Volume 5 Issue 9 • September 12, 2011

In This Issue ...


CCA's Growing Forward II position approved

The Growing Forward (GF) suite of programs was one of the many pieces of policy discussed at the CCA Semi-Annual Meeting in Calgary. This five year Federal/Provincial/Territorial agreement is due to expire in March of 2013. The expiry date may be a year and a half away but recall that the beginning of GF was stalled for a year due to the complexities of negotiating agreements between each province and the federal government. To avoid a reoccurrence, GF II consultations began early with a goal of negotiations taking place next summer. Detailed program discussions have yet to take place. Leading up to those discussions, the CCA GF II Position August 2011 document will help to inform all governments and stakeholders how the CCA believes this policy suite should develop. Click here to read the CCA's GF II position paper.


CCA hosts town hall meetings

CanFax Market BriefsThe CCA is pleased to host town hall meetings across Canada, in conjunction with our provincial association members, beginning in October.

The first CCA Town Hall Meeting will take place in Prince George with the B.C. Cattlemen's Association (BCCA) participating. CCA Town Hall meetings are scheduled for Manitoba and Ontario for the current fiscal year. Sponsorship from Farm Credit Canada (FCC) enables the CCA to host town hall meetings through 2014.

The town hall meeting provides the opportunity for producers to meet CCA executive and managers and hear the latest reports on the many activities the CCA is involved in on behalf of Canada's 83,000 cattle producers. The meeting also provides the opportunity for producers to air local issues of national concern.

The meetings will provide updates on current foreign trade issues, the global outlook on beef production and the latest market analysis from Canfax. We'll discuss the latest developments around traceability, provide an update on the Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS) and explain how research by the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) improves our competitive position. There will be an opportunity for producers to ask questions and network with others in the beef cattle industry.

Through sponsorship from FCC, we are pleased to offer registrants a meal following the presentations. There is no fee to attend town hall meetings but space is limited so we do ask interested producers to please RSVP at www.cattle.ca/townhall or call Tracy Sakatch at 403-275-8558.


Livestock production issues, Southern style

Livestock production in Canada has its share of challenges. Extreme weather can impact forage quality and quantity and predation from coyotes, wolves, cougars and bears all too often translates into costly losses. Raising cattle in Florida has its own unique set of challenges around weather and predators, CCA staff learned recently during the Florida agricultural tour held in conjunction with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) summer conference in Kissimmee.

The tour visited two of the largest and most famous ranches in the U.S., the Deseret Ranches, a cattle and citrus operation on 290,000 acres owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Kempfer Cattle Company Ranch on about 25,000 acres owned and operated by a fifth generation family of Florida 'crackers'.

Located in central Florida, the Deseret Ranches has 44,000 cows, including replacement heifers and pure-bred cows, and 1,300 bulls. Deseret is divided into 12 units of about 3,500 cows each, each unit managed by a foreman and one or two cowboys.

The Kempfer Cattle Co. has more than 2,000 mother cows and the family is home to the oldest hunting club in Florida, Osceola Outfitters. The ranches are diversified and independently operates sod farms and sawmills and both properties contain deposits of fossilized seashell which is excavated and used by construction companies as a road base.

The term, 'crackers,' harkens back to the early days of ranching in Florida when cowboys used the sharp report of a bullwhip to scare Scrub cattle out of the swamps. The startling crack of a bullwhip along with some well-trained cur cattle dogs and trusty steeds were what these cowboys used to round up the livestock.

The Kempfer family continues to rely on cur dogs to keep the cattle in line. Tour guide Henry Kempfer said his mother's family developed a line back in the early 1900s, called a Partin cur (Partin is his mother's family name and another pioneering Cracker clan), and that base line is still used today.

Brahman-influenced cattle better tolerate Florida's heat, humidity and insects. Photo credit: Gina Teel

These purebred Brahman bulls are gentler than they look. Photo credit: Tracy Sakatch

The cattle at both operations are largely Brahman influenced Angus, Hereford and South Devon. Brahman genetics create animals better able to withstand the high heat, humidity, heavy rains and insects the area is known for.

Predators include some coyotes but black vultures and turkey vultures – locally referred to as buzzards - are the biggest problem as they will go after newborn calves and vulnerable animals. The Brahmans have a big mothering instinct and when the buzzards start pestering a newborn, the mother can accidentally trample the calf in her attempts to keep the winged predators away, Kempfer said.

