Natural Valley Farms Opens New Slaughtering Plant in Neudorf

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Natural Valley Farms is certainly a bright light in Saskatchewan’s beef processing sector. As the producer-owned company gets ready to open its slaughtering plant in Neudorf, General Manager Eric Kasko reflects on the journey thus far.

“Our processing plant has been in operation one year now, and we are processing 500 carcasses per week. It is a true value chain, when you consider that Natural Valley belongs to producers from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta – the majority of them being Saskatchewan. In total there are about 200 family farms involved. The head office of the company is located in the processing facility in Wolseley.”

Kasko makes no bones about the difficulties he faced in getting the eagerly anticipated slaughter plant opened on time.

“We have had numerous delays, given the worldwide shortage of steel, but our contractor did a fantastic job getting the crews moving when the steel finally arrived. We are on track now with the final piece of the building puzzle in place.”

When the slaughtering plant becomes fully operational, Natural Valley will become a self-contained entity.

“We will then close the link between the slaughter and processing side. The slaughter plant is capable of processing 125,000 head per year. We will begin with half of that figure as our immediate goal is to ramp up to roughly 1250 head a week. There are huge opportunities opening up for our naturally raised beef, globally.”

Kasko and his colleagues favour a slow and steady move into the marketplace.

Over this past year, many Saskatchewan retailers, such as the Federated Co-ops and high-end restaurants, have been steady buyers of their product, and more than two-thirds of their beef is going to eastern retailers.

Within the last three months, Natural Valley completed its first sale into the U.S., and is close to finalizing an Asian sale.

“We will soon do a major Natural Valley label launch to officially announce our presence in the marketplace,” says Kasko. “To do this we have hired a specialized firm, MTD Trading from eastern Canada, to go international.”

Beef producers are paid under a unique grid system rewarding them for quality and yield - a significant change compared to other packing houses, explains Klasko.

The rural economy around Wolseley and Neudorf has certainly benefited from these two new plants. Between the slaughtering and processing plants, almost 100 persons from the two communities will be employed.

For more information, contact:

Eric Kasko
General Manager
Natural Valley Farms
(306) 695-2470

Hay Salvage Allowed A Week Earlier This Year

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Livestock producers looking to salvage hay along roadside rights-of-way will be able to cut hay on July 8 this year, after a change in policy at Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation, made in consultation with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF).

“Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation has a policy that allows roadside hay to be cut and harvested so that it can be salvaged each year," explains Nichole Andre, Preservation Standards Engineer. "Over the last few years, July 15 was established as the day on which anyone could cut roadside hay. Prior to July 15, only the adjacent property owners were allowed to cut roadside hay. That policy has changed, and now July 8 is the new date."

Dale Weisbrot, a Forage Development Specialist with SAF, feels this is a significant development for those in agriculture who have come to depend on this feed resource.

“This is important because folks who are in the business of trying to get feed from the ditch want to have good quality hay. It is better to cut and harvest hay in the growing stage, rather than well after the individual plants have matured, because then the quality goes down.”

As one who works with forage producers, Weisbrot also wants to take the opportunity to remind people who salvage hay to keep in mind some common courtesies while doing so.

“It is good to remember to do the neighbourly thing and call the folks who are adjacent to the roadside right-of-way and become their designated hay cutter/harvester before the July 8 date.”

As a last word of guidance, Weisbrot reminds producers that roadside hay must be cut at a uniform height, and that the bales must be at least eight metres away from the shoulder of the highway. All bales must be removed from the highway right-of-way by August 8.

Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation is ultimately responsible for this policy. The decision to go with the earlier salvage date was made after discussions with SAF on this and other issues around rights-of-way and ditches, like mowing and weed control.

For more information, contact:

Dale Weisbrot
Forage Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
(306) 787-9476


Nichole Andre
Preservation Standards Engineer
Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation
(306) 933-6045.

2006 Saskatchewan U-Pick Locations Brochure Puts Fruit on the Map

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

It is like looking at Saskatchewan through a different lens, one that allows users to envision a summer afternoon spent with family and friends gathering fresh, juicy strawberries. The 2006 u-pick locations brochure, published by the Saskatchewan Fruit Growers Association (SFGA), is a useful resource for anyone longing for homegrown flavours.

“This brochure is a marketing tool for the u-pick fruit industry, which relies heavily on direct contact with the consumer. A map like this gives consumers all the options in terms of where they could pick,” says Clarence Peters, Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food’s Provincial Fruit Crops Specialist.

