GFM Network News


Ionophores are used most extensively in feedlot cattle diets, but are generally considered a good investment regardless of the diet fed.

The complicated life of an ionophore

Ron Clarke outlines the basics of how these widely used feed additives work

Ionophores are a class of compounds frequently talked about in animal nutrition, yet infrequently understood by many. First marketed in the 1960s and derived from soil-borne organisms, ionophores are best described as feed additives that reversibly bind ions — chemical entities possessing an electric charge — then subsequently facilitate their transport across membranes. Commonly used […] Read more

Sweet clover is high in coumarin, which converts to dicoumarol – a potent vitamin K antagonist and anticoagulant– if the plant is spoiled or damaged.

Vet Advice: Avoiding sweet clover poisoning

A variety of bacteria and moulds can grow in sweet clover once baled or put up as silage

Preparing forages and getting them stored in perfect condition seldom happens. Spoilage is often linked to the production of moulds and a broad spectrum of mycotoxins in grains. Syndromes in domestic livestock following consumption of feed containing mycotoxins varies depending on the species of animal involved, the stage of the production cycle when it is […] Read more


U.S. vaccine supplies are sufficient to control foot-and-mouth in only about four per cent of Iowa’s swine herd or 14 per cent of Texas’s cattle herd.

Foot-and-mouth disease remains a threat to North American livestock

North America needs to prepare better for an outbreak of this economically important disease

Foot-and-mouth disease virus and the disease it causes have been intensively studied for decades. Although we know a great deal about the virus and vaccines used to prevent foot-and-mouth disease, it remains endemic across large parts of Africa, South America, the Middle East and Asia, and is a constant threat to North America. Globally, it […] Read more

According to the report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a half-billion people already live in places turning to desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is being produced.

Reading the U.N. report on climate change and food supply

Vet Advice with Dr. Ron Clarke

Everyone involved with livestock industries should be aware of what the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in their latest report. First, it’s important to recognize the existence of this enormous and noteworthy group of international scientists, experts, advisors, authors, editors and reviewers. Then, more importantly, to understand the message incorporated in […] Read more


Digital dermatitis.

Vet Advice: Digital dermatitis not just a dairy problem

Acute active digital dermatitis lesions can cause pain and lameness in cattle. It can become a significant production problem and a serious animal welfare issue in both beef and dairy herds. Digital dermatitis (DD) — also known as hairy heel warts, strawberry foot rot, raspberry heel, foot wart and hairy heel wart — first appeared […] Read more

Foot rot.

Vet Advice: Spot and treat foot rot early

Foot rot is an acute and highly infectious disease of cattle characterized by swelling and lameness. The condition is extremely painful. If not treated promptly, the infection invades other structures in the foot including bones, joints and tendons, complicating treatment and delaying recovery. Foot rot originates between the claws of the hoof. It is more […] Read more


Science often struggles to communicate its research findings as they are often technical and not readily understood.

Telling a story

Vet Advice with Dr. Ron Clarke

Our job as scientists is to find the truth. But we must also be storytellers. Science can’t exist without telling a story. The question is not whether we should use it, but how we should use it best, writes Nick Enfield in The Guardian. Scientists often struggle to communicate the findings of research. The subject […] Read more

This winter caught many cattle producers by surprise, with the deep freeze and snow depleting feed supplies quicker than anticipated.

Dealing with uncertain times

Vet Advice with Dr. Ron Clarke

[UPDATED: June 13, 2019] Cattle producers across Western Canada grow weary of the relentless 2018-19 winter. For those of us living on the eastern slopes of the Rockies, it started with a record snowfall in October followed by record cold temperatures that extended across the central and northern Prairies. From mid-December to the end of […] Read more


Scientists on both sides of the issue are quite convincing. Little wonder we confuse readers when we always stress that science is good. – Dr. Ron Clarke

Bold scientists and scientific scrutiny at odds in TSE research

To argue that prion diseases don't jump species barriers is wishful thinking

An old friend called the other day. For years, Jim and I hunted together and have spent many hours discussing issues affecting hunters and the wild game industry. His concern centred around chronic wasting disease (CWD), how it had affected his family’s 2018 harvest of big game and a renewed optimism that researchers, armed with […] Read more

The majority of deaths due to bovine respiratory disease (BRD) occur shortly after arrival to the feedlot or within the first 45 days.

Chute-side diagnostics for bovine respiratory disease remain elusive

Vet Advice with Dr. Ron Clarke

Speakers at the 2019 Western Canadian Association of Bovine Practitioners addressed bovine respiratory disease (BRD) from several perspectives, including emergence of changing patterns of respiratory disease, economics of BRD, prudent use of antimicrobials in prevention and treatment of BRD, and diagnostics. BRD accounts for approximately 75 per cent of feedlot morbidity and 50 to 70 […] Read more