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April 2013

Volume 76, No. 5

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 Do we need to worm livestock at turnout?...................6 Brown root rot lurking in alfalfa fields.......................8 Alfalfa weevil watch...................................................... 12 Smooth haying with levellers....................................... 14 Use grazing behaviour to manage pastures. ................. 18 Tighten up with triticale.............................................. 22 Spring fencing — cell design......................................... 32 Pickseed and wolf trax team up. ................................... 34 Verified beef production................................................ 39



COMMENT............................................... 4 NEWSMAKERS......................................... 5 VET ADVICE.......................................... 20 HOLISTIC RANCHING.............................. 26 NUTRITION............................................ 28 RESEARCH............................................ 30 CCA REPORTS...................................... 36 STRAIGHT FROM THE HIP...................... 38 PRIME CUTS......................................... 40 NEWS ROUNDUP................................... 42 PURELY PUREBRED............................... 48 THE MARKETS...................................... 51 MARKET TALK....................................... 53 SALES & EVENTS.................................. 54

“Congratulations to our

April sur vey winner, Lyle Miller, Thorsby, Alta. This month’s sur vey is on page 45.”

Advertising Sales: Deborah Wilson RR 1, Elnora, AB T0M 1K0 (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: Lynda Tityk Email: Associate Publisher/Editorial Director: John Morriss Email: Production Director: Shawna Gibson Email: Circulation Manager: Heather Anderson Email: President: Bob Willcox Glacier Media Agricultural Information Group 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 — $36.75 for one year, $55 for 2 years, $99 for 3 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 of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

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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 Canadian  Cattlemen  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 / april 2013 3

c o m m e n t

by Gren Winslow

Change is in the air

Is it time to “blow up” the industry’s current model?


oes it seem to you that change is in the air? It does to me. Of course, change is nothing new to the beef industry. Maybe it’s just the weight of being at the bottom of a stretched-out cattle cycle. Numbers are certainly down, and prices are generally pretty good from a historical perspective even if they don’t compare to last year. But the jump that you’d expect from low numbers just isn’t there… not yet anyway. The latest inventory numbers certainly don’t shout out expansion. Total cattle and calves up 0.5 per cent but beef cows ­— the engine that drives all the rest — down again, by only one per cent this time. I was hoping we might see a slight rise in the cow herd in 2013 after producers said they were holding back more heifers for the last two consecutive years. They were up again this January, by 5.6 per cent this time. But the market analysts say this is only enough to maintain the current herd, not expand it. Sounds about right, producers are treading water, building up what equity they can but cautious about raising their stake in the business. It’s like everyone is waiting for some sign that things are on the rebound for real. There wasn’t any comfort last month for those who look to the U.S. for their direction after USDA released its ridiculous response to the WTO panel ruling on mandatory country-of-origin labelling (COOL). The proposed rule would eliminate the commingling of muscle cuts and require the label to spell out where the livestock were born, raised and slaughtered. This would basically take us back to the original COOL rule of 2002 that was completely unworkable. Eliminating the commingling provision would get rid of the current B label that allows packers to treat cattle fed in the U.S. as animals born in the U.S. The U.S. meat trade is vehemently opposed to the proposed rule as is the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Council. However, it is patterned closely on the advice of the National Farmers Union and R-CALF, which tells you very clearly who Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is listening to these days. USDA has termed this a minor rule to allow for a short 30-day comment period that closes on April 11 giving them time to finalize the rule before the WTO deadline of May 23.

4 Cattlemen / April 2013

As it stands the rule would be disastrous for Canada and a major headache for U.S. packers and processors. North American Meat Association CEO Barry Carpenter has reportedly said requiring labels that state where the animal is born, raised and slaughtered will likely result in no livestock born outside the U.S. being sold through retail establishments. It’s doubtful the WTO will see this as satisfying the panel’s finding of discrimination, which means Canada and the Canadian industry should be busy getting their target list of retaliatory tariffs ready to send to the WTO as soon after May 23 as possible. U.S. beef and pork have to rank at the top of the list. If the USDA passes this rule we will be in for some major disruptions in our U.S. trade for at least another year or more while the trade lawyers hack away at it. It is tactics such as this that have some people looking for a way to change the game in Canada. A case in point is JBS North America boss Bill Rupp’s recent comments to the Alberta Beef Industry Conference. “Clearly, we have macroeconomic signals in front of us to create massive change in the industry. Are we just going to survive it until it gets back to what we are used to, or take the opportunity to blow it up and come out with a new model of an industry that will be successful for many years to come?” Rupp seems to be looking for a less adversarial model for the industry. One where the different sectors right from farm to retail become more closely aligned than they are today. Branding could be one way to do that. Another group, made up of industry insiders is trying to come up with a new strategy for Canadian beef based loosely on the recommendations in the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute report issued last year. It made three suggestions: harness the value of our national ID program; create a system to move this information up and down the supply chain and build more collaboration into the chain. It also suggested there was a need for a strong national organization with funding and support from all sectors to devise and deliver an effective strategy. With some support from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency this group was going to kick around a proposed strategy shortly after our press deadline for this issue. Change is in the air.

NEWSMAKERS Jeff Warrack of Strathmore, Alta., was elected chairman of the Canadian Cattle Feeders’ Association during the lobby group’s annual meeting in February. He replaces Bill Jameson of JGL, Moose Jaw, Sask., who remains Jeff Warrack on the executive as past chairman. Larry Schweitzer of Brandon, Man., is vice-chairman. Aaron Brower of Aden, Alta. is the new president of the Western Stock Growers’ Association. He replaces Phil Rowland of High River who remains on the board as past president. Rowland is also the current chair of Livestock Identification Serv i c e s , A l b e r t a ’s industry-run brand inspection agency. James Hargrave Aaron Brower is first vice-president and Duane Hale second vicepresident joining long-term treasurer Eileen McElroy-Clayton on the executive. New to the board of directors are James Jenkins and Ryan Copithorne. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting re-elected Martin Unrau from Manitoba to a second term as president and Dave Solverson as vice-

president last month in Ottawa. Four new members were added to the board: Howard Bekkering (Alta.); Perry Rasmuson (Sask.); Ramona Blyth (Man.) and Joe Hill (Ont). Lise Rodgers was named program co-ordinator of the Canadian Animal Health Institute in March. She worked for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for 18 years before moving to Newfoundland to work on agricultural programs at the College of the North Atlantic and for the Canadian Farm Business Management Council. On Feb. 1 Pfizer spun off its Pfizer Animal Health division as a stand-alone public company named Zoetis through an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. Congratulations are in order for well-known market analyst Anne Dunford who married rancher Barry Wasko in February just before the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association convention in Florida. The two run a cow-calf operation near East End, Sask.

Barr y Wasko and Anne Dunford

In, February the Maritime Beef Council presented the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal to four deserving Maritime beef producers: Darlene Sanford, from Mont Carmel, P.E.I.; Henry Knight from Lower Jemseg, N.B.; Robert Acton, from Cookville, N.B.; and Charlie MacKenzie, Antigonish, N.S.

(l-r): Jennifer MacDonald, Charlie MacKenzie, Darlene Sanford, Henr y Knight, Robert Acton, Dave Solverson.

Dorelle and Tyler Fulton

Beef producers Tyler and Dorelle Fulton of Birtle were selected as Manitoba’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2013. They operate a 450-head cow-calf operation and backgrounding feedlot as well as a hay export business in a joint venture with Tyler’s parents. Feedlot vet and cattle feeder Kee Jim has stepped down from the board of directors of the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency. He was one of the original board members appointed to the Kee Jim new agency by then agriculture minister George Groeneveld. Ted Haney, the former president of the Canada Beef Export Federation, has been appointed an associate with Garner Enterprises, a Toronto-based transportation company specializing in multi-modal shipping solutions for agricultural commodities. Jay Burrows of Western Feedlots, Chantelle Donahue of Cargill Canada and barley breeder Brian Rossnagel from the University of Saskatchewan were among the industry representatives appointed to the board of the Barley Council of Canada in late February. The council will be involved in setting research priorities and improving the competitiveness of the crop. Dr. James Marshall has been appointed president of the Alberta Veterinary Medicine Association for 2013. He owns the Big Horn Veterinary Services clinic in Hinton and has a mixed practice in the foothills of Jasper National Park. Given his location it is perhaps not too surprising that he has served on the ABVMA’s alternate livestock and wildlife committee since 2008. C CATTLEMEN / APRIL 2013 5



Do We Need to Worm Livestock at Turnout?


hen getting ready to send cattle out to grass this spring one big question to ask yourself is do they need to be dewormed? In the past with our avermectins or pour-on products seeming to be effective in the fall and no chance of reintroduction over the winter we thought levels should be almost zero going into the spring. When testing cattle for internal parasites we are finding huge variation in the effectiveness of the pour-ons and hence the cattle’s parasite load. Cattle especially young calves or yearlings can be carrying quite a high load of parasites into the winter. That load should not change much over the winter so we must develop strategies as to what to do come spring if the cattle still have these parasitic loads. If you want your cattle checked this spring take several golf ball-sized samples of fresh manure in a sealed zip-lock bag into your local clinic and have them run a fecal analysis using what is called a modified Wisconsin technique. This will give you an idea of the parasite load your cattle are taking to pasture whatever fall program you may use. The avermectin products do a good job on lice in the fall and remove some of the internal worms. If you use them in combination with a benzimidazole product like Safeguard then the load carried over the winter should be essentially zero. Research years ago showed deworming at turnout especially on young calves showed a weight gain benefit of about 30 pounds. The increase of course would be based on worm load as well as the milking ability of the cow, the quality of the pasture and whether the calves could be reinfected at pasture. We often forget that just because cattle are dewormed there is still a huge worm load out on many pastures waiting to be vacuumed up by grazing cattle. If cattle go out essentially worm

6 Cattlemen / april 2013

free from a good fall deworming then it is best to wait approximately three to four weeks so that a lot of the pasture parasites (certain larval stages of parasites survive Canadian winters) can be grazed and consumed. The worming then kills them before they start producing more eggs. The old adage is 99 per cent of the infective larvae are on the pastures and only one per cent of the worms are in the cattle. The issue is they can be easily dewormed on pasture but it requires

If cattle go out essentially worm free it’s best to wait three to four weeks so that a lot of the pasture parasites can be grazed a prescription to put the product in the cattle mineral. If lungworms are an issue they can also be controlled but it may take another treatment later in the summer. Lungworms generally are more prevalent in late summer to early fall. Most internal parasites have a life cycle of about three weeks in calves and about four to five weeks in cattle. If we avoid the routine avermectins in the spring we won’t take out the dung beetle which is responsible for breaking up the manure pack. They roll the manure up into smaller balls and bury them. With some of the metabolites of the avermectins being excreted through the bile and out the back plus cattle licking it off each other and taking it in orally there is a fair amount either of the original form or metabolized form

coming out in the manure. This kills the dung beetle and one just has to recall how recently (in the last few years) manure patties have stayed pretty much intact through the entire summer to see the impact. In the past unless pastures were overgrazed manure patties were almost nonexistent. I used to scoff at the notion of the dung beetle and yet we see the good they used to do by breaking down these patties so the nitrogen can help fertilize the grass for next year. If we can avoid the majority of the avermectins at turnout it will allow for recolonization of the dung beetles. If we deworm once out on pasture gradually we can start to reduce the pasture contamination these cattle must face. The only easy way to continually monitor for parasites is through the manure and it is often best to check two weeks after deworming to see if the parasites have been brought under complete control. All species of animals are susceptible to parasites to some degree. The good news is most parasites are species specific meaning they are unique to that group of animals. Bison on the other hand carry most of the cattle parasites but have a low tolerance for parasites. Sheep, goats and horses (all equines) need to deal with parasitism throughout their lives so they need to be monitored with fecal analysis and dewormed on average more often than cattle. Clinical parasitism such as weight loss, diarrhea, anemia or colic in horses are all possible signs of too many internal parasites as well. The same realities of pasture contamination apply to them as well. If you have any questions on monitoring parasites or setting up deworming schedules talk to your veterinary clinic. They can devise control strategies that will be the most effective for your group of animals. C — Roy Lewis, DVM

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Brown root rot lurking in alfalfa fields


little-known root disease hiding under the Prairie snowpack this past winter could give alfalfa growers a surprise in spring. Weather conditions were ideal for the development of brown root rot, a potentially damaging disease of forage legumes, including alfalfa. Brown root rot is a soil-borne fungal pathogen with the official name Phoma sclerotioides. It is often described as a “snow mould” because it grows most rapidly when the ground is covered by snow. That was certainly true during the winter of 2013. A thick snowpack and cold temperatures were general throughout much of the Prairies, unlike the previous winter, which saw mild weather and little snow. The return of more traditional winter conditions has researchers suggesting brown root rot could be common in alfalfa fields this spring, after lying low for several years. “This year could be a really good year for snow mould,” says Bruce Gossen, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada plant pathologist in Saskatoon. “It increases the opportunities for brown root rot a lot.” Why? Unlike many soil-borne pathogens, snow mould organisms, such as the brown root rot pathogen, become active when the ground cools down in fall. If an early snowfall occurs before the ground is frozen, the resulting insulation gives the disease a longer period to remain active. Its development stops during the depths of winter when temperatures are at their lowest. But activity picks up again as the approaching spring brings warmer conditions. “Brown root rot of alfalfa can be a serious problem in regions with severe winters,” says Michael Wunsch, a North Dakota State University plant pathologist at Carrington, N.D. “It is most likely to be a problem when snow cover begins early in the fall before a deep freeze and snow cover is continuous throughout the winter. Anecdotally, the disease is likely to be the worst in places where snow accumulates due to drifting, such as along tree rows and fences.” Actually, brown root rot isn’t the most damaging snow mould, at least in Saskatchewan. Gossen says that distinction belongs to cottony snow mould, which can cause extensive damage to forage legumes and winter cereals because it is able to grow at even lower temperatures. But scientists still recommend producers check their alfalfa crops this spring for signs of brown root rot, which can cause substantial stand loss if the disease is able to develop. The problem with brown root rot is that it’s a bit of a mystery disease which flies below the radar and can be mistaken for something else. Gossen says typical above-ground symptoms in alfalfa consist of plants that are either slow to initiate growth in spring or die during the winter. Often, such losses are assumed to be the result of winterkill. That’s when plants

8 Cattlemen / April 2013

Symptoms look like winterkill until you see the root. die from exposure to severe winter conditions, including cold soil, ice or lack of snow cover. Because the end result appears similar, producers tend to attribute alfalfa stand losses to winterkill, when the real cause is a pathogen working below the soil surface. The only effective way to verify brown root rot is to dig up the roots of affected plants, wash them and check for telltale symptoms. The classic signs of brown root rot are darkened lesions, often with a dark-brown border, on the roots. These lesions weaken the plants, delay their emergence, lower plant vigour and reduce yields. When lesions on the upper taproot expand enough to girdle the root, the plant dies. But because producers don’t usually dig up alfalfa roots to check for lesions, a proper diagnosis of brown root rot is often lacking. The disease works silently without displaying many symptoms, other than reduced performance. By the time growers realize there’s a problem, it’s usually too late. “The best sign that you may have a problem with this disease is if you had a great-looking alfalfa stand in the fall, a lot of mortality in the spring and quite a few plants showing reduced vigour emerging out of spring dormancy,” Wunsch says. Even then, establishing the presence of brown root rot is not conclusive without a laboratory test (or assay) to detect the pathogen in plant and soil samples. Gossen says such a

commercial test is not available in Western Canada, although researchers at the University of Minnesota are reported to have developed an assay for use in a number of U.S. states. Without a definitive analysis, alfalfa stand losses are often attributed to insects, harsh weather, drown-out or other causes. Brown root rot is a native disease in North America and was probably here before the settlers arrived. In 1933, a University of Alberta plant pathologist named G.B. Sanford found the pathogen in virgin prairie soil near Edmonton. Brown root rot is also known to occur in a number of northern U.S. states, although damage from the disease is less severe in milder climates. Wunsch describes brown root rot as a “yield nibbler” in the U.S. but one which can cause significant economic losses in Canada. Brown root rot is a frustrating disease to deal with. It occurs sporadically, depending on weather conditions, so predicting its occurrence and severity can be difficult. There is no effective treatment for it while the crop is in the field. Although primarily a forage disease, brown root rot is also known to affect winter cereals which break dormancy while the pathogen is still active in the soil. Because it is relatively dormant in summer, spring crops are not affected. The only effective management tools against brown root rot are rotating crops and selecting varieties of alfalfa or other perennial forage legumes that are less susceptible to the disease. Wunsch suggests producers grow mixed forages which contain grasses as well as legumes. Grasses, which have a fibrous WH PP - 7 x 5often -_AGI 2013-02-26 1:37 PM Page root system, sustain little damage from the1 brown root rot

pathogen. This can reduce yield losses because a single perennial forage crop with a large taproot no longer dominates the field. Gossen recommends breaking up an alfalfa stand containing severe brown root rot and replacing it with annual crops for three years to reduce the level of pathogens in the soil. If producers grow only forages, they could plant greenfeed crops for a few years and then return to a forage legume. Gossen warns that snow mould diseases such as brown root rot build up over time. A susceptible crop becomes more vulnerable with age. A 20-year-old alfalfa stand is a prime candidate for a root disease. Fortunately, brown root rot is not the worst pest risk to alfalfa crops in Western Canada. Gossen says a far bigger threat is the alfalfa weevil, which is spreading rapidly in Saskatchewan and has been in Manitoba since at least 2001. But because brown root rot is a sneaky disease, it bears close watching, says Gossen. “Producers should walk their fields in early spring and keep an eye on the general health of their crop. That way they will know if there are going to be problems during the spring,” he says. Gossen says if you find plants that are doing poorly, pull them up. If they pull out easily, it could mean the roots are rotting underneath. In that case, get a shovel and dig some out. “You might have a surprise. And you might learn something that will change your plans for that field for the next couple of years.” C — Ron Friesen

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DoIng morE. usIng lEss.