Peters estimates that there are probably about 2,000 fruit acres now in Saskatchewan, most of them producing saskatoons, but other fruit are emerging.

“Cherries are starting to be picked up now, and have the potential to grow into a fairly good-sized industry, but it’ll be a few years before we start picking them on a large scale. Strawberries have stayed fairly even, and that is the basis for most of the u-pick operations. They constitute around 200 or 250 acres of the total grown acres.”

Some growers will tell you that there is nothing quite like fruit grown in Saskatchewan, and Peters agrees with them.

“The conditions here in the northern latitudes bring cooler nights, so there is more sugar laid down. We tend to get a sweeter product; very high in colour; fairly dense; and not overly full of water.”

Even though Peters’ major role in the fruit sector is mostly focused on the development and promotion of the commercial fruit industry, he also acts in an advisory capacity in the field.

As the provincial specialist in fruit crops, Peters is the primary source for information ranging from industry development to production problems in the field. Because of his in-depth knowledge of the fruit industry, he is able to draw together the expertise of other SAF production and industry development specialists into a single, cohesive package for the fruit industry.

As such, he has met many of the province’s fruit growers.

“Fruit growers come from all walks of life. Most growers have an extensive farm background, but we have also had lawyers, politicians, right across the board. The larger growers do this full-time—for example, the Strawberry Ranch in Saskatoon is fairly large operation with probably around 70 acres—but a lot of the u-picks are fairly small and family-run. Some of the commercial operations are a lot larger, of course.”

The first u-picks appeared in Saskatchewan in 1980.

“There were two operations established then," says Peters. "They saw the opportunity. Things have grown exponentially since, but the growth potential for the u-picks is fairly limited because of our population. On the commercial side with saskatoons as well as other fruit, however, the international potential is much greater, specifically in Europe and Asia.

“Even at the local level, we don’t have many saskatoons available in our markets. There is a huge potential for a fresh/frozen market supplying the wholesale/retail trade with fresh fruit in season and frozen fruit year-round. Fruit remain a sector of agriculture with a lot of potential. We haven’t even begun to think about all the fruit we could grow.”

Peters is convinced that the possibilities around fruit in the province are still virtually untapped.

“One of the potential new crops is the blue honeysuckle. The University of Saskatchewan is working on this right now. There are good markets for it in Japan, where they are very short of acreage to grow this blueberry-flavoured fruit. They come very early in the season, in mid-June, so they are ready much before all the other fruit come in. They are oblong in shape, a little longer than the blueberry. We are currently looking to develop larger fruit.

“The sea buckthorn is another fruit with good potential. We haven’t figured out how we are going to harvest it yet, because people are not prepared to harvest it by hand. It is very spiny—we are trying to get spineless plants and plants with fruit that come off the stem more easily. Once that bridge is crossed, we will end up with a very intensely flavoured fruit, with very good nutrition. It is bright orange in colour; the fruit is very tightly clustered on the stem; very adaptable to this province, and hardy to about -60°C. Plus, it doesn’t mind dry soil. It originally comes from Europe and Asia, where there could also be substantial markets.”

Peters also mentions the black current as a possible fruit crop, mostly for the European market. It is something our neighbours in Alberta are already looking at. Lastly, he mentions raspberries as crop worthy of further processing.

This man sees no end to the opportunities for Saskatchewan fruit growers.

For more information, contact:

Clarence Peters
Fruit Crops Provincial Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
(306) 787-4666

Upcoming Forage and Grazing Field Tour in Swift Current

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The Forage and Grazing Field Tour at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Station (AAFC-SPARC) in Swift Current will be held on Wednesday June 28. True to form, the organizers—AAFC-SPARC, Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, and the Southwest Research Station—are promising participants an unparalleled learning opportunity.

The tours are staged roughly every two years at the AAFC-SPARC Research Station, explains Trevor Lennox, a Forage Development Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food, and one of the organizers. While the program is still being developed, organizers have confirmed that registration will start at 9:30 a.m. and that the fee will be $5.00, which includes lunch.

“The purpose of the tour is to profile some of the local research," says Lennox. "We will be seeing an intensive legume grazing study where legumes are grazed by beef cattle. It will compare their grazing on sainfoin versus a mixture of hybrid meadow brome called AC Knowles and Spredor-4 alfalfa. It is looking at production data, as well as at the greenhouse gas side of it... measuring the methane released by the grazing animals.”

