Cattle Country - May 2021

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MAY 2021

AgriStability changes benefit cattle producers


Sophie Wellborn, 4, visits with a new arrival at her grandparents' farm north of Dauphin. (Photo credit: Kim Wellborn)

President's Column

Reducing food loss

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It’s been a long tough haul for Tyler Fulton on his beef operation near Birtle in western Manitoba. Forage yields have been low for three straight years because of periodic drought. Last year was particularly dry after the rains stopped halfway through the growing season. From the third week in July to the end of October, Fulton’s rain gauge recorded less than an inch of precipitation. Conditions so far this spring appear to be shaping up for continued dry weather, water shortages and poor forage yields. And, of course, there’s the COVID-19 pandemic which produced a sharp drop in cattle prices in 2020 and continued uncertainty about market conditions. If the situation hasn’t been a disaster for Fulton, it’s the next thing to it. You’d think at this point AgriStability would be coming to Fulton’s rescue. After all, the stated purpose of this business risk management (BRM) program under the federal-provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership is to help “farmers manage income risk by providing financial assistance when their farm business experiences a large margin decline.” And Fulton has certainly experienced that. Unfortunately, AgriStability is of no help to Fulton, who is also Manitoba Beef Producers president. After doing some calculations, he realized he wasn’t even close to getting financial support from AgriStability. Even a complete disaster still wouldn’t produce a payment. “If we had had a situation where our margins shrunk so much that we weren’t able to cover any of our debt payments, we still wouldn’t have triggered a payment,” Fulton says. He has lots of company. Al-

though AgriStability gets low marks from most farmers, cow-calf producers like Fulton are especially badly off because of the way the program is structured. Support under AgriStability is based on financial margins defined as the difference between allowable income and allowable expenses. Support levels are based on the reference margin – the historical average margin based on a farmer’s actual results. In the case of cow-calf producers, their operating costs tend to be low. They don’t buy much feed (they grow their own), they don’t purchase as many inputs as crop producers do, and they don’t rely heavily on paid labour (family members generally do the work). “Their cost structure is such that, when it comes to AgriStability, cow-calf operations don’t typically have many eligible expenses,” says Fulton. As a result, if their operation has lower allowable expenses than the conventional reference margin, they are effectively penalized for it. Fulton says even if his reference margin dropped to a point at which he would be entitled to a payment, it would be clawed back because his costs would be deemed ineligible. Effectively, the reference margin makes producers take a larger loss to be able to trigger any sort of payment from AgriStability. Small wonder few producers enroll in AgriStability because it’s not seen as worthwhile. Federal statistics show only about 30 per cent of all producers are currently enrolled in the program. The rate for beef producers, although not available, is believed to be even lower. Now a recent change to AgriStability announced by government might change that. Page 2 

New MBP Food Expert Page 10





Updates on key MBP files, engagement activities, and a new member of the office team CARSON CALLUM

General Manager’s Column I hope calving has gone (or is going) well in your area. It is always such a busy time, so the physical and mental well being of all involved is very important. When looking across the province right now, it is difficult not to recognize the lack of adequate moisture we’ve seen for many months. I am pleased to see that most of province got a shot of snow in April to help with growing conditions this spring. However, I know water supplies are still a concern. Many dugouts and wells are low due to the extended dry conditions and lack of spring run-off, and the risk of a major drought is still looming. Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) is already engaging with government officials to determine what can be done to assist producers if conditions are not favourable throughout the

2021 growing season. With that being said, I strongly encourage producers to consider the available risk management options, including programs such as Livestock Price Insurance, MASC forage insurance, and AgriStability. All have had adjustments made to them recently to make them more reactive to producers’ needs, such as the AgriStability changes outlined in the article in this edition of Cattle Country. As we look forward, an important focus of the beef industry will be on providing input into the climate policy discussions that are top of mind for all levels of government. With the implementation of measures such as the federal carbon tax or provincial initiatives related to climate change, there needs to be recognition of the ecosystem goods and services provided by

producers on the landscape. Beef production in Canada provides many environmental benefits that can help combat climate change. For example, beef producers maintain endangered grassland habitats that hold and sequester a substantial amount of carbon. It is important that governments implement climate policies that recognize the ecosystem services provided by cattle producers that benefit all society. The beef industry is investigating carbon offset protocols that could compensate producers for the carbon benefits they provide. MBP is involved in these conversations, and will advocate for beneficial outcomes for producers here in Manitoba. As an industry, our goals to 2030 are a clear indicator of how the beef industry can be a leader in the climate change space. Examples of these goals include maintaining the 35 million acres of native grassland in the care of beef producers, and reducing primary beef production

GHG emission intensity by 33 per cent. In setting these goals, the industry hopes to address challenges and opportunities for improvement head-on, while also communicating the positive impact we have already made, particularly on the environmental and ecosystem benefits of livestock production in Canada. These goals help in the discussions around climate policy discussed above, and with the hope of seeing a mutual benefit both for the environment and profitability for the producer. In terms of other MBP activities, an exciting event that we held last month was our Spring Webinar. I was happy to see such a great turnout. What wonderful insights came forward from industry professionals Cynthia Beck, Jill Harvie, and Anne Wasko. We hope to get back to in person meetings soon, but events like these are still important to take part in, to connect with industry colleagues and take in some valuable information. A key takeaway that I had from this event is

Jill Harvie ranches with her husband and their daughters near Olds, Alberta under the name Harvie Ranching. Photo credit: Jill Harvie

Michelle Manson recently joined MBP in the role of Administrative Assistant. Photo credit: Michelle Manson

that mental health is of top importance, and we need to support each other in the industry to tackle issues such as the negative narrative surrounding our sector. We will have this webinar posted on our website for those who couldn’t make it and want to watch from the comfort of their own home. Go to to find the link. Lastly, I want to welcome Michelle Manson to our office team. Michelle

will be helping the team in various areas, from administrative duties to assisting with project management. Her skill set and education will be an excellent addition to MBP’s dedicated staff. Have a safe seeding season and as you undertake spring chores, and hopefully we get those timely rains as we move towards the summer production months. Until next time, Carson

AgriStability changes an improvement  Page 1 Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers agreed in late March to remove the reference margin limit (RML) for AgriStability. That’s the lower of a producer’s actual reference margin or the average of allowable expenses in the years used to calculate the reference margin. The reference margin limit cannot reduce the reference margin by more than 30 per cent, ensuring support for at least 70 per cent of the margin. The move to eliminate the RML will be retroactive to the 2020 program year. Also, the deadline for producers to enroll in the 2021 program year has been extended to June 30 from April 30. That suits many cow-calf producers who are too busy calving in spring to fill out BRM paperwork. Removing the reference margin limit will make AgriStability fairer to producers who were previously limited, said Brady Stadnicki, manager of policy and programs for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. “It’s going to make the program more DISTRICT 1


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equitable to those who have been limited before,” Stadnicki said. “You’re going to have a larger reference margin to compare your program years against. You will require a lower drop in revenue to your operation for the program to trigger.” “It’s going to be more responsive,” Stadnicki added. “I also think it’s going to be less complicated because there’s only one way of calculating your reference margin now.” Fulton said the RML move doesn’t change the fact that cow-calf producers don’t have a lot of eligible expenses. But it now puts them on a more equal footing with other farmers who do. “It alters the way we look to AgriStability, compared to the way other sectors in agriculture look,” said Fulton. Doing away with the RML was part of a proposal tabled by federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau after pressure from producer groups. AgriStability has long been unpopular with many farmers who consider it complicated, unpredictable and



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unresponsive to farmers’ financial needs. Some say they need a devastating drop in revenue to receive any support at all from the program. Eliminating the RML will go some distance toward changing that, Stadnicki said. “It’s really going to make the program more equitable to those who have been limited before,” he said. “You’re going to have a larger reference margin to compare your program years against. You will require a lower drop in revenue to your operation for the program to trigger. “I also think it’s going to be less complicated because there’s only one way of calculating your reference margin now.” The federal government says removing the RML could increase the overall amount AgriStability pays out to farmers by $95 million. However, that only goes part way toward meeting producers’ demands for changes to the program. Bibeau’s proposal also called for an increase in the compensation rate from the current 70 per cent of losses to 80 per cent but the provinces



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did not agree to it. Had they done so, the move could have generated another $75 million for producers. Carson Callum, Manitoba Beef Producers’ general manager, expressed hope that increasing the compensation rate can be reconsidered. “We hope that provincial and federal governments can still have this discussion moving forward to try and get some sort of agreement to increase the compensation rate because it would be a big help to producers and the program in general,” Callum said. Meanwhile, Fulton says changing the RML could encourage producers to reconsider participating in AgriStability. He’s going to re-enroll in the program and he hopes others beset by drought and fallout from COVID will do the same. “The combination of these things is the reason to me why producers should be taking a good solid look at it.” For more information on the AgriStability program visit › eng › agristability.

