GFM Network News


In a dry pasture, cattle will also eat a lot of tall larkspur, which contains many toxic alkaloids.

Unconventional: Salvaging crops and feeding weeds during drought

Whether you’re eyeing a flax crop or baling ditches and sloughs, here’s what you need to know about alternative feeds

In drought years it’s often challenging to provide adequate forage for cattle. Sometimes producers use alternative feeds which might include drought-stressed or salvaged crops. Dr. Bart Lardner, professor in the department of animal and poultry science at the University of Saskatchewan, says some of the drought-stressed crops that might be available include annuals such as […] Read more

Holly Sparrow’s experience on her family’s mixed farm sparked a passion for raising high-quality beef while protecting the environment.

Focusing on the big picture

Whether it’s managing the cow herd or lobbying on Parliament Hill, Holly Sparrow is in a learning frame of mind

Even for those raised on a ranch, there’s always a learning curve in the beef industry. Third-generation rancher Holly Sparrow is leveraging what she’s learned on the farm and in school with her work and board experience to climb that curve. Sparrow’s passion for the beef industry is rooted in her experience on her family […] Read more


Gillian Arraial, Alexandra Shepherd and Bailey Hove learning to castrate calves while interning with Chelsea Geiger Pellerin and her family.

Mini-internships give ag students hands-on farm experience

A University of Alberta program connects urban students to farmers, and gives farm kids new ag experience, too

A unique internship program at the University of Alberta has become increasingly popular with students since its creation in 2016. Poultry professor Dr. Frank Robinson helped create the program, which is a partnership between the faculty of agricultural, life and environmental sciences and the University of Alberta Career Centre. Robinson set up mini ag internships, […] Read more

Cows grazing winter wheat and fall rye in September 2018.

Adding winter cereal crops to the annual forage mix

Dr. Vern Baron makes the case for winter cereals as cow chow

Spring barley and oats are typical annual forage choices for many beef producers, but winter cereals can add forage flexibility to beef cattle diets. Dr. Vern S. Baron has worked with forage crops since the 1980s — with a master’s and PhD in corn production and physiology. Much of that time has been with Agriculture […] Read more


Rye ready for chopping at milky head stage.

Hybrid fall rye offers high yield, flexibility to beef producers

This relatively new forage can be grown for grazing, silage or grain, and can fit into double-cropping systems

Hybrid fall rye is one of the newer forage options available today, and can be a good fit to producers looking for a high-yielding feed with flexibility. Herman Wehrle, director of commercialization and market development at FP Genetics, says his job is to bring new crops to the marketplace. “After five years of commercialization, we […] Read more

Bootsman uses a quad to roll and unroll aircraft cable for electric fence.

Working with farming neighbours to graze crop residue

Here’s how a cow-calf producer is extending the grazing season by working with local farmers

Fall and winter grazing can help a beef producer reduce winter feed costs, and some cattlemen are finding value in creating co-operative relationships with neighbouring farmers to graze crop residues. Joey Bootsman has a cow-calf operation near Rapid City, northwest of Brandon, Man., and for several years has made arrangements with farming neighbours to graze […] Read more


Cold weather also poses a challenge to newborn calves, but with good cow nutrition, shelter and disease management, they’re better prepared to survive those conditions.  


Preventing weak calf syndrome

Factors ranging from cow nutrition to weather to disease can cause this often complex condition

Weak calf syndrome is a general condition rather than a specific disease, and can be caused by several different factors, sometimes multiple factors at the same time. The newborn calf is weak, unable or slow to rise, stand or nurse. These calves often die within three days of birth. They are sometimes called “dummy calves” […] Read more

In 1973, three Speckle Park steers took second at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. The Glasman family of Manitoba bought the steers from the Lamonts, expertly fitted them and entered them in the Royal. Left to right: Gayle Glasman, Vern Croy, Bob Switzer and Larry Glasman.

New book details Speckle Park breed’s beginnings

A Saskatchewan producer has drawn on extensive documents and photos to tell the story of the breed’s founding

Christine Pike, a Saskatchewan farm owner and cattlewoman, has published a book about the Speckle Park breed’s beginnings and the contributions of the late Mary Lindsay, who created the Lindsay Lineback. The Speckle Park is one of very few cattle breeds developed in Canada. “My sister Eileen bought a Lindsay Lineback cow from Mary Lindsay, […] Read more


Edgar Smith and his brothers run Red Angus and Red Angus-cross cattle on their operation at Courtenay, B.C.

B.C. producer narrows in on what customers want in beef

Health, environment and animal welfare top priorities for Edgar Smith’s customers on Vancouver Island and in the lower mainland

Edgar Smith and his brothers Phillip and Doug have a unique cattle operation, raising beef from start to finish and selling direct to customers. “Our family has been in the beef business since the 1940s on Vancouver Island, and the operation has evolved and changed over the decades. In the 1940s and 1950s we were […] Read more

Brett McRae and his wife Chantel on the farm in southwestern Manitoba.

Mentorship program leads Manitoba producer to regenerative ag

After participating in the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders program, Brett McRae rejigged his mixed farm to abide by the five principles of soil health

Brett McRae is a fifth-generation rancher in southwest Manitoba, near Brandon, but not the fifth generation on the same ranch. “I was born and raised here and my parents are still actively farming. I farm next to them; we farm separately but share equipment, labour, facilities and ideas. It’s the best of both worlds; we […] Read more