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WBDC Research Activities Involve, but are not limited to:

  1. Forage and Range Management
  2. Beef Production and Management
  3. Cost of Production and Economic Analysis
  4. Supplementation Strategies and Feedstuffs
  5. Water Quality Management
  6. Manure Management

FORAGE AND RANGE MANAGEMENT

Comparison of Different Herbicide Options to Control Absinth in Perennial Pasture
Absinth is a noxious weed under the Saskatchewan Weed Control Act; areas exceeding 12.5 acres must be controlled. Using ADOPT funding, four sites - Melfort, Lanigan, Meacham and Kerrobert - looked at six herbicides for absinth control in a perennial pasture. Site monitoring occured 1-, 3- and 12- months post-application. Based on absinth reduction potential, the study herbicdes can be ranked as follows: 2,4-D < Banvel II < Rejuvra XL < Grazon < Restore II < Reclaim.
Fact Sheet | ADOPT Report

Short-Rotation Forage Legumes for Reducing N Fertilizer
Four different, 4-year cropping rotations at four sites - Lanigan, Saskatoon, Swift Current and Melfort - to research the nitrongen-fixing benefit available to annual crops for two years following a two-year rotation of a forage legume - alfalfa or red clover. Results varied by soil zone, the net fertilizer equivalent (NFE) for alfalfa ranged from 35 kg/ha (valued at $43/ha) in Swift Current to 373 kg/ha (valued at $460/ha) in Melfort. The NFE values for red clover were 0 (no measurable response) in Swift Current and 194 kg/ha in Saskatoon and 244 kg/ha for both Lanigan and Melfort. YouTube Video | ADF Final Report

New Cicer Milkvetch Varieties for Fall Pasture
ADOPT-funded project to demonstrate the stockpiled yield and forage quality of recently developed Cicer Milkvetch varieties - Veldt and Oxley II - in comparison to Oxley and AC Grazeland alfalfa at three locations (Saskatoon, Lethbridge and Lanigan). The hay followed by stockpiling regrowth system produced superior forage quality and good forage yield compared to the season-long stockpile system. ADOPT Final Report

Evaluation of Grazing Corn Varieties to Extend Grazing Season
Eight varieties of grazing corn were seeded in May 2011 at the Termuende Research Ranch to evaluate plant establishment, input costs, production and forage quality for mature, bred cows grazing during the fall or winter months.
Fact Sheet
| YouTube Video

Zero-Till Opener Evaluation for Pasture Rejuvenation
In June 2011, five commonly available seed openers were used to seed alfalfa into an established crested wheat grass pasture. For some of the plots, glyphosate was applied to terminate the stand pre-seeding in order to determine if vegetation control important for alfalfa seedling establishment. ADF Final Report | YouTube Video

No-Till Seeding a New Fall Rye Variety for Pasture Rejuvenation
In both 2009 and 2010, a paddock of crested wheat grass (sowed +40 years ago) was sod seeded with Hazlet Fall Rye using the AgroPlow no-till drill. Fact Sheet

Is Bloat-Safe Alfalfa Grazing Possible with Improved Sainfoin Germplasm
Small plots of sainfoin alfalfa mixtures were seeded at the Termuende Research Ranch; Nova was being compared with some experimental lines of sainfoin. Measurements taken to determine stand persistence as earlier studies have shown that having atleast 15% or more sainfoin in an alfalfa mixture can eliminate risk of pasture bloat. Research Poster

New Grass Variety for Beef Producers
Developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in the early 1990s, 'AC Knowles' is an inter-specific hybrid between smooth bromegrass and meadow bromegrass. The data suggests that hybrid bromegrass provides a good balance between productivity and nutritional quality. MSc Thesis | Fact Sheet

Management of Bloat-Reduced and Non-Bloat Legumes
In 2000, the WBDC initiated a grazing project to demonstrate the establishment of bloat-safe and bloat-reduced legumes. The aim of this project was to provide beef producers with an opportunity to view alternate forage legumes and their establishment and eventual use as a grazed forage source.

BEEF PRODUCTION AND MANAGEMENT

Validation of Commercially-Available DNA Markers for Bos Taurus Beef Cows
Three cohorts of replacement heifers were developed in pens equipped with GrowSafe bunks in order to measure individual animal intakes which were used in conjunction with animal weight gains to calculate residual feed intake. Calculated RFI was compared with panel scores for RFI through iGenity.

Cost Effective Heifer Development Systems
This study reviewed the 50-year old rule of thumb that heifers need to be developed to 60-65% of mature body weight at time of first breeding. Two sites (Lanigan and North Platte, Nebraska) involving two years of replacement heifers were developed to moderate weight (55% of mature BW) or traditional (62% of mature BW) in either a drylot or extensive feeding system. The moderate gain heifers gained 1.1 lb per day while the traditional gain heifers were fed a diet to gain 1.5 lb per day. There were no significant differences in conception rate out to third pregnancy. The cost savings over the 200-d post-wean phase was approximately $60 per head. Fact Sheet- Production | Fact Sheet - Economics | Journal Abstract

