GFM Network News


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

Hay and silage day attendees take to the field June 20, 2019, for equipment demonstrations at Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiatives north of Brandon.

Don’t let hot air spoil your silage

Silage expert highlights dry matter and nutrient loss at a recent hay and silage event in Manitoba

If you think you’ve packed that silage enough, pack it again. That’s among the tidbits from John McKinnon of JJM Nutrition Services in Saskatoon as Manitoba farmers prepare for what’s potentially another bad forage year. Late rains, a delayed or even skipped first hay cut, thin stands, frosts and a generally cold spring all have […] 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


A more tightly backed bale is better at shedding water than a less dense bale.

Managing weather risks to feed and water

You can’t control the weather but you can increase your operation’s resilience

Drought is a fact of life for beef producers. And if it’s not too dry, there’s a good chance it’s wet enough to complicate haying operations. Producers can’t control the weather, but they can mitigate risks to water sources, pasture and feed. Extension specialists with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry share ideas on protecting those resources […] Read more

“We did not see any interaction between cattle RFI ranking and diet quality.” Dr. Hushton Block, Ag Canada, Lacombe, Alta.

Balancing your nutrients will pay off

Research looked at improving the economic and feed efficiency for beef cattle

Dr. Hushton Block, beef cattle nutritionist previously at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Bran­don Research Centre and now currently at Lacombe, is interested in finding ways of improving the economic and feed efficiency for beef cattle. One idea Block looked at deals with how beef cattle with better (lower) residual feed intake (RFI) react with […] Read more


You have many options when aiming to meet the protein needs of cattle.

What goes around, comes around with protein: Part 2

Nutrition with John McKinnon

In my April column I focused on the principles of protein nutrition in beef cattle with an emphasis on rumen degradable and undegradable protein and on meeting the metabolizable protein needs of the animal. The reason that I focused on this topic was my experiences this past winter with producers who were having difficulty meeting […] Read more

Grazing behaviour checked by GPS and pedometers did not differ significantly for high- and low-RFI females in this trial.

Do RFI ratings predict cattle performance on pasture?

In a word, no

Producers often wonder if genetic markers for feed efficiency based on drylot tests reflect feed efficiency on pasture where terrain, water sources and plant diversity are very different from a pen setting. Genetic markers for residual feed intake (RFI) have been identified that correlate well with actual RFI determined during the standard trials in pens […] Read more



Tim Lehrbass traded his combine for cattle

Ontario grower decides to graze cattle on his cash crop

Tim Lehrbass was just like any other Ontario farm kid, taking farm cues from his family and doing things the way things needed to be done and, in many ways, the way things had always been done. “I started out cash cropping,” he told a crowd at the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association annual conference […] Read more