Researcher, ranchers receive awards at Canadian Beef Industry Conference

B.C.'s Seelhof family and Dr. Karen Beauchemin of AAFC Lethbridge were honoured at the national beef conference

Left to right: Chad, Ricky, Cooper, Renee, Riata, Ellie and Louis Seelhof.

The Canadian Beef Industry Conference, held virtually this year, spotlighted the national recipients of The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA), along with the recipient of the Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation.

Ricky and Chad Seelhof and family, of B.C.’s Woodjam Ranch, received the national TESA. The Seelhof family raises cattle in the Cariboo region on a ranch beside Horsefly River, which has been the site of gold discoveries in times past, notes writer Janet Kanters in the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association enewsletter.

The Seelhofs operate a 500 head cow-calf operation on 2,120 acres of native and cultivated land, plus have access to a 80,000 acre Crown grazing lease. The family worked with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to install eight large off-stream watering systems to protect the tributaries on the ranch. The gravity-fed system provides year-round water to cattle. Some of the systems include jets to prevent freezing. The project also included restoring two kilometres of in-ground pipes. This water system works well with their rotational grazing and feeding practices.

They’ve also used a combination of permanent and electric fencing to keep livestock out of rivers and creeks, planted willows and built berms to keep streams in place. The Seelhofs plan to build more exclusion fencing along Woodjam Creek and are looking at soil additives to make the recently logged uplands suitable for forage.

“We want to help the public see that ranchers care for cattle and for their land. We as ranchers have to do those things, because if we don’t, nobody benefits,” Ricky Seelhof told Kanters. “With our cattle, they’re eating the natural grass that’s here, they’re drinking fresh water. It’s a healthy environment to raise beef; the cattle are actually helping to ensure environment stewardship.”

Chad’s parents, Ellie and Louis, started operating Woodjam in 2003 after relocating from Saskatchewan. Chad and Ricky’s children include Cooper, Riata and Renee.

The Seelhof family received the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association Ranch Sustainability Award earlier this year. Other regional environmental stewardship award recipients include Paul De Jong of Ontario, Thomas and Felicity Hagan of Manitoba and Deer Creek Livestock Co. in Alberta.

Lethbridge researcher wins national award

Dr. Karen Beauchemin, who focuses on ruminant nutrition and environmental sustainability in beef production, received the award for outstanding research and nutrition. Beauchemin is a ruminant nutrition scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Research and Development Centre in Lethbridge, and an adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan, University of Alberta and Utah State University.

“Dr. Karen Beauchemin is an internationally renowned researcher in the area of ruminant nutrition,” said Ryan Beierbach, chair of the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) in a release. Beierbach is also a Saskatchewan beef producer.

“She is actively engaged with producers and industry and her work is referenced frequently by nutritionists and those in the feed industry who work with producers.”

Beauchemin’s work focuses on ways to improve production efficiency and reduce the effect on the environment. She has worked on projects looking at feed additives and diet formulations, while also investigating the environmental sustainability of beef production. She has spoken at  several international conferences and collaborated with researchers from around the world. Beauchemin was part of the National Research Council committee that produced Nutrient Requirements for Beef Cattle, a publication widely considered the cornerstone for beef nutrition.

Matt Bowman, vice-chair of the BCRC and Ontario producer, said that Beauchemin’s emissions research “is a major asset to Canadian beef producers.”

“Her work has not only led to a better understanding and quantification of greenhouse gas produced by cattle, but she continues to lead the way in researching new ways to reduce the overall impact.”


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