’d like to know what’s happening more often, it’s just a few clicks away at It features the latest farm news, updated through the day, as well as three-times daily futures market commentary. also links you to our publication websites, where, if you’re a subscriber, you can read online, or search back issues. You can also sign up to have news highlights delivered by email daily. So, if it’s in print or online you’ll find it at | Life and Livelihood. 32 CATTLEMEN / MAY 2011


Making good decisions


e are all faced with a 3. Marginal Reaction: Which action provides the greatmultitude of decisions est return in terms of your holistic goal for the time every day. I think most and money spent? of us would agree that 4. Gross Profit Analysis: Which enterprise contributes if we can make better decisions we the most to covering the overhead of the business? will have a better future. We are all 5. Energy, Money Source and Use: Is the energy or responsible for our situation. Our money derived from the most appropriate source in present situation is a result of our terms of your goal? Will the way in which the money past decisions. Our future situation or energy is used lead toward your goal? will be a result of our present deci6. Sustainability: If you take this action will it lead toward sions. If you accept this decision making becomes very or away from your future landscape description? important. 7. Society and Culture: How do you feel about this In many areas like transportation, medicine and comaction? Will it lead to the quality of life you desire? munication, our decision making is very effective. Where Will it adversely affect the lives of others? we struggle is in the complex areas like agriculture, forWhen making a decision we are aware of our goal. estry and human relationships. We use the seven testing questions to help us make a Holistic Management (HM) is a decision-making sound decision. Testing only takes a few minutes. Each process. It can help you make better decisions therefore test may pass, fail or not apply. The more passes the it can help you improve your future. more likely it is a wise decision. The result is agreement HM begins by having all the people in a given situafrom everyone and a decision that we are confidant will tion develop a written three-part goal. The goal is based help us move towards our goal. on the values and principles of the people involved. The This is really a very simple idea although it is a little holistic goal deals with: hard to explain. As a group you set a goal (your North 1. Quality of life (all the people issues). Star). You use the testing questions to reach agreement 2. Forms of production (how we need to behave to and to be sure your decision is sound. achieve our quality of life and what we need to proLet me give you a real-life example. Just recently we duce to be profitable). were faced with a fairly important 3. Our future landscape descripdecision. It wasn’t really controvertion (what we want our farm sial but there was a wide range of Holistic Management opinions. As we started to discuss and our community to look like under ideal conditions in 50 to the decision there were comments can help you make 100 years). such as “We’ll never reach consenOnce this goal is established sus on this, someone is going to better decisions with everyone’s agreement, it lose and someone is going to win.” therefore it can becomes like our “North Star.” We were becoming more polarized. The holistic goal is not meant to Each of us was trying to justify our help you improve be achieved but to give us direction position. Then one of us said, “Let’s over a long period of time. use the testing guidelines.” Within your future We now begin to make decisions 10 minutes we had reached a decithat will move us in the direction sion. of our holistic goal, decisions that are simultaneously Everyone agreed — there were no winners or losers. socially, environmentally and financially sound. We now Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of this particular situhave a powerful tool to help us achieve balance in our ation was the increased confidence we felt as a team. We lives. Balance is difficult to achieve. HM can help us do could all have different opinions which is good but by that. All three areas people, land and money are equally using the testing questions we could achieve consensus important. We can’t afford to sacrifice one for the other. and reach the best possible decision. To aid us in our decision-making we have seven testWould this type of decision making be a benefit to ing questions: you? Would it help your team to be able to reach a con1. Cause and Effect: Does this action address the root sensus? Would you benefit by having no winners or loscause of the problem? ers? If you answered yes to the above questions I suggest 2. Weak Link: you investigate HM. I believe HM can help you create Social — If you take this action will you encounter or the future you desire. Happy Trails. create a blockage to progress? — Don Campbell Biological — Does this action address the weakest link in the life cycle of this organism? Don Campbell ranches with his family at Meadow Lake, Financial — Does this action strengthen the weakest Sask., and teaches Holistic Management courses. He can be link in the chain of production? reached at 306-236-6088 or



Trich and vibrio


richomoniasis (trich) and pregnant. Some of the breeding bulls were retested bovine genital campylobacfor trich and vibrio again at the end of the breeding teriosis (vibrio) both cause season, and all were still free of both diseases. This early abortions, infertility, illustrates that following recommended practices can and a long calving season. If repeat help to avoid trich and vibrio. breeders aren’t noticed during the The diagnostic tests for vibrio and trich are not breeding season, the first sign of ideal. Culture tests using smegma samples collected these venereal diseases may be a high from the bull’s sheath are quite effective for detectpercentage of open and late cows ing trich. However, confidently concluding that a bull at pregnancy checking in fall. These does not have trich often requires three negative tests diseases are very costly in terms of a lower calving percollected a week apart, with no breeding in between. centage, lighter weaning weights, and a less uniform Vibrio is even more difficult to culture. Vibrio dies if calf crop. it dries out or is exposed too much to air, heat or cold. On rare occasions, a young breeding bull might Dead microbes don’t grow in culture, so a culture test clear a vibrio or trich infection, but most young bulls may fail to identify infected animals (this is known or bulls three to four years old or older will be infected as a false negative). Antibody tests do not work very for life. Most cows can clear a trich or vibrio infection well for vibrio either, because cattle may carry a kind within a few months, but some cows remain infected of campylobacter in their digestive tract that does not long enough to carry the disease into the next breeding cause abortion, but can produce a “false positive” season. Immunity to trich and vibrio is relatively short vibrio diagnosis. lived, so an infection or vaccination in one year may DNA-based diagnostic tests are becoming comnot protect animals in the next breeding season. mercially available. Both live and dead organisms have Treating trich or vibrio infections is generally not DNA, so these diseases can still be diagnosed even economical or effective because neither disease organwhen the microbe has died before reaching the lab. ism lives in the animal’s bloodDrs. Hendrick and Waldner stream. This makes it difficult for are now being funded by the antibiotics to reach the parasite. Beef Science Cluster to evaluFollowing recommended ate the PCR tests for vibrio and Working antibiotics into a bull’s penis three days in a row is also trich. Three hundred bulls will practices can help to not for the faint of heart. be tested for trich using both the The risk of transmitting trich or PCR and culture tests to see if avoid trich and vibrio vibrio is higher when animals from the results agree. Diluted samdifferent herds are commingled. ples containing known numbers As a result, community pasture of trich will also be prepared to groups need to allow the management team to impledetermine whether the PCR test can detect very low levment and enforce biosecurity policies that help avoid els of trich. Samples from known vibrio-infected bulls these diseases. These include testing and culling infected and unexposed bulls will be tested using culture and herd and patron bulls and accepting only virgin heifers PCR to determine how sensitive and specific the PCR and cows with a calf at foot into the pasture. test is. If vibrio is there, will the test always find it, and In the spring of 2010, Drs. Cheryl Waldner, Steve does the test only find vibrio? Hendrick and Leanne Van De Weyer at the University They are also studying whether “pooled samples” of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medcan be used to reduce lab costs. In this procedure, icine completed a study supported by Alberta Beef Proindividual samples would still be collected from all ducers. They followed cows from 40 herds that were bulls, but samples from five to ten bulls are mixed exposed to 232 mature bulls on five Saskatchewan together and tested. If the test finds no disease, the entire PFRA pastures. In response to past conception rate group would be declared clean. If the pooled sample is problems, these five pastures ensured that all mature infected, leftover material from each individual sample bulls had a satisfactory semen test, were vaccinated could be tested to determine which bull(s) from the pool against BVDV, IBR and vibrio, tested negative for (did are infected. This study will be completed in 2012. not have) trich and vibrio before the breeding season — Reynold Bergen started, and only allowed cows with a calf at foot to enter these pastures. Most (83 per cent) of these cow Reynold Bergen is the Science Director for the Beef Cattle herds had also been vaccinated against BVDV and Research Council. A portion of the National checkoff is IBR, 65 per cent were vaccinated for vibrio, and 45 per directed to the BCRC to fund research and development activities to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of cent were vaccinated against leptospirosis. At the end Canada’s beef industry. of the breeding season, 93 per cent of the cows were