Another featured stop will be a crested wheatgrass preference study.

“There will be livestock grazing different varieties of crested wheatgrass so we can see which is the preferred variety," explains Lennox. "There will be some newer varieties to compare, like AC Goliath and AC Parkland, and some older varieties like Kirk and Fairway.

“We are also looking at a native grasses establishment study. We’ll be looking at stands that were established in 2001 with either a simple mix or a complex mix. The complex mix has 14 species in it and the simple mix has seven species in it. We will look at how the different stands have progressed.”

In addition, production data on forage yield and animal gain have been gathered as part of this project, Lennox points out.

“In recent years, they have also looked at the effect of rotational deferred grazing management on these stands. They will look at how grazing is a factor in the way these stands evolve with time. Also, we recently seeded another native project involving seeding a native grass mix in combination with various legumes in an effort to add a legume component to a native grass stand.”

Another stop will involve looking at AC Saltlander, which is a new grass adapted to more saline soils.

“We’ll also be looking at another grass called Intermediate Wheatgrass, and another called Pubescent Wheatgrass. These are newer stands. We will be assessing the establishment of these two wheatgrasses and AC Saltlander. Establishment is always an issue from a producer’s point of view.”

Another stop will feature annual forages. Participants will compare common annual forages, such as barley and oats, to millet.

“We are just trying to look at the differences between forage types. At another stop, we will be looking at the difference between warm-season and cool-season perennial forages.”

The day will also feature trade booths and sponsors.

“That is why we can offer a meal for $5.00,” quips Lennox. “The day will wind up at about 5:00 p.m. People must pre-register because space fills up quickly. We get between 80 and 100 participants, usually. We have vans, and, depending on how many people attend, we may ask people to car-pool also.”

To pre-register, call the SAF Swift Current Agriculture Business Centre at (306) 778-8285.

For more information, contact:

Trevor Lennox
Forage Development Specialist
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food
(306) 778-8294

First Nations Agricultural Symposium to Take Place in Saskatoon

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

It is an agricultural operator segment that has the potential to significantly influence the face of Saskatchewan agriculture. First Nations bands and entrepreneurs are emerging as farmers, ranchers and agribusiness operators. To effectively tap into increasing opportunities, the First Nations Agricultural Council of Saskatchewan Inc. (FNACS) is holding its first annual agriculture symposium in Saskatoon on June 27 and 28.

The symposium is held in conjunction with the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Agriculture Indigenous Development Conference. Its theme is “Building Futures with Mother Earth: Indigenous Development”, and will feature panel discussions with international guest speakers, along with over a dozen exhibitors varying from financial institutions, agricultural organizations/companies, First Nation businesses, education institutions and evening entertainment.

“The conference will bring in people from Arizona and New Zealand, as well as from the University of Saskatchewan, and it will look at different methods of agricultural development on First Nations land," says Usne Butt, Manager of Agriculture and Environment at FNACS. "I am hoping it will bring out some ideas for new ways to implement some of this development in our own programs.

“Under the Treaty Land Entitlement process and through the honour acres system, First Nations bands are acquiring huge tracks of land. In recent times, agriculture has not really been perceived as viable. People are leaving farming, and what has happened is that land owned by First Nations is now being left fallow. It is an opportune time for First Nations to take it over and manage it on their own.”

FNACS was established in 2004 as a non-profit organization to develop a strong, viable and sustainable agricultural sector, both on and off reserve, for status Indians in Saskatchewan. Through the guidance and feedback of Saskatchewan First Nation's farmers, ranchers, chiefs and councils, FNACS has developed a vision and plan to ensure the participation of First Nations in agriculture.

“We are tackling this in different ways—using education to teach people how to manage the land and develop it for agricultural use in a sustainable manner,” explains Butt. “By bringing in fresh ideas and new perspectives, we have an opportunity to learn from success stories in other areas.

“The Arizona and New Zealand models are very different models of agriculture than here, but my understanding is that some of them have engendered very successful agricultural developments, and, ideally, we will apply those models here in a way that works with our people.”

Butt, himself, is a status Indian, originally from Saddle Lake, Alberta. He has a Master’s degree in biology, and wouldn’t trade his place for the world because of the resource potential he sees all around him.

