Volume 9 Issue 12 • August 12th, 2013

In This Issue ...


Countdown to CCA 2013 Semi-Annual

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) 2013 Semi Annual Meeting gets underway next week in London, Ontario. In addition to CCA meetings and town hall presentation, the 2013 recipient of The Environmental Stewardship Award will be announced and there will be a live auction with proceeds benefiting the Canadian 4-H Council and the Ontario 4-H Foundation. The CCA Semi-Annual is operating on a compressed, three day schedule this year, from August 13-15. For more information on the schedule and registration, click here:


Calgary firm leads development of BIXS 2

On Friday, the CCA announced it has contracted Arcurve Inc., a Canadian-based software development firm, to create the next version of the Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS). Their work will support the evolution of BIXS with a focus on increased responsiveness and functionality.

BIXS 2 will be built for quick, effective and reliable interfacing with existing software systems, and will be significantly less expensive to build, maintain and evolve than the current version, which is critical to the sustainability of BIXS.

The first of a sequence of releases of 'BIXS 2' is targeted for the fall of 2013 with each successive release offering additional benefits to BIXS participants. The first release will emphasize easy import and export of data and a tool to help purchasers source important animal attributes within the beef supply chain. For full details of this project under Arcurve Inc., click here.

BIXS is presently funded through AAFC's Agricultural Flexibility Fund as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan.


The beef with lab grown beef

Canfax Market Briefs

It's hard to beat the enticing aroma of beef sizzling on the barbecue and the satisfaction of eating a perfectly cooked burger or steak. So when the news articles appeared over the August long weekend on the cooking and tasting of the world's first lab-grown beef burger, developed at Maastricht University in the Netherlands over a five year period and at a cost of more than $300,000, the reaction was predictable.

Online readers found the idea of eating lab-grown beef distasteful at best. Paired with beef consumption data from Statistics Canada that shows per capita beef and total meat consumption rose in 2012, and Health Canada's recommending beef as a great first food for infants at six months of age, all indications are that this latest project of the anti-animal agriculture crowd is headed for an uphill battle in the court of public opinion.

It makes no sense to devote significant funds and resources to creating a hamburger in a lab when consumers already have a ready supply of affordable, delicious and nutrient-rich ground beef available at the supermarket. When it comes to the great taste of beef there is no comparison – particularly if the choice is between beef harvested from sustainably raised animals, or threads of protein grown in a petri-dish.

The lab-grown meat in this particular project is touted by its promoters as the way to 'help feed the world and fight climate change' and as a way to mitigate animal welfare concerns. The project is funded by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who said he was motivated by a concern for animal welfare. It is also supported by PETA.

What's missing from this premise is the sustainability efforts of producers and the industry as a whole to ensure the industry will be able to meet the needs of a growing global demand for protein responsibly. CCA belongs to a number of groups with a sustainability focus including the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and has spearheaded a Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

Environmentally, socially and economically sustainable beef production is a key pillar of the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC). Research funded by the BCRC has led to improvements in productivity and efficiency, which have clear implications for environmental sustainability. Improvements in feed efficiency and shortening the required number of days needed to finish fed cattle reduces the amount of methane and manure produced and resources used per pound of beef. Improvements in forage and grassland productivity lead to several environmental benefits, including increased carbon sequestration, improved wildlife habitat, contributes to biodiversity, helps maintain healthy watersheds, and reduces soil erosion.  In order to quantify the environmental benefits of cattle production, research in the proposed second Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster, a partnership through the BCRC and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, will examine the environmental footprint of the Canadian beef industry. 

In the livestock business, good commerce includes good animal welfare. Cattle producers care for their animals every day, and that care shows up in the great taste of our product. The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle, which governs areas including pain management, has recently undergone an updating process through the National Farm Animal Care Council. The Code uses valid, science-based procedures that have been vetted by a council of experts.

The CCA would like consumers to know that they have many reasons to continue to feel good about eating beef. North America's cattle industry has been very successful in creating more high quality protein with fewer resources. Improvements achieved between 1977 and 2007 means that modern beef production uses 33 per cent less land, 12 per cent less water, 19 per cent less feed and nine per cent less fossil fuel energy than equivalent beef production in 1977.

Cattle producers are long-time partners with the environment -- many are second, third and fourth generation families -- and work to conserve wildlife and its habitat. Raising beef cattle provides jobs that sustain rural communities, utilizes unproductive land to produce a highly nutritious food product for the human diet, and protects habitat and wildlife. Well-managed cattle operations deliver ecosystem services that benefit the environment and society as a whole.

These are just some of the real-life benefits of sustainable beef production that lab-grown beef can't match.


Improved test for vibriosis in bulls

Venereal diseases like trichomoniasis (trich) and vibriosis (vibrio) remain common causes of reproductive failure in cow-calf herds in western Canada. Unlike trich, there is no good diagnostic test available for vibrio.

A recently-completed research project funded by the National Check-off and Canada's Beef Science Cluster studied polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which detect specific DNA sequences, as a potentially cost-effective and practical diagnostic testing strategy for identifying beef cattle with vibrio.

The research found that the PCR test is 85% accurate at identifying positive and negative bulls when sampled in the field. While not perfect, it is an improvement in what has been available to practicing veterinarians.

To learn more about this research, view the BCRC fact sheet: http://www.beefresearch.ca/factsheet.cfm/evaluating-a-new-pcr-test-for-diagnosing-vibriosis-in-beef-bulls-98


CCA Action News

Staff Contributors: Fawn Jackson, Larry Thomas, Tracy Sakatch
Written, edited and compiled by: Gina Teel and Matthew French

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 Canada's beef cattle industry representing 68,500 beef farms and feedlots.

Head office:
Ste. 180, 6815 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