A series on being ready for the farming challenges ahead

The Case IH Agronomic Design initiative Listening to customers is part the development process


ver the past decade, Case IH has been listening closely to producers. Their customerdriven product development process means that as soon as they launch a new product, they are asking producers how it can be made even better. Then the innovation process repeats. But another element goes into every piece of Case IH equipment as well – Agronomic Design. That is why Case IH delivers agronomically engineered technology that is designed to help you plant faster and earlier, plus achieve uniform emergence— which studies agree is a key agronomic driver for productivity and profit. “It’s something we’ve always done,” says Jim Walker, Vice President of Case IH North America Agricultural Equipment. “We have a unique focus and ability to find ways to help producers improve their soilseed-plant growing environment, so we put a name to it – Agronomic Design. It allows us to tie together parallel activities with the shared focus of maximizing the yield and ROI potential of our customers.” The Case IH Agronomic Design initiative unites ongoing work in multiple disciplines within Case IH, including customer research, product development, field support, training and marketing. In addition to ongoing product development work, Case IH Agronomic Design efforts include sharing information and expertise to help producers make the most of each seed’s yield potential. “We’re committed to delivering more agronomic advantages to farmers through both equipment technology and our people, who are equipped with years of field expertise,” Walker adds. “We want to help customers be ready to make the most of every seed’s yield potential, and that’s the value of Case IH Agronomic Design.”

Agronomic Design Equipment Innovations Case IH Agronomic Design extends across the entire Case IH line, and is evident in existing equipment, as well as in the newest Case IH products:

Steiger rowtrac: The four-track design of the new Case IH Steiger Rowtrac tractor adapts Quadtrac advantages for row-crop scenarios. It distributes loads evenly across the length of each track, even when heavy loads put force on rear tracks. It minimizes compaction with more flotation, turns tight without berming and pulls harder with less rutting, all to maintain soil tilth and improve seedbed conditions. Four tracks transfer more power to the ground than two, and the Steiger Rowtrac will provide more options and greater flexibility for customers. With equal-sized, independent, oscillating drives on all four corners, farmers can get in their fields sooner, especially in adverse field conditions. The wheelbase has been extended from 154 to 160 inches, so each track has more ground contact, resulting in better transfer of power to the ground. In addition, the unique design delivers less ground pressure, better traction and the most comfortable ride in the industry. PreciSion DiSk Drill: This all-new single disk drill easily cuts through residue and opens a uniform seed trench across varying soil and tillage conditions. It also accurately delivers the seed and closes and seals the trench for improved germination and plant-stand establishment. The Case IH Precision Disk parallel-link row unit design helps ensure unmatched seed placement accuracy for improved

emergence and stand establishment. Patent-pending variable down-pressure springs apply the right amount of pressure on individual row units to ensure better penetration across varying residue and soil conditions. In addition, the forward-facing seed tube design directs the seed, working in conjunction with the scraper, for more consistent placement in the bottom of the seed trench. Patriot 2240 SPrayerS: These sprayers deliver near-equal weight distribution, when the tank is full and continuously as it empties, to help customers get into fields earlier. Field tests have shown that Patriot sprayers can provide field access two or three days sooner than competitive sprayers, along with less rutting and soil compaction. In addition, the Patriot 2240 sprayer is smaller and more nimble for maneuverability in tight fields. It features exclusive AIM Command spray technology to deliver even, consistent coverage, and better drift control. The Patriot 2240 also joins the Efficient Power family, delivering more productivity with less fuel. Fuel economy is another area where the Patriot 2240 shines. The new sprayer comes with a Tier 4A-compliant 165 HP, 6.7-liter Case IH FPT engine. This Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR)-only system has already successfully proven it can offer fuel savings of up to 10 percent over Tier 3 engines.

The Agronomic Advantage “Crop yields are the product of both seed genetics and real world growing conditions,” says Walker. “Improving the soil-seed-plant growing environment helps producers maximize both their yield and ROI potential.”

Case IH DC 2 series rotary disc mower conditioners deliver fast cutting and high-quality conditioning with noticeably better results. Choose from four models that are built to handle a variety of crops from alfalfa to dense grass and even cane crops. Thanks to our modular cutterbed design, these mowers deliver superior crop flow, improved cut-off and less streaking – all at incredible speeds. Add to that our heavy-duty cutterbars and cutterbed Shock Protection system, and you’ve got a mower conditioner that’s as versatile as it is reliable. Learn more at your Case IH dealer or

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ALFALFA WEEVIL WATCH … green larvae feeding on the growing tips and shredded leaves are a sure sign


three-year survey of insect pests in alfalfa and alfalfagrass fields across Saskatchewan from 2010 through 2012 indicates that the alfalfa weevil population has increased at an alarming rate. Survey results are a reminder to keep a close eye on your alfalfa stands this summer and a heads-up for those in the neighbouring provinces where increased weevil activity hasn’t yet been observed. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientist Julie Soroka, who analyzed the samples collected by Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture (SMA) forage specialists, says the sudden burst in the alfalfa weevil population isn’t typical of normal crop insect activity in that the weevil population proliferated very quickly across such a wide area. Alfalfa weevils went from being an occasional pest in 2010 to the principle forage insect pest across the province in 2012. The highest number collected in any one field in 2010 was 63 larvae per 10 sweeps in 2010. The next two years saw that number jump to more than 1,100. Alfalfa weevils were found in 29 of the 48 fields (60 per cent) sampled in 2010, in 32 of the 45 fields (71 per cent) sampled in 2011, and in 37 of the 42 fields sampled (88 per cent) in 2012. The lowest numbers were found in the northern and northwestern areas. As to what caused the outbreak, all Soroka can say for certain at this point in time is that whatever was keeping the weevil population in check is no longer doing the job or the weevils have adapted to a wider range of conditions. The pest isn’t new to the province nor to Canada. Soroka says it likely arrived in Western Canada from Utah, where it is believed to have been introduced via alfalfa hay used as packing for a load of furniture from Italy back in 1904. It was first discovered in southwestern Saskatchewan and southeastern Alberta in 1954 and quickly became an economic pest, but stayed 12 Cattlemen / April 2013

there for the next 40 years. Not until the mid-1990s did it become a noticeable pest elsewhere on the Prairies as it spread eastward into Manitoba. The eastern strain of alfalfa weevil was first discovered in Ontario in the 1960s, likely arriving from the American eastern seaboard. Several parasitoids that were introduced have successfully kept it in check. Other than the odd flare-up, alfalfa weevils haven’t been a problem in Ontario and Quebec in recent years. Only one of three tiny wasps known to parasitize Western Canada’s alfalfa weevil larvae or adults seems to

Alfalfa can tolerate small larvae so control by cutting is most effective if you wait until the larvae reach the third or fourth instar stage have followed it from the U.S., where numerous parasitoids of the alfalfa weevil were released years ago. Low numbers of one kind of the wasp that parasitizes alfalfa weevil larvae were identified each year of the survey. The first year, the highest number of wasps per location was in a field near Cupar, where the weevil population was the highest. The next year, half of the wasps were collected from a field near Maple Creek, which is in the area where weevils have been present the longest. The wasp seems to be extending its range because by the third year, a few were found north of Yorkton and as far north as Prince Albert. “It tends to take time for the parasite population to build up and we hope eventually they will meet a balance,” Soroka explains. “For now, the weevil level is very high and there’s no indication that it will go back to previ-

ous levels. That’s why producers have to be vigilant.” Predators such as the ladybird beetle, lacewing larvae, predatory stink bugs, and damsel bugs also help to reduce the weevil population and there may very well be other predators out there that haven’t yet been recognized that find alfalfa weevils a tasty morsel. A fungal infection observed on weevil larvae in southeastern Saskatchewan in 2012, where moisture levels were high, also holds hope as a biological control. In one field near Weyburn, 15 to 20 per cent of the larvae collected were coated with grey fungal spores. Though not yet identified, Soroka says there are fungi known to reduce weevil populations in other areas. It may offer some degree of natural control if wet conditions prevail this summer. However, it shouldn’t be assumed that either dry or wet conditions favour the weevil itself because its original area of adaptation in southwestern Saskatchewan is among the driest on the Prairies and yet it has spread to areas with abundant moisture in recent years. “It is here to stay and at significant population levels, though there will be year-to-year variability,” Soroka says, noting that some fields where weevils were present one year had no weevils the following year.

Weevil patrol The first sign of an alfalfa weevil infestation will be the adult weevil — a brown-snout beetle about a quarterinch long — as it emerges from overwintering in alfalfa crowns and crop debris once the average daily temperature reaches 10 C. Each adult female lays as many as 800 eggs, placing them in small clusters inside the alfalfa stem in or near the plant’s growing points. While adult weevil feeding activity causes some damage to the leaves, the greatest economic injury is due to larval feeding. Continued on page 13

If the damage is extensive cutting early is the most economical solution. Continued from page 12

Alfalfa weevil larvae go through four growth stages called instars and this takes three to four weeks, depending on temperature. After hatching they crawl to the tips of the stems, where they feed on developing leaf and flower buds. These tiny, yellowish-tan first and second instar larvae aren’t readily noticeable because they feed inside the leaf buds and terminals causing only pinhole injuries. Third and fourth instars and their damage will be obvious. By this time they will have turned bright green with a shiny black head capsule and a white stripe down the centre of the back. These older larvae move from the terminal leaf clusters to feed on larger leaves, shredding them in a lengthwise pattern, often leaving only the leaf mid-rib. Heavy feeding won’t kill the plants, but can significantly reduce hay yield, in some cases by 50 per cent or more. Affected fields appear as though they have a touch of frost cover — an illusion caused by the dried leaves. Plants are usually stunted and the crop looks sickly overall. The fourth instar larvae spin white, net-like cocoons in the crowns of the plants or in crop debris. The new summer adults emerge in August, feed for a time, and then seek hibernation sites in which to overwinter.

Soroka recommends regular field checks starting in early June or when the crop reaches a height of approximately 10 inches. Most of the eggs will have hatched and some larvae will be reaching the third and fourth instar stages. The number of locations to check within a field depends on field size, crop uniformity, growth stage, and field topography. The ideal is one site for every five acres. If the field is fairly flat and the crop is healthy, checking four or five locations should suffice. Fields with varying topography should be checked high, low and in between. One particular field she recalls had few weevils on the high ground, significant numbers on the slope, and none at the bottom. At each check location, take 10 walking sweeps with an insect net across the top two-thirds of the plants and count the number of weevil larvae and adults in the net. Early in the season, check 20 or 30 terminal shoots per sample site for pinhole damage.

Weevil control If the weevil population is threatening to reduce yield, then cutting early is the recommended control method, Soroka explains. The physical action will kill larvae and reducing the size of the alfalfa plants will limit the food supply and homes for the survivors to complete the life cycle. Some producers have tried late-season grazing or light

Photos credit: courtesy AAFC

Older green lar vae do the damage

cultivating after freeze-up to reduce the adult beetle population. When the stand is too young to cut, or if it’s intended for seed production, then spraying with an insecticide may be your only option. Aside from the cost, the downside is that many beneficial insects will be killed as well. Alfalfa can tolerate defoliation from small larvae, therefore, control will be most effective if you wait until they reach the third and fourth instar stage. By this time, most of the eggs will have hatched and you will have a better idea as to whether control is necessary. The economic threshold will depend largely on the price of hay. A nominal economic threshold for alfalfa weevil in alfalfa seed crops is 20 to 30 third or fourth instar larvae per sweep, or 35 to 50 per cent of foliage tips showing weevil feeding damage. Use the lower range of the economic thresholds if other alfalfa pests such as alfalfa plant bugs also are present in high numbers and/or the crop is stressed from factors such as drought. There are several insecticides registered for control or suppression of alfalfa weevils in Canada and some new products are in the registration pipeline. For more information about alfalfa weevils contact SMA forage specialists or the Agriculture Knowledge Centre, 1-866-457-2377. C — Debbie Furber Cattlemen / April 2013 13



SMOOTH HAYING WITH LEVELLERS A western solution for a western problem


hen Lorne Klein started looking into commercial and producer-modified molehill  levellers  he found a wealth of choices, each with its own merits. The common denominator was that once producers, including himself, start levelling, they were hooked. “Most producers take their levellers out every year,” he says. “Not bouncing across the field during haying is one reason, but levelling also saves time and money during haying season because you will be able to travel faster, the cutter bar is less likely to plug and it reduces the wear and tear and breaking on machinery.” Moles and pocket gophers (Thomomys talpoides) are one and the same creature, explains Klein, who is the

Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture (SMA) regional forage specialist at Weyburn. They tunnel underground foraging on plant roots and in the process push soil into mounds over the openings of the tunnels. They start early in the spring and noticeably escalate from late summer into the fall when the pups have to tunnel homes of their own before winter sets in. Levelling in the fall may be an option, but most people try to get at it early in the spring, preferably before the plants start to regrow, especially if they want to drag the blade hard against the ground. Since new mounds will be formed between levelling and the first cut of hay, delaying as long as possible will snag the most hills. Sometimes it depends on the

weather. “The preference would be for the soil surface to be somewhat drier as opposed to somewhat wetter and clay soils are less forgiving than loam or sandy soils when wet because clay soil tends to drag and not clear under the blade,” Klein explains. “If the plants have started to grow and it makes the difference between levelling and not levelling, a hayfield could be dragged without too much damage to the plants until they are about four inches high. That’s when you’d want to carry the blade a little off the ground.” He feels levelling is an acceptable compromise to controlling the gopher population with traps or poison, which is time consuming and not feasible for many producers. And, there is only a slim chance that you can eliminate the rodents. Levelling each spring isn’t as demanding as a control program. Although it’s not a job that can be rushed either. Klein suggests travelling no more than five miles an hour to achieve the best results because Continued on page 16



Brian Petzel of Arcola, Sask., modified a light-duty cultivator by adding framing at the back to accommodate solid lengths of 6x6-inch angle iron that extends in a “V”design from near the front of the hitch. This places the two inside wheels behind the blade so that they are always running on smooth ground.


Lorne Klein of Weyburn, Sask., switched out the rodweeder shanks for heavyduty cultivator shanks and built an extension from the rear of a rodweeder to attach four-wheel assemblies that can be manually adjusted to control the height of the blade so that the wheels in front of the blade can be lifted off the ground during operation. 14 Cattlemen / April 2013

Darcy Easton of Wawota, Sask., star ted with a rodweeder frame and the original shanks with the roddriver assemblies removed. The blade is made from 2.5-inch square tubing bolted across the bottom of the shanks with lengths of grader blades bolted to the front of the tubing.

