GFM Network News


Once a calf has been weaned, providing a low-cost, balanced ration that supplies the required nutrients for the desired rate of gain is key to success.

The nature and design of backgrounding rations

Nutrition with John McKinnon

Over the past number of years, I have had the opportunity to work with several operations whose business plans focus on backgrounding weaned calves. These programs generally fall into one of two categories. The first involves feeding calves weighing 550 to 650 pounds over the winter and marketing them in the spring at weights ranging […] Read more

Managing a mineral program for cattle

Nutrition with John McKinnon

Last month I wrote on the importance of a mineral feeding program and focused on some of the more common questions producers have on this topic. As we move through calving and into the breeding season, ensuring that your cattle have access to the right minerals is only one part of a successful mineral feeding […] Read more



If you’re feeding alfalfa hay, you may actually have to restrict intake to prevent your cows from becoming over-conditioned.

‘As fed’ or ‘dry matter’ — does it matter?

Nutrition with John McKinnon

When I visit with beef producers about their feeding program, I often sense confusion when I talk feed dry matter (DM) values or express intakes on a DM basis. Most producers, when they think of their feeding program, think “as fed” and have difficulty converting to DM. Getting this conversion correct, however, is critical to […] Read more


Major innovations in the packing industry have helped ensure the safety of Canadian beef.

In the blink of an eye

Nutrition with John McKinnon

Writing this column is somewhat of a reflective event, as it is the last column I will write as a member of the University of Saskatchewan agriculture faculty. I have been blessed to have worked at the U of S for 32 years, the last 26 of which I have served as the Saskatchewan Beef […] Read more

Are you ready for December 1, 2018?

Nutrition with John McKinnon

December 1, 2018, is an important date that all Canadian beef producers should be aware of. It marks the end of the phase-in period, after which Health Canada will enforce new regulations as to how medically important antimicrobials (MIA) that were previously sold over the counter without veterinary prescription are regulated, dispensed and used within […] Read more


Winterfat is an excellent protein source for grazing cattle as it maintains its leaves late into the fall and early winter.

The Matador Community Pasture: A unique educational experience

Nutrition with John McKinnon

One of the privileges of a faculty position at a Canadian university is the interaction one has with undergraduate students. In my case, I co-teach a class where we take students on a seven-day tour of livestock operations across Western Canada. We cover everything from hogs to dairy, bison, chickens, meat and milk processing, and […] Read more

Cows grazing corn residue typically aim for grain kernels, leaves and husks instead of stalks.

Do you need to extend your forage supply?

Nutrition with John McKinnon

In my August column, I wrote on the topic of creep feeding, a practice that many producers utilize to improve body condition and weaning weights, particularly during drought situations. Unfortunately, as summer has unfolded, significant areas of the country have experienced abnormally dry conditions, and as a result, many producers are scrambling for winter feed […] Read more


Two-lobe larkspur.

Larkspur rears its ugly head again!

Nutrition with John McKinnon

Cattle deaths from larkspur poisoning have plagued the industry for well over a century. This year appears to be no different, particularly in British Columbia where there has been a marked increase in larkspur-related death losses. Recently, I was asked by a colleague if a strategic mineral supplementation program would provide any relief from larkspur […] Read more

The driving factor behind creep feeding calves is to increase weight gains while on pasture.

Creep feeding – What side of the debate are you on?

Nutrition with John McKinnon

Creep feeding is a management practice where nursing calves are fed supplemental feed while on pasture. Its economic benefits have been hotly debated by those in industry and academia alike. Those in favour point to the increased value of heavier calves at weaning, the potential sparing of summer forage supplies, and the health benefits associated […] Read more