“I love getting out on the land and seeing some of these reserves and some of these beautiful pieces of real estate in this province. People don’t really appreciate what is here, so from that sense, I am quite happy. From a strategic point of view, this symposium is really opportune. I think our organization is in a good position to assist in different aspects of development from a strategic business planning, sustainability and training point of view. What we are attempting to do is very ambitious, but we are really starting to see results."

The symposium and conference will take place at the Saskatoon Inn.

For more information, contact the First Nations Agricultural Council of Saskatchewan at 306-978-8872 or

For more information, contact:

Usne Butt
Manager of Agriculture and Environment
First Nations Agricultural Council of Saskatchewan
(306) 978-8872

Beneficial Rangeland Management Practices at the Perrin's Castleland Ranch

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Ted and Olive Perrin own and operate the 12,775 acre Castleland Ranch near Beechy, and it seems someone has noticed that the way they manage their rangeland is nothing short of exemplary.

The Society for Range Management (SRM), an international body governing the profession, thought their practices were so worthy of recognition that it named the Perrins recipients of a 2006 SRM Outstanding Achievement Award.

The official citation mentions how “Forward thinking and conservative range management on Castleland Ranch ensures sustainable grazing resources through extremes in climatic conditions over the short- and long-term. Many of the long-standing management approaches of Castleland Ranch are new technology for many producers.”

Asked how they feel about the award, Olive Perrin is quick to recognize that other ranchers in their area are as committed to sustainable grazing as she and her husband.

“There are a whole lot of people who are conscious of range management," she says. "As a rancher, it's your job, and if you don’t look after your job, it won’t be there long. The rancher who does not look after his grass will suffer for it, because that is what he raises his cattle on. It is a pretty sad thing to see grassland that is a table top.”

The basic formula the couple uses is: take half the grass, and leave half the grass. It is all the more important when you are running 800 head of cattle.

“Many ranchers look after their grass. If you don’t have enough grass to support wildlife, well, you probably don’t have enough grass to support cattle. In a dry year, if you overgraze, you have nothing. It takes grass to make grass. We sell a lot of grass-finished beef. In order to fatten them on grass, you have to have good grass, so we always make sure we don’t overgraze,” says Olive.

Ted Perrin believes their range management philosophy is nothing new in itself.

“Some of these practices have been around for 100 years, as far as winter and summer ranges goes," he says. "We have a couple of fairly good sized pastures here, on which we've run cattle in the summer maybe three or four times out of the last 100 years. They are kept for winter grazing. The grass is allowed to grow all summer, and we don’t have the cattle here on the winter range past the beginning of June, so the grass is allowed to grow for when they come back at the end of October. They are seven months on the winter range and five months on the summer range.”

Other ranchers do the same, Ted Perrin points out.

“I guess the award must have come for our rotational grazing on the summer range. We make six pastures instead of two, and we rotate the cattle around the six pastures all summer long. We try to graze each of them only once. That area is allowed to grow until June. It is all native pasture, mostly cool season grasses, but with a bit of warm season grass in there as well."

The Perrins are humbled and happy about receiving the award.

"To be recognized by our peers is a blessing after 50 years of working on this stewardship,” says Ted Perrin.

For more information, contact:

Ted and Olive Perrin
Castleland Ranch
Beechy, Saskatchewan
(306) 859-4925

Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association to Meet in Estevan

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The 93rd annual general meeting and convention of the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA), scheduled from June 11 to 13 in Estevan, will have a more positive outlook than the previous years' meetings.

The bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) nightmare seems more under control, and hopes of prosperity are re-emerging, as the convention's program attests.

The meeting starts unofficially on Sunday with a golf tournament, and the real business starts on Monday at the annual general meeting. The guest speaker is Ron Witherspoon of Interactive Management Group, a well-known agriculture consultancy. His presentation is entitled "Farming has a Future."

Tuesday begins with a presentation by Judy Stitt of the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA), which will bring SSGA members up to date on the identification initiative.

“As executive director and national administrator of the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency, Julie is working with industry organizations, government agencies and producer groups to ensure the success of the national livestock identification and tracking program for animal health and food safety within Canada,” explains Sheila Fishley, general manager of the SSGA.

Following that will be a panel session—a first for the SSGA—that will be moderated by Kevin Hursh, well-known agriculture columnist and certified agricultural consultant. The panel will feature the U.S. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association economist Greg Doud; Brad Wildeman, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) vice-president and chair of its foreign trade committee; Arno Doerkson of the Canada Beef Export Federation; and Charlie Gracey, a long-time CCA official, former member of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal and former president of the Canadian Beef Grading Agency.

