GFM Network News



Tips for starting calves on feed

Nutrition with John McKinnon

Retained ownership is a marketing strategy that is used to manage market risk. As opposed to selling weaned calves into a potentially depressed market, retaining ownership and selling at a later stage of production (i.e. as short or long yearlings, or even finished animals) offers the possibility to sell into a more favourable market, as […] Read more


Producers should score cattle at least twice a year, once in the fall coming off pasture and at calving.

McKinnon: Interested in feeding your cattle more efficiently this winter?

Nutrition with John McKinnon

As we move into fall, one of your “to-do” tasks will be to book a herd health visit with your veterinarian. This will include administering any needed vaccinations, structural soundness evaluations as well as pregnancy checking bred cows and heifers. One management tool that may not be included is body condition scoring. If this is […] Read more

McKinnon: It’s silage season again

For many readers, as this article comes to press, silage season is either just starting or about to start. Putting up high-quality silage is both an art and a science. With this article I will review some of the key aspects of silage fermentation management that relate to putting up high-quality silage. Before we focus […] Read more


How does corn compare with other feed grains when it comes to cattle nutrition?

McKinnon: Feed grain options expanding for cattle

Nutrition with John McKinnon

One of the questions I get from beef producers relates to the relative feeding value of the various feed grains. Typically this question has focused on barley, wheat and oat grain. However, increasingly producers are asking how corn grain compares as both an energy and protein source. While to some this may seem like a […] Read more

Don’t delay planning your winter feed supply

Nutrition with John McKinnon

This past winter was challenging, particularly for those of you who experienced drought in 2018. Feed supplies were extremely tight and compounded by unseasonably cold weather in February and March. As a result, many producers had to scramble to get sufficient feed to carry their cattle through the winter. While it is too early to […] Read more


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