David Hultin






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Consider risk management tool As I write this in early April, I find myself torn between the optimism that we as cattle producers have during calving season and the reality of our present surface and soil moisture levels. The weather and market prices are not factors we can control, but we do have the ability to mitigate some of the financial risk associated with adverse weather and market volatility with tools like forage insurance, Livestock Price Insurance, and disaster programs like AgriStability, all of which have been recently modified. My experience with forage insurance has been positive over the past four years since we started purchasing a policy, but it does require some additional record keeping and time. With 60% of the actual premium cost being covered by the federal and provincial governments, the security I get from the policy outweighs the cost for our operation. New for this year is a significant increase to the Hay Disaster Benefit that triggers when there is a significant, widespread reduction in hay yields. The transportation allowance was updated to $16 from $8 per tonne for Select and Basic Hay, and to $24 from $20 per tonne for the Hay Disaster Benefit. Also new is a yield cushioning feature in the forage insurance product that should help to mitigate the negative impact on one’s probable yield after the last two years of very dry conditions. I anticipate that beef farmers and ranchers will welcome the new changes this year and will view this as a useful tool to help them manage the uncertainty that we take on as farmers. I find that Livestock Price Insurance (LPI) is a very effective tool for managing cattle price risk. For the last 15 years, I have had an off-farm, part-time job, working for a hog marketing co-op called H@MS Marketing. It has been part of my job to develop tools that allow hog producers to manage their price risk, largely by using futures and options contracts. This experience has helped me understand how cattle price insurance policies work and why, at times, they can be very expensive. The LPI Calf Policy

TYLER FULTON President's Column

has become an integral part of managing price risk on our farm and relieves the anxiety of being exposed to unforeseen market downturns. Recent changes to the Calf Policy include an extension to the purchase window into June and a new settlement period in January and February, for those producers (like us) who retain ownership and background their calves through the winter. In a disaster situation, where several factors can come together and result in huge farm losses, the recently announced changes to AgriStability will help make the program more effective, especially for cow/calf operations. Manitoba Beef Producers – along with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, National Cattle Feeders Association and other provincial cattle associations – has worked very hard for several years advocating for changes such as the removal of the Reference Margin Limit., This change was recently achieved and it makes the program more equitable for sectors of agriculture that have relatively low ‘eligible’ expenses, like ranching. While the program does not remove risk inherent in our business, it does provide a basic level of financial support in the event of a catastrophic loss which will give us a better chance to recover. All three of these programs have seen changes over the past few months that address concerns raised by Manitoba Beef Producers and the changes significantly improve their effectiveness. For producers who are not familiar with Forage Insurance, Livestock Price Insurance, and/ or AgriStability, or the recent changes to these risk management tools, I think it’s worth some time to investigate them. Reach out to the knowledgeable staff at MASC and

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for information. The beef cattle business is risky, but I am confident that these tools help us manage the risk and let us focus on what we do best: producing safe, nutritious, sustainable beef. In other matters, MBP is reaching out to the provincial government to identify concerns about the extreme dry conditions and the prospect that some producers will be affected by drought conditions for a third consecutive year. We have been hearing from producers who are facing low reservoir and well levels, and it is important we keep government officials abreast of the situation as in the past there was some beneficial management practice costshared programming to assist with wells and dugouts. MBP is monitoring legislation before the provincial legislature, including Bill 62 – The Animal Diseases Amendment Act and Bill 63 – The Petty Trespasses Amendment and Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act. These bills touch upon matters such as protecting biosecurity on farms and ranches and clarifying the laws around trespassing and liability (duty of care). It is essential to try to protect livestock from potential risks caused by people’s actions, either inadvertent or deliberate. These could include the introduction of foreign animal diseases (and the devastating animal health, economic and trade consequences that could accompany them), or the introduction of invasive species and noxious weeds (which can have production implications for cattle). Farmers hold themselves to high standards, and laws and regulations ensure that animals are raised to the highest quality and provided with the highest level of care. It is important that the public understands the very real threat that breaches to biosecurity protocols at any stage of the production process can pose. MBP is expected to provide comments on both bills as they work their way through the legislative process. As we head into the busy spring season, stay safe and here’s to a productive 2021 growing season!

May-June feeder cattle market looks stronger When I sit down to pen this edition of the Bottom Line, it is late April and calving season in Manitoba is well past the midway point. Other than a week of cold weather and one major storm that brought much needed moisture, calving season has been, weather-wise, much better than previous years. After all the hard work and long hours to get the 2021 calf crop on the ground, producers are wondering what the market has in store for the remainder of the year. In western Canada the fed cattle prices broke through the $250 dressed barrier in mid April. Alberta was reporting $258 by the end of April, which were the highest prices paid this year. May, June and July normally have strong demand for beef products. May is traditionally the strongest month in the first half of the year for fed cattle prices. Strong exports combined with strong domestic retail demand at the stores helped increase the prices to the feedlots. The third wave of COVID-19 means more lockdowns and very little chance that restaurant service will get back to normal this summer. This means more consumers will be grilling at home which will keep retail demand strong. Price increases in both pork and especially chicken, will allow beef to maintain current prices. Packers are still making very good profits, and supplies are more than adequate to keep the packers harvesting at maximum capacity. An increase in the American fed cattle prices forced the Canadian packers to pay more to stop Canadian feedlots from selling into the USA. By May 1 in Manitoba, a lot of the backgrounded cattle purchased in the fall have been priced and relocated to feedlots in the west and Ontario. This was an unusual spring for the backgrounders in Manitoba. A backlog of fed cattle in Ontario, resulting in a shortage of current pen space, sharply reduced the demand for Manitoba feeder cattle from both Ontario and Quebec. Eastern feedlots that background in Manitoba were slow to move that inventory east. The result was that cattle in Manitoba that would normally go east in the spring were being offered to western feedlots. Prices for these cattle in March and April fell well below expectations from the owners in Manitoba. The rapid increase in barley and corn prices made finishing the cattle in Manitoba a non-option. For the third year

