GFM Network News


Because 85 per cent of his ranch is native rangeland, Sean McGrath selects genetics that will accommodate things like reduced milk production.

Matchmaking: Select cattle genetics that are a fit for your operation

Factors such as forage quality or even how far cattle walk can be key when selecting genetics

Reading Time: 4 minutes Putting cattle into an environment that doesn’t suit them is like jamming a round peg in a square hole — you might be able to make it work, but it’s going to take some effort. “Genetic selection is really about putting DNA into production,” said Vermilion-area beef producer Sean McGrath. “You’re buying DNA and you’re […] Read more

Having a pregnancy rate above 90 per cent isn’t necessarily a sign that things are going well, says veterinarian Blake Balog.

Timing is (almost) everything when it comes to reproductive success

Pay attention to the length of your breeding season, calving distribution, and postpartum interval

Reading Time: 3 minutes Tackling reproductive failure in a beef herd starts with understanding what reproductive success looks like — and for most Alberta cattle operations, the usual measure of success doesn’t tell the whole story. “A lot of people might think, great, I got greater than 90 per cent (pregnancy rate), that might mean success,” said veterinarian Dr. […] Read more


A guide to selecting the perfect heifer bull

A guide to selecting the perfect heifer bull

Here are some tips for finding the right heifer bull for your operation, herd, and budget

Reading Time: 6 minutes Whether home raised or purchased, open replacement heifer candidates are one of your biggest investments on the ranch. Heifers experiencing dystocia or a difficult calving are less likely to mother up and breed back and more likely to wean lighter calves. Assisted calves are more likely to become sick or die before weaning. Proper heifer […] Read more

Attention to detail is key in a synchronization program

Attention to detail is key in a synchronization program

Beef 911: There are three main synchronization programs that 
produce good results if you closely follow the protocols

Reading Time: 4 minutes Several factors must be considered when deciding what synchronization program to use in your cattle herd. Do you have the time to heat detect or do you want timed breeding? Cost is a consideration, as timed artificial insemination programs require more financial commitment and more passes through the chute. We will explore three main synchronization […] Read more


There are additional costs to using AI, but having larger, more uniform groups of calves and a longer lifespan for cows can greatly improve 
the bottom line.

Is artificial insemination better than natural service?

Artificial insemination can put more money in your pockets, but there are several factors to consider

Reading Time: 4 minutes This article has been edited and condensed. For the full article, including price and financial details as well as additional resources, go to the blog on the Beef Cattle Research Council website). As the breeding season approaches, some producers will use artificial insemination (AI) and estrous synchronization in their breeding herd. But others won’t because […] Read more

Are your bulls actually siring calves?

Are your bulls actually siring calves?

Reading Time: < 1 minute For producers who breed cows in large pastures with multiple bulls, it’s often assumed that all of the bulls will sire roughly the same number of calves. Research shows a surprising variation in the number of calves sired by each bull. A Nov. 16 webinar examines how DNA parentage testing can help determine sire value […] Read more


(Photo courtesy Canadian Hereford Association)

Newfoundland seeks beef cattle breeder

The Newfoundland and Labrador government’s plan to build up cattle breeding within the province is advancing a step as the province seeks a farmer to mind a small Hereford herd. The province on Tuesday put out a call for proposals from farmers to take on a five-year contract handling a herd of five breeding cows […] Read more

Don’t let freemartins become a management headache in your herd

Beef 911: Some will reproduce normally and are well worth keeping, but others need to be culled

Reading Time: 3 minutes With better nutrition and management and a higher incidence of twins in the Charolais, Simmental, and Holstein breeds, some larger herds can have up to a 10 per cent twinning rate. With the odds of 50 per cent of the twins being mixed sexes, it is no wonder freemartins are not an uncommon occurrence. Remember […] Read more


At Rocky Mountain Holsteins, farm manager Ron Churchill uses genomics to develop 
elite dairy breeding stock.

The perfect cow: Two different approaches to getting the best genetics

At CL Ranch, it’s all about breeding for observable traits, 
but genomics is the foundation for Rocky Mountain Holsteins

Reading Time: 4 minutes You won’t find a single Angus cow in Cherie Copithorne-Barnes’ herd. But then again, you won’t find any other specific breeds either. “One of the philosophies that we have here at CL Ranch is we’re not breed specific — we’re trait specific,” said Copithorne-Barnes, CEO of the 23,000-acre ranch near Calgary. “We are synthetic cross-breeders, […] Read more

cattle grouped together on a pasture

Genomics proving its worth for purebred cattle

Genomically enhanced selection is catching on with purebred producers, but crossbreds pose more of a challenge

Reading Time: 2 minutes Purebred cattle have a leg up on their crossbred cousins — at least as far as genomics is concerned. “The purebred industries are the ones that are really using genomically enhanced selection indexes,” said Dawn Trautman, technology translator at Livestock Gentec. “In the purebred industry, you can get validated markers a lot faster because you’re […] Read more