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P r i m e

c u t s

by Steve Kay

A part-time industry A North American view of the meat industry. Steve Kay is publisher and editor of Cattle Buyers Weekly


iven the massive size of the U.S. beef those in Australia. Whereas the average herd industry, it’s fascinating to realize size in the U.S. is less than 50 head, the averthat its nursery consists of hundreds age herd down under is nearly 400 head. That’s of thousands of part-time operations. eight times larger on average. Australia’s largest A new report just out says that nearly 80 per cattle producer now owns more than 640,000 cent of the farms in the U.S. with beef cows had cattle and its properties spread over 18 million fewer than 50 cows in 2007. Most farms with acres. The Australian Agricultural Co. (AAC) beef cows do not specialize in cow-calf producreached this size in March when it bought tion. In most areas of the U.S., cow-calf producanother operation and its 53,000 cattle. tion is merely the residual use of land. AAC spent more than $20 million to position This revealing portrait of the U.S. beef cowitself to take advantage of even higher cattle and calf sector comes in a report by USDA’s Ecobeef prices this year due to a decline in global nomic Research Service. The report shows that cattle numbers and a continued improvement in despite consolidation in other sectors of the global beef demand. Australia and Brazil are the industry, the structure of the cow-calf sector has only two major beef–producing countries where scarcely changed since USDA conducted a previcattle numbers are expanding. One can’t help ous study of the sector in thinking about what the mid-1990s. Economies the U.S. industry will of size in beef cow-calf miss out on in the years production suggest that ahead if its cattle numWhereas the average farms have an incentive to bers don’t increase. become larger, says ERS. Given that U.S. prices herd size in the U.S. However, the significant for all cattle have set is less than 50 head, land area required for new record highs repeatlarge-scale beef cow-calf edly this year, one could the average herd down production inhibits many make the argument that producers from expandproducers here won’t under in Australia is ing, it says. “miss out” on anything. nearly 400 head The report reveals an But that’s a short sighted aspect of the sector that view of the future. Rural is both the industry’s communities from coast strength and its greatest to coast, and the overall weakness. The sector is U.S. economy, depend extremely diverse in size, geography and clion the beef industry to grow not shrink. mate. But so many operations are tiny. Nearly Growth is also vital because it will provide 765,000 farms, about 35 per cent of the 2.2 opportunities for a new generation to enter the million farms in the U.S., had a beef cow industry and offer new ideas and perspectives. inventory in 2007, says the report. Most of Watching my own three children (aged 22 to these were small, part-time operations. About 32), I know their generation is more willing to a third of farms that raise beef animals had “think out of the box” and take on more risk a beef cow inventory of fewer than 10 cows. than people my age. Young producers are likely Conversely, just two per cent of farms (those to be thorough and innovative in their approach with 500 cows or more) had 20 per cent of all to issues. The industry will need their ideas and beef cows. Also revealing is that most farms energy if it is to take full advantage of the bullwith beef cows do not specialize in beef cowish global outlook for beef. calf production. In 2008, cattle production accounted for less than 40 per cent of the averCattle Buyers Weekly covers the North American meat age farm product value on beef cow-calf farms, and livestock industry. For subscription information, says ERS. contact Steve Kay at P.O. Box 2533, Petaluma, The U.S. has some extremely large cow-calf CA 94953, or at 707-765-1725, or go to www. operations but they seem puny compared to

36 Cattlemen / May 2011


Protect your image, improve profitability Proving what we’re doing as beef producers has never been more important Brian Weedon is prepared for the day that CBC or some other mainstream media outlet drops in to see how he raises cattle on his ranch north of Swift Current, Sask. “Everything I do is written down,” he says. “I’m not hiding anything and I can prove it.” It’s an attitude that Weedon has had for many years and one of the reasons he’s a long-time participant in the Verified Beef Production (VBP) program. “Everyone is watching our industry today,” he says, “and now more than ever we have to be able to say what we do, do what we say, and prove it.” That makes sense as an industry,

Food safety records can be handwritten or computerized, as long as they capture useful information.

says Weedon, but he also believes it also makes good management sense that ultimately improves profitability for individual operators. “When a farmer buys a half-milliondollar combine, you know because of what he’s got invested in it, he’ll follow the maintenance protocol that will maximize the life of that machine. “Why would it be any different with your cattle,” he asks. “You have a herd with that much money invested in it so why wouldn’t you pay the same kind of attention to them?”

Records that work Food safety, land care and production all fit together like a jigsaw puzzle in Weedon’s mind and records, such as the ones under VBP, tie it all together. “With the VBP program, you build a running history of what’s happening on your ranch,” he says about his 360plus commercial cow-calf and retainedyearling operation. “We’re a few years into this program on our place and we have a very valuable set of records to go back to. They include herd, group and individual animal protocols.” An important part of those records is the due diligence of following label instructions and working with a veterinarian to prove you are using products as directed with food safety in mind, he says. “Our records let us look at the success or failure of our vaccination and

herd health program. We learn a lot from that and it isn’t always drug related. Sometimes it’s management, or weather related.” Proof of that success shows up in operation results. “This past year we were at about four per cent morbidity, only treated about nine head and we lost one out of 367 calves. To me a wreck would be treating 10 per cent of my calves.” Animal care is important. He’s found good cattle-handling systems make handling easier and safer, so fewer people can handle more animals. Less stress means animal health products have a better chance of doing the job intended and decreases the chances of a broken needle.

Think accountability Weedon believes most beef producers understand they have an accountability issue to deal with today and that the pressures are going to get greater. “Like any industry you have to continually improve. I compare ourselves to the auto industry. Those that didn’t adapt and keep up with all the features such as safety are gone. I can’t think of an industry that goes backwards and is still around. “People want to see rewards up front, but in my experience it takes some years to build that. Trust is earned not given. We’ve had lots of interruptions in the beef marketplace and I believe continuity of market is itself a reward.”


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r e p o r t s

by Travis Toews

Challenging times

T Travis Toews is president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association

he tight supply situation in Canada is creating challenging industry dynamics. On one hand we are encouraged by strong prices for fed cattle and cows, while on the other, packing plants feeling the pinch of reduced supplies are taking steps to control operating costs. In February, Canadian packing plants went to four-day weeks, which is clearly not a sustainable solution, as we saw recently with the closure of XL in Calgary. At the same time, rising costs for feed grains and other inputs will undoubtedly take a bite out of producer profitability, which remains under pressure from the strong Canadian dollar and lingering competitiveness issues. As we head into what most analysts consider uncharted territory in this current cattle cycle, the relevance of the CCA’s priority issues for government become increasingly important. Now is the time to address the factors contributing to a lack of competitiveness in the Canadian cattle feeding and beef processing sectors to ensure the longterm sustainability of the industry. The CCA will work with the new government to advance on these priority issues. The harmonization of regulation with the U.S. is a good place to start. In particular, the higher costs of collecting and disposing specified risk materials (SRM) in Canada compared with the U.S. has created a competitive disadvantage for Canadian packers and producers that reduces profitability and encourages live cattle exports to the U.S. Harmonization is needed around SRM use as well, and we continue to ask that Canada remove the prohibition on using SRM meat and bone meal as fertilizer as a way to restore value for the SRMs. The U.S. mandatory country-of-origin labelling (COOL) requirement to label meat with the country where the animal was born has resulted in discrimination against Canadian livestock. A WTO decision on COOL is expected soon, which hopefully will move the issue toward a resolution. The full restoration of access for beef products from cattle of all ages to top-priority markets is crucial. Economically viable access to premium markets to increase the value of all of the products that we harvest from each animal is an important mechanism to improving competitiveness. Research focused on improved productivity, increasing feed production and enhancing quality and safety will be integral to ensuring the competitiveness of the cattle and beef sector into the future. Several other recommendations are made with respect to cross border regulatory co-operation, the impact of government biofuel policies on the competitiveness of cattle producers and environmental sustainability.