RICK WRIGHT The Bottom Line in a row, backgrounders sold the 900 pound cattle at break evens or in some cases at a loss. Some took a chance and sent the cattle south and retained ownership. American buyers of Canadian feeder cattle were almost non-existent, with the Canadian feeder cattle market at a five to 12 cent per pound plus basis over the American feeder cattle market. The May – June feeder cattle market looks stronger as the supplies of backgrounded cattle for sale dwindle seasonally. One noticeable change this year is the number of heavy weight backgrounded cattle on offer for July and early August delivery. These consignments will fill some pen space prior to the yearlings off the grass. The high cost of pasture and unpredictable gains have more and more producers abandoning their grasser operations and keeping the cattle in confinement for the summer. Gains are more predictable and access to the cattle for delivery is totally controllable. If a market opportunity arises, the cattle are right there. Producers eliminate the transportation costs to and from the pasture. There are fewer man-hours devoted to checking both health and fences. This feeding trend is getting larger and will continue to grow as land prices get higher and pasture is harder to find. Contract prices for summer delivery, as well as for fall grass cattle deliveries, are very strong, despite the high feed costs. Barley prices delivered to feedlot alley in Alberta are over $7.00 per bushel. This puts a dark cloud over the calf prices for fall. Every time the feed grain prices try to drop, they rebound a couple of days later. Timely rains in the spring are needed to stabilize grain prices and reduce drought conditions in both the hay fields and pastures. The increase in the fed cattle prices has prompted slightly higher demand for heavy

cattle over 800 pounds. Lighter weight long-term prices are strong, equaling the three year average. The supply of Manitoba calves will be lower again this year. The Manitoba beef cowherd continues to decline from 439,000 in 2018 to 375,000 as of January 1, 2021. In the past year alone, we have lost 25,000 beef cows in Manitoba. The demand for replacement heifers at the auctions this spring has been very selective. With the exception of a few groups of reputation heifers that sold for premium prices, the majority sold for $50.00 to $100.00 per head over market price. The demand for bred cows and cow-calf pairs seems a little stronger with very little supply on offer this spring in Manitoba. The snowstorm in mid-April, combined with the shortened sale week over Easter, resulted in a shortage of cull cows for local packers. Prices at the auctions jumped from 10 to 15 cents per pound live. This increase in the prices should be short lived; seasonal prices and supplies for spring butcher cows will get back to normal in early May. The larger western packing plants are still making large profits harvesting fed cattle and will continue to do so; they will only harvest the minimum number of cows required to fill orders. Local packers continuously pay more live at the auctions for cull cows and bulls than they will on the rail. The commission that your pay to have your culls sold at the auction is a good investment compared to the rail prices being currently offered. Until next time, stay safe! Rick

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Profiles of MBP's new directors BY: ANGELA LOVELL Manitoba Beef Producers welcomes four new directors to its board this year, representing Districts 1, 3, 9 and 11. All of these incoming new faces are optimistic about the future of the Canadian beef industry and have stepped up to ‘do their part’ to help ensure it continues to be sustainable. Alfred Epp: Representing District 1 Alfred has served on many different boards over the years but after retiring from his long-time job of driving the school bus, and no longer tending a sheep flock in addition to his cow/calf operation south of Boissevain, he feels he now has the time to be able to help out at MBP. Alfred is passionate about the beef industry in Canada, which he says is important on so many levels. “Beef production is important to maintain a healthy ecosystem and healthy land, which equals healthy livestock,” he says. Trends that concern him include the amount of pasture land being lost to annual cropping over the

past decade, and the dependence of the industry on a few large processing facilities. “Although we definitely need the large packers, I believe that there is room in Canada for more local processing facilities as well,” he says. “That in itself moves your food way less miles which helps mitigate some global warming. This past year, the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrated how we needed those smaller, local abattoirs because there was a big backlog [in processing].” Alfred will serve on the Environment, Communications and Governance committees, and believes it’s important to keep communicating positive messages about beef production. “People seem to be more aware, or want to know, how their food is produced, so as they are educating themselves there are going to be opportunities to produce a protein that fits their requirements, from land where we can’t grow other food stuffs,” he says. “The world population is getting larger and I don’t believe we will ever run out of market for beef or other proteins.”

Andre Steppler: Representing District 3 Andre Steppler and his wife Katie were Manitoba’s 2020 Outstanding Young Farmers and have been featured on Great Tastes of Manitoba, demonstrating their commitment to being proud advocates for the beef industry. “My number one motivation [for joining the MBP Board] is to give back to the beef industry in the sense of advocating to the general public to gain more social

Environment, Governance and AGM committees. He believes that there is nothing more rewarding than being able to raise his family on the farm and pass down the skills and attributes that come with being a producer. “I live, breathe, and talk cows and so do my sons, even though they are not very old,” he says. “Beef production is in our blood and we really enjoy it.” Andre believes there is huge potential for growth

says. “I would like to know more about the rest of the industry and this is a good way to get that knowledge.” Trevor previously sat on the Manitoba Ranch Rodeo Association board and for MBP will serve on the Animal Health, Environment and Production Management committees, areas that he says are definitely already in his wheelhouse. “I try to keep up on some of the research, animal health and production management things, and I

the recent changes to the Crown lands lease agreements. “I have benefitted from the efforts of MBP in the past and I wanted to make sure the concerns of my neighbours, and the people around the lake continue to be heard and hopefully addressed,” he says. “I decided to let my name stand after being asked by people in the community that I respect.” He will serve on the Crown Lands, Environment, Finance, Gover-

Alfred Epp

Andre Steppler

Trevor Sund

Arvid Nottveit

license to be able to do what we want to do,” says Andre, who has served on many industry association boards over the years. Andre will now juggle the family cattle operation near Miami with his duties as MBP director, serving on the Communications,

in the beef sector right now, and it’s important to make efforts to entice talented, young people into the industry. “If young people want to step in, the capital that they need isn’t as high, and they are going to be able to achieve becoming a farmer in the beef industry, so I believe there are opportunities for them,” he says. “There are also a lot of pastures that have been left open since BSE; a resource out there we are not taking advantage of. If you aren’t born and raised with cows, it can be a struggle to learn the industry, but with some schooling and internships, it can be achieved.” Andre believes beef production needs a positive light to be shone on it, to make sure people understand that raising cows is good for the environment and is also a staple of the economy for Manitoba and Canada. “Manitoba Beef Producers, and producers ourselves, have to get together so we amplify our message and dilute all the negative messages out there on social media,” he says. “We need to use the same platforms to give our audience another view and be able to make their own decisions. We need to be a part of the conversation.” Trevor Sund: Representing District 9 Trevor, a cow/calf producer from the Woodlands area, has been attending local MBP district meetings since he was 12, and his thirst to learn about the industry has never diminished since, and is one of his strongest motivations for joining the MBP Board. “I want to learn,” he

hopefully will learn about some of the other issues through observation, and step in where I can to help out,” he says. He’s passionate about being a beef producer and believes that long-term there is a lot of reason to be optimistic about the industry. “In the short-term we are getting vilified for things like greenhouse gas emissions, but if you follow the science that is being put out there, the requirement for life on earth requires ruminant animals to graze marginal lands to convert plant material that people can’t eat into an edible product, so I think long-term the industry has a bright future,” he says, adding that the challenge right now is to make sure consumers understand these facts. “There is already some momentum in a lot of places on this, so we have to keep making sure we hold true to the facts that are readily available, and don’t get caught up in the hysteria that is trying to work its way around at the moment. We have to find the people who are willing to educate themselves and help them to better understand our industry.” Arvid Nottveit: Representing District 11 Arvid has ranched along the shores of Lake Manitoba at Peonan Point for more than 20 years, and has weathered some tough times, including having 70 per cent of his land under water for a year during the flood of 2011. So he is no stranger to boards, committees and consultations with government officials, but says he was motivated, and urged by some of his peers, to join the MBP Board because of

nance, Production Management and Research committees. Arvid has raised five kids on the ranch, and although none are currently farming, he believes they have a full appreciation and love for the lifestyle, which is why he wants to try and encourage young people to stay or enter the beef industry and preserve family farms. “I want to try and help out younger beef producers, and that stems from the knowledge that we are taking care of a valuable food source, and regardless how you feel about the consumption of beef, it’s still something that can keep people alive and that’s important to me.” Arvid hires some city kids to come and work on the farm each summer and says their parents are always amazed at how quickly they take to the farm tasks. “There are a lot of kids raised in the cities that should be farming,” he says. “I am passionate about keeping young people on the farms.” Arvid knows that manpower is an ongoing issue for beef producers, and it’s not easy to compete with other high-paying sectors like the energy industry. “The grain industry has gone to bigger fields and machinery and fewer people, but in our climate, on the Prairies, we still need people and they need to be trained, but we can’t offer the financial incentives that others can,” he says. “So, we need to help young people in the area that are starting out and want some experience, or we won’t have an adequate supply of labour in the future.”




