GFM Network News


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

What happened to the vitamin supply?

Nutrition with John McKinnon

Many of you are likely aware that the feed industry is facing a critical shortage of vitamins A and E. This shortage is the result of a fire in October at a processing plant in Germany owned by BASF, one of the global leaders in the provision of vitamins for humans and livestock. The damaged […] Read more


Strive for consistency when feeding cattle

Nutrition with John McKinnon

Striving for consistency may not sound like the most exciting goal, but when it comes to feeding cattle, it should be one of our golden rules! Consistency is essential if we want to keep cattle on an even keel and prevent wild swings in intake. This includes consistency in when we feed; how we load, […] Read more

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


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

Barley variety and silage quality

Research on the Record with Reynold Bergen

Barley silage is the main roughage fed in western Canadian feedlots, but few barley breeders try to improve its feed quality. Most breeders focus on improved grain yields, malting characteristics and better disease and lodging resistance, and pay little attention to feed quality traits like protein, starch, or neutral detergent fibre (NDF) content and digestibility […] Read more


Cost per pound of gain or cost plus — is there a right answer?

Nutrition with John McKinnon, beef cattle nutritionist

At last month’s Western Canadian Feedlot Management School, the focus was on backgrounding programs for newly weaned calves. As is often the case at these meetings, an idea for this column pops into my head as a result of discussions with producers or listening to speakers. It was no different at this year’s school where […] Read more

If you’ve got mouldy hay and grain, what are your options?

Nutrition with John McKinnon

As the calving season is fast approaching, it is appropriate to address one of the important causes of abortion in cattle that being mouldy feed. Mould can be a result of either fungal or yeast infection of cereals or forages grown for feed. Infection occurs in the field during plant growth or during harvest/storage. Examples […] Read more


Cows coming into calving in poor shape is a consequence of how they are fed over the winter.

Sound advice from a new generation of agrologists

Nutrition with John McKinnon

I attended a producer meeting in Weyburn where speakers addressed issues with winter feeding. One of the speakers, Leah Clark, a livestock agrologist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture gave an excellent presentation on body condition scoring (BCS). Her focus was the relationship between a cow’s body energy stores, nutrition program and the subsequent impact […] Read more

A drought-damaged corn stand.

Do you have enough cattle feed this winter?

You may have more than you think

We will always have to face drought. It’s inevitable. This past year is no exception. The biggest question you need to ask yourself as a cow-calf operator is, “DO I HAVE ENOUGH FEED TO GET THROUGH THE WINTER?” You need to take an inventory of your stored feed and then calculate backwards to see how […] Read more