Latest articles


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



Vitamin E and selenium — the odd couple!

Nutrition with John McKinnon

Mineral nutrition is a recurring theme in this column, attesting to the importance of this class of nutrients in the diets of cattle. I have not, however, paid as much attention to vitamins, which, when deficient, can be as limiting to performance and health as many minerals. With this article I would like to specifically […] Read more


Concerns with feeding off-grade grain

Nutrition with John McKinnon, beef cattle nutritionist

In the September issue of Cattlemen, the title of my column was “Another crazy year for growing hay.” In that column I looked at some of the trials and tribulations that hay producers faced this past summer. Looking at this year’s harvest, you can’t blame grain producers for thinking that a similar dark cloud hangs […] Read more



cattle in a feedlot

The latest on the nutrient requirements for beef cattle

Nutrition with John McKinnon, beef cattle nutritionist

Recently, I attended the Western Nutrition Conference in Saskatoon. At this conference there were a number of excellent presentations, one of which was particularly relevant to all beef nutritionists and their clients. That was by Dr. Karen Beauchemin of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, who presented an update on the Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle (NRBC) […] Read more


cows at a mineral feeding trough

Understanding your protein supplement

Nutrition with John McKinnon, beef cattle nutritionist

In my last column, I wrote about what a crazy year it has been for growing and harvesting hay. The variability in this year’s hay crop will force many producers to purchase supplemental feed in order to meet the nutrient requirements of their cattle this winter. Last month we looked at alternate feed sources that […] Read more