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Livestock Predation Prevention Pilot Project Update BY RAY BITTNER, Project Lead

Manitoba livestock predation prevention pilot project RMPs The Livestock Predation Prevention Project has identified a group of Risk Mitigation Practices (RMPs) which will be analyzed to determine their effectiveness in reducing the potential for negative interactions between livestock and predators. An RMP is something a producer can do to lessen the likelihood of a predator attack. Risk mitigation strategies aim to make your farm or ranch an unwelcoming place for predators by providing them with no food to scavenge, are difficult for them to enter, and which makes them apprehensive about accessing them. MBP is currently purchasing RMP items to be tested by cooperators who have experienced predation losses. First installations will start in May and June for evaluation through the remainder of 2021 and 2022. All producers testing the RMPs will be required to report back to the project lead on the success or failure of the practices. The RMPs being tested aim to reduce predators’ access to possible food sources to scavenge, as well as to reduce their ability to access areas with cattle and sheep present, and overall deter interactions with them. These RMPs include: Deadstock composting pens: These are intended to assist in disposal of food sources that might be scavenged by predators. While they will not totally eliminate on-farm predator activity, they can help reduce the desire by predators to visit the pasture or pens seeking food to scavenge and thereby reduce interactions with livestock. Veterinary herd consultation: This involves an onfarm livestock assessment and consultation by a local veterinarian. Animal husbandry is an important component of a predation management strategy, as weak

animals may be more readily targeted by predators. Management practices related to optimal herd health will be discussed during this consultation. Predator resistant livestock penning: This involves a heavy duty livestock pen built with multi-wire high tensile electric fence wires, and predator resistant gates. Once built and maintained, such pens can provide multiple acres with protection against most predators. Fladry: This involves is a poly wire with streamers sewn on which can deter canine predators due to their movement and an electric shock upon contact. It is a portable system. While their use is a short-term practice, such as for birthing or some other risk scenarios. Fladry is backed up by scientific studies which claim to be effective at limiting coyote and wolf movement. Fladry wire can be used to create either standalone pens within existing pastures to create a smaller paddock, or be used as a supplement wire, offset from regular fence by a few feet inside or outside the pen. Solar Foxlights: These solar powered, multicolor light flashers are intended to scare predators which approach livestock pens. They simply hang from fences and emit a light show that will raise the attention of predators. Foxlights are intended for confinement areas and only work at night. While intended for deterring foxes, they also have some effect on deterring coyotes and wolves. Pasture ElectroNet: This is a poly-twine wire and stainless-steel wire flexible net electrified with an electric fence energizer. ElectroNet is an easy-to-move, non-permanent penning system which provides an enclosure for sheep and small ruminants which effectively limits predatory behavior of canine predators. Game cameras: These are useful tools in identifying types of species and their numbers. They sense

Manitoba joins eTick program to help protect against tick-borne illnesses (Government of Manitoba News Release) The Manitoba government has joined the eTick platform for expert advice to help Manitobans determine their risk of Lyme disease, Manitoba Health and Senior Care Minister Heather Stefanson announced April 9. “More and more Manitobans are exploring nature and the outdoors during the pandemic. While this is a safe, healthy way to connect during the pandemic, we also want people to pay attention to reduce their risk of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses,” said Stefanson. “The eTick program will ensure people can access rapid tick identification

and distribution maps, while enhancing the surveillance of tick species in Manitoba.” Developed by Bishop’s University and funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, Manitobans can use eTick when they find ticks on animals, humans or in various habitats. They can submit a picture to have the tick identified by experts, which will let them confirm if the tick they found belongs to a species capable of transmitting the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease. In addition to learning what species of tick users have found, identified specimens are mapped to better outline the distribution and sea-

sonality of the various tick species. This information will help Manitobans understand where and when ticks have been found in precise areas of Manitoba. A new mobile application has been developed to facilitate and streamline the submission of tick observations in Manitoba. It is now available for free download under the name eTick on the App Store and the Google Play Store. Users also still have the option of submitting their observations directly on the eTick website at Blacklegged ticks, which can carry anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Lyme disease, are most commonly found within and along the edge of

forests and in areas with thick, woody shrubs and other vegetation. These ticks are typically found between April and November (from snowmelt through snowfall), with adults most active in the spring and fall months. Stefanson reminded Manitobans that when outside, it is still important to practise physical distancing according to current COVID-19 public health guidelines. For more information, visit w w w. man itob a . c a / c o vid19. To learn more about blacklegged ticks, tick disease and prevention, visit: w w w. g o v. m b . c a / health/publichealth/cdc/ tickborne/.

movement of animals and snap photos of the field of view to correctly identify predators and their behaviors on an operation. They can be used 24 hours a day, but the top priority is choosing a predator traffic location. Producers who monitor game cameras will have a better understanding of predator behaviour, timing and habits and be able to evaluate and implement risk mitigation strategies. Cattle/sheep GPS collars: These can help producers remotely monitor livestock location and body temperature. Being able to easily locate a herd or flock is advantageous to assisting in regular wellness checks. They can also expose predator harassment cues such as bunching, frequent moves and avoiding certain locations on the pasture. Producers who know where their herd or flock is at all times will be far more efficient at being able to scare off a predator. Trapping/problem predator removal: Manitoba’s Problem Predator Removal Program exists to remove those predators (coyote, fox and wolf) that are causing livestock losses or are considered a threat to human safety. This initiative is done in conjunction with Manitoba trappers. For more information on these Risk Mitigation Practices please check the Manitoba Beef Producers website at . Factsheets being posted there will provide additional descriptions of these practices. Or, for more information, contact Raymond Bittner, Livestock Predation Lead, Manitoba Beef Producers at or 204-768-0010.

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Anaplasmosis in beef cattle - new cases found in new areas of Manitoba Livestock Predation Prevention Pilot Project Update


Animal Health Surveillance Veterinarian & Epidemiologist, Government of Manitoba

In September 2020, a case of anaplasmosis was diagnosed in a mature beef cow on a farm in the Central Plains area of Manitoba. Two weeks before, she had returned with her calf from summer grazing at a group pasture in the Parklands area. Over a few days, the producer noticed that she stopped eating and looked very weak. She was examined by the herd veterinarian and was found to be very pale and jaundiced with very dark urine. The veterinarian suspected anaplasmosis right away, collected a blood sample for testing at Manitoba’s Veterinary Diagnostic Services Laboratory and contacted the province’s Chief Veterinary Office (CVO). When the test came back as positive, the CVO worked with the herd veterinarian to trace out potential contacts and sources for the disease. The producer had good medical records and did not have any previous positive or suspected cases of anaplasmosis. There were also no recent movements or purchases of cattle onto the farm from areas or herds in Manitoba, Canada or the United States that are known to have anaplasmosis. The cattle on the group pasture were considered the highest contact risk. With the help of the pasture management, all producers with exposed cattle on the group pasture were contacted and testing was arranged. A total of 374 animals from six

different herds were tested for anaplasmosis using the same blood test. Fifteen animals (10 cows and 5 bulls) from five of the six herds tested positive. The bulls had a much higher rate of anaplasmosis (five of 13 or 38%) than the main group (3.6%). This overall percentage of positive cattle was less than is often found in positive herds in other regions. Tracing was conducted as much as possible on the positive animals and again, no linkages were found to herds or regions known for anaplasmosis. There were also no common connections among the group of breeding bulls, other than time on the group pasture. The investigation will include some further testing of a herd very close to the home location of the original positive cow. However, it appears unlikely a specific source herd will be identified. Instead, it appears the disease has migrated through unknown means to new regions in Manitoba. Since 2013, Manitoba has had several outbreaks of anaplasmosis in cattle herds in the southeastern region. This is the first reported outbreak of the disease outside of that area. The CVO would like all cattle producers to be aware that the disease has spread outside of the known high-risk area of the province. The CVO advises all cattle producers to be on the lookout for cases of anaplasmosis and to