Mosquitoes and other biting insects are a real problem. Animals will walk all night to try and escape the thick clouds of the blood sucking insects. Local lore tells stories of bulls driven so mad by the insects that they submerged themselves in water with only their nose showing, and the mosquitoes lighting on the nose being so thick the bulls suffocated. Kempfer said he has never seen that at his ranch, but it was a common occurrence is in 1960s and 1970s, particularly in south Florida.

Alligators appear to be everywhere, with no body of water seemingly too small to accommodate them. Kempfer said they have lost calves to gators but he considers them more of a problem for taking dogs as they always seem to snatch a good dog 'and not a sorry one.'

Henry Kempfer and his son, Hyatt Kempfer, with juvenile alligators. Photo Credit: Tracy Sakatch& Gina Teel

The biggest struggle is ensuring the native grasses and forages have sufficient nutrient content for the livestock. Sandy soils create grasses with a high water content, which spikes to the 95 per cent plus range in the summer rainy season. This means ensuring the cattle get enough nutrient intake. A mineral supplement is required as well as a protein block depending on the time of year.

Raising cattle in Florida may have its troubles noted Kempfer, but "we don't want to be faced with that snow and cold weather like you all have to deal with," he said.

BIXS program administrator named

The CCA has contracted Holly LaBrie as program administrator of the Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS). LaBrie holds a diploma in computer programming from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and has considerable experience in database content management, technological project management and training.

LaBrie and husband Sean along with their kids run a 120 cow Angus cross commercial ranch northwest of Didsbury, AB, where they also custom graze about 80 head each season. The daughter of Longview-area rancher John Cartwright, LaBrie grew up on a commercial operation and has a good understanding of the Canadian cow-calf industry. As program administrator, LaBrie will manage the design and function of the BIXS portal and database including reporting, system queries and user liaison and system monitoring among other tasks.


The evaluation of new diagnostic blood tests for Bovine Tuberculosis in cattle

The CCA represents the Canadian beef cattle industry on many levels. Research is conducted on both policy and production issues to inform industry and government when developing domestic and trade regulations.

Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) is an insidious disease of livestock that is also transmissible to humans. The presence of bovine TB in livestock populations has a negative economic impact on producers as well as on the wider community as it is an impediment to trade in live animals and animal products. With no effective treatments or vaccines available, animal health authorities worldwide have implemented programs to control and eradicate the disease. Rapid and accurate diagnosis in live animals is paramount for an effective disease control and eradication program.

The currently available tools to detect bovine TB and to conduct surveillance in populations that are believed to be free of the disease are the skin test in live animals and post mortem inspection of slaughter animals. Both tools are cumbersome and costly, and fail to detect all cases of the disease.

Commercial tests have been developed by several diagnostic companies in Europe and the United States, and these companies have agreed to make their tests available for evaluation. A project being conducted over the next three years administered through the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) will enter into agreements with four or five of these companies, where the companies will provide their blood test kits for comparison to evaluate the tests' ability to detect known TB-infected cattle. Under these agreements, the test kits would be provided to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for evaluation of their performance by CFIA scientists.

These tests, called serologic assays, may assist in achieving the final eradication of bovine TB from livestock sooner than is currently possible with existing tools, and may prove crucial to establishing an effective post-eradication surveillance program for bovine TB in Canada's cattle population, particularly in those areas of the country where the disease is present in surrounding wildlife.

The evaluation of commercially available serologic assays is the first step toward adoption as official tests by regulatory authorities. Louis Desautels, animal health consultant to the CCA, noted that "the adoption of an official test by the CFIA for TB would result in considerable annual savings for the CFIA and Canadian taxpayer."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing the project with 350-400 TB positive serum samples along with some TB negative serum samples; Mexican authorities (SAGARPA) have provided some serum samples through the USDA serum bank. "We want to work with the regulatory authorities and our trading partners since they would have to accept any test results and changes that might be implemented," Desautels said. This proposal will also generate serial serum samples from TB positive animals to populate the USDA serum bank (in which Canada, Mexico and other countries are members) and will be available for future research in bovine TB.

CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: Ryder Lee, Larry Thomas, Brenna Grant
Written, edited and compiled by: Gina Teel and Tracy Sakatch

To sign up for CCA's “Action News”:
Visit www.cattle.ca and click on “Sign-up for Action News”.

For more information, contact:

CCA Communications at feedback@cattle.ca or visit our website at www.cattle.ca

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association is the national voice for nearly 83,000 Canadian beef cattle producers.

Head office:
Ste. 310, 6715 8th Street NE, Calgary, AB   T2E 7H7
Phone: 403.275.8558   Fax: 403.274.5686

Ottawa office:
1207, 350 Sparks Street, Ottawa, ON   K1R 7S8
Phone: 613.233.9375   Fax: 613.233.2860