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hayfields riddled with molehills will be rough. The four most important factors to consider when buying or building a leveller are cost, horsepower requirement, flotation and effectiveness. His search turned up five manufacturers of molehill levelling equipment, all in Western Canada. Units cost anywhere from $400 to $1,800 per foot and range in size from a 10-foot threepoint hitch model to 70-foot cultivators and land roller implements. One company offers a blade and chain to install on your own deep-tillage cultivator. Even if you salvage an old cultivator or rodweeder to use as the main frame, the costs can add up because you’ll probably be looking at an investment in new tires and hydraulic hoses on top of the cost of the modifications and maintenance. Horsepower and flotation go hand in hand with the implement’s tendency to roll out stones. If the land isn’t stony, it can be dragged hard with the full weight of the implement on the blade(s) to achieve best results. Depending on

the overall weight and width of the implement and the pressure applied to the blade(s), the power requirement could be as much as 200 horsepower. Dragging hard tends to pull out stones. Some units with blades that angle back windrow the stones off to the side. Others can be lifted at certain points to clear the stones. Either way, you’ll still have to deal with them. Running the blade(s) slightly above the surface really helps minimize the stone problem as long as you’re OK with compromising the job a little. An 80-horsepower tractor may have more than enough power to handle this type of work.

Lowdown on levellers Klein’s document, “Mole Hill Levellers,” available online and from SMA offices, describes the features of the manufactured and producer-modified equipment. A YouTube video showcases producer-modified equipment. In general, the first design element to be aware of when building or buying a leveller is wheel placement. If wheels are positioned in front of the blade(s) the machine will jump, lifting


Ted Locker t of Vibank, Sask., modified old cultivator shanks by cutting off the wings and welding on 3 x3-inch angle iron.


Dar win Dancsok of Esterhazy, Sask., came up with a simple, effective solution using two 24-foot I-beams (8 x24 inches) and cable to connect them one behind the other at offset angles. The leveller stays at the hayfield year round. 16 Cattlemen / April 2013

the blade(s) off the ground every time a wheel hits a hill. If there’s no mechanism to run the blade(s) slightly above the ground, there’s a risk of pulling and hitting rocks. All but one of the home-built levellers started as a cultivator or rodweeder as the main frame. A couple have been modified with oversize shovel-style blades made from heavy angle iron, but most have shank assemblies to accommodate grader blades bolted to the base of the shanks to form one long blade running the width of the cultivator or angling back from the hitch. After investing considerable labour into modifying a rodweeder for his own hayfields, Klein hit on another idea to eliminate the wheels interfering with a smooth operation. If he were to do it again, he would build a frame extension to carry a levelling blade in front of each of the original wheels to smooth a line of travel for the wheels. This will be the third year Klein has used his leveller and some of the others have been in use much longer. He can be reached at 306-848-2382 or Lorne. C — Debbie Furber


Bob Dodd of Wapella, Sask., modified a deep-tillage cultivator with wheels that can be raised so that the weight of the machine rides on the full length of grader blades bolted across the bottom of a single row of shanks. This machine and Struble’s leveller are like “tanks” capable of flattening even the largest badger hills when the full weight of the machine rests on the blade, but this does require lots of drawing power.


This revamped noble-blade cultivator belonging to Lee Struble of Wawota, Sask., is the granddaddy of the home-built levellers having been used for 10 years on well over 10,000 acres. Each wing of the eight V-shaped blades made from 3x6-inch angle iron is 44 inches long. The hitch can be raised so that the tip of each blade rides a bit higher than the back to help prevent stones from rolling out.

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attle have certain preferences in forage plants and some definite behavioural patterns when grazing. Dr. Bart Lardner, a research scientist at the Western Beef Development Centre and adjunct professor in the department of animal and poultry science, University of Saskatchewan says ranchers need to be aware of grazing behaviour and use this knowledge to help control animal distribution on pastures. “If you let them do all the selection on their own, you may run into problems with some areas being overgrazed and others undergrazed,” he explains. “Cattle have patterns of grazing behaviour regarding time of day — preferring to do most of their grazing in the early morning or late in the day when it’s cool. During the heat of the day they rest in a shady area to chew the cud and then head out to graze again in late afternoon,” he says. Dr. Joseph Stookey, an animal behaviourist at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon says their natural diurnal grazing pattern, with the largest grazing bout occurring before sunset, matches the plants’ highest nutrient content, after a day of photosynthesis. “In choice tests, ruminants select forage harvested in late afternoon or evening rather than forage harvested in the morning from the same field,” he says. “A series of USDA studies looked at animals’ ability to choose different forages. The researchers cut hay in the morning and in the evening and used this in the choice tests. They’ve done it with cattle, goats, sheep, and they all select hay that’s cut in the late afternoon and evening. When you analyze the hay in the lab, it has a higher level of carbohydrates because the plants stored more nutrients during photosynthesis through the day.” Carbohydrate level is much higher late in the day. By morning some of the nutrients have moved down into the roots during the night. “We can’t see any difference with the eye, but the grazing animals can

18 Cattlemen / April 2013

Dr. Bart Lardner detect the difference in these forages,” Stookey says. If you notice cattle grazing during the heat of the day, this is usually a clue they are short on feed — having to graze more hours in order to acquire their needed nutrients. It pays to be observant, to notice any changes in their grazing behaviour. If they are eating short grass or seeking out bits of grass amongst the brush, it will take them longer to meet their nutritional needs. “They are also expending more energy with the continual travelling and grazing, and won’t be gaining as much weight as you’d like,” says Lardner. If cattle are spending too much time in certain areas, we can influence animal distribution with strategic placement of water sources and fencing, or putting salt/mineral up on a ridge instead of down by the creek bottoms where they tend to loaf. “This can help prevent overutilization of pasture near a certain watering area,” Lardner says. “It’s all too easy to just throw off the salt blocks by the gate, but if a person places the salt and mineral a fair distance away from the creek or other water points, this entices the cattle to move from point A to point B and graze the area in between.” In mountain areas cattle may prefer to be up on a high ridge for their midday lounging

where there’s a little breeze and fewer flies. Having the salt/mineral on those high spots encourages them to spend some loafing time up there. It also helps to establish water points in various areas of the pasture. “Even two water sources are better than one. If they are not more than a mile apart, this helps create better utilization of the pasture between those two points,” says Lardner. Anything you can do to spread out the cattle will help, so they don’t keep returning to the preferred grazing areas as often. A person needs to be aware of how the cattle are using a pasture. If parts of the pasture are becoming too mature and ungrazed, you need to find a way to make the cattle use those areas. “When cattle overuse some plants, they keep returning to those plants to eat the new, tender regrowth rather than eat the older, more mature and fibrous plants. This is when we get into the problem of overgrazing,” he says. “In range management we have three terms: decreaser species, increaser species, and invader species. The decreasers are the ones the cattle prefer the most (often called the ice-cream plants). They will walk a long ways to find those. The increasers are the plants that can withstand some grazing; they are more tolerant to grazing pressure. The third category is the invaders that move into an overgrazed area and the cattle won’t touch them so they tend to take over some areas.” The readiness of grass in the spring varies from year to year depending on weather and growing conditions. If it’s a late spring, it’s hard for ranchers to keep from turning cattle out too early for the grass, yet it’s best to allow those plants enough time to get to a four- or five-leaf stage so they can withstand grazing. “You can’t just turn out on a calendar date; you have to manage and monitor. Producers may get into problems in the spring by turning out too soon, or in the fall by keeping cattle out too long on certain pastures,” says Lardner. In some pastures poisonous plants

may be a hazard when cattle are turned out too soon or left out too long — after the grass is mostly gone. “Cattle will eat toxic plants when grass is short,” he says. Often these plants come up ahead of the grass and may be the greenest thing out there if you’ve turned cattle out too soon. The same can happen if cattle run short of grass in the fall or during a dry summer. Every pasture situation and range allotment has different characteristics. “Some have native range pastures that can be used in conjunction with tame seeded pastures for best timing of grazing. We call these complementary grazing systems. There are some tame perennial species we can use for earlyspring grazing,” says Lardner. “This enables us to put cattle out earlier than we could on native range, letting the native pastures have a little more rest and chance to grow more biomass before we use them. Then we can put the cattle out on native range in early summer. We can bring them back in on other tame pastures

we call fall-graze species, and perhaps some stockpiled grass as well,” he says. Reducing the need for harvested feed, extending the grazing period, is the best way to reduce a rancher’s costs and have cattle coming into winter in good condition. “On your tame seeded pastures at home you can maybe increase stocking rates a little more than on a native range. You might rotate the cattle through a pasture quicker (and possibly use mob grazing). The stocking rate can be different between a seasonlong pasture and a series of pasture rotations. It is usually prudent to do some cross-fencing and create a grazing system,” says Lardner. “The system itself is not as important as the objectives of that grazing system for the producer.” There has to be a symbiotic relationship between the grass and the grazer for optimum health and production of each. The grass and the grazing animal can benefit one another, with proper grazing management. “Grazing is a wonderful tool for

improving a pasture. It is amazing what grazing can do in terms of plant response and increase in plant growth. Sometimes we also need to remember that rest is part of the grazing cycle. The plants need time to recover from grazing. If you continually use more than 50 per cent of the plant this starts to reduce the root growth biomass,” he says. You need to monitor the pasture and see which plants are being grazed, and how much. The cattle may be leaving more than 50 per cent of the grass in that pasture, but still overeating some of the preferred plants. “Stocking rate can be a tool to prevent this, by rotating a larger number of animals through a series of pasture segments. With more animals there is less selectivity in their grazing and they utilize more of the available forage — including the plants that are less preferred.” Then you can move them to a new segment of pasture and allow the grazed segment to regrow completely before you allow the cattle to return to it. C — Heather Smith Thomas


Canadian Simmental Association.... leading the industry through genomic research initiatives CATTLEMEN /3/7/2013 APRIL6:08:03 2013 PM 19



Could it happen here?

ritish agriculture seems constantly trammelled by bad news. If it isn’t serious outbreaks of uninvited disease, it’s about the human capability to do bad and stupid things with food. From the land where mad cow disease was allowed to smoulder for two decades comes the recent scandal of horsemeat in beef products. For some, the mixing of edible proteins into a product may not seem too outrageous; consumer revulsion when done illegally is quite another matter. The Brits, particularly touchy about eating horsemeat for any reason, are getting even feistier with the spectre of potential residues and microbial contamination. The scandal has reached mammoth proportions in the U.K. and Europe, prompting regulatory changes, abattoir closures and new drugtesting requirements. How did the scandal become so involved, so quickly? How did it evolve into something so intrusive under a meat inspection system that was forced to change by BSE into one of the most sophisticated in the world? It’s very clear that regardless of technology and regulatory oversight, evil and dishonest forces can quickly reduce any system to Third World status. Sixteen EU member countries have been affected. Testing of so-called “beef” products by DNA analysis has shown horsemeat in up to 60 per cent of the products tested. Politicians are scurrying to find someone to blame and point fingers. The cracks in a system apparently polished during the BSE fiasco are starting to reappear. Twice snubbed, the push-back from fidgety U.K. beef eaters is expected to be substantial. Its effect on the international red meat trade is a question mark. Beef is Ireland’s top agriculture product. The horsemeat scandal threatens to erode international confidence in a business worth US$2.5 billion a year and the integrity of processed beef products across Europe. Some politicians claim the problem is linked to imported offcuts of Polish meat. While most agree it is not a food safety issue, few deny claims of fraud somewhere along the seven-nation journey by truck from Poland to Ireland. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland reported that horsemeat accounted for 29 per cent of the meat content found in one sample collected from major retail chain Tesco, the biggest supermarket chain in Britain and Ireland. In another case, the meat in a “beef” product was 100 per cent horsemeat. As well, other products such as beef curry pie, lasagna and cottage pie tested positive for pig DNA. Traders and abattoirs from Cyprus to Romania have been implicated. Forensic investigations in France found one firm, Spanghero, had generated a profit of nearly $1 million (€550,000) over six months by selling cheap horsemeat as beef in a supply chain that reached through 28 companies in 13 countries. Asda, one of Britain’s biggest supermarkets and an arm of U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart Stores, recalled its beef bolognese sauce because horse DNA was present. Following the closure of U.S. slaughter plants, the price of horses bound for slaughter in Canada has fallen to 25 to 35 cents per pound ($0.77 per kg). By comparison, finished steers were selling for $1.23 per pound or $2.70 per kg.


Disgust with things like the horsemeat scandal turns a wide swath of consumers toward natural production methods, but only if they can afford to care. Affluent shoppers at places like Borough Market in Central London buy organic sirloin steak for £48 per kilo despite the fact it’s three times the price of Tesco’s sirloin and 15 times more than Aldi mince. The U.K. may be at a point where people are unable to pay the price for knowing where food comes from. People in queue for free food at food banks have doubled. Tins of protein — budget meatballs, hotdogs and corned beef — are prized items. Is a sideline of the horsemeat scandal vindication for not promoting producers in the food supply chain? Despite the natural human tendency to get close to where things are produced, North America is still a cauldron of resistance to traceability. Horsemeat lasagna and the criminality associated with it hopefully will guide the thought process on this side of the ocean and the disastrous effects it could have on the tangled web of global trade. EU legislation states that horsemeat can be sold in meat products on the condition it is declared on the label. However, the scandal over horsemeat in beef products quickly flared when it moved from a case of mislabelling to accusations of potential food safety involving drug residues and microbial contamination. Leading the furor over residues was phenylbutazone, an anti-inflammatory drug commonly used in horses worldwide. The EU’s paranoia over anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids in the food chain led to the ban of all imports of horsemeat from animals that could not be certified as having never received “bute.” Analytical technology is now at a point these categories of drugs can be detected for months, perhaps years after administration, necessitating veterinary certification that horses have never been treated with phenylbutazone or anabolic steroids before slaughter; a difficult if not impossible task in many cases. A significant percentage of horses as a result are left in “no man’s land” when end-of-life decisions are made. Public health authorities have already stated that phenylbutazone residues entered the food chain in France. Questions have also surfaced about the fact that horses that adulterated beef products were never tested for Trichinella sp. The serious human disease, trichinosis, is caused by ingestion of larval stages of the parasite in improperly cooked meat from animals. Bear, pigs and horses can be carriers. Ten thousand cases of trichinosis are diagnosed every year worldwide. The possibility that horses may have been slaughtered in uninspected facilities presents the public health conundrum of other potential meat pathogens like salmonella and listeria. As the scandal unfolds in Europe, we are left wondering, “Could it happen here?” 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 (

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Tighten Up with Triticale Need more cows… more pasture… more canola acres… more land?


ou can get more from the land you have by growing a high-yielding cereal crop for swath grazing instead of stockpiling grass for late fall and winter grazing, says Dr. Vern Baron, forage physiologist-agronomist with AAFC Lacombe Research Centre, Lacombe, Alta. “Even though second-cut grass for stockpile grazing could be lowest in terms of cost per day, it is the highest in land use. Today when you can sell canola for $15 a bushel and barley for $5 a bushel, land use becomes a concern. You can still keep cows if you can keep the amount of land required for winter feed to a minimum,” Baron suggested to producers during his talk at the Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference Beef and Forage Symposium in Saskatoon. He ran the numbers on stockpiling grass to feed 100 cows for 100 days compared to swath grazing barley, oats, triticale or corn and found that it would take 111 acres of grass, 39 acres of barley, 34 acres of oats, 29 acres of corn, or 22 acres of triticale. Taking into consideration the major cost differentials of seed and fuel for swath grazing triticale or corn compared to feed and fuel for daily feeding at a wintering site, the cost of feeding 100 cows for 100 days pencilled out at roughly $9,000 for triticale, $12,500 for corn and $17,160 for daily feeding combinations of hay, silage, greenfeed or straw in a traditional manner. This leaves lots of room to factor in other expenses you could have for growing the annual crop and still come out in the black. Triticale happens to be the focus of some of Baron’s latest research in collaboration with Alberta Agriculture’s Field Crop Development Centre, which is the breeding ground of all four currently registered winter triticale varieties — Pika, the reduced-awn varieties, Bobcat, Luoma, Metzger — and three relatively new reduced-awn spring triticale varieties, Bunker, Tyndal and Taza as well as the old standbys — Wapiti and Pronghorn. So triticale is much more than just a wheat-rye cross, according to Baron. 22 Cattlemen / April 2013

Short awns seem to be preferable.

Longer awns harm palatability.