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contact their veterinarians for any suspect cases. Older cows and bulls on pasture (or recently returned from pasture) that suddenly lose weight and become very weak should be treated as suspect. Increased losses of mature cattle on pasture should also trigger further investigation. How does anaplasmosis spread? Anaplasmosis primarily causes disease in cattle, however other domestic and wild ruminants can be infected. The bacteria (Anaplasmosis marginale) lives in red blood cells. It is spread when blood is exchanged between animals (e.g. bites from an infected tick or other pest), or through humancaused contamination, such as using the same needle on more than one animal, or not properly cleaning equipment that would come into contact with blood (e.g. taggers). In Manitoba, wood ticks most commonly spread anaplasmosis and these were considered the most likely means by which the disease spread on the group pasture. Large biting insects, such as horseflies may also transfer the bacteria on their mouthparts from one animal to another, but do not actually carry the disease itself. The use of blood-contaminated equipment – such as needles, ear taggers, tattooing instruments, dehorning equipment and castration equipment – is also a significant risk that can spread anaplasmosis within a herd. Signs and symptoms Anaplasmosis

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destroys red blood cells in the animal, causing anemia. Affected animals appear weak, pale, and jaundiced, with a high fever. Less specific signs include poor appetite and a sudden, severe drop in milk production. The age of the animal can affect the severity of symptoms. Animals under one year of age rarely exhibit clinical signs, but can develop the infection. Between the ages of one and two years, animals develop moderate to severe clinical signs. Older animals develop severe disease that is often fatal. Survivors may remain carriers for life and act as reservoirs of the bacteria for future infections. Carrier animals are important because they increase the risk of other animals becoming infected, but do not seem sick. The original case in this outbreak did survive. However, she will likely carry the disease and be a source for other infections for the rest of her life, as will the other 15 positive animals. To date the producers with the affected animals had planned on culling them because of this risk. The good news is that carrier animals pose no health threat to humans and can enter the food chain, so they can be shipped direct to slaughter without causing additional risks. Note, though, that a healthylooking carrier animal that is sold as breeding stock can cause the disease to spread to previously uninfected herds. Carrier animals cannot be treated to eliminate the disease and will remain infected for life. What do I do if I suspect anaplasmosis? In a suspect case, have your herd veterinarian examine your cattle and submit appropriate samples, such as an EDTA-tube blood sample, to Veterinary Diagnostic Services to confirm a positive diagnosis. If positive animals are identified in your herd, you should work with your herd veterinarian to develop a herd health plan to manage this disease. It is recommended that infected animals should not be sold as replacement animals in order to protect the health of the broader industry. Anaplasmosis is a provincially reportable disease in

Manitoba which allows the CVO to assist producers and veterinarians in investigating sudden outbreaks, especially in new herds and new areas as noted with this case. The CVO also provides support with the initial herd diagnostics so producers can understand the degree the disease may have impacted their herd. Are there ways to prevent bovine anaplasmosis? Producers across Manitoba are encouraged to discuss anaplasmosis and prevention with their herd veterinarian. Tick control is of course difficult, but may be worth it in higher risk situations. Several of the producers and the group pasture management impacted by anaplasmosis in this outbreak are considering tick control methods. These can include: • limiting animal exposure to infected ticks with the routine use of a tick prevention product, ensuring withdrawal times are followed for any treated animals destined for slaughter; • controlling the tick population through pasture management, such as adequate fencing to keep out ticks’ wildlife hosts, as well as removal of brush and long grass. While not a method of prevention, there is a lot of research being conducted on the distribution of and risks associated with ticks across Manitoba. Producers are encouraged to participate in tick studies if they have the opportunity to do so. The more that is understood about this pest the better chance there is to prevent the diseases they carry. • Limiting human-caused introduction and spread of the disease through effective biosecurity is also important. Effective biosecurity measures include: • Testing new animals for anaplasmosis prior to introduction to your herd, particularly if they are coming from American states or areas of the province where the disease has occurred before; ask about the herd’s health history before purchase; • Cleaning and disinfecting blood-contaminated tools and equipment between individual animals to limit spread

within a herd, including dehorning tools, castration equipment, ear taggers and tattooing instruments; and • Reducing risk of transmission within the herd by using only single-use needles and examination gloves during pregnancy-checking for each animal. Is there a treatment or prevention for anaplasmosis? Treatment should only be attempted in the early stages of the disease and to address severe clinical signs. The only reasons to treat is to improve the health of the animal so that it can be salvaged for slaughter after appropriate withdrawal times, helping to reduce financial loss to the producer. Infected animals with clinical symptoms can be treated with a tetracycline antibiotic, but this does not “cure” the animal and will not prevent it from becoming a carrier animal. Any attempt at treatment should only be done in consultation with a veterinarian and under a prescription. Remember, carrier animals will remain infected for life and cannot be treated to eliminate the disease. No vaccine has been approved for use in Canada. Some vaccines, based on a live form of a related organism have been used in different parts of the world, but there have been numerous reports of adverse effects. It is also not clear if this live vaccine would protect against the strains found in North America. Anaplasmosis can be a serious disease for cattle and it has moved to new areas in the province. However, producers can be prepared to do what they can for prevention control and response should they have a case in their herds. eTick program launched Note: The Manitoba government recently announced the eTick program is now available to help Manitobans identify ticks they discover. This will also help enhance our understanding of where and when different types of ticks have been found in precise areas of the province. More details on how to access this program are on page five of Cattle Country.



StockTalk Q&A Feature Brought to you by Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development PAM IWANCHYSKO

Production Extension Livestock Specialist

Q: My pastures are now turning green. Is it the right time to let my cattle out to pasture? A: One of the hardest decisions to make in the spring is when to start grazing. Grasses are typically the dominant plants in most livestock operations throughout the world. Whether livestock graze on native rangeland or tame pastures, grasses are usually the source of energy and nutrients for livestock growth and performance. Grass normally begins growing in the spring when the soil warms. Chlorophyll, which develops quickly in young leaves, gives the plants the opportunity to carry on photosynthesis. Initial growth does not start from this process, and it will actually use up root reserve carbohydrates. If sever defoliation has occurred in the last grazing season or too early in the spring, the plants will take a lot longer to initiate new growth. For growth to hap-

pen in a timely fashion, it is important for grazing to begin during the correct growing stage. Monitor the leaf stage of the grass plants in your pastures before letting animals in to graze, rather than using a calendar date or color to determine the correct start time. The leaf stage of a plant can help you decide when it has had enough leaf area to best tolerate grazing. A simple way to detect this stage is to count the number of leaves on a plant’s tiller or stem. Just take the plant at the base where it is touching the ground and count the leaves. If the leaves are collared and the leaf blades go all around the stem, this is considered a fully developed leaf. Most grasses are ready to graze when the grass plants are at the threeleaf stage. After the third leaf, a plant has been able to capture enough energy reserve to regrow once it gets defoliated. But if a plant is grazed or defo-

liated before this stage, that will weaken it and hamper production. Once your animals are grazing, you should also allow time for the plants to re-establish root reserves for the following year. It’s best to develop strategies that allow your plants to have rest and to recover after they have been grazed. Move your animals when needed, so approximately 50 per cent of your plants are left behind to re-establish carbohydrate root reserves before the next graze. Continuous grazing is the least desirable grazing strategy. Never graze according to a calendar date, but consider the differences in growing conditions from year to year, species of grasses and locations. Having a flexible grazing plan will be beneficial for not only your animals but the sustainability of your farming operation. In the long run, if you take care of the plants, they will take care of you. Pictured right: Grass with four collared leaves – ready to graze!