38 Cattlemen / May 2011

Having these issues addressed would go some distance in creating the environment where producers expand their herds, which is crucial to the long-term sustainability of our industry. Statistics Canada’s Jan. 1 inventory numbers show that beef cow inventories across Canada continued to drop. Many provinces reported the smallest numbers in a decade and in some instances numbers near or at record lows. Poor profitability in recent years, combined with strong cow prices, have encouraged marketings, especially among older cows. Although the inventory numbers show a small increase in the number of heifers expected to calve this spring, current bred heifer inventories are at a 20-year low. This means the supply will have to increase substantially, along with reduced cow marketings, before an increase in beef cow inventories can be realized. In short, it will take several years before an expansion in the Canadian herd is seen. Reductions in herd inventories are occurring in beef cattle producing countries around the world, and with that trend, global beef supplies will continue to tighten. In North America, the supply shortfall will continue to impact packing plants, particularly those with a focus on cow slaughter like the XL plant. U.S. research indicates that packing plants need to operate at 90 per cent utilization or higher to be efficient, with per unit costs increasing rapidly below that level. In the first quarter of 2011, Canadian federally inspected slaughter declined 9.7 per cent to 54,000 head per week compared with the year earlier period. This resulted in plant utilization rates falling to 71 per cent in the first quarter 2011 from 82 per cent in 2010. This situation is particularly acute in cow slaughter which is down 15 per cent this year and down 21 per cent in Western Canada. The current situation behooves businesses to take aggressive steps to increase efficiencies. A larger plant only makes sense if it is operating close to capacity in order to reduce the average cost per head. Of course, as cattle supplies fluctuate throughout the cattle cycle, utilization levels and per unit costs will fluctuate as well. As Canada enters a period of small supplies in the cattle cycle, per unit costs will increase. It remains to be seen how Canadian packers will stay competitive in a North American industry that is characterized by overcapacity as a whole. I believe the next few years hold tremendous potential for Canadian cattle producers. With the goal of maximizing this industry opportunity, the CCA will continue to push its priority issues to ensure the competitiveness of the Canadian cattle and beef processing sectors.


Starting a new season and a new endeavour


ell it’s finally upon us — spring! Although it took until April to get a reprieve from winter, the fields and pastures around our place now look more like the Everglades. It’s a welcome sight after the drought we had last summer. April reminds me of the calm before the storm. There is always so much to do and every year I make a resolution that I will make summer slow down. So this year I will do my damnedest to make that happen. Not only do we have the ranch to run, and four kids to keep us hopping, our branded beef program has also grown steadily, with more cattle to organize on feed and for slaughter. It means dealing with more customers and instead of a two-hour time difference when dealing with buyers in Ontario or Quebec or one hour in B.C., it becomes upwards of 12 hours difference when calling customers in Europe, Dubai or Hong Kong. The rise in cattle prices over the last six months has many people retreating from their efforts to build independent branded beef programs. I guess that’s the nature of the beast. Building a branded beef program takes dedication and commitment to see it through. In our case it means learning how to sell everything from the cheeks to the oxtails. You can’t quit when you are 100 metres from the finish line. Although I have come to realize that there never really is a finish line when selling beef. Looking after customers and balancing the sale of everything that comes off a carcass is a never-ending job. But with time it becomes second nature and does not seem as tough as it once did. You’re not just selling beef but selling the story — better known as marketing. My attitude is I am not just selling beef raised without hormones or antibiotics. I am selling integrity, eating quality, taste and a product that will differentiate a chef’s restaurant or a retailer’s counter. To create a value chain I have to make sure that all the players from the ranch to the feedlot, to the packer, distributor and end user make a fair return and make sure that end user is willing to come back and buy the product again. I have always been open to technology however I was somewhat apprehensive about all the social media that the world is going gaga over. It seems it’s all about Facebook friends, Twitter this and YouTube that. If this keeps up people are going to forget how to use their mouths, which have served as a very good communication tool for the past two million years. Needless to say these new technologies have also become a huge cost saver in marketing and branding products. Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce and buy commercials a good BlackBerry, an Internet link and

website will get you just as much impact. The Internet has levelled the playing field between the multinationals and small upstarts. It is an unbelievable medium in terms of reaching out to the masses that buy the products that our ranchers work so hard at producing. However making it work takes time. Erika and I get a lot of people asking how we find time for everything that we do. My answer is that we all have 24 hours in a day and we all have choices in how we fill them. The first no-brainer was to give up television. The second was discovering Pareto’s Rule of the 80:20 which states 80 per cent of your time is spent doing things that contribute only 20 per cent to your bottom line, while there are things that take only 20 per cent of your time and contribute a whopping 80 per cent to your bottom line. Once you discover this it’s about eliminating, delegating, co-operating and procrastinating on the activities that don’t make sense. A good example is when you calve 400 cows in the winter and it’s a full-time job for a family and a hired hand. Calve in May and it’s still a job but there is lots of time to get other things done. I have either been writing for CANADIAN CATTLEMEN or GRAINEWS for close to seven years since my early retirement from government. It’s been fun and it was always great to get the feedback from readers and to hear that some of my whacked out ideas got them thinking differently. Over the winter I always seem to have a bit more time and so I told Erika last fall that this would be my last season of writing my column and once the first goose lands that would be it. Well the geese arrived 10 days ago and so this is it. My writing focus will now be directed towards our beef customers, the urban populace who suffer from nature-deficit disorder and are fascinated about knowing the story about where their food comes from and the people behind it. At month’s end we will relaunch our new Heritage Angus website and with it will come my blog, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube entries to make it work as a marketing medium. This will take time so I have to give up one thing in order to make up for the other. It’s been great writing for you all and I hope that my ideas have made you think a little differently. If you feel you want to read some crazy thoughts I invite you to our new website and as always all the writings can be found on our own website. All the best and enjoy the spring and the new found prosperity in the beef business. — Dr. Christoph Weder Dr. Christoph E. Weder is a purebred Angus breeder in the Peace region of Alberta and also runs SVR Ranch Consulting. He is also a founding member of Prairie Heritage Beef Producers. For additional info check out


NEWS ROUNDUP GRAZING MANAGEMENT, NOT THE GRAZING SYSTEM, MAKES THE DIFFERENCE ON RANGE An extensive review of the research on grazing systems on native prairie rangeland over the past six decades has created some angst between research scientists and land managers. The science is decisive, says study co-author Dr. Justin Derner who works at the USDA Agricultural Research Service Range Resource Research Unit in Cheyenne, Wyoming. In 85 to 95 per cent of the studies grazing systems alone had little or no impact on animal performance and forage production on range pastures. In many cases conventional grazing produced better results than rotational grazing. Stocking rate and weather explained most of the variation on these rangeland pastures, yet time and time again producers attest to the benefits of rotational grazing. One large study compared conventional and rotational grazing from 1982 to 2006 on northern mixed-grass prairie near Cheyenne. Typically, the area receives 15 inches of precipitation a year, producing an average 1,380 pounds of forage per acre in a 130-day growing season. Continuous and rotationally grazed pastures were stocked at a moderate rate of 7.5 acres per steer and a heavy rate of 5.5 acres per steer. None of the pastures were grazed during the four drought years that occurred during the study. “There was no evidence that any one grazing system produced more vegetation than another and little difference between grazing systems for livestock production,” Derner says. Moisture had the biggest impact on forage production and stocking rate on beef production. Wet or dry, conventional or rotational, gains were always less with the higher stocking rate. Why the disconnect between what the science says and what producers are seeing? It’s no surprise, says Derner. He believes the difference is you — a grazing system isn’t the same thing as grazing management. Scientific studies are designed to remove as much variability as possible. So stocking rates and rotations are fixed, so they can 40 CATTLEMEN / MAY 2011

be fairly compared, which tends to remove the benefits of an experienced manager who will adjust stocking rates and grazing times to suit the weather and what he sees in the pastures. The bottom line is conventional grazing using moderate stocking rates on native prairie pastures won’t harm forage production or animal performance. However, you may be able to improve on both with managed grazing. If you have tame pastures, particularly when there’s not much diversity in the mix, go with a rotational system,” he says. It takes a manager to match up the demand to the forage available while keeping the plants in a vegetative stage and the experience to know which forage to stockpile for early or late-season grazing. Derner is one of the authors of a new book coming out in June that summarizes the scientific literature on primary conservation practices implemented on U.S. rangelands. It’s based on the findings of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project led by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