Even though the original parent material came from wheat and rye cultivars and breeders still use desirable genetics from other cereals to develop improved triticale varieties, the triticale breeding programs of today start with triticale genetic material that has been in triticale breeding programs for many years. Unlike other cereals typically grown for use as forages, triticale has a winter counterpart that offers lots of flexibility in a feeding program, however, Baron recommends spring triticale if silage, greenfeed or swath grazing is the sole intended use. Even though both winter and spring triticale with dry-matter (DM) silage yields averaging 6.25 tons per acre, still have the edge over even the highestyielding new barley varieties averaging 5.0 tons per acre, spring triticale comes closest to barley in feed quality. The in-vitro organic matter digestibility of spring triticale silage at the dough stage is around 66 per cent, while that of winter triticale is 61 per cent. The range of digestibility for vari-

ous barley varieties is even a bit wider. Though research suggests that triticale grain still has a slight edge in digestibility over barley, Baron says the best barley varieties today may be a touch superior for forage. This is due to the digestibility of the vegetative part of the plant, which takes into account cell-wall content and neutral detergent fibre. Triticale’s cell-wall digestibility (CWD) is a tad lower than barley’s. One big difference between barley and spring triticale is the per cent starch in the kernel at mid-dough stage. The starch in barley varieties grown in central Alberta is consistently in the mid- to upper 14 per cent range, whereas triticale varies from 10 to 12.6 per cent. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the total starch in triticale silage couldn’t be as good as barley silage because triticale produces more plant material than barley, but when starch is expressed as a percentage of the total plant, it will be lower in triticale. Continued on page 24

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Per cent starch in silage dry matter during the grain-filling period Continued from page 22

Baron’s latest research shows that improving per cent starch in spring triticale kernels is as easy as keeping your harvesting equipment parked a while longer. During grain filling, the starch increases and offsets the fibre and this doesn’t happen at the same rate or over the same timeline for all cereals, he explains. In both barley and spring triticale, CWD starts high at the boot stage and decreases as the plants advance through to the dough stage when the crop is cut for silage. CWD is higher at the start and decreases faster in barley than in triticale, however, they were surprised to learn that the filling stage for triticale started slower, ended slower and was longer overall than that for barley. Even though the decline in triticale’s CWD happened at a slower rate, it was very low by the latter part of grain filling. “To counteract this, we need to have patience with the triticale to get as much starch as possible,” he says. Seed growers started the idea of harvesting early after heading to optimize silage


Just after grain filling begins

Dough stage

Gadsby barley

June 4

Aug. 7, 10.6% starch

Aug. 20, 16.6% starch

Taza triticale

June 4

Aug. 20, 7.7% starch

Sept. 11, 14.0% starch

Comparing a barley and triticale variety planted on June 4 the grain-filling period for triticale occurred later, lasted longer and accumulated starch at a lower rate than barley.

yield and quality, but even though triticale yield flattens out he’s inclined to believe that’s not the time to harvest because the quality is still changing. Comparing a barley and triticale variety planted on June 4 the grainfilling period for triticale occurred later, lasted longer and accumulated starch at a lower rate than barley. Spring triticale has a truly unique advantage over barley and oats for late-season grazing because its growth is not day-length sensitive. It’s a longseason crop with maturity to grain harvest a few days longer than what spring wheat would be in your growing region regardless of when it is planted. Generally, early planting allows a crop to mature over more days and helps to avoid the problem of dry, hot periods later in the summer cutting into grain or forage yield. However, barley is also sensitive to day length, which

means that it matures at a faster rate with significantly lower yields when planted later in the summer compared to planting in early May. A barley crop may need to be planted as late as the first week of July to be at the proper stage of maturity to be cut for swath grazing in September, whereas, a triticale crop could be planted in early June in central Alberta to be swathed in September for grazing without giving up yield. Baron’s work found forage yield losses with barley were directly proportionate to the number of days seeding was delayed after May 10. On the other hand, triticale forage yields actually rose when seeding was delayed 10 days to 30 days after May 10, then slowly tapered off. Triticale seeded on June 23 had the equivalent forage yield of triticale seeded May 10. Carrying capacity (which considers yield and quality) fol-

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% CH2O

Spring-planted winter triticale




Annual ryegrass




Brome, second cut




Brome/alfalfa, second cut




IVTD — in-vitro true digestibility; CWD — cell-wall digestibility; CH2O — water-soluble carbohydrates

lowed a similar pattern, rising from 320 cow-days per acre to 380 then back to 320 over the range of seeding dates. By comparison, carrying capacity dropped from 360 cow-days per acre for May 10 barley to 220 for June 23 barley. The upside of seeding barley late for swath grazing is that even with the yield loss, you still save money compared to feeding the cows at a wintering site, says Baron — but you’ll save twice as much if you seed triticale verus barley. Baron’s current work zeros in on costs and weathering losses in triticale, barley and corn swath grazed from early November to March. The loss in digestibility during the winter is not as high as it is in the first month after cutting. Corn loses considerably more than triticale and barley, but its cell-wall digestibility is so much better it stays significantly higher than triticale and barley throughout the winter.

As for concerns about cows refusing triticale swaths Baron suspects they are related to the long awns of the early triticale types. Newer varieties with smaller awns may have eliminated the refusal problem. It wasn’t an issue in any of his trials with the reduced-awn spring triticales, Bunker, Tyndal and Taza. What cows really don’t like eating in the winter is cornstalks, he adds. The waste with corn can be high, but you won’t see any weight loss in the cows because of corn’s superior digestibility, whereas, a bit of weight loss was recorded for the cows grazing the triticale and barley swaths. What about winter triticale? Winter triticale offers the flexibility to change your strategy depending on how the growing season progresses. Sown in spring, winter triticale provides high-quality pasture all summer long, with digestibility and sugar

content similar to annual ryegrass and superior to second-cut meadow brome and meadow brome-alfalfa hay. It’s best to wait until the plants are six inches high and plan for three- to fourweek rest intervals between rotations. The crop should survive the winter, but may not yield as much grain the following year as when planted in September. Traditionally, winter triticale has been sown in late summer to be harvested the next year. It will provide early-season grazing and then can be left to regrow for grazing, greenfeed, silage, swath grazing and even to harvest for grain if early grazing has been carefully managed. The general rule is to give triticale a light graze before the first-node stage of stem elongation. Forage yields for winter and spring triticale varieties tested in Alberta’s regional silage variety trials are available in Alberta’s spring seed guides ( In another section you will find the traditional grain yield and agronomic ratings for winter and spring triticale varieties. C — Debbie Furber

When it comes to making the most of time on pasture, Revalor®-G leads the field Particularly well-suited to help increase weight gain of cattle on pasture

In a comparative study1, grazing steers implanted with Revalor®-G gained almost twice the amount of additional weight as did steers implanted with Synovex*-S.

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1. 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 Report.

13-01-25 11:15


H.R. convention report


ur annual convention held at Russell, Man. on Feb. 12 and 13 was a success with about 170 people

attending. Our first speaker was Suzie Oberdahloff or Suzie O as she referred to herself. The title of her talk was “Kids, Crops, Sows and Cows.” She had lots of enjoyable farm stories and left us with the following ideas.

Suzie’s 4 Ps of Prosperity • • • •

Be Be Be Be

proud of what you do. positive about life. patient — Rome wasn’t built in a day. persistent — Keep trying and trying and trying.

Suzie’s 7 — Ups for a Good Life • • • • • • •

Wake Up — to a new day. Dress Up — with a smile. Look Up — for heavenly guidance. Listen Up — say nice things. Speak Up — for what you believe. Reach Up — for something greater. Lift Up — someone less fortunate.

The afternoon began with three concurrent threehour sessions designed to help people go home with more confidence in their ability to apply the tools of H M. The sessions were led by certified educators: Ralph and Linda Corcoran dealt with goal setting, Blain Hjertaas spoke on planned grazing and I talked about financial planning. Planned grazing drew the largest group while goal setting and financial planning drew about the same number of people. The second morning began with a producer panel involving the Belmont (date night) management club. This is a group of seven families who took the six-day H M course in 2008 and have continued to meet since then. They provide a great example of the benefits to be gained from a management club. Club members Alan and Shannon McKenzie, Blain and Hilary VanDamme, Jim and Carol Abernethy, Cam and Shelley Hamilton, Greg Wood and Lisa Clouston, Jeff and Cheryl Boles and Greg Findlay and Lana Price each gave a short talk on what H M has done for them. Jeff and Cheryl were unable to attend so they sent their presentation in via a short video clip which was a nice touch. Each couple indicated how much they had grown as individuals, couples, families, businesses and as a club by following the principles of H.R. Their club is a great role model for all of us. Pierette Desrosiers, a work psychologist specializing in the agriculture sector spoke about improving your emotional intelligence and how that helps create a successful business. She defines emotional intelligence (EI) as the ability to identify, assess and manage not only


your own emotions, but those of others and groups. EI leads to positive outcomes and the achievement of personal and professional goals. In a later windup presentation she focused on the importance of achieving a balance between your work and personal life and the importance of goal setting, values, willpower, self-control and time management. It was an interesting presentation. Joanne Thiessen Martens, a member of Dr. Martin Entz’s research team at the University of Manitoba (U of M) addressed sustainable farming while Jo-Lene Gardiner and Troy Stozek introduced us to the Harvest Moon Society of Clearwater, Man., and its concerns about food security, food safety and educating consumers about where their food comes from. Then Gary Martens gave us an update on the application of H M at the U of M where it is offered as a credit course. Peter Holter the CEO of Holistic Management International, of Albuquerque updated us on some of the current programs at HMI. Its mission statement is to educate people to manage land for a sustainable future and its core beliefs are people count, healthy land is essential, money matters and it takes all three. I think that message will appeal to anyone interested in the long-term future of agriculture and society. Tom Teichroeb from Langruth, Man., told us of how the flooding around Lake Manitoba severely affected their operation and how he and his wife Michelle used H M to remain positive about their prospects during this terribly difficult time. Art McElroy from Frontier, Sask., shared some of his challenges ranching in a dry, brittle environment and how he used shallow-buried pipelines drawing from dugouts and high stock density grazing to help establish his grass and maintain pastures for his cow-calf and custom grazing operation. Duane Thompson of Kelliher, Sask. talked about how he developed a win/win relationship with his grain-farming neighbours to maintain a profitable and sustainable operation. The people who attended the convention ranged in age from one month old to 75 plus. The fact that they all fit in and felt welcome is a tribute to H M Canada. The speakers are always good but the highlight for me are the producer panels. These are real people sharing real stories. There is nothing more inspiring. If you attended, I thank you. If you didn’t I encourage you to consider coming next year. You won’t be disappointed. Our convention is open to all, not just people involved in H M. If you want a short, uplifting, educational break next winter please consider attending. Happy trails. — Don Campbell Don Campbell ranches with his family at Meadow Lake, Sask., and teaches Holistic Management courses. He can be reached at 306-236-6088 or

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N u t r i t i o n

by John McKinnon

Two countries — two different paths! John McKinnon is a beef cattle nutritionist at the University of Saskatchewan


s I indicated in my last column, I am currently on sabbatical in New Zealand and have the opportunity to travel and visit with beef producers as well as researchers in both the north and south islands. While I expected to find a much different industry relative to what we have in Canada, I have been surprised not only by the differences but also the similarities between the two industries. For example, when I asked my host what is the most pressing issue facing New Zealand beef producers, he replied — staying profitable! As I write this, the north island is experiencing one of the worst droughts in memory. Producers are scrambling to find alternative grazing/feed supplies and for those trying to arrange kill dates, they are faced with lengthy delays and depressed prices. Similar to our “Hay East” efforts of 2012, there is a move to bring hay from the south to the north island. Does any of this sound familiar? Perhaps one of the biggest differences between the Canadian and New Zealand beef industries is the way the two industries are structured. In Canada, the cow-calf sector is basically distinct from the feeding sector. Cow-calf operations are typically of two types; mixed farms where the cow herd is integrated with grain farming or independent ranch operations. In New Zealand, the beef industry, particularly the cow-calf sector tends to be integrated with the sheep and/or dairy sectors. This is not surprising when you consider the size of the respective industries. For example, according to Beef and Lamb New Zealand in 2011 there were almost six million dairy cows and replacement heifers and 30 million sheep (one year of age or older) in the country. In comparison, the beef industry comes in at slightly less than four million head with approximately one million beef cows. The dairy and sheep sectors dominate due to historic profitability of these sectors relative to beef. The dairy sector in particular has benefited from relative low cost of production, high milk prices and development of export markets, particularly those in Asia. Due to the dominance of these industries, dairy cows and sheep tend to be managed more intensively and have access to better quality pasture (ryegrass and white clover predominate in most areas of the country). Beef cattle in comparison tend to be marginalized to poorer pastures or are used to complement sheep. For example, it is not unusual to see sheep and beef cows grazing together or for the cows to follow sheep in the pasture where they are forced

28 Cattlemen / April 2013

to clean up the poorer-quality forage. In fact for many operations, improved pasture quality from complementary grazing is one of the main attributes of running beef cattle in concert with sheep. In contrast, beef finishing operations utilize relatively good-quality pasture to finish steers and heifers by 24 months of age, targeting the New Zealand prime beef trade. In terms of genetics, the beef cow herd tends to be either Angus or Hereford based with some continental breeds used as terminal sires. The dairy sector also plays a significant role in New Zealand beef production. According to industry statistics, close to half a million male dairy calves are purchased annually by grass finishing operations. These animals are grazed from a young age on pasture and are targeted for the lean manufacturing beef market. As with beef steers, these bulls typically go to market at less than 24 months of age yielding carcasses weighing approximately 300 kg. This sector is a relative new addition to the New Zealand beef industry and has resulted from the significant growth in the dairy industry. It is a segment of the beef industry that has found a niche in the global marketplace, in that it supplies a specialized product that is in short supply (i.e. lean manufacturing beef). There is also some influence of dairy genetics in the beef herd. For example crosses between beef (i.e. Hereford, Angus) and dairy (Friesian, Jersey; Kiwi-cross) breeds have been used to target increased milk production. The lifetime productivity of these crossbred cows is a current focus of the research group that is hosting my visit to Massey University. One striking similarity between our two industries is the fact that both rely on export markets to sustain current levels of production. In Canada, while it varies from year to year we typically export 50 per cent or more of our production (excluding imports). Exports are both as live cattle and as processed beef. According to Beef and Lamb New Zealand, more than 80 per cent of their production is exported, exclusively as processed beef. The United States and Asia are important markets for both countries however, each tends to target a different market segment (i.e. Canadian grain-fed versus New Zealand grass-fed beef). There is no doubt that differences in environment, land and resource availability have shaped these two industries and led them down different paths. Time will tell if one is more sustainable than the other.

