GFM Network News



Matching economics with reality on the ranch

Matching economics with reality on the ranch

As Laura and Grant Smith expand their cow-calf operation, they’re applying what they learned from Ranching for Profit to decisions ranging from buying cows to grazing plans

Grant and Laura Smith own and operate Brush Hills Ranch near Bentley, Alta. The couple ran an oil and gas service company for 14 years, but recently sold their share of the business and expanded their cow-calf operation from 25 to 180 head, while also adding a small heifer development program. “We have a real […] Read more


The McNary family. All four of Warren and Lenamarie’s adult children remain involved in the ranch, either full- or part-time.

Raising the right cow for the job

The McNary family focuses on efficient, low-input cattle and Longhorn genetics are one ingredient in their program’s success

When the Longhorn first arrived in southern Saskatchewan’s Great Sandhills, this resilient breed was considered the ideal cow for this semi-arid landscape. In the late 1880s, Sir John Lister Kaye brought 7,000 Longhorn females to this area from Wyoming, the majority of which stocked his newly established ranch at Crane Lake. He ran imported purebred […] Read more

“You have to do what works for you. Every operation has a unique set of circumstances.” – Dr. Klea-Ann Wasilow, Maple Creek Veterinary Services.

A tale of two calving systems

Confined and pasture methods each have risks and benefits

For beef producers, calving season can be both stressful and enjoyable. Witnessing new life can be refreshing, but calving time is the most critical period in the cow-calf production cycle. Whether or not calving season is a success will set the tone for an operations’ entire year or longer, having an impact on animal health, […] Read more


Shwaluk is a firm believer in raising quiet cattle.

Manitoba cow-calf producer seeks to do things differently

Earlier birth dates, quiet cattle, roadside advertising are all part of the plan

When it comes to a well-travelled path, Robert Shwaluk likes to veer off. The Shoal Lake, Man. cow-calf producer goes his own way to discover new ideas and new ways to get things done. “I’m always looking out for the new,” he says. “I’ll do things differently.” Shwaluk, 65, began in the cow-calf business in […] Read more

A one-foot space at the bottom of the windbreak keeps snow and ice from piling up.

Whither the wind: How to decide on windbreaks

Find out what your options are for protecting your herd from wind and snow this winter

Find out what your options are for protecting your herd from wind and snow this winter

If beef producers want to have healthy, productive herds, making sure they’re protected from the wind is crucial, says Jenifer Heyden. “We want the cattle to be able to maintain condition on cold, windy days,” says the livestock and feed extension specialist with the Government of Saskatchewan. While beef cattle are tough, and can handle […] Read more


Separating heifers from mature cows reduces competition at the bunk and allows producers to formulate a diet specific to the needs of growing heifers.

Nutrition 101 for replacement heifers

Six tips to create a nutrition plan to give replacement heifers the best start possible in your herd

Setting clear benchmarks is an ideal place to begin when creating your heifer development program. This is where Kristin Thompson, ruminant nutritionist for New Life Mills, begins when she works with cow-calf producers to develop nutrition programs for replacement females. Monitoring your heifers’ growth begins with knowing how much they need to gain by the […] Read more

Vaccines are an important part of a preventative herd health program, but they aren’t a silver bullet.

An(other) ounce of prevention

Research on the Record with Reynold Bergen

My first fire drill in Grade 1 was absolute chaos, screaming and panic as we all circled the teacher, who was likely wondering how our parents had managed to keep us alive this long. By Grade 3, we yawned and strolled to the nearest door. Fire drills teach kids what to do when there’s no […] Read more


Cow-calf producers can also ease stress by practicing low-stress animal handling.

Tips for weaning calves

Animal Care: News Roundup from the September 30, 2019 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

Canadian Cattlemen reader Christine Pike of Waseca, Sask., wrote to us to share her strategy for reducing weaning stress. We’ve outlined her method with her permission. Pike makes a “calf door” by creating a small opening into a pen with a rail across the top that is a couple of inches higher than the tallest […] Read more

Shifting from winter to spring calving has improved health and survival.

Timing cattle breeding for improved calf survival

Research on the Record with Reynold Bergen

I once spent a summer working for canola breeders. Some used traditional selection, while others were experimenting with transgenics. One traditionalist was known to say “sticking a new gene into a plant and expecting it to grow better is like throwing a new gear into a watch and expecting it to keep better time. It’ll […] Read more