The panel discussion will focus on expanding the Saskatchewan cattle industry in export-dominated markets.

“We are hoping people will bring lots of questions, and we feel this is something that will interest the Saskatchewan beef industry,” says Fishley.

The AGM and convention program is available on the SSGA website at:

For more information, contact:

Sheila Fishley
General Manager
Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association
(306) 757-8523

SAF'S 2006 Farm Machinery and Custom Rental Guide is Now Available

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The 2006 edition of the Farm Machinery Custom and Rental Rate Guide, published by Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food (SAF), is now available.

The publication is designed to help producers calculate how much their equipment costs to operate and how much they might charge for doing custom work, be it seeding, spraying or harvesting.

The publication is a calculation of the equipment and labour expenses to complete the listed custom operations. The expenses include fuel, opportunity cost, depreciation and repairs, along with a profit margin (15 per cent), explains Joe Novak, Provincial Specialist, Crop Economics, who compiled the guide. Many producers will do some spraying, seeding or harvesting for other producers, and the guide helps them to know how much to charge.

“This guide gives them a bit of a guideline on how much to charge," he says. "It is not a survey of the market, but it is a guide to help. I always recommend that producers phone around and talk to people who do this as a business in order to decide what a fair rate might be.”

For people wishing to do custom work as an ongoing business, the amounts you can charge and still generate a profit might be different, explains Novak.

“This is because our calculations are based on hours of use that a typical farmer might require. Custom operators would be able to spread their fixed costs over more acres, meaning a lower cost. But at the same time, our expenses do not include liability insurance, advertising, shop equipment and transportation costs, which would increase your costs. As such, custom operators need to do more thorough calculations to determine their costs."

It is strongly recommended to determine and agree upon a rate before doing any custom work. Negotiating the price after the work is done can cause disagreements.

“The biggest changes from the 2004 version are the increases in fuel and equipment prices. The price of diesel fuel has gone up 42 per cent since 2004. The price of steel has skyrocketed, but, due to the rising Canadian dollar, the price of equipment manufactured in the U.S. has increased by zero to a modest 10 per cent. Canadian manufactured equipment has increased more in the range of five to 15 per cent since 2004.”

Novak says the Farm Machinery Custom and Rental Rate Guide is one of SAF's most popular publications. It is revised every two years, and has been published by the department for the past 30 years.

The Farm Machinery Custom and Rental Rate Guide is available on the department's website, under the heading Business Arrangements, or can be obtained by calling the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.

For more information, contact:

Joe Novak
Provincial Specialist, Crop Economics
Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Meat and Bone Meal as a Potential Source of Energy

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

It would be fair to say that engineers have an eye for finding value in the most unusual sources, and this time is no different. Scientists at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) are trying to determine the potential for using meat and bone meal to generate electricity. The project is being funded through Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food’s (SAF) Agriculture Development Fund (ADF #20050714).

After BSE hit, meat and bone meal became worthless, says Terry Fonstad, a professor of Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering. The rendering industry, left with a by-product that now cost them money to dispose of safely, is actively exploring new uses of meat and bone meal.

Fonstad believes the energy potential of meat and bone meal is very real. It has about three-quarters of the heating value of coal, although it does have a high ash content because of the bone meal.

"What do we do with coal?" he asks. "We gasify it to produce a syngas—a gas made up of hydrogen, methane and carbon monoxide—which we use as a fuel to turn a turbine to produce hot water and electricity."

Fonstad realized that, if there was a way to add some value to meat and bone meal by turning it into a feed source for a small gasification unit, every rendering facility in Western Canada could acquire one.

He estimates that 50 per cent of the material that escapes from these rendering plants is steam, 25 per cent is tallow and the remaining 25 per cent is bone that has no value. If renderers could reduce the 25 per cent that is bone to three per cent—just the ash—it would solve many problems.

"They wouldn't have to haul the meal to a central location for safe disposal; they could derive a lot of energy—electricity and hot water—from it; and they could reduce the volume of waste that needed disposal from 25 per cent to three per cent."