Beef Cattle Breeding Programs: A Systems Comparison
This ADOPT-funded project compared fixed-time artificial insemination (FTAI) using 7-d CO-Synch + CIDR with natural service breeding. Cows (n=80) were bred using FTAI followed by clean-up bull or natural service in Summer 2013. The FTAI cows had higher conception rate (97.5% vs 92.5%), higher wean rate (90% vs 77.5%) and thereby higher total lbs of calf weaned. The cost was $123/cow for the FTAI (includes semen and AI technician) while the natural service breeding was $85 per cow. A partial budget analysis to examine the changes in costs and revenues from implementing FTAI revealed a net change in profit of $11,350. ADOPT Final Report

Utilization of Stockpiled Perrennial Forages
This 3-year study compared winter feeding beef cows from mid-October to December with swathed stockpiled brome-alfalfa pasture (SPF) to baled stockpiled forage fed in the drylot (HAY). Stockpiled forage did not affect cow performance or reproductive efficiency. While the stockpiled forage was a lower cost feed source, the weather conditions made it necessary to supplement with rolled barley. The cost of the barley and the labour associated with feeding it, eroded the cost savings; SPF cost $1.50/hd/day while HAY was $1.72/hd/day. Fact Sheet | ADF Final Report

Utilizing Crop Residue in Beef Cattle Winter Feeding Programs
From 2009-2011, beef cow performance and system economics were measured for cows fed either oat or pea straw-chaff residue for part of their winter feeding program. ADF Final Report | Fact Sheet | MSc Thesis | YouTube Video

Eco-Buffer for Wind Protection in the Field
Eco-buffer is a new shelterbelt design that incorporates a variety of native trees and shrubs in a narrow, dense configuration in order to capture the site quickly and reduce the need for long-term weed control. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Indian Head, Laura Poppy), worked with WBDC to plant an eco-buffer on Termuende Research Ranch property in 2009.
Download Eco-Buffer Design

Effect of Calving Systems on Cow and Calf Performance in Western Canada
A three-year, three-site study comparing early (March) versus late (June) calving. Cow and calf performance as well as system costs were evaluated. Steer calves were followed through to slaughter and finished in slow and rapid programs.
ADF Final Report | MSc Thesis | Fact Sheet

Low Stress Weaning For Beef Calves
Cow-calf behaviour research at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine has led to the discovery of a weaning method that dramatically reduces the bawling, restlessness, aimless walking, and reduction in feed intake that symbolizes the weaning stress. YouTube Video

COST OF PRODUCTION AND ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

Grain vs Grass: Economics Revisited
In the early 2000s, Western Beef conducted a case study comparing adjacent parcels of land - one that was annually cropped and one that was sown to perennial forage. The economics showed that it perennial forage had better net returns than annual cropping. With improved grain prices and low cattle prices from 2003 to 2011, much of the land that had been converted to grass was being cultivated and Using 2011 Census data and WBDC cost of production benchmarks, land-use allocation - choice between pasture, annual forage or annual crops - in each soil zone of Saskatchewan and Alberta was modelled to maximize profit. Flat and declining hay yield trends is a concern identified in the report. In the past, forage production gains were made through sowing summerfallow acres. Of the forage options modelled, only annual forages (greenfeed) could compete with annual cropping. ADF Final Report

BIXS in Action on Saskatchewan Ranch
ADOPT funding used to demonstrate the Beef Info Exchange System (or BIXS). WBDC enrolled its herd in BIXS in May 2012 and monitored the carcass data it received back on three calf crops. Over three years, Western Beef marketed just over 600 of its 840 (12% of 2010 calves, 57% of 2011-borns and 7% of 2012s). BIXS has underwent revisions since this project and is now part of ViewTrak, Western Beef continues to upload calves to BIXS 2.0. ADOPT Final Report

Cost of Production
Western Beef assisted producers' in the calculation of their cost of production from the late 1990s until 2012. The approach has now shifted to providing the tools and training for producers to calculate cost of production on their own. Benchmark results are shared with the industry via WBDC Fact Sheets. For more on Cost of Production click here

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bullet PRODUCTION RECORDS AND RECORD KEEPING

Carcass Traceback
Before the arrival of BIXS, the Western Beef Development Centre was working with producers to develop an information management system that would transfer production and carcass data through the value chain. For three years producers tracked their production records and participated in cost of production of analysis in order to evaluate the potential to track information from pasture to plate on an individual animal basis. Fact Sheet

SUPPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES AND FEEDSTUFFS

WATER QUALITY MANAGEMENT

Effect of Water Quality on Cattle Weight Gain
Investigates the effect of dugout aeration, restricted cattle access to dugouts, and coagulation treatment (including disinfection) of source of water from an aged dugout on weight gains in cattle. http://www.agr.gc.ca/pfra/water/quality_e.htm

MANURE MANAGEMENT

Comparison of Potential Nutrient Export Run-off with In-field versus Drylot Overwintering Systems
Collaborative project between WBDC, the U of S Department of Soil Science (Dr. Jeff Schoenau) and Environment Canada's National Water Research Institute (Dr. Jane Elliot) to determine the concentrations and export of nitrogen and phosphorus in snowmelt runoff water from winter field feeding sites. MSc Thesis

Composting Beef Cattle Manure
To determine changes in moisture, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous levels in composted beef cattle manure. Fact Sheet

LLast update: July 21, 2015 ateddated: May 9, 2013.

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