PACKING MOBILE ABATTOIR FOR SALE Olds College is selling its 53-foot self-contained mobile meat abattoir trailer built during a four-year research project to investigate the practicalities of mobile slaughter in Alberta. The project received about $1 million in federal and provincial funding. Purchase proposals were due at the beginning of May. A report on the project released by Alberta Agriculture in February gave a mixed review on the feasibility of multi-location abattoirs (MLAs). The mobile plant was designed in Alberta but built by TriVan Truck Body of Ferndale, Washington. Starting in January 2008 it was outfitted to obtain an operating licence from Alberta Meat Inspection and a full set of HACCP-based operating procedures within a mobile environment. Slaughter test operations were carried out between April and November 2008. A total of 154 head of cattle, hogs, sheep, bison and deer were

slaughtered at 11 different locations. Field testing showed it could produce expected meat quality without any major problems. A bigger challenge was coming up with connections to stationary plants for cutting and processing services and possibly final cooling, freezing and storage of the meat at different locations. It may be an MLA would be best suited to a different supply chain, one that involves freezing the meat. The report suggested the most promising business opportunities lie in responding to a growing niche demand, mostly in cities, for naturally raised and traditionally processed meats. “This project connects to a much larger and wider opportunity for livestock producers and processors to take advantage of the growing demand in the budding local food economy. These can be further developed through government and industry initiatives assisted with support of public organizations.”

HEALTH VACCINATION IS ANIMAL HEALTH INSURANCE Vaccination of a cattle herd is like fire insurance, says Steve Hendrick, veterinarian and assistant professor at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon. “When disaster strikes it’s always good to be protected.” In the same way Hendrick says a prebreeding vaccination strategy is important for maximizing reproductive performance and minimizing calf losses. Blackleg or clostridial vaccines (7or 8-way) are a mainstay in Western Canada because these diseases are common and the vaccines are cheap and effective. The clostridial bacteria survive in the soil for many years as spores and grazing animals are continuously exposed. Calves, often your biggest and best, are most commonly affected. Calves are best vaccinated at branding or just before turnout to summer pasture. Replacement heifers are commonly given a dose of blackleg vaccine just prior to turnout to breeding as a yearling. Cows and bulls are much less susceptible to developing clostridial diseases, but it is advisable to booster either annually or every couple of years. Boostering blackleg

vaccines at the time of scours vaccination should help enrich the colostrum and may better protect the young calf. Another concern is Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD). This virus causes abortion, infertility, birth defects, pneumonia, scours, and death. BVD is maintained in beef herds through persistently infected (PI) calves. These PI calves are created when an unprotected cow is infected with BVD during the first trimester of pregnancy. They are lifelong carriers that continuously shed large amounts of BVD through their manure, saliva, and skin. Vaccination of the cow herd, biosecurity measures and testing and removal of PI calves are the best way to eliminate BVD from your herd. In terms of vaccination, the use of a modified-live vaccine prior to breeding is the best way to ensure maximum protection in

your cows and the least risk of developing future PI calves. Vaccinate bulls at the same time because BVD can be passed in semen. Other optional pre-breeding vaccines to consider include vibrio, lepto and anthrax. More information on these three diseases is found elsewhere in this issue.

health Prevent Grass Tetany Cattlemen with livestock on grass pastures in April and May should be aware of the possibility of grass tetany, says Ohio extension educator, Rory Lewandowski. Grass tetany, sometimes called grass staggers, is brought on by low

blood magnesium (Mg) levels in the affected animal. Magnesium is one of the macro minerals required by cattle and it is involved in crucial metabolic functions such as the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contraction. About 70 per cent of the total body content of magnesium is stored in bones and teeth and adequate blood levels of magnesium are dependent upon daily magnesium intake. Lush, rapidly growing forages, especially grass species, tend to be low in magnesium. High soil potassium levels have a negative effect on soil Mg uptake by plants. Many soils tend to be low in magnesium to begin with and under cool, wet conditions rapidly growing grass plants will absorb excess potassium before magnesium. This Continued on page 42

Cattlemen / May 2011 41

News Roundup Continued from page 41

leads to lower Mg content in those plants. Pastures fertilized with nitrogen in the spring can also be a contributing factor because nitrogen increases grass growth and may limit soil Mg availability. A cow’s requirement for magnesium increases after calving. Cows with nursing calves that are under four months of age are at greatest risk for grass tetany when grazing lush, rapidly growing grass pastures. Steers, heifers, dry cows and cows with calves over four months in age are all at lower risk for it. In general, mature animals are more at risk than young animals because mature animals are not able to mobilize Mg from bones like a young animal when blood Mg levels drop. The first signs are restlessness, nervousness and flighty behaviour. There may be twitching of the skin and muscles that progress to muscle spasms and convulsions. The affected animal may exhibit loss of co-ordination and

stagger around. Eventually the animal will collapse, lie on her side and paddle with her front legs. Death occurs as a result of respiratory failure during a seizure. Although the symptoms are known, many cattle owners find a dead animal before observing symptoms because the interval between the first symptoms and death can be as short as four to eight hours. If symptoms are detected treatment involves administering supplemental magnesium, either intravenously as a calcium magnesium gluconate solution or as an enema with solution of magnesium chloride dissolved in water. The best way of dealing with grass tetany is through prevention. Highrisk animals grazing lush, rapidly growing grass pastures should receive supplemental magnesium. Generally this is done in a mineral mix, using magnesium oxide or magnesium sulfate. Cattlemen should switch to highmagnesium-content mineral mix in the spring of the year. Magnesium oxide is fairly unpalatable and is typically mixed with grain or a flavouring agent like molasses to entice free-choice consumption. Another strategy is to add magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) to the water tanks.

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In response to shrinking cow numbers beef packer XL Foods is shutting down its processing and fabrication operations in Calgary this month until this fall at the earliest, and its plant in Nampa, Idaho indefinitely. In a statement the company blamed the shutdown of the Calgary cattle plant, the fourth largest in Canada with a weekly processing capacity of 5,000 head, on “the significant decrease in the western Canadian cow herd” and “challenging competitive conditions in the Canadian marketplace” which created a situation where XL could no longer effectively operate these facilities at or near capacity. XL, however, said there’s a “possibility” that operations at the Calgary plants could resume this fall “when mature cattle numbers are historically more plentiful.” In the meantime, the company says it will continue to be an aggressive purchaser in the fed and mature cattle

