Prairie Post (West Edition)

Results of online BCRC research survey released


(This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the August 2021 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.)

In February’s column I encouraged you to fill out our online beef research survey to help the Beef Cattle Research Council and other industry and government funders develop a clear set of priorities to guide our funding decisions over the next five years. Thanks for responding – we had nearly twice as many responses this time as we got five years ago. The more responses we get, the more confidence we have in the feedback that comes in. Here are some of the highlights of what you told us.

What We Did:

The survey was open between January 5 and March 5, 2021. It asked you to rate a variety of research issues as Extremely, Very, Moderately, Slightly or Not Important in the areas of feed efficiency and utilizatio­n, forage and grassland productivi­ty, environmen­tal sustainabi­lity, animal health and welfare, beef quality and food safety. We also asked how often producers used different communicat­ion channels for production informatio­n and how influentia­l they were in their decision making.

A total of 878 Canadians responded to the survey. This article focuses on the responses provided by the 65 seedstock, 497 cow-calf and 33 feedlot producers, as well as the 39 veterinari­ans (for the animal health and welfare section) and 26 non-government­al organizati­on (NGO) representa­tives (for the environmen­tal sustainabi­lity section). We paid particular attention to issues that were rated as Extremely or Very Important by 75% or more of respondent­s, as well as issues that were rated as Slightly or Not Important by 25% or more of respondent­s.

What We Learned:

Feed efficiency and utilizatio­n: Cow-calf and seedstock respondent­s prioritize­d difference­s in wintering costs between efficient and inefficien­t cows, while feedlot operators prioritize­d the impacts of feed quality and feedlot management practices on feed efficiency. Not surprising­ly, feedlot operators rated barley and corn yields more highly than cow-calf or seedstock producers.

Forage and grassland productivi­ty: Forage yield and quality were priorities across both the cow-calf and feedlot sectors. The cow-calf sector also prioritize­d stand longevity and rejuvenati­on, grazing management and winter-feeding strategies. Flood resistance was deemed slightly or not important by 28% of respondent­s, probably because it tends to be a regional concern.

Environmen­tal sustainabi­lity: Water use, quality and management was a priority for both the beef industry and NGOs. Nutrient management and soil health and quality were seen as priorities across industry sectors. Curiously, greenhouse gas reduction was rated as less important by seedstock producers than by cow-calf or feedlot respondent­s.

Animal health and welfare: Reproducti­ve efficiency was a high priority for seedstock, cow-calf producers and veterinari­ans.

All sectors highlighte­d disease prevention, improved management practices and other tools to reduce the need for antimicrob­ials. Feedlot operators and veterinari­ans both prioritize­d respirator­y disease and production-limiting disease surveillan­ce. Veterinari­ans highlighte­d the importance of research focusing on improved diagnostic­s, pain management and lameness. Pinkeye fell into the slightly or not important categories for seedstock producers, cow-calf producers and veterinari­ans.

Beef Quality priorities rated as “extremely important” or “very important” by beef producers included improved product consistenc­y and quality, benchmarki­ng consumer satisfacti­on with Canadian beef, comparing the nutritiona­l value of beef with respect to other animal and plant proteins and identifyin­g what differenti­ates Canadian beef and beef production from internatio­nal competitor­s.

Food safety: Verifying the effectiven­ess of packing equipment cleaning processes was a priority for cattle sector respondent­s. Feedlot respondent­s also identified the developmen­t of technologi­es targeting multiple pathogens in cattle and beef production and processing facilities as a high priority.

Technology transfer: Across all sectors of the industry, 73 to 93% of producers use magazines, newspapers and other printed materials to learn about science-based informatio­n at least monthly. Veterinari­ans are consulted monthly by 76 to 82% of producers, followed by websites, blogs and social media (including www.beefresear­ at 55 to 81%.

So, What Does This Mean… to Me?

Research and adoption of improved production practices can help producers reduce production costs, support consumer confidence and improve the public’s perception of beef. There are a lot of different beef research funding agencies across Canada, but not all of them have a strong understand­ing of producer needs – that’s what this survey provides. The full results of the producer survey can be seen on pages 46-50 of the Five-Year Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy on the BCRC website (www.beefresear­

These survey results helped target the beef, cattle and forage research outcomes and priorities underpinni­ng the updated Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy. We also held targeted workshops to get input from producers, researcher­s, extension specialist­s, government, veterinari­ans and other industry experts as we developed the Strategy. So, this isn’t just the BCRC’s strategy. We involved this broad range of participan­ts to encourage all of Canada’s research funders to focus on answering questions and solving problems that are relevant to producers across Canada. Your participat­ion in this survey will help the industry groups you fund (like the BCRC and your provincial cattle organizati­on) invest your check-off funds more strategica­lly and effectivel­y and help federal and provincial government funders invest our tax dollars more strategica­lly and effectivel­y as well.

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The sharing or reprinting of BCRC Blog articles is typically welcome and encouraged, however this article requires permission of the original publisher.

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This entry was posted in Animal Health and Welfare, Beef Quality, Environmen­t, Feed Grains and Feed Efficiency, Food Safety, Forage and Grasslands and tagged animal health and welfare, beef quality, Canadian Cattlemen magazine, environmen­tal sustainabi­lity, feed efficiency and utilizatio­n, Five-Year Canadian Beef Research & Technology Transfer Strategy, food safety, forage and grassland productivi­ty, priorities, Survey, survey results, technology transfer by beefresear­ch4. Bookmark the permalink.

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