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3/4/13 11:36 AM


The skinny on market cows


he odds that an animal will In 2012, “found dead” rates peaked drastically when suffer, be injured or die go there were major disruptions at cow slaughter plants. In up drastically whenever Eastern Canada, rates peaked in May and June when the a thin, old, weak cow is Levinoff-Colbex plant near Montreal closed. Western loaded, transported, unloaded, marCanadian numbers peaked in late fall and early winter keted, held for a week (or longer) at when the XL Lakeside plant was closed. Blocking the an auction mart while loads are assempipeline caused the system to back up quickly, and anibled, then reloaded, transported again, mal welfare was impacted, especially as cows continued and unloaded at a packer. So do the to come on to the market. odds that someone will capture that Cows should be culled before they become too thin disaster on their smartphone. In a world where nothing and weak to travel. Hire a reputable trucker, and load can be hidden, we’d better have nothing to hide. and transport high-risk cattle very carefully. Truckers Old, thin or weak cows have the hardest time copshould refuse to load cattle that they feel are at risk of ing with the stresses of marketing and transport, espebecoming down or dead in transit, and customers should cially in cold weather. Research conducted by Dr. Karen respect the truckers’ professional judgment. Order buySchwartzkopf-Genswein at AAFC Lethbridge (pubers, dealers, auction marts and others who are gathering lished in the October 2012 JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE) and temporarily housing and assembling loads of cows need to ensure that the animals in their care have enough showed that Canadian market cows are 13 times as likely space, feed, water and bedding and shelter from the to become downers or die in transit compared to fat catwind. The price signals, policies and expectations that tle. This is why beef cattle industry groups, farm animal packers pass down through the production chain to their care associations, and provincial and federal animal welsuppliers also have a considerable influence on the qualfare enforcement agencies continue to emphasize proper ity and condition of cattle they receive. cow feeding, management and marketing decisions at all Communicating about market cow welfare is not levels of the industry. Is this message sinking in? new. Cancer eye is a case in point. Cow carcass grades have In Western Canada, the rate of candeclined in recent years. The percer eye condemnations in federally centage of cows grading D3 (defiThin cows are weak, inspected packing plants used to cient muscling) has increased from be 26 times higher than it is now. It 13 per cent (in 1999-2002) to 36 and at very high risk has always been lower in the East, per cent in 2009-12. The proporbut it has virtually disappeared tion of cows grading D1 (excellent of becoming down or there, too. Industry communicamuscling) fell from 25 per cent to dead in transit. Cattle tion, packer price signals and poliless than one per cent over the same cies, and regulatory enforcement time period. with a BCS of 1 should all played a part in that decline. But There are a couple of reasons the most important factor was a for this. High feed costs and poor not be transported lot of individual producers decidfeed conversion rates can make it ing that shipping severe cancer eye difficult to economically improve cows was not the right thing to do, and their neighbours the condition of cull cows prior to slaughter. On top of agreed. this, the slow U.S. economy has increased demand for Marketing old, thin, weak cows is not the right thing ground beef. As a result, the price spread between betterto do, either. quality D1/D2 and D3 carcasses has narrowed due to Visit for more information high demand for lean trim for grinding. D3 cows may not be a welfare concern, but extremely about Beef Cattle Research Council activities funded thin cows are. Thin cows are weak, and at very high risk through the national checkoff. of becoming down or dead in transit. Cattle with a body The Beef Research Cluster is funded by the Canadian condition score of 1 (on a 5-point scale) should not be Cattlemen’s Association and Agriculture and Agri-Food transported. Those with a body condition score of 2 can Canada to advance research and technology transfer be transported short distances, if they are segregated. supporting the Canadian beef industry’s vision to be recExtremely thin, weak cattle are also at much higher ognized as a preferred supplier of healthy, high-quality risk of dying after they are unloaded at the packing plant, beef, cattle and genetics. but before they can be slaughtered. These cattle are con— Reynold Bergen demned and do not enter the human food chain. As a percentage of cows slaughtered, the rates of cattle that Reynold Bergen is the science director for the Beef Cattle were “found dead” at federally inspected packing plants Research Council. A portion of the national checkoff is has increased between 1999-02 and 2009-13 in both directed to the BCRC to fund research and development activities to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of Western (0.042 to 0.079 per cent) and Eastern Canada Canada’s beef industry. (0.149 to 0.193 per cent).


CSA_13#1.indd 1

3/14/2013 3:24:19 PM



Spring Fencing — Cell Design


pring is right around the corner and it is high time to look at our fencing plans for this season. I hope you have all taken some time this winter to improve the management of the manager. The off season is a great time to invest in your knowledge and improve your skills as a manager. If pasture is in your plans this summer then I hope you have spent some time learning about the grazing concepts and are ready to put some effort into improving your land by implementing a cell grazing system. A healthy pasture is a profitable pasture. One of the most common questions I am asked in my travels is, “What type of grass do I plant?” The dilemma with this question is it is usually asked when a producer is trying to deal with a symptom. The pasture has deteriorated because of the problem — overgrazing! The symptoms are poor production and weeds! If we address the symptom by reseeding but don’t deal with the problem itself, the symptoms will reappear. My answer to this question is always “posts.” The first thing we plant is posts! Adding adequate crossfencing will allow us to control the graze period and rest period and thus address the problem of overgrazing. New seeds will not fix it. New management will. In most cases, good pasture management will require some electric fencing and I know that the first post is always the hardest to pound. When planning a pasture cell design, it is important to consider a number of issues in order to minimize the mistakes that could cost you time and money.  There are five different types of cell design. You could set up your pasture with an alley system in which the cattle walk down a fenced alleyway to get to water. A pipeline system would allow the water to be piped to the different paddocks. A cell centre or wagon wheel design has all the paddocks connected to one water site in the pattern of a wagon wheel. We could also use a water truck and haul water to each paddock or we could set up our paddocks in a strip grazing method in which portable fencing is moved across a field. Don’t let anyone tell you that one 32 Cattlemen / April 2013

system is better than another. Each system has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your farm and management. I use all five on my ranch. With each system, you take the good with the bad and there is no saying that you can’t use a combination either. Let’s look at a few factors that might make you choose one system over another. You may have some personal restraints that come into play that you need to consider. Maybe you do not have the time to move fences or water. It could be a cash flow issue that makes you decide to put in an alleyway or a cell centre as the pipeline may be too pricey in the first year. Is the land owned or rented? That could be a deciding factor in which design you use. Everyone has different personal restraints that might affect your fencing plans. You just need to think yours through. Herd restraints might come into play. If you need more than one herd, a heifer herd and a cow herd maybe or purebreds versus commercials, then the fence design might be different than if all the land could be utilized by one herd. Each farm is different and can have totally different herd requirements. Quite often it is physical land restraints that allow one system to work better than another. A river, a railway track or rugged terrain can limit the use of some of the systems. Dealing with physical land issues can be very challenging and will be unique to each piece of land. If you can separate out the different

forage types, it reduces the selective grazing pressure and allows for more uniform grazing. Soil types and where the different management zones are located can also affect your fencing plans a great deal. I take extra care in managing for my riparian areas. The biodiversity of my land base is very important to us and all life, bacteria, insects and mammals, needs a healthy water system to survive. We can use our fencing to help manage for sustainability and environmental health. The location of your water source and the type of system available can be deciding factors. You may be limited on the design of your grazing cell if your water source is located in only one corner. Having a creek running through your property might limit your cell design. Aside from location, fencing to protect your water source is also an important consideration. If slope and run-off from your watering area is a concern, you may want to pump the water away to help maintain a clean water supply. This has been a concern for me on some pastures. For your own well-being, one of the most important factors to your plan should be animal movement. It can become very stressful, for the herd and the manager, if you have a poorly planned-out rotation. Difficult moves need to be planned in advance to avoid wrecks. A lot of people give up on electric fence simply because they did not plan their animal movement very well.

I also consider the convenience of managing the herd during winter when designing a cell. For example, is there a possibility that you might be bale grazing the land? Long rectangles make bale grazing very easy if you decide this might be an option down the road. Lastly, I look at the existing fences to see if I can work them into the design. When I first start a cell design, I ignore the existing cross-fencing and start from scratch. In some cases, existing cross-fencing can cause mental blocks and may cause you to use an ineffective cell design simply because it is already

there. Design your cell first, then look to see if existing cross-fences can work into the design. Sometimes it is less work to ignore the old fence and put up new electric fence where you need it. So in short, concentrate on solving the problem and not just covering up the symptoms. Figure out which cell designs you want to use. Determine the personal, herd, and physical restraints you are working with and the different forages that you have to utilize. Also consider where your riparian areas are and what you need to do in order to protect your water

source. From there you can decide where to place your fences and plan out your animal movement. Doing so will result in an investment in your land and your business’s future. And as for the most important part in any business venture, have fun! For more information on cell design, please feel free to contact me anytime. C — Steve Kenyon Steve Kenyon runs Greener Pastures Ranching Ltd. in Busby, Alta.,, 780-307-6500, email

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Part of the


Cattlemen / April 2013 33





wo Canadian companies that put a great deal of emphasis on research and field testing their products have teamed up to offer leading-edge technology to producers starting this year. Pickseed will coat all of its forage and turf seed products with Wolf Trax’s Protinus Seed Nutrition for an extra $2 on a 55-pound bag of seed. Protinus is a seed-applied fertilizer that incorporates Wolf Trax’s patented DDP (dry dispersible powder) technology with microstatic properties that cause the fertilizer to cling to the seed. Small amounts of zinc, manganese and iron work in tandem with another patented formulation that adjusts the soil pH around the seed to optimize uptake of these key micronutrients while the seedling develops roots to search for nutrients on its own. Terry Scott, Pickseed’s director of western sales, says the companies are able to offer this combination at an affordable price because the quality of the raw micronutrient ingredients in Protinus and its formulation make a little go a long way — six ounces of Protinus will coat 100 pounds of seed — and, being a dry product that readily attaches to the seed, Protinus is ideally suited to Pickseed’s existing mixing equipment and distribution system. “When we look at forages with their small seed size and shallow seed placement, and often grown on marginal land, we are always looking for ways to enhance early growth. In our opinion from our own work with Protinus and our confidence in Wolf Trax’s research program, Protinus is a very good value-added product that can provide benefits to forage seed planted in the spring,” says Scott. The data for grass seed shows seedlings from Protinus-treated seed emerged more evenly and 29 per cent more quickly than untreated controls. The total fresh weight of the seedlings averages 17 per cent more and the shoot fresh weight is nine per cent more than the controls, while the root fresh weight improved by 17 per cent, root length by 12 per cent and root area by 24 per cent. 34 Cattlemen / April 2013

The ultimate benefit is improved yield potential. Protinus has been tested by Wolf Trax and third-party researchers on forages, canola, corn, cereals, soybean, sunflower, vegetable crops, cotton and peanuts in all types of soils and growing conditions across the Americas, Europe and Australia. Results consistently show that Protinus promotes faster, more even emergence; larger, more vigorous seedlings; longer, more developed root systems; and seedlings with improved ability to withstand early-season stress. All four claims have been approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for use on the label. Protinus received registration in Canada in March 2010, and has been registered for use in the U.S. since November 2007. Scott says the CFIA registration was an important factor in Pickseed’s decision to commit to the partnership. Though it came after the two companies had teamed up, Scott says the recognition Wolf Trax founders, Kerry Green and Geoff Gyles of Winnipeg, received in the form of an innovation award from the Earnest C. Manning Award Foundation, only confirms their view of this product. It was the first award for innovation in agriculture since 1997 and the fifth for the farming industry in the 31-year history of the national awards program. Protinus-coated forages can be ordered through Pickseed’s retailer network or by calling Pickseed directly. Producers in Eastern Canada are more inclined to go with the standard blends designed for specific geographic regions and producer requirements, while 70 per cent of the company’s forage sales in Western Canada are custom blends. With that in mind, Pickseed has designed its distribution system to accommodate in-season mixing of forage blends with processing facilities located in four provinces at Sherwood Park, Alta., Nipawin, Sask., Winnipeg, Man., and St-Hyacinthe, Que., along with the head office in Lindsay, Ont. Protinus Seed Nutrition isn’t crop

Treated versus untreated below. specific, so if a farmer wants it on other traditional field crops, there is the option of asking your seed supplier to apply it, or it can be applied on the farm through the auger, says Brenda Dubeck, Wolf Trax manager of seed products. Protinus will stick to dry seed or it can be applied following a liquid treatment for disease or pest protection once it dries to the tacky stage. There are no live components in Protinus, so there’s no time limit on sowing the seed after application. The product and treated seed doesn’t require temperature-controlled storage and comes in convenient 20-pound boxes. “Farmers spend a lot of money on seed, but with a short growing season and big farms, many are pushing the envelope to get out there early, which means they are often seeding in challenging soil and weather conditions,” says Dubeck. “Protinus is a product with proven worth and value to provide extra insurance to get crops off to a good, quick start.”

DDP Micronutrients Protinus does not address nutrient

deficiencies. For that there’s Wolf Trax’s DDP Micronutrients, says Dubeck. Launched in 2003, the growing product line now includes 62 per cent zinc, 57.5 per cent copper, 33 per cent manganese, 18.5 per cent boron, 47 per cent iron, 30 per cent magnesium and 27 per cent calcium. DDP Micronutrients cling to each granule of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) in a fertilizer blend. They can be applied singularly or in combinations up to about one pound of micronutrients per 100 pounds of NPK. This effectively eliminates the tendency for micronutrients with bulk densities greater than NPK granules to


sift to the bottom of a fertilizer blend in transport and during application. That and the relatively small amount of micronutrient granules in the total blend can lead to uneven distribution across a field. It could take weeks before the roots grow enough to find the micronutrient. Wolf Trax’s patented dual-action formulation provides a portion of the micronutrient immediately with the rest being released slowly over time. Recommended rates are significantly lower compared to granular micronutrients because of improved distribution. DDP Micronutrients can be mixed with water for foliar applications to

correct deficiencies identified mid-season or as part of an overall strategy to tackle a severe deficiency. The products are compatible with liquid fertilizers (28-0-0 or 32-0-0) and most herbicides and insecticides in a tank mix. The dual-action technology offers a lot of flexibility in timing of the application with sustained release of the micronutrient for up to four weeks following application. For more information on Wolf Trax visit its website ( or contact Brenda Dubeck, at 204-7816213. For more information about Protinus on Pickseed forage seed, contact Terry Scott at 204-790-7324. C — Debbie Furber

REAL colour of


Feed conversion plus marbling equal profit.

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Cattlemen / April 2013 35


M Martin Unrau is president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association

r e p o r t s

arch was a busy month all around with calving going on at home, several key trade files demanding the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) increased focus and the CCA Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Ottawa. It never ceases to amaze me the level of work that gets done at times like these, when obligations pull one in several different directions. Teamwork both at home and organizationally is what gets us through and enables the positive outcomes we all work so hard to achieve. I missed the first few days of the CCA AGM as I was in Japan helping Agriculture and AgriFood Minister Gerry Ritz celebrate the expansion of Canadian beef access announced back in January. Japan is a very important market for Canadian beef and the expanded market access to include beef from cattle up to 30 months of age could be a game changer for Canada’s beef sector. The move to under-30-months (UTM) from under 21-months, which is all that Japan has accepted since 2005, will enable Canada to supply Japan on a year-round basis. Expansion to UTM is expected to double the value of Canadian beef shipments to Japan to $150 million in 2013. It was the CCA that held fast to the UTM for Japan while other organizations, critical of that goal, were willing to settle for less. The CCA was right to insist that UTM be achieved and we celebrate that and look forward to further successes on this important trade file. Market access was front and centre when I returned to Canada, and Ottawa for the CCA AGM. During the CCA reception, special guest speaker International Trade Minister Ed Fast highlighted the importance of trade to the beef industry and reiterated his government’s commitment to seeing current trade files through to their conclusion. CCA had the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and we talked about the importance of market access. I share the prime minister’s hope that we will soon be celebrating a new free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. The EU is a market that consumes over eight million tonnes of beef per year. With the right terms of access, the CCA hopes to be a strong supporter of a Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Europe. The CCA has devoted much time, effort and input to the final rounds of negotiations to ensure that the beef industry’s position is well understood as this process intensifies and issues are resolved. The ongoing U.S. country-of-origin labelling (COOL) issue came to a head, with the USDA issuing a proposed rule to modify the labelling provisions for muscle cut commodities under the COOL program. The CCA believes the USDA’s

36 Cattlemen / April 2013

by Martin Unrau

proposed rule will not result in COOL complying with the U.S.’s World Trade Organization obligations. In the CCA’s view, the USDA’s proposed rule, if adopted, will in fact increase the discrimination against imported cattle by adding labelling requirements and eliminating some of the existing mitigating flexibility, thereby significantly increasing the costs of compliance. It is now time to discuss openly with Americans options that are being considered should retaliation become necessary. Market access is not of course the only issue at hand as I begin my second, one-year term as president of the CCA. Animal care, which has always been important to producers, is taking on an increasingly important role with consumers. Bringing clarity to this often emotionally charged debate will require that consumers understand the rationale behind the practices and that the practices are based on sound science. It also behooves producers to review their herd management practices and see where there is room for improvement. Once finalized, the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle will provide producers with the latest scientifically valid processes in all areas, including sensitive areas such as castration and dehorning. It is important that we tackle this issue head on, with market conditions at time of writing lacklustre at best. While the CDN dollar is encouraging exports of live animals to the U.S., economic conditions there have dampened demand for protein (beef, pork, chicken), so consumers don’t need another reason to shy away from eating beef. Government programs work differently for different commodities and this affects producer land use decisions. It is CCA policy that government programs should minimize influence on business decisions and not disrupt the competitive balance between sectors or regions. The CCA continues to work to ensure government programs apply equitably to all sectors and regions. With open markets and transparent, equal programs producers are best equipped to make the right decisions for their local conditions. I’ll look forward to tackling these and other substantive issues in the year ahead. On behalf of the CCA I’d like to welcome new board directors Howard Bekkering (Alta.); Perry Rasmuson (Sask.); Ramona Blyth (Man.) and Joe Hill (Ont.). These directors replace outgoing board members Erik Butters (Alta.); Kevin Woods (Sask.); Ray Armbruster (Man.), and Matt Bowman (Ont.) who have served out their terms. The CCA thanks the outgoing directors for their contributions, which have helped to secure a strong future for Canada’s beef cattle industry.

