After noticing a gap in research on the relationship between cattle and crop, the University of Saskatchewan started an international search for someone to fill the void with knowledge and expertise.
Nearly $4.5 million in funding has been given to the university from multiple different organizations to make the new position a reality.
The person chosen will be working with partners across the province to develop helpful information for producers. One area of Saskatchewan may produce different than another based on variables such as moisture, soil quality, and weather conditions.
“We’ve got great folks working on forage breeding and beef genetics and animal nutrition, but we didn’t have anyone really looking at how to effectively manage forage at that plant-animal interface,” said Angela Bedard-Haughn, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at USask.
Canada produces over $1.5 million tonnes of beef every year and ships around 45 per cent of beef and cattle to 62 different countries, making the country one of the largest red meat and livestock exporters in the world.
Matt Bowman, BCRC Chair, says there are plenty of ways the new research can help producers.
“Whether it’s more cattle grazing per acre or more pounds of production per acre or longer grazing periods, all those things will be deemed a success,” he said.
Stats Canada shows that in 2020, there were almost 12.3 million cattle in Canada, and each full-grown cow eats around 25 lbs of feed a day.
There are many different types of forage, or plants consumed by livestock, which can be looked at on a trial basis to improve the quality and production of beef.
“Basically at the end of the day, we want to be able to deliver some sort of tools or messaging back to the producers to help them make better decisions that will optimize forage production and management of what they have,” said Ministry of Agriculture Research Executive Director Shawn Gibson.
The Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization Chair position is expected to be filled by the end of 2021.