We want to hear from you For the next issue of Cattle Country, a Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development forage or livestock specialist will answer a selected question. Send your questions to Tim. The StockTalk Q&A Feature for Cattle Country is brought to you by Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development. We encourage you to email your questions to our department’s forage and livestock team, who have a combined 140 years of agronomy experience. We are here to help make your cattle operation successful. Contact us today. Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Livestock Extension Specialists Marnie McCracken...........The Elizabeth Pam Tim Shawn Glenn Friesen.................... Juanita


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Are livestock the answer to our food waste problem in Canada? BY: SIMONE FAUCHER

National Centre for Livestock and the Environment, University of Manitoba

Concern for the environment from both consumers and producers is driving action to make our food systems more sustainable. Food waste has been identified as a serious obstacle to food system sustainability. According to Second Harvest’s 2019 report “Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste”, Canadians waste over 35 million metric tonnes (MMT) annually between growers, processors, distributors, and consumers. Of that, nearly a third – more than 11 MMT – is avoidable. This avoidable waste is valued at over $49 billion dollars, or almost 52% of what was spent in food stores in 2016. Reducing food loss and waste along the food supply chain is one of the ways we can improve the sustainability of our food system. Doing so would reduce the environmental footprint and benefit both food supply and food security. Are livestock part of this solution? Livestock have the remarkable ability to transform low-value material considered as waste into high-quality animal products such as meat, milk, eggs, and more. By-products from grain, oilseed, vegetable and fruit harvesting and processing can serve as lowcost feedstuffs for livestock. Many producers already take advantage of available by-products approved for use as animal feed. For example, Birkland Farms near Winkler, Manitoba feed approximately 8000 head of cattle and use culled potatoes from a nearby farm in exchange for their cattle manure. The potatoes are part of a complete nutrient management plan that also includes corn and alfalfa silage, canola meal, distillers grain, and timothy hay, among others. As regional processing of commodities rises in Manitoba, is there an opportunity to expand the use of by-products to reduce livestock feed costs, diversify animal diets, and introduce new feed ingredients here at home? How is the use of these feedstuffs reducing the environmental footprint of beef cattle? Research at the University of Manitoba’s National Centre for Livestock and the Environment is answering some of these questions. Opportunities and Obstacles - Research to identify economic and environmental win-wins A group of researchers from the National Cen-

For the past 10 years, Kasko Cattle Co. in Alberta has held contracts with Cavendish Farms and Lamb Weston potato processor for by-products including potatoes, peels, and off-cut French fries that do not meet quality standards but are an energy-rich feed ingredient. Photo credit: Kasko Cattle Company Ltd.

tre for Livestock and the Environment, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, University of Lethbridge, and Manitoba Agriculture are examining how increased use of by-products and food waste in livestock diets impacts resource use and the environmental footprint of cattle. One of the goals of this research is to inform

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conversations about the role cattle and other livestock have to play as part of a “natural solution” to climate change by upcycling non human-edible products into nutrient-dense foodstuffs. Feeding by-products and food waste materials to livestock can reduce feed costs, but can be hampered by logistical difficulties, regulatory restrictions, and safety concerns. In Canada, we are fortunate to have policies to protect animal and human safety, including the Feeds Act which is governed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The Feeds Act regulates the ingredients that can be incorporated into diets to ensure all feeds are safe for livestock. Unfortunately, this Act can also slow the adoption of feeding novel by-products not currently listed in the Feeds Act, as acquiring approval can be both time consuming and costly. There are a number of by-products that have increased in availability (e.g. hemp hulls), but are not yet approved for use. When considering quality of feed from processing by-products or waste, it is also important to ensure nutritional value can be assessed quickly so that diets can be balanced to meet individual animal requirements. Research plays an important role in characterizing feed ingredients in terms of nutritional quality, animal performance, and feed safety. University of Manitoba researchers are currently working to characterize nutritional profiles of novel by-products, building on past research that has shown that quality of some byproducts can vary between processing plants and time of year. Life-cycle assessments (LCAs) are a tool used to analyze the environmental impacts related to all stages of a process or manufacturing of a product. Previous LCAs have compared traditional waste disposal streams (such as sending to landfills) to the use of waste as livestock feed but have not included upstream impacts such as energy, fertilizer, water, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers at the University of Manitoba are developing these more inclusive LCAs to fully examine the Page 9 


Photo credit: Kasko Cattle Company Ltd.

 Page 8 environmental benefits along the entire food supply chain, including the land-sparing effect of substituting cereal grain feeds with by-products and surplus food. Cost is the biggest deciding factor for incorporating by-products and food waste into animal diets. For end-users like cattle producers, transport distance, hauling weight, and risk of spoilage are key considerations. If a farm is located at considerable distance from the processor, operating costs such as fuel and maintenance can add up quickly. This is particularly important for high moisture products which are costly to haul and can also create challenges with unloading and spoilage. For processors and distributors, cost determines the feasibility of further processing of by-products to

Food loss vs food waste? These terms are specific to loss at different points along the food supply chain. Food loss occurs during production, processing, and storage. Examples include commodities like grain that do not meet grading standards, shipment rejections, processing by-products, culled items, damaged food and trimmings. Food waste is related to consumer behavior; it is food that is not consumed at the retail, food service, and consumer level. Regardless of the terminology, improvements are required at all points of the food supply chain to reduce both loss and waste.

livestock feed. As such, the economic implications of by-products use is an important component of the LCA analyses being carried out by this research team. Canadian livestock producers are recognized for high standards of care, quality products, and efficiency of production. They have a demonstrated interest in using by-products as replacement for animal feed and have already invested in it. We know we can incorporate by-products and food wastes into livestock feed successfully, but to ensure it is economically feasible we need a harmonized effort involving policy change, incentives, and collaboration between all stakeholders. This does not only mean producers and feed suppliers, but also researchers, policy makers, retailers, and consumers.

About the author Simone Faucher is a second-degree student at the University of Manitoba who will complete her Bachelor of Environmental Science, with a minor in Soil Science, in May 2021. She previously completed a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, majoring in Agronomy in 2018, also at the University of Manitoba. Through her studies in both agriculture and environment, she has been able to incorporate the complexities of environmental protection and stewardship with her understanding and appreciation for Canada’s high quality food production systems. She writes this piece as the Communications Assistant for the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment, by which she hopes to learn how to better engage and communicate with crop and livestock producers in the context of environmental sustainability issues.

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MBP new food expert BY: DAVID HULTIN Manitoba Beef Producers is excited to introduce Cattle Country readers to Tamara Sarkisian, Registered Dietitian. Tamara is a lover of all foods and owner of Fruitful Kitchen. Tamara was born and raised in Toronto with an Armenian and French background and learned to cook and appreciate wholesome foods at a young age. Tamara studied nutritional sciences at the University of Ottawa

and is bilingual in both French and English. She enjoys getting creative in the kitchen with simple ingredients to make easy, healthy and tasty meals. Her passion for food has led her to help her clients by simplifying cooking and allowing people to feel their best on their health journey. Find Tamara on Instagram @fruitfulkitchen and visit her website for more recipes Look for Tamara’s recipes in upcoming edi-

Thai Beef Noodle Salad INGREDIENTS : Dressing 2 tbsp brown sugar 1/4 cup lime juice (3 limes) 3 tsp fish sauce 1 red thai chili, crushed & chopped 1 clove garlic, crushed

tions of Cattle Country and on television later this fall when she joins the culinary cast of Great Tastes of Manitoba for season 32!