Cattle photo courtesy of Canada Beef Inc.


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Dairy is beef

s the prosperity within developing countries evolves the desire for protein in the diet increases. In the western world, we equate protein with poultry, beef and pork. To Canadians the need for protein is seen as potential growth in one of these three food animal sources. In the beef industry, it is believed that this desire for protein will create an increase in beef or beef cattle sales. Perhaps so, but the pressures within many countries for space and dual-purpose breeds will be a challenge for beef producers. Rabobank continues to forecast that China will be the world leader in pork production while the global protein of choice will shift to poultry. Poultry accounts for the base protein in almost all cultures and because of the low cost of production, rapid reproductive cycle, use of small spaces and cultural acceptance it is set to challenge pork as the world’s most desirable protein. Along with poultry meat production, egg production is forecast to increase to 71 million metric tons or about 200 eggs per person per year. The growth in egg production will come from Brazil, Turkey, India and China while related consumption growth will be in the BRIC countries namely Brazil, Russia, India and China. It is these countries that we must recognize not only as leaders in potential consumption but ironically India, Brazil and China are also lead exporters of food animal protein. India is currently the largest exporter of beef followed by Australia and Brazil. It is India who is forecasting a massive 20 per cent increase in beef exports. Indian product goes primarily to Vietnam and MESA (Middle East and South Africa) countries. Where does this “beef” come from in countries such as India and how does the beef industry compete with pork, poultry and eggs and position itself as a desirable protein? First, we must break the paradigm that beef is derived solely from a beef animal. In all developing countries the growth of the beef sector is through an increase in the dairy herd. Dairy is beef. The lack of space and fodder is a primary driver to have dual-purpose breeds and dairy products can and do fill a protein need. Easier to store and to share, dairy products are a desired domestic product and indeed in the top of the most sought-after Canadian food exports to developing countries. The elimination of the EU dairy quota in 2015 may double or quadruple output on farms. In the EU and U.K. the farmers who are involved in dairy have expressed intense optimism, after a year of hurt, as they prepare to expand and to market product worldwide without constraint. In developing countries, the use of irrigation and nutritional advice has strengthened the dairy industry and output has increased by four times in many regions. The dairy male and the commercial spent female are increasing beef production in all areas of the world.


For Canada this means a shift in our comfortable status of producers of beef solely from and for beef genetics. When we talk about beef consumption worldwide and the growth of the beef industry, it is mainly focused on the beef output from the dairy herd. I would expect dual-purpose breeds and genetics to regain popularity and be readily exportable to Russia, Kazakhstan, the Arabic world, China (especially yellow-haired cattle) and India. It is also important to note that second to traditional dairy cattle — goat, sheep, buffalo and camel are major sources of milk and milk products. The massive expansion of the dairy industry presents an opportunity for investors of both Canadian dairy genetics and dual-purpose beef breeds. In Peru, for instance, the dairy herd has the foundation of Canadian bloodlines. In India, dairy cows are water buffalo, Holstein and Holstein-cross and other dual-purpose breeds. Each country worldwide has found a way to milk a variety of breeds of cattle, goats, buffalo and camels. It may surprise you that the top five dairy-producing areas in the world are India, Brazil, Russia, U.S. and Ethiopia followed by Pakistan, Mexico, China, Sudan and Colombia. The economies of these countries outside of North America are growing as is their dairy industry. We have to consider that ramping up milk production also curves beef import dependency. The United States has already made a historical shift from a net importer to a net exporter of beef and domestic increase in production is from both increased beef carcass size and spent dairy cattle. What does this mean for the Canadian dairy herd? Looking ahead, the need for genetics will be profound and the reintroduction of dual-purpose breeds may gain traction. This may result in considerable export potential for genetics, cattle, nutritional and herd health services. Investment into developing infrastructure will be attractive as will processing and creative retailing of product. The game changer for Canada will be her final stand on supply management. The efforts of our beef industry and her supporters in government must be commended as these are important sales. But let us be clear, for Canadian beef the growth in the global dairy herd will be a challenge in many of the countries that we have tagged for beef export. This creates an exciting challenge and creating product differentiation takes on a new sense of urgency as does the employment of a truly strategic global marketing plan that is supported by enabling export policy. — Brenda Schoepp Brenda Schoepp is a Nuffield Scholar who travels extensively exploring agriculture and meeting the people, who feed, clothe and educate our world. A motivating speaker and mentor she works with young entrepreneurs across Canada and is the founder of Women in Search of Excellence. She can be contacted through her website All rights reserved. Brenda Schoepp 2013


Benefits from VBP build across the beef industry Some are at the producer level, some industry, but all count toward responsiveness There aren’t many weeks go by where Canada’s beef industry is not challenged to do better at something. Be more competitive. Better marketers. Better at food safety. Better stewards of the land. Better at caring for animals. It’s not that the industry is doing badly at those things. It’s just the world we live in today of continual discussion of progress and performance, and the extremely high expectations of food consumers and society in general. That’s exactly the scenario the beef industry had in mind when leaders and volunteers drafted the Verified Beef Production (VBP) program years ago. Producers were joined by industry stakeholders such as processors and veterinarians who offered their support, and built a broad coalition which shaped the program. In the demanding world of today, the benefits of VBP to producers and their industry have never been clearer.

For producers Producers often ask, “What’s in it for me?” There are a lot of intangibles but four clear cornerstones of production emerge. Better awareness of food safety risks. Over and over again, producers who have taken a workshop say it has made them more aware of the potential of drug residue, or what they can do to avoid a broken needle. Improved use of animal health prod-

ucts. Even the best-managed operations say they have adjusted how they use animal health products, because history shows what product is working and when it’s time for a change. Basis for staff training or family communication. Have new staff? Neighbours who help out with chores, or help sorting out a problem? VBP helps all of them understand proper procedure. Third-party audits. It is optional but more producers recognize the value of the third-party VBP audit. It’s being able to prove you have done what you said you were doing. Producers say it helps provide authenticity (especially selling branded beef), is a good learning experience, and a real source of pride for those who have completed it.

For industry Benefits from individual producers accumulate across the industry. Defines standards. VBP helps ensure the industry is meeting accepted food safety expectations and improves consistency. And importantly, helps people understand what we do. Identifies practices. VBP has been used numerous times to demonstrate to those involved in industry oversight — what producers do and why. Differentiate Canadian beef. It’s a proactive way to keep the Canadian beef industry competitive with other countries and other protein options. Most of Canadian agriculture has a program like

VBP helps you and the industr y demonstrate responsible practices. this, and so do Canada’s major beefproducing competitors. Tool to address other issues. Beef producers are active on other fronts of sustainability such as animal care and environment. VBP offers a template of base-line standard practices that could easily incorporate other options.

Call to action More than two-thirds of Canada’s beef production comes from VBPtrained operations today, and one-fifth of beef production comes from audited beef operations. Those numbers are important. Growing them is even more important. VBP workshops are held across the country. Ask your local VBP office — contacts are on the VBP website


Every Ralgro implant has the potential to add up to 23 extra pounds* to a suckling calf.

The profitable weigh. *Data on file. **Rate of return may vary depending on market conditions. ® Registered trademark of Schering-Plough Animal Health Corporation. Used under license. Merck Animal Health, operating in Canada as Intervet Canada Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA. MERCK is a trademark of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA. Copyright © 2011 Intervet International B.V., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA. All rights reserved.

P r i m e

c u t s

by Steve Kay

Carabeef fills the hole A North American view of the meat industry. Steve Kay is publisher and editor of Cattle Buyers Weekly


he global demand for beef is increasing 1.13 million mt was down 12 per cent. The same but the world’s cattle population is flat. trend occurred in January, with values up 9.3 per Guess who’s filling the beef deficit? It’s cent but volumes down 3.2 per cent. India with its rapidly growing buffalo January saw sharply higher exports to Hong herds, from which comes carabeef. This meat is Kong, Canada and Taiwan, and solid growth going to dozens of countries, mainly in Asia, the to Japan, reported USMEF. Canada was the Middle East and Africa. It’s small wonder that top volume and value market, buying 16,586 India became the top beef exporter in 2012 and mt (up 32 per cent from last year) valued at will be again in 2013. $103 million (up 42 per cent). With this vital Carabeef does not, of course, compete with trade in mind, USMEF was no doubt bitterly North American grain-fed beef. But it fills a vital disappointed, like other U.S. industry groups, market niche as consumers in developing counat USDA’s proposed fix of the country-of-origin tries move from a largely grain- and pulses-based labelling (COOL) regulations, ostensibly to bring diet to one that includes meat or poultry. India the U.S. into compliance with its international has more than 327 million buffalo, up from 316 trade obligations. million in 2010. It will likely export 2.160 milUSDA’s proposal to expand the current labels lion metric tons of carabeef this year, versus 917 was expected by many, given the strong support million mt in 2010. Braof COOL by Agriculture zil is likely to be the secSecretary Tom Vilsack ond-largest exporter, just and other senior USDA ahead of Australia. But its India will likely export officials. But USDA comexports of an estimated 2,160 million metric tons pletely ignored the fact 1.450 million mt will still that Canada had made it be behind what it shipped of carabeef this year, clear that any fix would in 2010. have to include an end to What about North versus 917 million mt in the enforced segregation of America? The unfortu- 2010. Brazil is likely the livestock entering the U.S. nate reality is that despite This segregation was at improved global beef second-largest exporter, the heart of Canada’s and demand and fewer marMexico’s successful appeal ket restrictions, U.S. cattle just ahead of Australia to the World Trade Organumbers are still shrinking nization. So both countries and Canadian numbers are flat. The U.S. on Januwill go back to the WTO should USDA’s proposed ary 1 had 89.3 million cattle and calves, the smallchanges take effect. est number since 1952. Canada had 12.3 million Canada has already threatened to enact, prehead on January 1, up only 0.5 per cent from a sumably with the WTO’s permission, retaliatory year earlier. In turn, Mexico had about 18.57 milmeasures. USDA and the Obama administration lion head, versus 20 million head a year earlier. must surely know this is not an idle threat but North American cattle numbers have declined by don’t seem to care. They seem to want to drag out 8.5 million head in just three years and there’s the COOL saga for another two years and then little chance numbers will start to increase in the be forced to relent. It sounds just like the U.S. and U.S. until 2015 at the earliest. Canada’s battle over the European Union’s disThat’s not to suggest, however, that exports criminatory hormone ban — which is still in place aren’t vital to the economic health of the U.S. after 27 years. and Canadian beef industries. They are. Exports of beef cuts and variety meats in 2012 had a perCattle Buyers Weekly covers the North American meat head value of US$216.73, according to the U.S. and livestock industry. For subscription information, Meat Export Federation. But this was only due contact Steve Kay at P.O. Box 2533, Petaluma, Calif. 94953, or at 707-765-1725, or go to www. to increased prices. Values totalled a record $5.51 billion, up two per cent from 2011 but volume at

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The National Cattle Feeders’ Association (NCFA) closed the books on its fifth year of operation during its AGM held in conjunction with the Alberta Beef Industry Conference in February. Chairman Jeff Warrack of Strathmore, Alta., says the association works on regional issues from time to time but its main focus is on national policies and regulations that bear on trade and competitiveness. “As an export-dependent industry to be successful we want to make sure the barriers to trade are removed or do whatever we can to mitigate them,” says Warrack. We have established good working relationships with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and federal government to make sure they are aware of issues that affect feeders.” Looking back on the past year he says NCFA was involved in reviewing the proposed changes to the CFIA regulatory framework for food safety, plant health and animal health, and legislation to modernize Canada’s feed regulations. Lobbying activities included annual one-on-one meetings with senior government officials in Ottawa and hosting feedlot tours in Ontario

and Saskatchewan for members of the House of Commons Standing Committee and the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. For 2013 Warrack says a priority for feeders is to resolve the product-ofCanada labelling issue. To qualify for the product-of-Canada label on beef, cattle must be born, raised and slaughtered in Canada. At times, Canadian packers have declined to purchase U.S.born cattle fed out in Canadian feedlots because the beef wouldn’t qualify for the product-of-Canada label. Despite the U.S. mCOOL legislation, the NCFA has been lobbying to see this Canadian barrier removed. Last year, CFIA clarified the rule to allow U.S. cattle fed in Canada for 60 days to be labelled as a product of Canada, which solves the issue in the short term, but it has yet to be confirmed for the long term. Other ongoing issues for feeders are cross-border trade, beef grading regulations and the temporary foreign worker program. Cross-border trade initiatives are handled through the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Co-operation Council established by the two governments to streamline trade. NCFA is pushing for quick adoption of electronic certification for cross-border cattle shipments and continues to advocate with

National Cattle Feeders’ Association board: (l-r) Bill Freding (B.C); Bill Jameson, past chair (Sask.), Larr y Schweitzer, vice-chair (Man.); Glen Thompson (Alta.); Br yan Walton, general manager (Alta.); Marie-Claude Mainville, director-at-large (Que.); Jeff Warrack, chair (Alta.); Ryan Thompson (Sask.) and Herb Groenenboom (Alta.). Missing: Doug Kaufman (Ont.) and Russ Evans, policy and research manager (Alta.). 42 CATTLEMEN / APRIL 2013

other industry groups for simultaneous approval of veterinary drugs in Canada and the U.S. The NCFA would also like Canada’s beef grading system to be aligned with that in the U.S. Canada’s marbling grades are already identical to those in the U.S. for the top three quality grades and the NCFA supports replacing the current three yield grades with the five class yield grading system used south of the border. Due to the overwhelming demand for temporary foreign workers, Service Canada has responded to industry requests to streamline the process and is entertaining further changes, Warrack says. All in all, the program is operating much more smoothly and the department is much more receptive to making sure it meets the need of everyone involved. NCFA also took part in industrygovernment discussions to plan and develop a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan.

POLICY SUSTAINING BEEF’S IMAGE IN A CHANGING WORLD The Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association celebrated its 40th year by hosting the Alberta Beef Industry Conference at the historic Banff Springs Hotel. The conference theme, From Brands to Barcodes, speaks to one of the association’s priority areas — working to maintain transparency and credibility in the eyes of consumers. Presentations were infused with messages of changing economics and demographics, competitiveness, transparency in modern agriculture, the power of technology and communication, and everything global. Scotia Bank chief economist Warren Jestin says the world has fast-forwarded in a big way and the only certainty is we won’t be going back to the world of 10 years ago with predictable cycles for economic forecasting. Pierre Desrochers, author of THE LOCAVORE’S DILEMMA: IN PRAISE OF THE 10,000 MILE DIET, talked about the merits of a safe, nutritious, global food market. His research shows that eat-local campaigns of the past have been relatively short lived and that food miles are only valid when everything else is equal. He suggests one proactive

approach to reach consumers may be going back in history to explain why food production and systems have evolved as they have. Elanco Animal Health president Jeff Simmons addressed global food security issues, reminding listeners that hunger is already the No. 1 health problem in the world with a population set to climb to nine billion by 2050. Access to nutrientdense meat, milk and eggs will be critical and technology will continue to be vital in achieving a food-secure world through innovation, choice and global trade. Yet technology is under attack by some consumers. He challenged the beef industry to move from comfortable to conviction when telling its story. People don’t buy what you produce, he said, they buy why you do it. Brad Morgan, food safety specialist with Pfizer Animal Health, says people in affluent countries waste a third of the food produced and offered some examples of technologies and strategies being implemented around the globe to reduce food waste from production right through to the consumer. He left listeners with the image of a “digital campfire” suggesting bad-news flareups in social and mainstream media could be suppressed by associations

preparing ahead of time to deal with all imaginable scenarios and being more transparent about modern production systems all of the time.