Fonstad got his group working on some preliminary investigations into a range of different processes. Any kind of biomass has heating value, he explains. General Motors made thousands of little gasifiers during the Second World War. They worked by heating biomass until it turned to char and gave off gas. The gas and char were burned in a high pressure anaerobic chamber that restricted the amount of oxygen, prevented complete combustion and produced methane, carbon monoxide and nitrogen. This gas—the syngas—could then be burned in a generator to produce electricity and hot water, both of which are useful in the rendering process.

One of the potential problems, according to Fonstad, is that gasification processes require biomass to be burned at a low temperature, whereas government regulations require rendering by-products be burned at a high temperature for a long time to eliminate the danger of BSE-causing prions.

“So if we are going to do this, we will have to balance the requirements of the gasification system process with the regulatory requirements for destruction of prion materials. Can we design the process to satisfy the regulatory requirements for destruction of that material and still have an efficient process for gasifying meat and bone meal as an energy source? That is one of the questions we will address.”

Fonstad knows the project is ambitious, but the potential rewards are great, while doing nothing is not really an option.

“If we can put value into the meat and bone meal, that value will be passed on to the farm. It is a service to the industry and the farm. This is why doing something is the best option. If it can be utilized, that is the best way.”

For more information, contact:

Dr. Terry Fonstad
Professor of Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering
University of Saskatchewan
(306) 966-7860

Western Beef Development Centre Field Day, June 27

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

The eighth annual Western Beef Development Centre Field Day will be held on Tuesday, June 27 at the Termuende Research Farm near Lanigan, Saskatchewan.

The WBDC team has put together a compelling program for the day.

“Our main speaker for the morning is the vice-president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Mr. Brad Wildeman of Pound-maker Agventures,” says WBDC president David Gullacher. “Brad will be speaking about new market development for the Canadian beef industry. We think it is a timely topic for the beef industry, and we are limiting the agenda to one main speaker because we want to allow enough time to go into depth.”

After a lunch provided by the Termuende Trust Fund and served by the Carlton Trail 4-H Beef Club, field tours will take participants to look at ongoing studies at the Termuende Research Farm. There will be three stops on the field tour this year, explains Dr. Bart Lardner, WBDC's senior research scientist.

“The first one is a combination of electric fencing demonstrations—how producers can better use electric fences to improve pasture management and rotational grazing. There are some pitfalls to setting up electric fences, so we have Wil Rex, a fencing specialist, to address those issues. At that same stop, we will also talk about a pasture grazing study and some of the project results. We are looking at beef performance grazing four new pasture varieties seeded in the pasture rotation. Charlotte Ward, a grad student, will be discussing that topic.”

The group will then move to another stop to look at the carryover effects of nutrient management when winter-feeding beef cows.

“We are looking at field-feeding beef cows,” Lardner continues, “and the subsequent nutrients that are left behind; how they benefit that site over the following several years. So it is very visual. We have some new information three years after we have completed that project.”

The last stop will feature an ongoing water management initiative.

“We have worked with the PFRA over the years and have just entered into another study looking at sulphate reduction in livestock water,” Lardner says. “Sulphates are an issue in well water. We are working with Dr. Sue Baldwin at the University of British Columbia, and with the PFRA, to develop a model that will reduce these sulphates. I think we have struck some good stuff. We will be talking about this at an outside demonstration site that will be set up to give producers a good look.”

A bus tour will run concurrently that will give producers a look at the general operations of the research farm. Both tours will be repeated so producers can catch each one.

After this, the group will return to the main barn at the research farm for some technical presentations from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. There are three talks of 20 to 25 minutes scheduled, with a question period following.

The first presenter will be the WBDC beef economist Kathy Lang, who will talk about her cost-of-production program. She collected producer data over the past winter, and will present an overview of that information. Following her will be Bruce and Patty Chern, beef producers from the Stockholm area, who will discuss their techniques for managing their animals from time of calving, as well as low-cost winter feeding, more effective use of forages and how they market their own beef.

“We always like to have a presentation on herd health," says Lardner, “so the final presentation will be by Dr. Steve Hendrick from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, who will talk about managing Johne’s Disease in the beef industry. We think this is a key message that needs to be heard.”

The day will close with a steak barbeque.

Registration is from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. There is no charge for the day's activities. More details can be found at the WBDC website at or by telephoning 306-682-3139.

For more information, contact:

Brenda Freistadt
Western Beef Development Centre
(306) 682-3139 Ext. 246

Dr. Bart Lardner
Senior Research Scientist
Western Beef Development Centre
(306) 682-3139 Ext. 249
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