Salad 1 lb beef, rib eye steak or tenderloin 1 shallot, finely sliced 150 g (3 bundles), glass noodles 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half 1 cucumber, seeded and sliced 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped peanuts (optional) DIRECTIONS:

Photo credit: Tamara Sarkisian

Prep 1. Season both sides of beef with salt and pepper. 2. Place glass noodles into a large bowl of hot water and set aside for 5 min to soften, then discard water. 3. In a small bowl, combine sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, thai chili and garlic.

This month's recipe was featured during the QXNation Cooks virtual cooking party on April 20 with Winnipeg's top-rated FM radio station, QX104FM. Tamara joined morning show hosts Brody and Randy, along with three contest winners, for a funfilled night in the kitchen.

Salad 1. In a large bowl, combine shallots, cherry tomato, cucumber, cilantro, mint and noodles. 2. Grill beef on high heat to desired doneness, 4 minutes on each side for medium/rare (depending on thickness). Slice beef into thin bite size strips and mix into salad bowl along with dressing. Garnish with peanuts (optional).

Steps to help boost calf immunity DR. TANYA ANDERSON, DVM

The Vet Corner

As seems to be the case the last few years, January has been the month to calve while the traditional nicer weather in later spring has had some rather adverse weather conditions. Calving season thus far has been a very positive for the majority of producers. Calving complications are rare and calf health has been optimal. The dry conditions and warmer weather have made for an exceptional calving season. In contrast, the unseasonable winter weather with accompanying rain and wind creates stressors that

can result in overcrowding and mismothering, leading to scours and pneumonia problems. Attention to detail and optimizing management at all levels of cow/ calf production will help minimize your calf disease risk. Usually pneumonia happens when the passive immunity (antibodies) from the dam’s colostrum naturally wanes and if the calf has not been previously exposed to pneumoniacausing viruses and bacteria such that it begins to develop its own natural immunity. Viruses (IBR,

BVD, BRSV) and bacteria like Mannheimia hemolytica, Pasteurella multocida, Histophilus somni and Mycoplasma are present in carrier animals in a herd and passed from the nasal cavity of the cow to the nasal cavity of the calf at a very early age. They do not tend to cause any disease unless there is a stressor that triggers a weakening of the immune system. Stressors such as cold rain/snow, wind, atmospheric pressure changes and temperature fluctuations can be all it takes to initiate a pneumonia outbreak, particularly in older calves. In contrast, the calves most at risk to

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get scours are the younger calves who may not be mothered as well or get adequate colostrum during adverse weather. Be vigilant and diligently check your calves. Early detection and appropriate treatment with a long-acting broadspectrum antibiotic, antiinflammatory, pain medication and fluid therapy as dictated by clinical symptoms is critical to treatment success. Talk to your veterinarian about treatment protocols. In the case of pneumonia, when viruses are part of the problem, response to therapy will be less successful. Bacterial and viral vaccines should be considered at spring turnout (or earlier if pneumonia is seen in very young calves). Which vaccine to use depends on your herd history and the disease incidence in your area. Your veterinarian can help you tailor a program to specifically meet your herd’s needs. The first step is often getting an accurate diagnosis by doing necropsies and submitting tissue samples for testing. Eyeballing the lungs can be misleading so spend money on lab fees. BRSV. PI3, BCV, Histophilus, Mannheimia hemolytica, and Pasteurella multocida are most

commonly isolated in my practice area so my recommended vaccine programs reflect those findings. Focus on getting a strong immunity to the viruses as they cause the initial damage to the respiratory tract, allowing the bacteria to invade and cause further disease and damage. An intranasal vaccine like Inforce 3 or Nasym can be safely given at birth for the prevention of pneumonia in young calves. Timing of vaccination and which products are used will vary depending on the pathogen, if calves get pneumonia at a really young age or not until they are a few months old. Culture and drug sensitivity results can also help you select an economical and effective treatment program. Although the abovementioned risk factors are, for the most part, uncontrollable, there are some things that you can do to help boost calf immunity. Even in well-managed beef operations, over 25% of calves have not received adequate amounts of colostrum. Studies have shown that these calves are 12 ½ times more likely to have health problems in the feeding period, long after weaning. Inadequate colostrum intake is largely a manage-

ment problem. Poor nutrition, an inadequate cow vaccination program and high numbers of first-calf heifers result in poor quality and reduced amounts of colostrum. Poor teat conformation and leakage or nursing pre-birth also result in questionable colostrum supplies. Delays in calf nursing, whether due to mismothering, difficult birthing, adverse weather conditions or predation risks also limit the success of passive transfer. Poor cowherd mineral and vitamin programs set up the whole herd for increased disease problems ranging from grass tetany, milk fever, calving problems, retained placenta, infertility, calf losses, lower herd immunity (scours, pneumonia, joint ill, mastitis, metritis, bacteria, viral and protozoal infections and parasitism) and lower milk yield and growth. It never pays to cheapen your feed costs by eliminating your mineral program. If calf pneumonia haunts your operation, know that help is available. Meet with your veterinarian to beef up your management and vaccination programs to wean more pounds this fall.


Duck nest tunnels are a useful tool in Manitoba. Photo credit: Delta Waterfowl Canada

Haylands and grasslands welcome waterfowl BY WAYNE HILDEBRAND April is prime time for migrating waterfowl to return to southwestern Manitoba. Why is this area so special to waterfowl? The wetlands, haylands and grasslands of the Prairie Pothole Region are some of the best waterfowl habitats on the planet. Spring is a critical time in the life cycle of a duck. The migration from their south winter home is a strenuous journey. Early arriving duck pairs are quick to seek out areas to feed, breed and nest. “Lakes and wetlands are often frozen in early spring, so ducks search out shallow depressions in farmers’ fields and pastures that fill with runoff from melting snow and rain,” says habitat conservation specialist Roy Bullion. “The nutrient rich soils warm rapidly and create an ideal environment for the growth of aquatic invertebrates such as insect larvae, snails, and shrimp. These provide the protein and calcium the nesting hens need to build up their energy to produce a clutch of eggs.” The female duck chooses the nesting area. Healthy stands of haylands and grasslands are a welcome site to nesting waterfowl. “In most cases the hen is homing to the site of her birth or a site where she successfully hatched a nest,” Bullion says. “The hen targets sheltered spaces near water with a lot of vegetation so she can stay safe and camouflaged while she incubates her eggs.” Unfortunately, of the ducklings that hatch, 40 to 60 percent will not survive to fly. Ducks need wetlands to survive. Across the Prairie Pothole Region, including southwest Manitoba, wetlands and natural grasslands are disappearing. Estimates indicate up to 70% of wetlands have been lost or degraded in populated Manitoba. “Most ducks in Manitoba will be raised on private farmland,” says habitat conservation specialist Ian Fortune. “So, it is important to develop and implement programs and policies that provide financial incentives for landowners to retain and restore wetlands and nesting habitat. There are a number of conservation organizations and watershed districts in Manitoba that offer incentive programs.” “Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation (MHHC) offers financial compensation through conservation easement agreements to landowners who are interested in protecting wetlands and important uplands for the benefit of waterfowl, species at risk and other wildlife,” says Fortune. “MHHC also offers wetland restoration programs to restore previously drained wetlands. In partnership with Delta Waterfowl, MHHC also installs and maintains duck nest

tunnels primarily in the Minnedosa and Shoal Lake regions.” Each spring 12 of the most common duck species make the flight north to the Prairie Pothole Region. Up to 50 per cent of the North American population of eight of these duck species is supported by prairie pothole habitat. For more information on wetland conservation programs offered by the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation, contact the Habitat Conservation Specialists, Roy Bullion at 204-729-7592 in Shoal Lake, Ian Fortune at 431-235-3058 in Hamiota or Wes Pankratz at 204-867-0337 in Minnedosa, or go the website at (Wayne Hildebrand is a retired agrologist and Tending the flock. Photo credit: Royal Society for the land/water manager.) Protection of Birds