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market to supply its remaining plants in Brooks, Alta., and Omaha, Neb. The XL Four Star Beef facility at Nampa, west of Boise, is to halt production at the beginning of June. “The economics of operating the facility, combined with the capital requirements of a plant of this age make it unfeasible to operate,” company co-CEO Brian Nilsson said in the release. According to press reports, the Nampa plant is about 85 years old. Brooks is only about 175 kilometres from Calgary whereas the Omaha plant is about 2,000 kilometres east of Nampa. XL’s moves follow its decision in August last year to permanently close its beef plant at Moose Jaw, Sask., after a summer-long layoff of all the plant’s staff in 2009. Labour contract talks stalled and a lockout of the plant’s unionized staff followed, lasting until the plant’s closure. XL also cited cattle market conditions as a reason for the Moose Jaw closure. Labour issues are also far from settled at XL’s Brooks facility, which XL bought from Tyson Foods in 2009. United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada) Local 401, which represents the plant’s unionized staff, said the company’s last offer for a new contract is “nowhere close to where it should be,” and advised the Brooks workers to “still prepare for a strike.” The Brooks plant in February picked up $1.6 million in federal funding toward upgrades to its trim sorting and ground beef lines, which would double the plant’s beef-grinding capacity. XL’s owner, cattle-feeding and marketing firm Nilsson Bros., entered the packing business in the late 1990s by buying Edmonton Meat Packing and XL Foods. It took over the Moose Jaw plant from the Saskatchewan government in 2000 and bought the Omaha

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◆ Well, the Oldtimers are back. Can anyone tell me anything about the picture, the year or occasion, or the individuals in it? It is over 30 years old. ◆ The Cattlemen’s Young Lead-

ers (CYL) Development Program has selected its 2011 national mentorship recipients. The 2011 CYL candidates will be paired with a mentor for an eight-month mentorship in the CYL program. The sixteen 2011 CYL mentorship recipients are: Jeff Braisher and Haley Rutherford (British Columbia); Ellen Hondl, Mark Lyseng, Kelsey Brandon, Becky Fenton, Lindsay


By Jerry Palen

Smith, Virgil Lowe, Christy Goldhawk (Alberta); Allison Porter, Tara Mulhern Davidson, Sarah Anderson, Sheldon Kyle, Ryan Beierbach (Saskatchewan); Cody Krentz (Manitoba); and Amanda Rosborough (Ontario). CYL Chairman Brad Wildeman congratulated the 2011 mentorship recipients and thanked all 24 finalists for participating in the selection process, held last month in Edmonton. All told, the 2011 CYL program attracted 50 applicants from across Canada. Launched by the CCA in 2010, the CYL program provides industryspecific training and mentorship to assist aspiring future industry leaders. Foundation partners are Cargill, Alberta Livestock Meat Agency and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. Canadian Cattlemen magazine is an official supporter of the program.

◆ The T Bar Invitational Golf Tour-

nament was created to have a positive impact on junior breeders. Since 2008, the tournament has raised over $100,000 for seven National junior breed associations representing over 2,000 members. In 2011, 10 per cent of the proceeds will once again be donated to the Canadian Western Agribition Junior Beef Extreme for the development and awareness of youth in the beef sector. The folks at T Bar have put out an open invitation to join them June 21-22 at the Dakota Dunes Golf Links, near Saskatoon at the 4th Annual T Bar Invitational Golf Tournament. For details go to

◆The Canadian Limousin Association has the 2011 CLA members directory online at Members who want a printed copy can contact the Calgary head office at 403-2537309.

“You want the medical term or just the dollar amount?” 44 Cattlemen / May 2011

◆ The Ontario Limousin Association will host the 2011 National Junior Conference Aug. 19-21 in Orangeville. The program, entry form and other information are posted on the CLA website on the Junior page at www. The CJLA board has put up $1,000 toward travel costs for juniors outside of Ontario who want to attend. Apply to Cameron Olson prior to the event by email (horizonlimousin@ The maximum assistance

is $200 per person depending how far they have to travel.

◆ Four Junior Limousin scholarships

are available again this year. To be considered submit a one-page essay describing your involvement with the Limousin breed to Mary Hertz at rhertz@eidnet. org, fax 403-378-395, Box 480 Duchess, Alta. T0J 0Z0. The deadline is Oct. 1. You must be a junior member of the Limousin breed and 15 or older as of January 1, 2011. Juniors are eligible to receive the award more than once.

◆ The Canadian Simmental Association is accepting nominations for its annual Hall of Fame Award. Information about the awards and nomination forms can be found at The deadline for nominations is September 1, 2011. ◆ The Canadian Hereford Association has introduced a group insurance program for members. For more information visit www.hereford,ca, go to Quick Links and click on RanchPlan. ◆ The Canadian Angus Association

(CAA) is now auctioning a package of four embryos online to raise money for the activities of the Canadian Junior

sales Harvie Ranch Sale Olds, Alta., March 28, 2011 2 21 21 1 8 53

Charolais 2-year old, av. $4,250 Yearlings, av. $3,852 Hereford yearlings, av. $4,185 Simmental 2-year old, av. $2,300 Yearlings, av $2,800 Total, av. $3,811

Peak Dot Angus Bull Sale Wood Mountain, Sask., April 6, 2011 70 88 158 50

Older bulls, av. $4,215 Yearling bulls, av. $5,720 Total bulls, av. $5,053 Open females, av. 4,096

Summit 3 Speckle Park Sale Edmonton, Alta., April 2, 2011 18 6 3 20

Bulls, av. $4,286 Heifers, av. $8,275 Flushes, av. $4,400 Embryos, av. $1,017

33rd Annual Short Grass Bull and Female Sale Aneroid, Sask., April 16, 2011 164 Bulls, av. $4,603 19 Registered heifers, av. $3,620 301 Commerical heifers, av. $1,101


Angus Association through the Canadian Angus Foundation. The embryos are from Argentina but the donor dam Black Princess 8796 Eraline and service sire Black Prince 10789 Argentino have been imported into the Canadian Angus Association herdbook so any resulting calves can be registered in Canada. Angus breeders have until May 31 to place a bid. Details are found on the CAA website: www. Rob Smith, who becomes CEO of the CAA on July 1, along with president Kirk Wildman and assistant general manager Michael Latimer, are offering to shave their hair as part of a Baldy Fundraiser with the proceeds split between the Canadian Angus Foundation and the Kids with Cancer Society. The “winner” who raises the most money will have his head shaved at the CAA annual meeting at the Elkhorn Resort in Manitoba June 9-11. Details can be found on the web at Last fall, the Canadian Angus Association donated a number of artifacts to the Glenbow Museum and Archives in Calgary which have now been cat-

June 15 - 17, 2011

alogued and added to the museum’s archive collection.

◆ Marty Seymour is the new CEO and general manager of the Canadian Western Agribition, replacing Jason Pollock. Seymour was raised on a mixed commercial cow-calf operation near Carnduff, Sask., and is a graduate of University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelors Degree in Agriculture. His professional career has been in marketing and business development in the feed and food industry. He took over the new post on May 1. ◆ Grant Moffat Herd Builder Awards will be available again this year thanks to some fundraising efforts by breeders and the Manitoba Beef Producers. The award provides up to $2,000 to a Manitoba young person to purchase a registered heifer calf from a breed of their choice. Selections are based on need and the interest of the applicant in starting a purebred cattle herd. The application deadline is Sept. 1, 2011. You can apply or make a donation online at index.htm. Nine junior breed members

Evraz Place, Regina, SK, Canada

have bought heifers in the first three years of the award. The original funds were raised to help find Grant after he mysteriously went missing on August 18, 2006. He has never been found so the decision was made to channel the funds toward helping Manitoba youth get started in the purebred business. Grant was an active Charolais breeder, photographer, newsletter editor, youth supporter, and agricultural journalist.

◆ The Grant Moffat Fund also sup-

ports showmanship awards at the Manitoba Livestock Expo All Breeds Junior Show, the Ambassador Award at the Canadian Charolais Youth Conference and Show and the Manitoba All Breeds Beef Roundup Youth Show. Entry deadline for the Roundup is July 10. More information and applications are available at www.mbangus or by calling Lois McRae 204-728-3058 or Lesley Hedley 204-826-2765.