The U.S. strategy The conference concluded with a panel discussion delving into viable sustainability and the social licence to operate. “Words like sustainability and social licence to operate can be scary because we don’t really understand what they mean and they’ve been hijacked by others who may not be our friends,” says Kim StackhouseLawson, director of sustainability research at the Kim Stackhouse-Lawson National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) Centre for Research and Knowledge Management, which the U.S. Beef Checkoff Program contracted to spearhead a beef sustainability project. The U.S. beef industry has defined sustainability as the process of meeting beef demand and balancing environ-

mental responsibility, economic opportunity and social diligence throughout the supply chain. The aim is to document the related science to better prepare all sectors of the beef industry to answer consumer questions, telling the story of beef and defending beef’s image globally. Stackhouse-Lawson encouraged the Canadian beef industry to make it a North American initiative. She knows first hand that the stakes can be high when industries aren’t prepared to tell their stories. Her family was among many that lost jobs in forestry when public opinion forced government to stop the tree harvest in northern California. As part-time ranchers, they now see similar challenges encroaching on the beef industry. The beef project is the first and largest of its kind for an agricultural commodity in the world because of its holistic assessment of all three pillars: environment (water, air and land), economic (consumer price, profitability and traceability) and social (animal welfare, food safety, employee safety). It is intended to be the first benchmark to measure progress and set the Continued on page 44

Cattlemen / APRIL 2013 43

News Roundup Continued from page 43

path for sustainability for the entire beef chain. “Its complexity makes it a game changer in establishing indicators for sustainability and it positions the U.S. beef industry as a global leader in the sustainability discussion with other livestock sectors, governments and non-government organizations,” she explains. “A North American initiative could make our industry stronger, but without Canada, we don’t have a North American initiative. If we are going to be global leaders we need North American participation and maybe even wider.” The project started in 2011 by engaging stakeholders to help identify perceived sustainability issues, or hot spots. The second phase nearing completion involved collecting comprehensive data to model simulations for a complete life cycle analysis (LCA) of beef from pasture to plate. For this, the NCBA partnered with BASF, which has developed a tool for evaluating sustainability, eco-efficiency and traceability, and with several departments within the USDA-Agricultural Research Service to quantify all system inputs and outputs. Preliminary data show that between 2005 and 2011 significant reductions have been made in solid waste and greenhouse gas emissions, emissions to water, land use, occupational illnesses and accidents, energy use, resource consumption and toxicity potential. Identifying areas where improvements have, could and will be made is a positive story that is already gaining traction with consumers and governments, she adds. “How did we improve sustainability when we weren’t even trying? It was through technology and innovation — genetics for improving feed crops and animal performance, improvements in nutrition, irrigation and fertilizer management, and bio-gas capture to use waste as a solution are a few of the good stories to tell. What surprised us was food waste. U.S. consumers waste 20 per cent of all beef they buy and that takes a lot to make up for on the farm.” The LCA will be complete when the social pillar findings are added early this year. Parts of it are already in the hands of the accredited National Standards Foundation International for third-party verification. The final phase will be creating an 44 Cattlemen / APRIL 2013

LCA tool to take the research to the real world. The software program will be released later this year and is intended to help producers monitor sustainability progress on their own operations. “The sustainability initiative allows us to tell our story and we have a fine story to tell and it’s based in good science, but it’s a baseline and we still have some places we need to go. Hopefully, it will focus on areas that will actually make a difference and effectively address the need for more sustainable alternatives,” she says.

Lessons from other industries Panellist Keith Murray, director with Alberta Forest Products Association, says to have a social licence, an industry needs community acceptance and to establish a reputation so stakeholders have a positive attitude toward the product. In British Columbia, the public and government turned against the forestry industry when things got tough. In response the industry panicked, failed to respond to media and environmental campaigns, and didn’t engage the community to tell its story. “Take the lead in telling your story,” he urges. “We failed in that back then, but we are starting to have some success.” Communicating operating plans that include endangered species protection and building the first certification program in North America are two initiatives that have helped in the process of reinstating and maintaining forestry’s social licence. His advice is to be open to what your industry can and can’t do and to tell the truth if something can’t be done. That said, prepare to be flexible, embrace change, keep a positive attitude, and move ahead — don’t get stuck on a position or depend on what was. Panellist Brenda Kenny, who leads the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, says people in the past trusted that government would safeguard the public interest so a social licence was about having the permit. Today, people expect to be engaged. In the pipeline world, the social licence is mostly about the duty to perform safety, environmental and societal obligations and to communicate transparently, which all go into building trust. Her tips for the beef industry are to keep governments, stakeholders and proponents informed because they have to be able to communicate their stories even when their businesses are at risk, and to be mindful that the social licence and regulatory environment are not static. What people expect today will be different from what’s on the

horizon and their judgment of what’s safe and clean enough will change. What’s accepted in Canada may not be accepted worldwide.

Packers JBS pleased with Brooks plant Bill Rupp, president and COO of JBS USA’s North America and Australia beef business told producers attending the recent Alberta Beef Industry Conference that he was more than a little nervous when JBS took over management of the Brooks facility in the midst of what seemed to be a neverending and everwidening list Bill Rupp of beef recalls due to E. coli 0157:H7 contamination. “In fact, one of the first things we did was take some cattle down to the U.S. to look them over. We did a lot of bacterial swabbing to try to understand if there was a difference between cattle here and cattle in the U.S. from a microbial standpoint,” Rupp says. “I think we found out that they outperformed the control group we compared them to in the U.S.” Since taking over operations in late October last year and as owners since January 14, Rupp says the Brooks plant has probably been the company’s bestperforming plant from a food safety standpoint and has one of the best track records for food hygiene anywhere. Of the tens of thousands of samples taken at the plant, only a handful have tested positive for E. coli 0157:H7 and the company’s “safe process” was followed to remove the associated beef from the market. The safe process is a system of training employees on the correct procedures for their jobs and then giving them lots of ongoing feedback on whether they are using those procedures correctly. “When you are testing all the trimmings that you produce and only have a handful of positives that means your process and your employees who operate the process are doing an outstanding job.” JBS also brings a lot of enthusiasm to the marketing side of the business, believing that for a plant to be

ful in Canada, it has to be able to operate seamlessly in both the Canadian and U.S. markets. “We will continue to have a sales team in Canada to service the Canadian market as well as to represent our U.S. beef products in Canada, and our team in the U.S. will represent our Canadian products in the U.S.,” he explains. “We are already doing that with very good success.” JBS sees the company’s ability to plug Canadian product into its current business structure with current customers to grow demand for Canadian product in the U.S. and international markets as one of the advantages it brings to the Brooks plant. Another of JBS’s strengths is its skilled pricing team. The pricing manager at Brooks is on that team with access to all of the same knowledge about global markets and the tools to aggressively price beef products coming out of the Brooks plant and get them to the market that’s going to make the plant the most money. “The good news is that we are back on line export-wise in every country,” Rupp says. “We just got over the final hurdles of getting some beef going down to Mexico from our Canadian

plant (in mid-February) and the trucks are already on the road. “We are proud of the workforce and facility here and believe the plant will do good things for JBS and the Canadian beef industry going forward.” “From a supply-and-demand perspective, the North American beef supply is at the bottom,” says Rupp. “There is tension on supply, overcapacity within the feedlot sector and overcapacity within the packing industry. It’s been a tough time for a lot of folks in the audience and for the packers right now.” But in the long run he sees a positive picture for beef. There will be a population increase to nine billion people by 2050 with a hugely growing middle class and history has shown time and time again that as an economy emerges, the appetite for meat protein grows exponentially. “In fact, that was the Batista family’s whole impetus for investing into the U.S. and Australia,” he says. “That’s the whole business case for JBS right there.” Continued on page 46

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2 1 Nutrition Comment Research Special features 5 4 3 2 1 Newsmakers Letters Calving Issue (Jan.) CCA Reports Custom Feedlot Guide (Sep.) Prime Cuts Stock Buyers’ Guide (Aug.) Straight From The Hip Animal Health Special (Sep.) Holistic Ranching Beef Watch (May & Nov.) What would you like to see? __________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ How much time do you and your family spend reading 1666 Dublin Avenue Canadian Cattlemen?  Under 2 hours  Over 2 hours Winnipeg, Man. R3H 0H1

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He doesn’t see those same pluses on the production side though and that’s where innovation comes in. Packers look at production in terms of head units and from that perspective the industry has gone about as low as it can go by relying on innovation to raise the weight of cattle to offset the smaller number of cattle. There have been plant closures in North America and he suspects there will be more before things turn around. Looking ahead into March and April, they already know there will be four to five per cent fewer cattle coming in compared to the same period a year ago. No doubt, production in terms of head units will go lower. “Clearly, we have macro-economic signals in front of us to create massive change in the industry. Are we just going to survive it until it gets back to what we are used to, or take the opportunity to blow it up and come out with a new model of an industry that will be successful for many years to come?” His single most important message

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is that all sectors of the industry have got to pull together to create value across the industry and make it more efficient and effective. Up to now he feels food retailer and service operators have been a missing link in the beef supply chain yet they are the industry’s interface with consumers to get the message about beef to the public. In Rupp’s experience, beef as an industry tends to point to other sectors as competitors. Pork and poultry on the other hand are more aligned. If you ask a hog or poultry guy who his competitors are, the answer is likely to be the other proteins. “I think as long as we have those views (on competition), it’s going to be very, very difficult for us to continue to

compete with the other proteins and to have an overall business strategy that really targets consumers, understands what consumers want, and delivers products that meet those needs. “The big opportunity, I believe, for us is through brands to have that opportunity to tell our story to consumers,” Rupp says. “All beef is not created equal and that’s OK. “We need to make sure that we get the right beef targeted to the right use and to the right consumer at the right time. Branding is a way to identify that and to take that message to the consumer through our retail and food service partners and create demand growth in a way other than just seasonal demand.” C

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Deborah WILSON ◆ I did get two responses about the steer handlers in the Jan. 21 issue. Andy Hart identified all but one and Wayne Robinson of Blind Creek Angus identified all of them. Left to right — Judge Bud Boake, Lynn Armistead, Gavin Hamilton, Jamie Hamilton, Tom Ericson, and Craig Flewelling. Thanks to Mabel Hamilton for sending the picture. and emailed to identify him. It is so nice to know that a life well lived is recognized in our industry.

◆ The 15th Annual Olds Spring Classic Jackpot Steer and Heifer Show is slated for Saturday, April 20 at the Olds Ag Society. Entries are due upon arrival at 10 a.m. Check out the website for details:

◆ “Hi Deb, we really enjoy this item in

your columns. The last picture with the 1966 Steer Champion is my old partner in crime Fred Noad,” said Bob Smith. Well Bob, you weren’t the only one who identified Fred Noad. Roy Fisher and Eldon Dyck also called to talk about Fred. This picture generated the most emails and phone calls with comments from “great cattleman,” “supporter of 4-H” and “friend.” Fred made a huge impact on people and was well respected, so I couldn’t possibly begin to name everyone who phoned

know the identity of the fellow behind the fence,” writes Della Wise-Whelan of Irricana, Alta. Rob Matthews is in the background.

◆ The Canadian Hereford Associa-

◆ “Love the pictures! The children

in February’s edition are Peter (Alta Cedar Shorthorns) and Rosslynn Boake, looks to be at Bashaw. Peter is wearing a Southolm Angus cap. I don’t

tion has recognized the following major donors to the Keith Gilmore Foundation Funds. Ron and Sharon Stevenson, Copper Creek Ranch, Princeton, B.C. donated $50,000 to the Bonanza Legacy Fund; Gordon and Rosemary Church, Church Ranch, Balzac, Alta. donated $10,000 to the Scholarship Fund and Jay and Lucy Cross, Bar Pipe Hereford

◆ I love this month’s picture. To quote the contributor, “What a fashion statement!” She was referring to the clothing. We have lots of people to identify in this picture. I recognize a few but not all.

48 Cattlemen / April 2013

Ranch, Okotoks, Alta., donated $5,000 to the Hereford Research Fund. For more information on any of the funds under the Keith Gilmore Foundation please contact the Canadian Hereford Association at 403-275-2662.

◆ Summer Synergy plans are well

underway and will continue the partnership with Calgary Stampede Youth Show and UFA Steer Classic. Entries will be available online April 1 with an entry deadline of June 1. Check it out at

◆ The Cattlemen’s Young Leaders

(CYL) Development Program recently announced its 2013 national mentorship semi-finalists. The 22 semi-finalists were selected from nearly 70 applicants by the CYL subcommittee. Finalists for the 2013-14 program were selected following a final roundtable session at the CYL Spring Forum, held in conjunction with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association Annual General Meeting in Ottawa March 5-8. The 2013 CYL semi-finalists are: British Columbia: Cuyler Huffman; Alberta: Amanda Elzinga, Becky Page, Claire Windeyer, Daniel Doerksen, Debra Murphy,

Hope Eaton, Jacob Onyschuk, Jordyn Prior, Kelsey Beasley, Shelby Froland, Trevor Alexander; Saskatchewan: Carla Schmitt, Kelcy Elford, Lance Leachman, Natasha Kutryk; Manitoba: Andrea Bertholet, Austen Anderson, Carollyne Kehler; Ontario: Noa Mullin; New Brunswick: Meghan Black; Prince Edward Island: Daniel Muir. The CYL Development Program provides industry-specific training and mentorship opportunities to young producers. CYL participants have the opportunity to explore a potential career choice or involvement with a provincial/national producer organization, while gaining the expertise and business acumen necessary to sustain the cattle industry into the future. Stay tuned to find out the finalists for 2013.

◆ John Donaldson, a past president of

the Canadian Angus Association was elected president of the Quebec Angus Association at its annual meeting February 24. Ryan Currie is vice-president. The other directors are Donna Donaldson, Jerome Richard, Stan Christenson, Pierre Laberge and Chris Bushey. The president announced a field day at JD Farms on July 12, a Female Sale Sept.

SALES Lewis Farms 28th Annual Bull Sale Feb, 23, 2013, Spruce Grove, Alta. 45 49 47 23 16 111 291

Black Simmental yearlings, av. $5,607 Red Simmental yearlings, av. $5,329 Fullblood Simmental yearlings, av. $5,788 Black Angus, av. $4,697 Red Angus, av. $4,009 Extra age bulls, av. $ 5,372 Total, av. $5,369

15 at Brome Fair Grounds and the date of the next AGM as Feb. 9, 2014.

◆ The American Gelbvieh Junior Association formally invited members of the Canadian Gelbvieh Junior Association to attend the 2013 AGJA Northern Lights Classic to be held June 30-July 6 in Rochester, Minn. Any Canadian Gelbvieh Junior Association member in good standing can attend as a nonvoting, honorary AGJA member for the duration of the show and is entitled to participate in AGJA contests during the week and/or exhibit animals. Show details will be posted to the American Gelbvieh Association website as they Continued on page 50


Canada Beef Inc. Working for you

Canada Beef Inc. What is Canada Beef Inc. doing for the Canadian beef producer? At Canada Beef we know that our most important stakeholder is the one who invests the money for the work we do – the Canadian beef producer. We put that money to work with industry partners – processor, retail, and foodservice sectors – building relationships throughout the value chain with partners who are committed to Canadian Beef. We work to develop markets in Canada and the United States, and throughout the world. We look for new ways to increase carcass value – building demand for priority cuts in new markets and bringing industry partners together. Canada Beef Inc. is putting your national Check-Off dollars to work for you.


Continued from page 49

become available at: northernlights.html.

◆ Last month the Canadian Angus Association on behalf of

the Canadian Angus Foundation announced the junior members chosen to represent Canadian Angus in New Zealand at the Youth Program of the 2013 PGG Wrightson World Angus Forum. Congratulations go out to Stacey Domolewski, Taber, Alta.; Sean Enright, Renfrew, Ont.; Ty Dietrich, Forestburg, Alta.; Erika Easton, Wawota, Sask.; Kaitlynn Bolduc, Stavely,

Bull Sale Results Pride of the Prairies Bull Sale — March 4 Lloydminster

Number of lots sold

Average price








Black Angus





Red Angus










Horned Hereford





Polled Hereford


















Calgary Bull Sale: March 7 Number of lots sold

◆ Edmonton’s Big Island Lowline’s Canadian National Average price
























Regina Bull Sale: March 10 Number of lots sold

Average price








Black Angus





Red Angus
























Alta.; Matthew Bates, Cameron, Ont.; Chad Lorenz, Markerville, Alta.; Patrick Holland, Montague, P.E.I.; Melissa McRae, Brandon, Man.; Austen Anderson, Swan River, Man.; Michael Hargrave, Maxwell, Ont.; and Jared Hunter, Didsbury, Alta. Initially, the Angus Foundation had committed to sending eight individuals for two Canadian teams but after reviewing the applications the decision was made to send three teams of four competitors. Funding for the extra team was made possible by an additional contribution from the CAA board of directors. The primary focus of the foundation is to enhance junior activities to encourage young people to follow a career in agriculture. Team members will travel, to Palmerston North, North Island, New Zealand October 2-18 to compete in five categories: general knowledge, parading which consists of presentation, showmanship and sportsmanship with an Angus animal, stock judging, animal preparation and agri-sport. This last one is a hands-on team challenge involving day-to-day tasks. Team members will also have the chance to visit Angus studs in the area and prepare animals for the World Angus Forum.

