Western Beef Development Center

Saskatoon, Canada

Western Beef Development Center

Saskatoon, Canada
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Durunna O.N.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | Girardin L.C.,103 610 Stensrud Road | Scott S.L.,Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency | Robins C.,Box 83 Rivers | And 4 more authors.
Canadian Journal of Animal Science | Year: 2014

The majority of beef producers in western Canada have adopted a spring calving system. Evaluating alternative calving systems such as summer calving may lead to better use of forage resources to optimize cow-calf productivity. In order to evaluate the impact of calving system on cow-calf productivity, 346 Hereford or Angus crossbred cows were used in a 3-yr research study (2007 to 2009) at Brandon, Manitoba; Swift Current, Saskatchewan and Lanigan, Saskatchewan. Cows were bred to calve from February to May (early-calving system, EC) or from May to August (latecalving system, LC). Each system was evaluated for effect on performance and reproductive efficiency. Forage yield, utilization and nutritive value were assessed. Cow body weights (BW), ultrasound measures of backfat and calf BW were evaluated at precalving, breeding and weaning. There was no difference between calving systems for pregnancy rate (P=0.13) EC (93.0%) vs. LC (95.8%); calving rate (P=0.89) EC (92.0%) vs. LC (91.7%) or proportion of calves born alive (P=0.85) EC (99.5%) vs. LC (99.6%). The average length of calving season was not different (P=0.26) between the two systems. The EC cows had greater (P=0.002) BW losses from calving to breeding but greater (P=0.001) BW gain from breeding to weaning than LC cows. Although calves born in LC had greater birth BW (P=0.003) than EC calves, calf weaning rate (P=0.01) and calf weaning BW (P<0.0001) were greater in EC. The higher weaning rate and higher weaning BW with EC has the potential to increase cow-calf productivity and may be more attractive to beef producers in western Canada.


Durunna O.N.,Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture | Block H.C.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | Iwaasa A.D.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | Thompson L.C.,Western Beef Development Center | And 4 more authors.
Canadian Journal of Animal Science | Year: 2014

Crossbred steers (n = 272) weaned from early (EC) and late (LC) calving systems (CS) were used to evaluate the impact of two feeding systems (FS) on postweaning performance and carcass characteristics. The steers were randomly assigned to either a rapid-gain feeding (RF) or a slow-gain feeding (SF) system. The RF steers were managed to have body weight (BW) gain of 1 kg d−1 on a silage-hay diet during the backgrounding period prior to finishing, while the SF steers were first backgrounded on a hay diet (gain of 0.7 kg d−1), then grazed alfalfa–meadow bromegrass pasture and annual cereal swaths prior to finishing. All treatment groups received a conventional diet during finishing until the steers attained a target backfat thickness or BW or both. There was no difference (P = 0.48) between the two FS for the average age of the steers at the beginning of the experiment. There was a CS×FS effect (P<0.01) on the age at slaughter, where the steers in the EC-RF, EC-SF, LC-RF and LC-SF were 426, 659, 504 and 606 d, respectively. The longer time on feed for LC-RF steers compared with EC-RF suggests the potential effect of summer ambient temperatures at finishing. The EC-RF group had the least carcass fat thickness (P<0.01), but there was no main or interaction effect (P>0.08) on dressing percentage or lean meat yield. There was a FS effect (P<0.05) on meat colour and marbling texture where SF steers had more desirable meat colour and marbling texture. Beef producers adopting EC-RF would finish their calves earlier but at a lighter weight. © 2014, Agricultural Institute of Canada. All rights reserved.


Zenobi M.G.,University of Saskatchewan | Lardner H.A.,Western Beef Development Center | Jefferson P.G.,Western Beef Development Center | McKinnon J.J.,University of Saskatchewan
Canadian Journal of Animal Science | Year: 2015