Study looks at management and soil health BY: DR. MARY-JANE ORR,

MBFI General Manager

The Manitoba Beef & Forage Initiatives (MBFI) Brookdale farm station, along with five Manitoba beef producers are part of an ongoing effort to pilot the benchmarking of soil carbon stocks and soil health indicators associated with high performance management systems. Dr. Terence McGonigle, a professor in the Department of Biology at Brandon University, is leading the study ‘Soil health assessment for enhanced productivity and resilience for cattle grazing systems in Manitoba grasslands’ in collaboration with Manitoba Agriculture & Resource Development (MB ARD), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association (MFGA), and Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA). High performance management systems categorized for evaluation include (1) intensive rotational grazing, (2) annual crop integration, (3) enhanced legume content, (4) balanced fertility, and (5) bale grazing. Within these categories, each of the six study sites has their own unique approach to applying beneficial management systems to meet their oper-

ation’s goals for sustainable production and long-term profitability. The on-farm demonstration sites participating in the study across Manitoba include Clayton Robins, Ryan Canart, Allan Preston, Matt Van Steelandt, and Jonathan Bouw. These sites are considered pilot demonstration sites to collect benchmark soil health data due to the absence of experimental field replication. The planned grazing study at Brookdale farm led by Pam Iwanchysko (MB ARD) is an example of the intensive rotational grazing management practice. Established in 2015, the demonstration has showcased the positive impact of management on forage productivity and increased grazing days in comparison to a model of continuous grazing. Annual reports are available at MBFI’s research webpage ( Designed with field replication this site provides the experimental design to apply statistics to evaluate if the treatment of grazing management has a significant impact on the tested outcomes. Clayton Robins, a key staff member in the MBFI team, works the family farm

with his son by Rivers. The main pasture goal of the Robins’ farm is to eliminate grazing of perennial native and tame legume/grass pastures during the fall critical acclimation period. Diverse season-long mixes of annual forages are grown to provide grazing during the fall and early winter. Cereal-legume main crops are baled and left in the field for strip-grazing and understory mixes of high-sugar species provide energy-dense regrowth to complement the preserved forage and augment soil improvement and system resiliency. Ryan Canart’s farm is in the upper valley of the Assiniboine River near Miniota. Following the principals of Dr. Allen Williams, Ryan uses adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing to increase stocking rate and rest in his grazing management. The grazing plan integrates changing the season and intensity of each grazing event in a given paddock. He has also been working to increase forage diversity by direct drill seeding mixtures of legumes and grasses into perennial pastures. Ryan is motivated to build resilience to extremes in the water cycle, with the goal of drought proofing pastures and having paddocks that can soak up heavy rains to mitigate flooding.

Manitoba Beef Producers


Allan Preston’s farm, located by Hamiota, utilizes the 4Rs of fertility management on a long-standing grass dominated forage stand situated along a steep slope. A balance of N-P-KS fertilizer blend is typically applied each spring tailored to the fertility requirements of the dominant grass forage. This approach supports an annual cut of hay and a late season stockpiled grazing of the regrowth. Matt Van Steelandt farms near Melita and like Canart utilizes AMP to build soil health on his land. He also uses bale grazing for extensive winter feeding from December to April on perennial fields. Jonathan Bouw farms near Anola, directly east of Winnipeg, and utilizes extensive winter feeding of bales on primarily perennial forage fields. Jonathan has found winter feeding on the land has a huge fertility benefit for the following year’s forage growth and has labour savings in letting the cows manage the manure application to the fields. His grazing plan takes into account the challenge of sourcing consistent forage by providing a mixed ration of bales of differing quality in each allocation, designed to allow for all the cows in the group to access the same feed throughout winter grazing. Soil samples were collected in 2019, 2020, and planned again for this upcoming field season in 2021 to build data on the

measures of carbon sequestration and soil health. Soil health indicators evaluated include soil organic carbon (SOC), microbial biomass carbon (MBC), microbial respiration, soil compaction (i.e. penetrometer resistance), bulk density, and rate of water infiltration. Soil microbial activity and biomass is known to be highest in the surface soil layer where it readily responds to changing soil temperature, moisture, and plant root system dynamics. For this reason, the top six-inches (15 cm) of soil was monitored at MBFI from 2016 through to 2020, and in 2020 additional soil cores were taken down to 39.4-inches (100 cm) to measure SOC stocks deeper in the soil profile. Producer sites were similarly sampled to six-inches in 2019 and to 39.4-inches in 2020 where it was feasible to collect the samples. Ongoing study findings are highlighted in a March 29, 2021 MFGA media release ( aggp), citing the average soil carbon stocks ranged from 96 tonne per hectare in sandy soil up to 176 tonne per hectare in Newdale clay loam in the prairie pothole region. It is of note that despite the difference in the site averages there were point sample values overlapping across all sites. At MBFI to date no statistically significant difference has been found between the planned and continuous grazing man-

Manitoba Beef Producers is pleased to make available six $500 scholarships annually for MBP members or their children attending a university, college, other post-secondary institution or pursuing trades training. Preference will be given to those students pursuing a field of study related to agriculture or to those acquiring a skilled trade or pursuing a career that would be beneficial to the rural economy. Completed applications and supporting documents must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. Friday, November 5, 2021. A selection committee will review the submissions. Winners will be notified by December 14, 2021. Eligibility: • Must be at least 17 years of age as of January 1, 2021. • Must be an active Manitoba beef producer or the child of an active Manitoba beef producer. Note: This can include beef producers returning to school after a period of time in the workforce. • Post-secondary program or trades training must be a minimum of one year in duration. ***Due to ongoing disruptions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic (and the related impacts on high schools and post-secondary institutions) MBP has pushed the application deadline for its 2021 scholarship competition into November instead of the usual June intake deadline. This application intake process is for students who will be undertaking post-secondary studies in the 2021-22 academic year.

For more information and to get the application form, please contact Manitoba Beef Producers at 1-800-772-0458 or email

JONATHAN (204)471-4696 STEFAN (204)232-1620

Thank You







agement systems. The impact of grazing treatment on soil analysis has not been greater than the level of variability across the field replicates. A primary driver in the inconsistency of the soil test values at MBFI is related to the high level of variability in the prairie pothole landscape as discussed in a 2020 Soil Systems publication by Dr. McGonigle’s Masters student, Kaylin Liddle. These findings will need to be carefully considered in broad efforts to capture numerical differences in soil carbon stocks. In a 2017 agriculture journal literature review, Dr. McGonigle observed “MBC increases 2.5-times faster per unit of SOC in grassland, as compared to cropland”. Dr. McGonigle went on to note “that the mechanism for a steeper increase in MBC per unit of SOC in grasslands as compared to croplands likely relates to a difference in the quality of the SOC between the two systems”. The 2019 study findings evaluated the ratio of MBC to SOC for all farm sites, where all site averages ranged from 1.9% to 2.7%. These data align with the expected range for grassland soils. The Robins’ field with annual forage mixes with high-sugar species production since 2011 stood out with a ratio of 2.4%, where typically fields in annual production fall in the range of 0.5% to 1.5%. The lack of a statistical difference in soil health indicators is a challenge to accept when we observe pronounced improvements in the productivity of the grazing system. When asked why undertake changes in grazing management, Jonathan Bouw noted “investing in your own land to make it more productive is worth the effort to plan and implement the practices” - a common theme from all participating producers. These snap shots in time provide valuable insights into the potential for respective practices to increase soil carbon sequestration and illustrate the variability present across soil types and landscapes in Manitoba. The threeyear data set will provide a starting point to identify new research questions to address the relationship between management practices, carbon sequestration, and resilience to a changing climate.

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