Beef: Loopholes need to be fixed in beef marketing scheme

More protection is needed both for producers and innovators, say beef producers who were left out of pocket after All County Feed & Grain’s local beef marketing scheme went under


Some Grey and Bruce County beef producers’ recent woes with a local beef marketing scheme reveal loopholes in the system intended to safeguard producers, says a Ravenna-area beef farmer.

Joan McKinlay and her husband James were among 10-15 producers who found themselves out of pocket after failing to receive full payment for cattle sold to All County Feed & Grain Ltd. and its marketing program, called Grey-Bruce Beef Marketing Ltd.

Beef: Corn Fed program provides a niche for small feedlot and cow-calf operators

With the program slaughtering up to 1,700 head a week in late 2008, there are opportunities here for smaller operators


Once considered to be a relic from an agricultural past, small and medium sized-feedlots are on their way back in, and that’s good news for small cow-calf operations.

Feedlots feeding typically 300 to 500 head are the mainstay of the Corn Fed Beef program, says Jim Clark, executive director of the Ontario Cattle Feeders Association, which sponsors and promotes the branded program.

Beef: Premium beef venture runs aground, leaving farmers out of pocket

When a Grey County operator offered beef producers well above the going rate for cattle raised on an ‘all-natural diet,’ even the local MPP got excited.  But then the payments slowed and stopped


A well-publicized scheme which promised Grey-Bruce farmers $2,000 for a steer that would fetch less than $1,400 in regular markets has collapsed. One producer claims that he’s owed more than $100,000. Industry leaders caution producers to look before they leap.

Beef: Lost ear tags a problem for some producers

CCIA rules require that cattle leaving the farm must bear proper identification tags. Yet some producers are reporting tag losses as high as 25 per cent


So you’re rounding up your age-verified calves just before the local sale and find that some of the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency tags have fallen off. Oops.
But all is not lost, according to Paul Stiles, assistant general manager of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association (OCA).

The possibility of losing tags, says Stiles, “is why we advise producers to put in a management tag as well, and then they have a cross reference to their calving book.” If one tag falls out, there is another record of the calf’s birth.

Beef: COOL expected to hurt Canadian beef less than previously predicted

Conforming to U.S. country-of-origin labelling requirements will mean some added cost for Canadian producers. But shrinking national herds and a positive outlook for prices may mitigate its impact


Country of origin labelling (COOL) legislation takes effect at the end of September in the United States and will no doubt take its toll on Canadian beef producers’ profit margins. But Dennis Laycraft, executive vice-president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), suggests that the hit will less than previously predicted and shifts in market demand, a shrinking national herd and a positive outlook for cattle prices may mitigate its impact.

Beef: Pasture calving wins out over barn calving, study shows

A five-year research project shows that margins were higher, calves healthier and labour requirements less for pasture calving than for its barn equivalent. But a changeover will delay cash flow in the first year

by Susan Mann

Ten years ago, after a nasty outbreak of scours among his new born calves, cow-calf farmer Amos Brielmann decided to change his calving methods.

Brielmann recalls his snowsuit pockets being full of antibiotic bottles and needles as he and three full-time employees worked night and day to treat the calves at Pine River Ranch, near Rainy River in northwestern Ontario. At that time, his 300-cow herd was calving in late March, early April. 

“I decided we couldn’t do this,” he says. “It was way too hard on everyone.”

Beef: Can feedlot operators cut corn usage and still please the packers?

This is just one of the questions producers are pondering as they strive to find ways to reduce their losses in the face of high feeding costs


A frustrated Ontario cattle feeder, who doesn’t want his name used, says that every time a truckload of cattle pulls away from his Bruce County feedlot, a piece of his farm’s equity goes with it. He wants to cut down on his corn costs and thinks he is better off feeding for less marbling in the cattle.

In the big picture, is it reasonable to market cattle earlier and still keep the first market, the packer, happy?

Beef: Night feeding helps to encourage day calving

Managed properly, feeding after 5 p.m. results in day-calving in about 80 per cent of trials and nature is more forgiving of a calf dropped in daylight


Night feeding for day calving doesn’t work for you? Maybe you aren’t doing it right. The key, says Nancy Noecker, a provincial cow-calf specialist, is not to leave feed in the bunk all day. “If there is feed lying around all day, there is no incentive for cows to eat when there is feed.”

Managed properly, night feeding after 5 p.m. results in day-calving in about 80 per cent of trials, Noecker says.

Beef: Will yield be the next grading target for the beef industry?

‘Yield in cattle is just as important as butterfat is to the dairyman,’ says beef consultant Charlie Gracey. And an animal yielding more lean meat will cost less in feed


A hundred years ago, says beef consultant Charlie Gracey, butter makers complained that Holstein milk contained so little fat you could drop a dime into a milk pail and “tell whether it landed heads or tails.”

Butter makers decided they were going to measure butterfat content and pay farmers for it in their milk, and the rest of the story of the famous Canadian Holstein industry is history. Why not pay producers more for cattle which produce more usable product?

Beef: Birdsfoot trefoil, the wonder plant for rocky terrain

On the rock lands of the Bruce Peninsula, trefoil is proving ‘by far the legume of choice.’ But it can be difficult to establish

by Mary Baxter

Glen Wells calls birdsfoot trefoil the “miracle plant of legumes for grazing.”

Wells, who manages Bruce Community Pasture, which has grazed more than 50,000 head of cattle since it was established in 1966, says that the appeal of the plant is that it will grow in the county’s rocky terrain and comes into its prime when it’s needed most – in the dry summer months of July and August. Best of all, there’s no bloat to it.

It may be a wonder perennial, but introducing trefoil to an established stand can be tricky. That’s where cattle come in, says Wells.