Five rumen-cannulated heifers (631 ±31 kg) were used in a 5 x 5 Latin square design to evaluate the effect of feeding blended by-product feed pellets (BP) on rumen fermentation and nutrient utilization. Four BP were formulated to be high in starch (HS) or fat (HF) and either low (LSP) or high (HSP) in soluble crude protein. The control diet consisted of 49.1% forage and 50.9% barley-based concentrate. Treatments were 50.3% forage and 49.7% BP (DM). Heifers fed HF BP had higher (P=0.05) mean pH values than those fed the control diet and tended (P=0.07) to have higher mean pH than those fed the HS BP. Feeding HF BP decreased (P<0.05) rumen propionate concentration without affecting acetate or total volatile fatty acid concentration. Rumen ammonia-nitrogen (N) levels and digestibility of crude protein was highest (P<0.05) for HS, intermediate for HF, and the lowest for the control. Feeding HF BP reduced (P<0.05) gross energy digestibility and digestible energy content relative to both the control and HS diets while both BP increased (P<0.01) their extract digestibility compared with the control. There was minimal effect of pellet soluble crude protein content. Total N excretion (% of N intake) was not affected (P>0.05) by treatment. These results indicate that BP had no adverse effects on rumen fermentation or apparent nutrient digestibility and did not result in issues with excess nutrient excretion. As such BP can be used as an alternative energy source in backgrounding diets to cereal grains and can help counteract volatility in feed grain prices.


Zenobi M.G.,University of Saskatchewan | Lardner H.A.,Western Beef Development Center | Jefferson P.G.,Western Beef Development Center | McKinnon J.J.,University of Saskatchewan
Canadian Journal of Animal Science | Year: 2014

Two trials were conducted to evaluate the performance of cattle fed blended by-product pellets (BP) formulated to be high in starch (HS 45% DM) or fat (HF 8.5% DM) and low (LSP; 27% of CP DM) or high (HSP; 37% of CP DM) in soluble protein. In trial 1, 300 crossbred steers (320±21.6 kg, mean±SD) were assigned to one of 25 pens and fed one of five diets. The control diet consisted of 46.9% forage and 53.1% barleybased concentrate. The four treatments were 48.5% forage and 51.5% BP (DM). Diets were formulated to 1.63 and 1.02 Mcal kg-1 NEm and NEg, respectively (DM). In trial 2, 180 crossbred steers (326±20.3 kg) were assigned to one of 15 pens, each assigned to one of three treatments. The control was 54.3% forage and 45.7% concentrate, while the two HF BP treatments were 56.6% forage and 43.4% BP (DM). All diets were formulated to 1.57 and 0.97 Mcal kg-1 NEm and NEg, respectively (DM). In trial 1, no (P=0.36) effect of treatment was observed on average daily gain (ADG); however, dry matter intake (DMI) was reduced (P<0.01) with the HS BP relative to the control and HF BP. Gain:feed (G:F) was poorest (P<0.01) for the HF BP. In Trial 2, no effect of treatment was observed on ADG (P=0.80) or DMI (P=0.06); however, cattle fed the control diet had the highest (P<0.01) G:F. Relative to the control, the calculated dietary NEg content (Mcal kg-1 DM) was 8.0% lower (P<0.01) for the HF BP in Trial 1 and 6.7% lower (P<0.01) in Trial 2. No effect (P>0.05) of soluble crude protein was observed. The results indicate that BP can be a viable supplemental energy and protein source for growing cattle.


Iwaasa A.D.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | Jefferson P.G.,Western Beef Development Center | Birkedal E.J.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada
Canadian Journal of Plant Science | Year: 2014

A study was conducted over 4 yr (1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003) at Swift Current to evaluate the forage preferences of steers grazing five different crested wheatgrass (CWG) cultivars: Kirk (2n=28), Fairway (2n=14) and Parkway (2n=14) [Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn.], Hycrest (2n=28) (A. cristatum×A. desertorum) and Nordan (2n=28) [(A. desertorum (Fisch. Ex Link) Schult.)]. Animal grazing frequencies for each CWG cultivar patch were converted to percentages (Grazing%) for each grazing time period. Grazing% for Kirk and Hycrest CWGs were similar with Nordan having higher (P < 0.05) Grazing% compared with the hybrid and diploid CWGs. Contrasts revealed no differences (P=0.48) in Grazing% between diploid versus hybrid cultivars, while higher (P < 0.01) Grazing% were observed for tetraploid compared with diploid and hybrid CWG cultivars. For forage nutritive values, significant Cultivar (P < 0.01) and Year (P < 0.0001) main effects were observed. Overall mean values for percent crude protein (%CP) and percent acid detergent fibre (%ADF) for Nordan, Kirk, Hycrest, Fairway and Parkway were 10.6±0.3 and 29.2±0.4, 11.0±0.3 and 28.7±0.4, 10.4±0.3 and 29.7±0.4, 9.9±0.3 and 28.5±0.4, and 10.0±0.3 and 28.7±0.4, respectively (±SE). Correlation coefficients between Grazing% and all nutritive value constituents were low and not significant. This study observed grazing preference differences among different CWG cultivars that may lead to grazing management strategies to improve pasture utilization potential and animal production.