◆ The Canadian Simmental Association’s ultrasound rebate program still has some funds available to encourage Continued on page 46

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long-time Maine-Anjou exhibitor at Agribition, and served for three years on the CWA board of directors prior to being elected to the executive committee in 2005. Joining Hadland are: first vice-president Reed Andrew, Regina; second vice-president: Stewart Stone, Regina; executive at large, Dr. Grant Royan, Regina; Tim Wiens, Regina and past president Marilyn Charlton, Weyburn, Sask. Directors elected for two-year terms are: Bruce Holmquist, Kinistino, Sask; Ross Macdonald, Lake Alma, Sask; Arnold Manske, Coronach, Sask; Barry Young, Carievale, Sask; Curtis Kuchinka, Regina; Bob Jackson, Sylvania, Sask; and Lyle Benko, Regina. They join remaining directors Terry Bedard, Craven, Sask; Bryan Hadland, Weldon, Sask; Kim MacDougall, Regina, Sask and John Simpson, Theodore, Sask.

Continued from page 45

the collection of ultrasound data for the genetic evaluation of Canadian Simmental cattle. A rebate of $10 is applied to the member’s CSA account for each scan record that ranks/indexes. In order to qualify, records must be collected on animals between 300 and 440 days of age by a UGC certified technician and laboratory. In most cases this requires the animals to be clipped. The program remains in effect until June 30, 2012. For details contact the CSA at tollfree: 1-866-860-6051.

◆ The Canadian Western Agribition (CWA) introduced a new leadership team at its annual meeting in early April with the election of a new executive headed by president Bryan Hadland of Weldon, Sask. Hadland was a

Bull Sale Results Average price


Association is looking for host farms to participate in a pilot national mentorship program. Anyone interested in hosting a YCSA member in a summer work program for two weeks should contact Emily Grey by email ( The idea is to give Juniors a chance to make contacts and gain experience within the Simmental industry in different parts of the country. C

Vermilion, Alta. — March 26

Number of lots sold

Douglas, Man. — April 2

◆ The Young Canadian Simmental

Lakeland College Bull Station Sale

Douglas Bull Test Station Sale Number of lots sold

The Regina-based livestock show reported a loss of $204,769 in 2010 despite record revenues of $3.1 million. Auction sales totalled $1,947,548 but attendance to the six-day event was down about 11,000 from the five-year average. As a result of the shortfall the board decided to drop the spring steer and heifer show.

Average price








Black Angus







Red Angus










Blonde d’Aquitaine


































Speckle Park



































Pick Of The Crop Bull Sale Listowel, Ont. — March 26

Number of lots sold


Average price

Maritime Beef Testing Society Annual Bull Sale Nappan, N.S. — April 2

Number of lots sold







Average price 2011



































Red Angus















































The markets

Market Summary debbie mcmillin Fed cattle In the past month fed cattle prices reached the highest level since 2003 in response to extremely high live cattle futures, tight front-end supplies and good demand for beef heading into barbeque season. Alberta fed steers averaged $115.56 at the start of April, up $22.85 from last April and 19 per cent from the start of the year. By midApril steers had lost $4.57, to $110.99 per cwt. The fed cash to cash basis narrowed again to -2.34 at the start of April and widened to -6.01 by mid month as Alberta fed steers lost ground to U.S. prices. That marked the first time in 2011 that the fed basis was wider than last year. Year to date the 2011 fed basis is -3.68 per cwt compared to -9.16 in 2010 and -11.35 in 2009. U.S. exports of fed cattle were down 36 per cent in the first quarter at 124,529 head and domestic steer slaughter slipped nine per cent to 562,107 head. The Alberta and Saskatchewan April 1 inventory of cattle on feed at 997,901 head was down four per cent from 2010. March marketings were down 26 per cent at 125,842 head, the smallest they’ve been since the report first started in 2000. This confirms the current tight front-end supply situation in Canada. March placements were also down, by 13 per cent at 195,719 head. Lower placements have been posted every month through the entire first quarter of 2011.

Feeder cattle Heavier feeder cattle prices maintained their steady trading range with 850-weight Alberta steers going for $119 to $121 since the first week of February. The mid-March to

April average of $121.05 is $25.82 per cwt higher than the same weeks in 2010. The 850-pound feeder basis was -6.64 per cwt in the first quarter of 2011 compared to -10.40 in 2010 and -19.54 in 2009 and is narrower than in the pre-BSE years. By midApril it was holding at -6.59 per cwt. Lightweight 550-grasser calves eased back slightly to $152.62 in mid April, after rallying to $158.20 in March. This is still an improvement over last year by $33.74. Smaller numbers of available cattle as well as muddy pen conditions in areas where winter storms rolled through maintained some pressure on this market. 2011 has also brought with it some renewed interest in replacement females. Rising markets generally trigger some interest in herd expansion. This trend was confirmed by the April 1 Canfax cattle on feed report that showed a 28 per cent reduction in females placed on feed in March. Feeder cattle exports in the first three months of the year were down 46 per cent from a year ago.

Non-Fed Cattle The decline in slaughter cow numbers limits the grinding and trim meats available to meet the current strong demand. As a result cow prices are the highest they’ve been since the summer of 2001. Canadian cow slaughter totalled 132,361 head in the first three months of the year, down 15 per cent nationally from last year and 21 per cent in the west. D1,2 prices averaged $80.45 per cwt in mid-April which is $24.54 better than the same week in 2010 and a 39 per cent improvement since the start of the year. Increased prices continue to bring more bulls to market as producers encouraged by the good salvage values are choosing to replace a number of older herd bulls. Bull slaughter was up 15 per cent in the first quarter, more than double the slaughter in 2009. Butcher bull prices in mid-April ranged from $75 to $98 per cwt. Exports of cull cattle to the U.S. in the first quarter were down 29 per cent at 53,627 head due to the smaller available supplies and the high Canadian dollar.

Deb’s Outlook Fed Cattle We are closing in on a time of seasonal spring highs, however one could argue the highs for this season have already been passed onto consumers who are facing higher gas prices and have fewer dollars to spend. The Canadian dollar at levels not seen since 2007 still weighs on the market. However, Canadian cutout prices continue to climb, spurred on by buyers looking to fill spring needs from small supplies of market ready cattle.

Feeder Cattle While stormy conditions have slowed the market in recent weeks the heavy wet snow will continue to spark interest in grass cattle while we wait for pastures to start turning green. The seasonal trend for both light and heavy feeders is for price improvement through the second and third quarter. The basis generally improves in the same period. Risk factors ahead in an already strong market are live cattle futures moving forward as well as seeding intentions, planting conditions and early crop reports.

Non-Fed Cattle S e a s o n a l l y p r i c e s g e n e rally increase with the arrival of barbeque season in the second quarter of the year. Falling cow numbers are being supplemented with increased supplies from the fed cattle market to fill some of the demand for lean ground beef while pushing retail costs higher. This combination of seasonal demand and lower numbers will support steady to stronger cow and bull prices in the coming months.

— Debbie McMillin Debbie McMillin is a market analyst who ranches at Hanna, Alta.

More markets➤ Cattlemen / may 2011 47

Break-even Prices on A-Grade Steers 115



105 95 85 75

Market Prices


140 130

western Market Summary

120 110

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec











75 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec



Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec



Canfax weighted average price on A-Grade steers

Steer Calves (500-600 lb.)

