Tools to Build your Cow Herd - Presentations

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This playlist includes four of the speakers from the “Tools to Build Your Cow Herd” sessions held in the fall of 2017 across Alberta. The presentation from Dr. John Basarab provides an explanation of the importance of hybrid vigour for commercial cattle and how to make that determination. The three other presentations from Dr. Mark Engstrom and Barry Yaremcio are based around cattle feeding and nutrition and the challenges that can arise.
Tools to Build Your Cow Herd Fall 2017

Playlist includes:
  • Genomic Tools for Commercial Beef Cattle – Dr. John Basarab
  • Vitamins to Help Build Your Cow Herd – Dr. Mark Engstrom
  • Production Problems and Opportunities Experienced Over the Last Couple Years – Barry Yaremcio
  • How to Feed Cows Through a Feed Shortage - Barry Yaremcio
Workshop Agenda - November 15th, 2016, Olds College.
Workshop Agenda - November 16th, 2016, Lakeland College.
Workshop Agenda - September 8th, 2016, Waldron Ranch.

EnVigour HX
Testing for parentage has often been thought to be only applicable to purebred cattle breeders, not so. The potential for information that a commercial producer can glean from a DNA test can make a positive difference to the operation’s financial bottom line.

For more information about the EnVigour HX program, check out the EnVigour HX brochure.

Real Time Animal Movement
Bradley Smith, Business Development - Livestock Technology Specialist, Agriculture & Forestry
Brad provides a slide update to the GF2 project studying real time animal movement technology for the working cattle ranch; the practicalities and the challenges.

Utilization of EPD’s and Genomics in the selection of Herd Traits
Dr. John Crowley, Canadian Beef Breeds Council
How do you choose your breeding stock? With Dr. John Crowley’s slides, he introduces you to the use of expected progeny differences (EPDs) and genomics to better evaluate and choose your breeding stock.

Introduction to Genomics, Application for the Commercial Producer
Stephen Scott, Executive Director of the Canadian Hereford Association
In this slide presentation, Stephen introduces the concept of genomics and how the commercial cattleman can use this information in their own herd development.

Searching for the Ultimate Cow
Dr. John Paterson, Montana State University (retired)
Dr. John Paterson spoke at the Waldron Ranch Tour and both the Tools to Build Your Cow Herd workshops.
As cattle producers we often think we know what an efficient cow looks like. Do we? Dr. Paterson’s slide presentation explores the observations made over the years to the technology available to us today that starts to answer that question more accurately.

Using the Various Tools Available to Meet Market Goals
Doug Munton, Benchmark Angus
Benchmark Angus runs a purebred red and black Angus herd in Southern Alberta. Data collection is so vital to the operation that they installed a GrowSafe system to further evaluate cattle performance.

Cattle Evaluation – What You Can and Can’t See
Dr. Susan Markus, Beef Research Scientist, Agriculture & Forestry
We can take a guess as to the amount of feed an animal is consuming but unless we have a way to measure each animal’s feed intake a guess is all it is. By measuring residual feed intake (RFI) we can take the guesswork out of cattle evaluation and start to work with true numbers. Dr. Markus’s slide presentation provides you with glimpse into how that information is important to the profitability of your herd.

Stephen Scott, Executive Director of the Canadian Hereford Association
Through his slide presentation, Stephen explains why the Canadian Hereford Association decided to add a residual feed intake (RFI) EPD to the data producers can obtain when evaluating purebred Hereford cattle.

CAIPP Factsheet
The Canadian Angus Association has developed a program for commercial producers to make selection decisions and market their cattle.

There are often multiple bulls with a herd of cows in a commercial operation. Knowing what bull sired what calves in this instance can only be determined by a DNA test. Producers have found that some of their bulls are siring significantly more calves than others. If a producer has had some calving difficulties through the season, by doing the DNA test, it can be determined if one of the bulls is the culprit and cull accordingly to save the headaches the following year from happening again.

Crossbreeding in Alberta has really only been around for about 50 years and has proven to provide hybrid vigour (heterosis). That hybrid vigour increases the cow’s lifetime productivity, longevity and herd efficiency. Hybrid vigour also increases profitability with lower open and cull rates, reduced cow replacement costs and a higher weaned weight production per cow.

When crossbreeding first started the concept was quite simple, breed cow A of X breed with bull B of Y breed and the result was a strong crossbred calf. Today producers may run cow A of XY breed with bull B of YZ breed and the result is still a crossbred calf but the hybrid vigour may be starting to loose it’s strength. It has been estimated that a producer saves $6 per head per year in feed costs for every 10% increase in the hybrid score. When feed costs are a cattle operation’s main expense, those feed efficient animals save the producer money.

Delta Genomics, an Alberta based company, is now offering the opportunity to test for: 1) parentage, 2) a breed composition analysis and 3) a simple and easy to understand vigour score (an assessment of hybrid vigour). With these 3 pieces of information a producer gets a much better understanding of the herd’s performance and can bunch cows in particular groups to turn out bulls that will help to maximize hybrid vigour. This information can also be used to more confidently choose the heifers that best fit the goals of the operation.
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Andrea Hanson.
This document is maintained by Amrit Matharu.
This information published to the web on January 30, 2017.
Last Reviewed/Revised on February 27, 2018.