Grand Champion bull continued his livestock show successes by being named Grand Champion Lowline Angus Bull at the Houston International Livestock Show and Sale. He was syndicated and will now reside at the University of Findlay livestock operation in Ohio.

◆ Total sales exceeded $1 million, during the 113th annual Calgary Bull Sale held March 6, 7 at Stampede Park. This year’s Calgary Bull Sale, the oldest continuous consignment bull sale on the planet, rang up total sales of $1,004,850, and with 181 bulls sold in all, the average price was $4,675.41. Those figures may not match the extraordinary totals from the 2012 Calgary Bull Sale — $1.38 million and $5,727, respectively — but this year’s average bull price was still the second highest of the new millennium. This year’s sales included 15 pens of five heifers as part of the second Commercial Replacement Heifer Pen Show and Sale, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health (now Zoetis), which sold for $82,750. It also included the sale of 12 ranch horses for $75,850. ◆ The 94th Annual Pride of the Prairies Bull Show and Sale

March 3-4 attracted 106 bulls from seven breeds and 39 steers and 46 heifers to the second annual GMack Oilfield Progress Steer and Heifer Show supported by Crudemaster Transport. Jon Fox IV of Lloydminster, Sask., judged the bulls and Grant, Edam, Sask., judged the steers and heifers. They sold 99 bulls for an average $3,720. C

The markets

Market Summary debbie mcmillin

tributed to placements being 24 per cent smaller than February 2012. Fed slaughter in Canada was down through the first 10 weeks of the year. Fed-steer slaughter is off four per cent at 236,322 head to date and heifers are down 27 per cent at 126,916 head. Exports of fed cattle were also off one per cent in the first two months of the year with 61,454 cattle going south.

Fed Cattle

Feeder Cattle

Fed-cattle prices remain disappointing. Fed inventories remain small and cut-out prices are rising but beef movement and slaughter rates have slowed widening the cash-to-cash basis and weakening any expected bump in prices. Over the past four weeks fed cattle hovered near $114-$115 with a brief jump to $116.02/cwt. The fed basis continues to disappoint at -17.55/ cwt. If it followed the last three-year average the cash-to-cash basis would be closer to -8.50. Packers have been leaning on contracted and formula priced cattle to meet the needs of their slower chain speeds. Packers have been comfortable with the inventory around them given the slower beef movement and longer lift times for the feedlots. Total cattle on feed remained smaller than year-ago levels at March 1 with Alberta/Saskatchewan lots holding 890,583 head, seven per cent fewer than the year before. Larger feeder exports and a sluggish fed market con-

Feeder cattle prices are disappointing compared to the high prices seen in 2012 but a struggling fed market has limited the feeder market potential even given the tighter supplies in the smaller 2012 calf crop. By mid-March 550-lb. feeders were trading near $155/cwt, $29 under 2012. While prices are depressed, the interest in grass cattle remains with topquality groups selling closer to $165. Heavier feeders dropped more than $6 since the start of the year, with 850 steers averaging $125 at mid-month, $17 below a year ago. Many buyers have been reluctant to invest in heavy calves that finish in the usually slow summer months given the cost of feed and sluggish fat cattle market to date. The feeder basis is currently near 18/ cwt under the U.S. The 850-lb. feeder basis has been wide since the start of 2013. The average for the year to date is -16.97/cwt while the three-year average over the same weeks is -9.78/cwt.

Deb’s Outlook Fed Cattle Based on the cattle-on-feed data in 2012, front-end supplies of marketready fed cattle should remain smaller as we move through the next few weeks. Typically this is the time of year when premium-priced middle meat demand surges as retailers look to the start of the grilling season. Cut-outs have moved up in the past few weeks causing a small rally in U.S. prices. The Canadian dollar remains moderate which is another positive. However, the higher-priced fed cattle seen in 2012 are now reaching the consumer which could impact spending decisions moving forward. Competing pork prices took a three per cent drop in January

and remain under pressure limiting the upside for beef. Let’s hope that grilling demand for beef products continues to pick up after Easter.

Feeder Cattle Volumes of feeder cattle that producers have been backgrounding are expected to pick up in the short term as producers look to free up pen space heading into calving. A sluggish fedcattle cash market continues to drag on the feeder trade. However, once some green grass starts to show buyers should take more interest, fetching some premiums on top-quality groups. As spring approaches auction volumes also tend to slow down and the cost of carrying calves until the grass arrives starts to look more manageable. That should add some

Interest in the U.S. has been strong with feeder exports through the first couple months of 2013 up 92 per cent from last year at 49,284 head.

Cull Cattle The slightly weaker Canadian dollar and strong U.S. cow market pushed D1,2 cow prices higher by nine per cent or nearly $6/cwt since the start of 2013. Cows averaged $75.92/cwt in mid-March, $1.21 better than a year ago. Butcher bulls are also benefiting from the demand for grinding meats, averaging $88.89 at mid-March. Cow slaughter in Canada backed off just one per cent from a year ago with 107,520 head processed in the first 10 weeks of 2013. Bull slaughter by comparison is down 90 per cent on the year at 324 head over the same weeks. Exports made up some of the difference with a 50 per cent increase as 10,591 bulls were trucked to the U.S. by the end of the first week of March. Cow exports are up even more with 56,594 taken home by U.S. buyers, a full 112 per cent increase over last year, to meet the strong demand for ground beef as the grilling season approaches.

— Debbie McMillin

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

More markets➤ gleam to quality grasser-type cattle. U.S. buyer interest will set a floor on the market. Heavy feeders targeting the summer market will remain under pressure.

Non-Fed Cattle Cull cattle will remain popular with buyers. Grilling season should spur some additional demand, particularly following the more traditional Easter menu. Numbers will remain tight as producers move into full swing with calving, having already sold their available cows. Strong bull prices and an upcoming breeding season will result in many producers swapping out older herd sires for younger replacements in bull sale season. Butcher bulls should continue trading from strength in both domestic and export markets. Cattlemen / april 2013 51

Break-even Prices on A-Grade Steers 140




100 90

Steer Calves (500-600 lb.)




Market Prices



western Market Summary

150 140

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


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





D1,2 Cows








105 95 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


Canfax weighted average price on A-Grade steers


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

Ontario 2012 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 Grier2012

Market Summary (to March 2)

March 2013 prices* Alber ta Yearling steers (850 lb.)............... $127.06/cwt Barley................................................. 6.19/bu. Barley silage..................................... 77.38/ton Cost of gain (feed)........................... 82.93/cwt Cost of gain (all costs)................... 107.20/cwt Fed steers...................................... 114.96/cwt Break-even (July 2013).................. 119.94/cwt Ontario Yearling steers (850 lb.)............... $127.37/cwt Corn silage....................................... 56.80/ton Grain corn........................................... 6.85/bu. Cost of gain (feed)......................... 103.03/cwt Cost of gain (all costs)................... 128.18/cwt Fed steers...................................... 117.82/cwt Break-even (September 2013)........ 127.71/cwt *Mid-month to mid-month prices Breakevens East: end wt 1,450, 183 days West end wt 1,325 lb., 125 days

52 Cattlemen / april 2013

2013 Total Canadian federally inspected slaughter................ 419,246 Average steer carcass weight............................................ 887 lb. Total U.S. slaughter.......................................................5,830,000

2012 476,646 883 lb. 6,066,000

Trade Summary EXPORTS 2013 Fed cattle to U.S. (to Feb. 23).......................................... 52,638 Feeder cattle and calves to U.S. (to Feb. 23)................... 37,906 Dressed beef to U.S. (to Jan.)................................. 32.63 mil.lbs Total dressed beef (to Jan.).................................... 41.45 mil.lbs

2012 52,986 21,332 45.49 mil.lbs 58.85 mil.lbs

IMPORTS 2013 Slaughter cattle from U.S. (to Jan.) . ......................................... 0 *Dressed beef from U.S. (to Jan.).......................... 34.64 mil.lbs *Dressed beef from Australia (to Jan.)....................... 3.96 mil.lbs *Dressed beef from New Zealand (to Jan.).................. 3.01 mil.lbs *Dressed beef from Uruguay (to Jan.)...................... 5.10 mil.lbs

2012 0 26.19 mil.lbs 3.31 mil.lbs 5.22 mil.lbs 3.06 mil.lbs

Canadian Grades (to March 9, 2013) % of A grades AAA AA A Prime Total EAST WEST

+59% 21.8 25.9 1.3 0.2 49.2 Total graded 103,586 360,695

Yield –53% Total 12.1 57.8 2.6 37.8 0.0 1.4 0.8 1.6 15.5 Total A grade 98.6% Total ungraded % carcass basis 6,745 73.7% 56 87.1%

54-58% 23.9 9.3 0.1 0.6 33.9

Only federally inspected plants

market talk with Gerald Klassen

Feed grain outlook


t is that time of year when farmers and cow-calf producers start looking at potential price structure for new-crop feed grains. Feeder cattle prices in Western Canada have been running $15 to $20/cwt below year-ago levels as barley and corn prices trade near historical highs. Feedlot margins have been hovering in red ink due to higher input costs and there is a fair amount of uncertainty moving forward. In this issue, I’m going to discuss the outlook for the feed grain complex so that producers know what to expect moving into the fall period. Barley prices in southern Alberta currently range from $280 to $285 delivered while feed wheat has reached $295. Given the tighter stocks of barley and feed wheat, the feed grain complex is functioning to encourage the use of alternate feed grains such as DDGS and low-protein milling wheat. The barley carry-out for the 2012-13 crop year is projected to finish near 1.3 million mt which is similar to last year but down from the 10-year average of 2.2 million mt.

I won’t be surprised to see U.S. corn delivered to Lethbridge trade under $4.50 per bushel October through December, making barley $4/bu. in southern Alberta For 2013, I’m expecting barley acres to be down five per cent from 2012. Using an average yield of 57 bushels per acre, Canadian barley production has potential to reach 8.6 million mt compared to 8.0 million mt in 2012. Canadian barley demand for 2013-14 is expected to be very similar to 2012-13; therefore, the carry-out will increase to 2.1 million mt which is basically the same as the 10-year average. The largest influence on the Canadian feed grain situation will be the increase in U.S. corn production. Corn

U.S. corn supply and demand U.S.and

USDA 10/11

USDA 11/12

5-year avg.

USDA 12/13

Est. 13/14

Acres seeded






Acres harvested






Yield (bu./ac.)






SUPPLY (million bushels)

Opening stocks Aug. 1




























USE (million bushels)

Feed-waste-dockage Feed seed industrial












Domestic demand
























acres are expected to be in the range of 96 million to 99 million acres. In the example below, I’m using 98 million acres and an average yield of 155 bushels per acre. U.S. corn production has potential to reach 13.7 billion bushels. The corn market will function to encourage demand as the corn carry-out could reach over 2.2 billion bushels, up from the five-year average carry-out of 1.4 billion bushels. It is important to realize that U.S. corn has lost the traditional share of the world market due to larger production in the Black Sea region and South America. Therefore, I’m expecting a surge in Canadian imports of U.S. corn and DDGS in the 2013-14 crop year. Put it this way, if the U.S. produces 350 million mt of corn, Canada does not need an 8.6-million-mt barley crop. The price outlook for the remainder of the 2012-13 crop year is relatively stagnant. Looking at past history, when barley supplies are relatively tight, the market stays firm until seeding is wrapped up and then trends lower into new crop positions. Cattleon-feed numbers in Alberta and Saskatchewan drop by nearly 40 per cent from April to September and with limited export movement, demand will be on the downward swing. In early March, barley traded at US$320/ mt delivered Tunisia which is a sharp discount to Canadian domestic prices. This equates to a price of $190 to $200 in central Alberta. At this time, there are no problem areas in the Northern Hemisphere and we expect a resumption in Ukraine and Russian grain production. For new crop, I won’t be surprised to see U.S. corn delivered to Lethbridge trade under $4.50 per bushel during October through December 2013. This would make barley around $4 per bushel in southern Alberta. Gerald Klassen analyzes markets in Winnipeg and also maintains an interest in the family feedlot in southern Alberta. He can be reached at Cattlemen / april 2013 53


20—15th Annual Olds Spring Classic Jackpot Steer and Heifer Show, Olds Ag Society, Olds, Alta.,


4-6—Canadian Animal Health Institute Annual Meeting, Bromont, Que.

AD INDEX Page Ag Growth Industries 9 Bar T5 Agra Services 46 Boehringer Ingelheim 7 Brett Young Seeds 27 Burwash Equine Services 46 Canada Beef Inc. 49 Canadian Angus Assoc. IFC Canadian Charolais Assoc. OBC Canadian Gelbvieh Assoc. 47 Canadian Hereford Assoc. 47 Canadian Limousin Assoc. 46 Canadian Shorthorn Assoc. 35 Canadian Simmental Assoc. 19, 31 Canadian Welsh Black Society 46 Case-IH 10, 11 Dee Dee Rio Ranching 46 Fleetwood Farms Quarter 46 Gerry & Sandy Hansma 46 Greener Pastures 45 International Livestock Congress 37 International Stock Foods 47 Janet Hotte 47 John Deere Ag Marketing Center 23 Justabout Ranch 46 Kubota Canada 4 a-h Lakeland Group/Northstar 12 a-p Matchmakers Select 47 Merck Animal Health 24, 25, 39, IBC Myterra Ranch 47 Novartis Animal Health Canada 21 Pfizer Animal Health 15 Plain Jans 46 Salers Assoc. of Canada 46 Sandy Ridge Stallion Station 47 Scotiabank 17 Suitor Quarter Horses 47 Tru-Test Inc. 43 Vermeer Corporation 29 Xplornet 41

6-9—Livestock Markets Association of Canada Convention and Auctioneer Competition Blackfoot Inn, Calgary, Alta. 7-9—Lakeland College-Vermilion, 2013 Alumni Homecoming and Rose Ball — 100th Anniversary, Lakeland College, Vermilion, Alta., 780-853-8628, www.lakelandc.

9-11—Saskatchewan Stock Growers 100th Convention and Annual General Meeting, Heritage Inn, Moose Jaw, Sask., www.

17-18—ALMA’s Future Fare, Sheraton Hotel, Red Deer, Alta. 19-21—Farm Progress Show, Evraz Place, Regina, Sask. 20-21—UCVM Beef Cattle Conference 2013, Coast Plaza Hotel, Calgary, Alta. 25—Western Beef Development Centre Annual Field Day, Termuende Research Ranch, Lanigan, Sask.

August 17—Calgary Police Rodeo Assoc. 31st Annual Rodeo, Airdrie Rodeo Grounds, Airdrie, Alta.

22-23—Livestock Gentec 4th Annual Conference, Coast Plaza Hotel, Edmonton, Alta.,

SALES April 15—Justamere 18th Annual Bull Sale — 60 Black Angus bulls, at the farm, Lloydminster, Sask. 20—35th Annual Short Grass Angus Bull and Female Sale, Sandy Bar Ranch, Aneroid, 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


By Jerry Palen

July 5-14—Calgary Stampede, Stampede Grounds, Calgary, Alta. 8-12—Summer Synergy, Olds Ag Society, Olds, Alta., 10—International Livestock Congress 2013, Deerfoot Inn, Calgary, Alta. 11-13—25th Annual International Livestock Auctioneer Championship, Calgary Stampede, Calgary, Alta. 15-16—Beef Innovations 2013, Sheraton Cavalier, Calgary, Alta.,

17—Canadian Simmental Association Annual General Meeting, Sheraton Cavalier, Calgary, Alta. 18—YCSA National Classic, TBA

October 4-6—Olds Fall Classic, Olds Ag Society, Olds, Alta.,

“You know that stupid gate nobody could open?”

Search Canada’s top agriculture publications with just a single click. Network 54 CATTLEMEN / APRIL 2013


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