Jefferson P.G.,Western Beef Development Center | Larson K.,Western Beef Development Center
Canadian Journal of Plant Science | Year: 2014

A previously reported decline in Saskatchewan hay yield statistics was re-examined with additional data. The decline in hay yield was confirmed in the new analysis, but the rate of decline was lower than previously reported. Several agronomic and economic variables were examined for their relationship to hay yield and precipitation use efficiency. Precipitation use efficiency for hay yield was correlated to summer fallow area, which has declined by 75% in Saskatchewan during the study period. Perennial hay crops are deep-rooted and therefore able to exploit soil water and nutrients at depth in previously summerfallowed land that was unavailable to grain and oilseed crops. We suggest that declining hay yield is due to less summerfallow land in modern Saskatchewan crop rotations.


Biligetu B.,University of Saskatchewan | Jefferson P.G.,Western Beef Development Center | Muri R.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | Schellenberg M.P.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada
Canadian Journal of Plant Science | Year: 2014

In late summer and fall, quality and quantity of forage are important for weight gain by grazing animals in western Canada. The objective of this study was to evaluate forage nutritive value, dry matter (DM) yield, and compatibility of crested wheatgrass [Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn.], meadow bromegrass (Bromus riparius Rehm.), green needle grass [Nasella viridula (Trin.) Barkworth], northern wheatgrass [Elymus lanceolatus (Scribn. & J. G. Sm.) Gould], western wheatgrass [Pascopyrum smithii (Rydb.) Barkworth & D.R. Dewey], Russian wildrye [Psathyrostachys juncea (Fisch.) Nevski], big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman), or switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) in eight grass monocultures, and their binary mixtures with alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.), or cicer-milkvetch (Astragalus cicer L.) harvested once in August or September. A field study was conducted over a 7-yr period from 1998 to 2004 near Swift Current (lat. 50°25′N, long. 107°44′W, 824 m elev.), SK, Canada, using a randomized complete block design. Forage DM yield was similar between August and September harvests (P >0.05). Binary mixtures of alfalfa-grass produced highest (P <0.05) DM yield ranging from 2449 to 2758 kg ha-1. The monoculture of crested wheatgrass (2143 kg ha-1), sainfoin with crested wheatgrass (2061 kg ha-1), and cicer-milkvetch with green needle grass (1838 kg ha-1) or cicer-milkvetch with western wheatgrass (1861 kg ha-1) produced the second highest (P <0.05) DM yields in the ranking. The two warm-season grasses produced the lowest (P >0.05) DM yields over the 7-yr period. Monocultures of green needle grass or northern wheatgrass had the highest acid detergent fiber (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF), while warm-season grasses with legumes had the lowest. Alfalfa with western wheatgrass and alfalfa with Russian wildrye had the highest crude protein (CP) concentrations. Monocultures of meadow bromegrass, crested wheatgrass, green needle grass, or cicer-milkvetch with meadow bromegrass, and sainfoin with crested wheatgrass had the lowest CP concentrations. In vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) was greater for mixtures than for the grass monocultures. Concentration of Ca and P was greater for warm-season grasses than cool-season grasses. Alfalfa with western wheatgrass was the best combination considering yield, quality, and compatibility for deferred grazing in late summer and fall in the semiarid prairies. Tested warm-season grasses are not recommended for seeding as binary mixtures with legumes for southwestern Saskatchewan.


Jungnitsch P.F.,University of Saskatchewan | Schoenau J.J.,University of Saskatchewan | Lardner H.A.,Western Beef Development Center | Lardner H.A.,University of Saskatchewan | Jefferson P.G.,Western Beef Development Center
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment | Year: 2011