D1,2 Cows Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Ontario 2010 Market Ontario prices based on a 50/50 east/west mix Summary O ntario



A lberta

Break-even price


for steers on date sold



Kevin Grier2010

Market Summary (to April 9)

April 2011 prices* Alber ta Yearling steers (850 lb.)............... $121.11/cwt Barley................................................. 4.33/bu. Barley silage..................................... 54.13/ton Cost of gain (feed)........................... 58.19/cwt Cost of gain (all costs)..................... 82.03/cwt Fed steers...................................... 111.53/cwt Break-even (August 2011)............. 107.10/cwt Ontario Yearling steers (850 lb.)............... $123.51/cwt Corn silage....................................... 54.16/ton Grain corn........................................... 6.52/bu. Cost of gain (feed)........................... 96.95/cwt Cost of gain (all costs)................... 121.82/cwt Fed steers...................................... 107.81/cwt Break-even (October 2011)............ 122.81/cwt *Mid-month to mid-month prices Breakevens East: end wt 1,450, 183 days West end wt 1,325 lb., 125 days

48 Cattlemen / may 2011

2011 Total Canadian federally inspected slaughter................ 752,213 Average steer carcass weight............................................ 854 lb. Total U.S. slaughter.......................................................9,583,000

2010 830,554 869 lb. 9,541,000

Trade Summary EXPORTS 2011 Fed cattle to U.S. (to April 2).......................................... 124,471 Feeder cattle and calves to U.S. (to April 2).................... 27,659 Dressed beef to U.S. (to February)......................... 82.81 mil.lbs Total dressed beef (to February)........................... 110.96 mil.lbs

2010 195,862 50,837 108.73 mil.lbs 141.26 mil.lbs

IMPORTS 2011 Slaughter cattle from U.S. (to February) ................................... 0 *Dressed beef from U.S. (to February)................... 48.92 mil.lbs *Dressed beef from Australia (to February)............... 1.67 mil.lbs *Dressed beef from New Zealand (to February)......... 10.32 mil.lbs *Dressed beef from Uruguay (to February).............. 1.51 mil.lbs

2010 0 43.54 mil.lbs 5.03 mil.lbs 7.08 mil.lbs 9.87 mil.lbs

Canadian Grades (to April 16) % of A grades AAA AA A Prime Total EAST WEST

+59% 20.8 25.8 2.0 0.2 48.8 Total graded 164,061 550,393

Yield â&#x20AC;&#x201C;53% Total 11.8 56.7 2.6 39.0 0.0 2.1 0.6 1.3 15.0 Total A grade 99.1% Total ungraded % carcass basis 52,933 74.1% 41,545 61.0%

54-58% 24.1 10.6 0.1 0.5 35.3

Only federally inspected plants

market talk with Gerald Klassen

Corn stocks look tight for 2011-12


’ve had many inquiries over the past month in regards to the corn outlook for 2011-12 crop year. The USDA March 31 seeding intentions survey had 2011 corn acres at 92.2 million which would be one of the largest acreages on record. Despite the larger plantings, the corn market has made new record highs and it doesn’t look like the trend is over just yet. The corn market has a strong influence on the price of imported DDGS from the U.S. When Western Canada has a normal-quality wheat crop, barley prices also move in line with corn values. The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of corn and the fundamentals influence the world feed grain complex as wheat also moves into feed channels when priced appropriately. U.S. feeder cattle price are also priced according to corn in the feedlot margin structure. Therefore, it is important that Canadian cow-calf producers and feedlot operators have a good idea of the U.S. corn outlook. The 2010-11 corn carryout is expected to finish near 675 million bushels. While the March 31 stocks figure came in below expectations, the USDA did not lower the expected carryout on the April report. This implies that demand rationing will take place in the last quarter of the crop year. At this time, feedlot operators are experiencing favourable margins and ethanol production is running ahead of schedule. Export sales also remain strong so the question remains, at what price will the market start rationing demand? Usually, the market has to trade at a premium to HRW wheat to encourage wheat feeding in the U.S. southern Plains. The problem is that Kansas, Texas and parts of Oklahoma are extremely dry and HRW production will be down from earlier expectations. Feed demand will slow later in the crop year as cattle on feed numbers decline which will likely result in lower feed demand during the summer. Looking at 2011-12, corn acres are expected to reach 92.2 million acres. It is important to note that the expan-

U.S. corn supply and demand Acres seeded Acres harvested Yield (bu./ac.) SUPPLY (million bushels) Opening stocks Aug. 1 Production Imports TOTAL SUPPLY USE (million bushels) Feed-waste-dockage Feed seed industrial Ethanol Domestic demand Exports TOTAL USE TOTAL CARRY-OVER Source: USDA

08/09 09/10 86.0 86.5 78.6 79.6 153.9 164.7

5-year average 84.5 77.3 154.5

Estimate Estimate 10/11 11/12 88.2 92.2 81.4 85.1 152.8 159.0

1,624 12,101 14 13,739

1,674 13,110 8 14,793

1,607 28,624 12 13,581

1,708 12,447 20 14,175

675 13,531 20 14,226

5,231 4,976 3,700 10,207 1,858 12,065 1,674

5,167 5,930 4,560 11,097 1,987 13,084 1,708

5,718 4,067 2,717 9,785 2,060 11,844 1,732

5,150 6,400 5,000 11,550 1,950 13,500 675

5.120 6,500 5,100 11,620 2,150 13,770 456

sion in acreage is coming in the west and south, which is not prime corn-growing area. Last August, when Russia banned exports of cereal grains, the wheat market skyrocketed causing U.S. farmers in the Midwest to increase soft red winter wheat acres by 40 per cent. This is prime corn-growing area where higher yields are achieved. We saw limited acreage expansion in the Midwest on the USDA acreage report. Using a USDA trend yield of 162 bushels per acre, production has potential to reach 13.8 billion bushels. It is important to realize that this trend yield is the second-highest yield on record. Achieving this yield is a very low probability because the acreage expansion is not in the prime corn-growing region. At the time of writing this article, later seeding would also result in lower projected yields. Therefore, realistically, one can only cautiously assume 159 bushel-per acre national average resulting in production of 13.5 billion bushels. The demand equation continues to grow. Hog inventories are expanding and U.S. cattle on feed numbers will be similar to last year. Ethanol production continues to grow and export demand will also marginally improve. Most analysts are projecting a two to four per cent increase in corn demand for 2011-12. This will result in an ending stocks number under 500 million bushels, which is actually lower than the current crop year. Corn supplies will be tighter in the next crop year which will keep the market trading near historical highs. There are a few other factors to consider. First, the Russian export ban may not be totally lifted or export quotas will allow a certain amount of grain onto the world market. However, it is important to note that food inflation is a problem and despite larger wheat production in 2011, Ukraine and Russia may not lift the export ban totally to keep domestic prices at 2010 levels. U.S. hard red winter wheat production will be down from last year causing stocks to drop to historically low levels. Don’t count on excessive feeding of hard red winter wheat limiting the substitution effect on corn. Investment money flow continues to move into CBOT corn where open interest has consistently exceeded that of NYMEX crude oil. Pension funds, Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes now count on corn as a prime investment vehicle with similar risk/reward scenario to equity markets. Look for the speculative trade influence to increase, not decrease in the upcoming crop year. Any threat to yield potential could cause futures to rally up to $9 or $10 per bushel. Feedlot operators may want to look at buying some out of the money call options on the new crop corn futures. Also, if Canada has a normal wheat crop where 80 per cent is milling quality, barley prices could also move to historical highs rallying $50 to $80 per mt from current levels resulting in a similar price structure to the corn market. Gerald Klassen analyzes markets in Winnipeg and also maintains an interest in the family feedlot in Southern Alberta. He can be reached at or 204-287-8268. Cattlemen / May 2011 49

SALES AND EVENTS 27-29—4-H On Parade, Stampede Park, Calgary, Alta. 28—Canadian South Devon Association Annual General Meeting, Executive Royal Inn-North, Calgary, Alta.

