Latest articles


Yikes ­— another crazy winter!

Nutrition with John McKinnon

The winter of 2017-18 is shaping up to be full of unexpected challenges, particularly for those wintering cows in Western Canada. Drought, as well as recent wildfires, have caused many producers to scramble for a forage supply. As well, “old man winter” in all his wisdom has arrived early, with November temperatures in the minus […] Read more


Forage quality from the perspective of 1-billion bacterial cells

Nutrition with John McKinnon

It is a time of year when feedlot operators and cow-calf producers are implementing their winter feeding programs. Forage, whether it is fed as hay, stockpiled forage (i.e. barley swaths or standing corn) or silage will play a big role in the vast majority of these operations. For feedlot operations, good-quality hay is often used […] Read more



Strive for consistency when feeding cattle

Nutrition with John McKinnon

Striving for consistency may not sound like the most exciting goal, but when it comes to feeding cattle, it should be one of our golden rules! Consistency is essential if we want to keep cattle on an even keel and prevent wild swings in intake. This includes consistency in when we feed; how we load, […] Read more


cattle herd

“If You Talk the Talk, You Gotta Walk the Walk”

Nutrition with John McKinnon

My August column focused on alternatives to current growth promoting technology. My general conclusion was that while there are alternatives on the market, they fail to achieve the same beneficial production responses as seen with implants, ionophores and prudent use of antibiotics. While I applaud and encourage continued research into new/alternative technology to promote production […] Read more



calves and cattle in a feedlot

There is no silver bullet!

Nutrition with John McKinnon

Recently I was invited by the University of Calgary to give a presentation at their annual beef conference on alternatives to growth promotants. The presentation was part of a larger program that addressed alternative beef production strategies that could be used to access niche markets or used in the future if federal regulatory agencies place […] Read more


The silage pit has no secrets

Nutrition with John McKinnon

Last month I wrote about the importance of variety when it comes to seeding barley for silage. When writing that article, I got thinking about the principles of making good-quality silage, particularly in relation to feed quality. What really brought this connection home to me however, was my experiences this past winter where I had […] Read more



Why variety matters when growing barley for silage

Nutrition with John McKinnon

When growing silage, particularly barley silage, most producers select varieties with proven agronomic traits such as yield, disease and lodging resistance. In contrast, relatively little information is available on the nutritional value of the numerous barley varieties that are available for seeding. Recently a joint research project was run at the University of Saskatchewan and […] Read more


cows at a mineral feeding trough

More questions on mineral nutrition (part 2)

Nutrition with John McKinnon

With this column, I want to continue our discussion on mineral feeding. Last month I addressed questions regarding the adequacy/availability of trace minerals naturally found in tame and native grasses and how effective they were in meeting requirements; the role of sulphur and molybdenum in copper deficiency, and the need to understand your mineral tag […] Read more



More questions on mineral nutrition

Nutrition with John McKinnon

Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference. As with similar events held across the country, the objective was to transfer current research and technology to beef producers. One of the most interesting aspects of this conference was a bear-pit session hosted by the Beef Cattle Research Council which focused […] Read more


The makings of a perfect storm

Nutrition with John McKinnon

The winter of 2016-17 is shaping up to be a challenge for cow-calf operators across Canada. While much of October and November were relatively stress free in terms of winter’s wrath, as we moved into the new year, extreme cold and snow has gripped much of the country. Coupled with hay shortages in Eastern Canada […] Read more