Overwintering beef cows is a major cost in cow-calf production systems on the western Canadian prairies. Winter feeding directly on pasture is a potentially more efficient system in terms of nutrient recycling compared to conventional drylot feeding in a yard. An experiment was conducted from 2003 to 2005 at Lanigan, Saskatchewan, Canada on a Russian wild ryegrass (Psathryrostachys juncea [Fisch.] Nevski) pasture to compare winter feeding hay and straw directly on pasture (bale graze [BG]; bale process [BP]) to conventional feeding in a drylot pen (DL). In the pasture winter feeding systems, stocking density was 2080cowdaysha-1. In the DL system, 67tha-1 of raw manure or 22tha-1 of compost was hauled out of the yard and mechanically spread on pasture. Soil inorganic nitrogen (N) amounts (0-15cm) measured the following spring where cattle were winter fed on pasture were 3-3.7 times greater than the unfertilized control treatment, an average increase of 117kgNha-1. Soil inorganic N amounts were similar to control where raw manure or compost was spread by equipment. Forage dry matter yields (DMYs) were 3.3-4.7 times greater than control DMY where cattle were fed on the pasture, and 1.4-1.7 times greater than control where raw manure or compost was mechanically spread. Recovery of N and phosphorus (P) in the forage was approximately 30-40% of original feed N and 20-30% of original feed P that was imported into the field in the pasture overwintering systems. For DL feeding 1% of feed N and 3% of feed P was estimated to be recovered in the forage. Greater efficiency in recycling winter feed nutrients into pasture forage growth than drylot feeding appears to be an important benefit of pasture winter feeding systems. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Cutforth H.W.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | Jefferson P.G.,Western Beef Development Center | Campbell C.A.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | Ljunggren R.H.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada
Canadian Journal of Plant Science | Year: 2010

In the semiarid prairie of western Canada, there is renewed interest for including short durations (53 yr) of perennial forage in rotations with annual crops. However, there are producers who want to grow longer durations (]4 yr) of perennial forages in rotational systems. Therefore, we assessed spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) yield, grain protein, and water use efficiency following 6 yr of either crested wheatgrass [Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn.], or alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), or wheat, and then 1 yr of fallow. Yield, water use, and water use efficiency were significantly lower in the first year of spring wheat production (2000) when the prior crop was crested wheatgrass or alfalfa than when it was wheat. In the second year (2001), which was a near record drought year, wheat yield and water use were significantly lower when the prior crop was alfalfa than when it was grass or wheat. From 2002 to 2005, there were no consistent differences in water use, water use efficiency, or yield of wheat due to the prior perennial crop. Wheat grain protein concentration was significantly higher following alfalfa compared with following crested wheatgrass or continuous spring wheat from 2000 to 2005. This effect was attributed to the higher N-supplying power of the soil following alfalfa. Soil water content below the rooting depth of most annual crops (]120 cm depth) was reduced by the prior alfalfa crop, and there was no evidence from 2000 to 2005 that soil water recharge was occurring below the 150 cm depth.


Three years of winter feeding trials using 90 Angus cows (15 pens of six cows) fed typical western Canadian wintering diets formulated to stage of pregnancy were used to evaluate National ResearchCouncil (NRC 2000) energy requirement and dry matter intake (DMI) equation accuracy and precision. Data collection included pen DMI, individual cow weights, body condition scores, calving dates and weights, and daily environmental temperature. Diet energy density was estimated from nutrient analysis of composited weekly feed samples. Equation evaluations compared observed and predicted DMI and conceptus corrected average daily gain (ADG) for the second and third trimesters using regression, means comparison, concordance correlation coefficient (CCC), and total deviation index (TDI) methods. Across all 3 yr, second trimester DMI was over-predicted (P <0.01) with low precision (CCC=0.24, TDI90=n/a) using actual environmental conditions, but not (P=0.34) when assuming thermal neutral (TN) conditions, although precision remained low (CCC=0.25, TDI90=1.91 kg d-1). Thi1rd trimester DMI over the 3 yr was also over-predicted (P<0.01) with low precision (CCC=0.12, TDI90=1.57 kg d-1) using actual environ1mental conditions, but was largely under- predicted (P <0.01) withlower precision (CCC=0.01, TDI90=2.34 kg d) when assuming TN conditions. Across all 3 yr, second trimester ADG was largely under-predicted (P<0.01) with low precision (CCC=0.50, TDI90=0.58 kg d-1) using actual environmental conditions, but over-predicted (P<0.01) withsimilar precision (CCC=0.51, TDI90=0.50 kg) when assuming TN conditions. Third trimester ADG predictions using actual environmental conditions were inaccurate (P<0.01) with low precision (CCC=0.20, TDI90=0.38 kg) using actual conditions and lower precision (CCC=0.01, TDI90=n/a) when assuming TN conditions where ADG was over-predicted (P<0.01). These results indicate a lack of accuracy and precision with the current NRC (2000) model energy requirement and DMI equations that was not addressed by assuming TN conditions. Future researchshould be targeted at alternate DMI equations and refinements to maintenance and gain requirements. © 2010 Agricultural Institute of Canada.

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