Western Harvest Inn, Saskatoon, Sask., 18—Junior Cattlemen’s Day, Dave Milsap Farm, Creemore, Ont., Andy McNiven 705330-5425 or Elaine Simpson 705-728-3028 21-22—T Bar C Invitational Golf Tournament, Dakota Dunes, Saskatoon, Sask. 21—Western Beef Development Centre’s Annual Field Day, Termuende Research Ranch, Lanigan, Sask.,




1—Beef Improvement Symposium, Bozeman, Montana 4-5—Alberta Angus Association Hall of Fame and Gala Awards, Madden Hall, Madden, Alta. 4-6—4-H Expo, Lloydminster Exhibition, Lloydminster, Alta. 5-7—98th Annual Saskatchewan Stock Growers Assoc. Convention and Annual General Meeting, Living Sky Casino, Swift Current, Sask. 6-8—Canadian Animal Health Institute AGM, Chateau Bromont, Bromont, Que. 6-8—Alberta Beef Producers Semi Annual meeting, Edmonton, Alta. 9-11—Canadian Angus Association Annual General Meeting, Elkhorn Resort and Spa, Clear Lake, Man. 9-12—Livestock Markets Association of Canada Convention, Best Western St. Jacobs Country Inn, Waterloo, Ont., for more information 9-12—Canadian Angus Association AGM, Clear Lake, Man. 10—Canadian National Auctioneer Competition, Ontario Livestock Exchange, Waterloo, Ont. 10—LMAC Canadian National Auctioneer Competition, Ontario Livestock Exchange, Waterloo, Ont. 11—Saskatchewan Hereford Association AGM, Swift Current, Sask. 15-16—Saskatchewan Pasture School, Best

AD INDEX Page Ag Growth Industries 23 Alberta Vet Labs 14 Boehringer Ingelheim 5, 17 Canadian Angus Assoc. IFC Canadian Charolais Assoc. OBC Canadian Gelbvieh Assoc. 43 Canadian Hereford Assoc. 43 Canadian Limousin Assoc. 43 Canadian Red Angus Promotion Society 43 Canadian Shorthorn Assoc. 41 Canadian Simmental Assoc. 43 Canadian Welsh Black Society 43 Diamond Farm Book Publishers 43 Direct Livestock Marketing 23 International Livestock Congress 27 International Stock Foods 43 Intervet Canada Corp. 13, 37, IBC John Deere Ag Marketing Center 15 Lakeland Group/Northstar 10 a-p Livestock Markets Assoc. 14 Matchmakers Select 43 Novartis Animal Health Canada 25 Pfizer Animal Health 7 Red Brand Fence 20 Saskatchewan Stock Growers 25 TD Bank Financial 21 Western Canada Farm Progress Show 45


7-11—Prairieland Junior Ag Showcase, Prairieland Park, Saskatoon, Sask. 8-17—Calgary Stampede, Stampede Park, Calgary, Alta. 9-12—Alberta Summer Synergy, Olds Ag Society, Olds, Alta. 11-16—International Youth Livestock Show, Olds Ag Society, Olds, Alta., 16—UFA Steer Classic-Stampede, Stampede Park, Calgary, Alta. 17—International Youth Livestock Show Supreme Championship, Stampede Park, Calgary, Alta. 20—40th Annual Bruce County Cattlemen’s Beef BBQ, Chesley Community Center, Chesley, Ont., 20-23—Canadian Charolais Youth Association Conference and Show, Saskatoon, Sask. 22—AB/SK Junior Limousin Show, Lloydminster, Sask. 27-30—Canadian Hereford Association AGM and Bonanza Jr. Show, Saskatoon, Sask. 29-31—Manitoba Youth Beef Roundup, Neepawa, Man. 29-31—YCSA National Classic 2011, Neepawa, Man.


3-6—Tiger Lily Classic, Prince Albert, Sask. 7-9—Alberta Angus Junior Association Junior Show, Bashaw, Alta. 9-12—Canadian Cattlemen’s Association Semi-Annual Meeting, Deerfoot Inn and Casino, Calgary, Alta.

10—Beef 2011 International Livestock Congress, Deerfoot Inn and Casino, Calgary, Alta. 10—Canadian Charolais Youth Association Conference and Show, Saskatoon, Sask. 18—Canadian Junior Limousin Conference, Orangeville, Ont. 20—Canadian Limousin Association Annual General Meeting, Orangeville, Ont. 26—Maritime Classic, Truro, Nova Scotia 27-28—Ontario Trillium, Cobden, Ont.


30—Olds Classic Fall Beef Show, Olds Ag Society, Olds, Alta.


8—Quebec Classic, Victoriaville, Que. 21-22—Red Roundup Show and Sale, Westerner Grounds, Red Deer, Alta. 30-Nov. 2—Antimicrobial Stewardship in Canadian Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Marriott Hotel, Toronto, Ont.


3-6—Canadian Limousin National Show and Sale, Royal Winter Fair, Toronto, Ont. 4-13—Royal Winter Fair, Exhibition Place, Toronto, Ont. 4-13—Farmfair International, Northlands, Edmonton, Alta. 9-12—Agri-Trade 2011, Westerner Park, Red Deer, Alta. 9-12—Saskatoon Fall Fair, Prairieland Park, Saskatoon, Sask. 9-13—Canadian Finals Rodeo, Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alta. 21-26—Canadian Western Agribition, Evraz Place, Regina, Sask.  Event listings are a free service to industry.  Sale listings are for our advertisers. Your contact is Deborah Wilson at 403-325-1695 or

2011 Canadian Cattle Identification Agency board of directors, back row (l to r): James MacLean, CLDA; Rick Wright, LMAC; Art Devick, BCCA; Bob Gordanier, OCA; Ron Versteeg, DFC; Glenn Olexson, CMC; Martin Rossman, CCA; Bob Lowe, ABP; Pat Hayes, CCA. Left to right seated: John Tilley, P.E.I., N.B., N.S. Cattle Producers; Dr. Pat Burrage, CVMA (vice-chair); Duncan Mackey, ACFA; Dan Darling, CCA (director at large); Darcy Eddleston, (chair); Terr y Kremeniuk, CBA (finance chair); Theresa Zuk, MBP; Mark Elford, SSGA (director at large). Missing from photo: Daniel Dion, CSF; Gib Drur y, FPBQ and Dave Kasko, CMC.

This Spring Think Green Efficient and profitable beef production for yearlings on pasture.

Each implant contains:

40 mg trenbolone acetate

One of the keys to a greener world is using our 8 mg resources wisely and Revalor®-G can help deliver estradiol more efficient use of pasture. Revalor-G is designed to increase weight gain; you get more beef out of every acre. Numerous studies have confirmed the safety of implanted cattle for human consumption1. In fact, compared to a 6 oz serving of beef from implanted cattle, one tablespoon of soy oil contains 7,500 times the amount of estrogen2. Best of all green cattle on green pasture implanted with Revalor-G can deliver a little extra green to you – approximately thirty dollars per head in additional gain3,4,5, so going green pays.

Ask your veterinarian how you can make Revalor-G a part of your greener pasture management this spring.


1 Proven safe for human consumption in studies completed by the World Health Organization; United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization; European Community Scientific Committee; Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives on behalf of the World Trade Organization. 2 Hormones: A Safe, Effective Production Tool for the Canadian Beef Industry, Canadian Animal Heath Institute. 3 Johns, J. T., K. D. Bullock, D. Nash and T. Slaughter. 2000. The effect of Revalor-G, Synovex-S, or Ralgro on gain of grazing steers. UK Beef Research Report. 4 Kuhl, G. L. 1997. Stocker cattle responses to implants. Symposium: Impact of implants on performance and carcass value of beef cattle. Oklahoma Agric. Exp. Sta. Stillwater. P-957:51–62. 5 Duckett, S.K. and J.G. Andrae 2001. Implant strategies in an integrated beef production system. J Anim Sci 79(E Suppl.):E100-E117.

Intervet Canada Corp. Customer Service: 1.866.683.7838

Revalor® Registered trademark of Intervet International B.V. used under license by Intervet Canada Corp.

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CCT110516 May 2011 $3.00 MAPPING DISEASE TRENDS • MAXED OUT AT 315 COWS • SHOULD I DEWORM? • BEEF WATCH Mark and Tina Stewart...