Beef Cattle Research Applied to the Maritimes Beef Producers Needs

It is with great enthusiasm that I start my new job at Dalhousie University early this year. My position is rooted in Beef Research, with the primary goal to assist the further development of beef production in the Maritimes. The Maritime Bull Test Station provides great conditions for conducting outstanding beef research and, consequently, conditions for developing a fruitful partnership between local beef producers and Dalhousie University to be focused on research, extension, education and training.

At the moment, I have planned two research trials, the first study will be done on replacement beef heifers during this summer/fall and the second on bulls. At this stage, I want to share with you the plans for the heifers, as the time to get them on test is fast approaching.

Feed efficiency and productivity have been studied in beef bulls and steers across Canada; however, few studies have been tackling these issues in the cow-herd. Therefore, important questions about the breeding herd efficiency remains to be disclosed and applied in commercial beef operations. More specifically, the current study has as objectives to answer:

–        Is there differences on sexual maturity (age at first heat) in relation to feed efficiency?

–        Could we use hair to access feed efficiency instead of testing for feed efficiency?

–        Could we use blood work to indirectly assess feed efficiency in replacement heifers?

–        Could we use heart rate as indicator of feed efficiency in heifers?

–        How ultrasounds are related to efficiency and sexual maturity?

To answer these (and other questions) efforts are being combined to have this trial going on this summer at the MBTS. This project counts with the support from the Canadian Cattleman Association, Alberta Beef Producers, Nova Scotia Beef Producers, New Brunswick Beef Producers, Prince Edward Island Beef Producers, Maritime Beef Council, Beef Improvement Opportunities, Agriculture Agri-Food Canada and Dalhousie University. Despite of the long list of supporters the success of this project greatly relies in the participation of local producers interested in having their heifers tested under the following scenario:

Heifers’ Specifications: Must be born between September 1st-November 1st, 2013; must have known date of birth; no restrictions about breed or crosses.

Benefits to participating producers: feed and board extensive subside; feed efficiency evaluation; sexual maturity evaluation; ultrasound assessments; breed composition via DNA analysis; genetic evaluation using the most modern techniques available and; training on genetic evaluation interpretation.

Study timeline: producers enrollment (April); Hair sampling on farm (May); Test at MBTS (June-October).

I am looking forward to have your collaboration in this and other upcoming research initiatives. Please, feel free to contact me at: Phone: 902-893-8023 or E-mail: