Could Beavers Hold the Key to Feed Efficiency?

What do beavers and cows have in common? That's what Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researchers are working to find out.

Researchers have been examining beaver guts for a couple years at AAFC Lethbridge, looking for answers relating to feed efficiency in cattle. The research being done on beaver guts is just a part of their efforts to develop feed enzymes for beef and dairy cattle, which will increase digestibility of poor quality forages.

If this enzyme is developed, producers would then have an alternative source of feed which can replace some higher cost feed materials such as grain.

AAFC microbiologists Dr. Robert Gruninger, says there is a lack of feed enzymes which can improve ruminant's digestion of forage plants.

"Feed enzymes are used widely in the production of swine and poultry. That's because their digestive system isn't as complex as what you find in cows, and those feed enzymes work really well. The problem with developing similar technologies for cows, is that they're already really good at digesting their feed, and a lot of the products that are available haven't really produced economic returns for the producer. We think that's because they haven't found that key enzyme that's missing."

And finding that key enzyme is what Gruninger says their research is all about. They're hoping to find an enzyme, which when added to the cows digestive system, would enhance the digestion of the plant.

Another Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researcher, Dr. Wen Chen, is doing similar research on pandas in Ottawa.

Since beavers are able to digest twigs, and pandas are able to digest bamboo, they thought it would be an interesting place to start looking for these answers.

The research being done on beaver guts is just a small part of an ongoing project.

"We're trying to understand why some cows are better at digesting feed than others. Every cow, every person, every animal has a different group of microbes that live on and in them, and those microbes do various things that are important for the function of that animal. In cows, they're very important for breaking down feed in the stomach."

Gruninger says, the microbes found in beavers are completely different than those in cattle.

"What we're doing now, is we're trying to look at the specific proteins that these microbes in the stomach of the beaver are, and whether or not any of them might be useful as a feed additive in ruminants."

He says, the research is still in the discovery stage, so it will be a while before producers could see a feed additive like this in stores.


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New Merger Tackles Inconsistency in Canadian Sheep Industry

A new merger is looking to make Canada's sheep industry more sustainable.

The North American Lamb Company is made up of a handful of existing companies, including a lamb processing plant in Innisfail called SunGold Specialty Meats, a lamb feedlot in Iron Springs called the Canada Gold Lamb lot, and a large breeding flock in Manitoba called Canada Sheep and Lamb Farms.

The North American Lamb Company will control everything in lamb production and marketing for the group including genetics, breeding, finishing, processing and sales.

President and CEO of the North American Lamb Company, Gary Alexander, says the merger is designed to create an integrated lamb supply chain.

"At our operation in Manitoba, and perhaps in Alberta in the future, we lamb everyday of the year, so we lamb in season and we lamb out of season, so we can produce lambs for finishing and processing 52 weeks of the year, which is really what the customers are demanding, and that's what we're building our whole production system to do."

Alexander says, the breeding flock based in Manitoba has about 35,000 breeding ewes.

He adds, with low numbers in Canada and sheep being seasonal breeders, there's an inconsistent supply for consumers.

"It's just a really inconsistent business, and what's happened is you've really got a facility in Innisfail that's very, very highly under utilized, so probably only about 30 per cent of it's capacity."

SunGold in Innisfail is Canada's largest federal lamb processing plant.

He says, the newly formed company will create a consistent and reliable supply of lamb for consumers.

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Agriflash Headlines for July 31

New Merger Tackles Inconsistency in the Sheep Industry

A new merger is looking to make Canada's sheep industry more sustainable.

The North American Lamb Company is made up of a handful of existing companies, including a lamb processing plant in Innisfail, a lamb feedlot in Iron Springs, and a large breeding flock in Manitoba.

The company says the merger is designed to create an integrated lamb supply chain, where consumers will have a reliable and consistent supply of lamb.

 

Government says Canadian Potatoes are a Powerhouse

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is boasting about Canadian potatoes.

They says one potato with skin is equal to a cup of spinach in iron content, and has as much potassium as an average-sized banana.

 

Canadian Grain Commission Reminds Industry About Grading Changes

A reminder for farmers about changes to the grain grading guide and variety designation lists coming into effect tomorrow.

The Canadian Grain Commission says starting Wednesday, August 1, individual official standard samples will be used to assess frost, heat stress and mildew damage in Western Canadian wheat.

Also, twenty-five varieties of Canada Western Red Spring and 4 varieties of Canada Prairie Spring Red Wheat be reassigned to the Canada Northern Hard Red class.

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Ranchers Tour the Waldron Ranch Grazing Co-op

The Foothills Forage and Grazing Association held a tour of the Waldron Ranch Grazing Co-op south of Longview  a couple of weeks ago.

The tour was a part of their Forage to Beef Demo Days.

Today the Waldron owns 65,000 acres and is one of the largest co-operative land purchase deals in Alberta's history when it was established in 1962.

Environmental and Communications Coordinator with the Foothills Forage and Grazing Association, Sonja Bloom, says their group of about 72 ranchers started off the day by learning about different grazing practices.

"We explored a paddock that had been ungrazed for over 30 years right next to a rotationally grazed paddock, and we really started to explore the differences in soil health, plant health, to see what everything looked like."

waldron tour ffga july 2018 001 resizedPhoto - Sonja Bloom.

Bloom says, they also saw an effective example of using sheep grazing to control leafy spurge.

"Then we went back to the Maycroft Hall where we learned about the application of drone use in grazing, as well as the benefits of hybrid vigor, which is essentially cross breeding."

For day two of the Forage to Beef Demo Days, they went up to Didsbury to tour Whiskey Ridge Cattle Co. and Difficulty Ranch.

"Very similar things that we saw at the Waldron," said Bloom. "A couple things a little bit different was there was a perennial forage trial that has been seeded a couple years ago that we explored, and then we also saw a riparian area that's being grazed and managed through the ALUS program."

waldron tour ffga july 2018 003 resizedBulls on the tour near Didsbury. Photo - Sonja Bloom.

She says, a highlight was watching ranchers network and share their grazing practices with each other.

To learn more about upcoming events put on by the Foothills Forage and Grazing Association, you can visit their website.

 

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John Deere To Aquire Argentina-Based Equipment Manufacturer

John Deere (Deere & Company) has signed an agreement to acquire Argentina-based PLA, a privately-held manufacturer of sprayers, planters, and specialty agriculture products.

"The PLA acquisition enhances John Deere's commitment to customers as we continue to provide innovative, cost-effective equipment, technology, and services to improve their productivity," said John May, President, Agricultural Solutions & Chief Information Officer at Deere.

PLA was founded in 1975 and was the first company to manufacture self-propelled sprayers in Latin America.

The company has approximately 450 employees and currently markets products on four continents. It has manufacturing facilities in Las Rosas, Argentina, and Canoas, Brazil.

 

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John Deere To Acquire Argentina-Based Equipment Manufacturer

John Deere (Deere & Company) has signed an agreement to acquire Argentina-based PLA, a privately-held manufacturer of sprayers, planters, and specialty agriculture products.

"The PLA acquisition enhances John Deere's commitment to customers as we continue to provide innovative, cost-effective equipment, technology, and services to improve their productivity," said John May, President, Agricultural Solutions & Chief Information Officer at Deere.

PLA was founded in 1975 and was the first company to manufacture self-propelled sprayers in Latin America.

The company has approximately 450 employees and currently markets products on four continents. It has manufacturing facilities in Las Rosas, Argentina, and Canoas, Brazil.

 

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G20 Ag Ministers Conclude Meeting In Argentina

Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay wrapped up meetings over the weekend in Argentina with Ag Ministers from the G20 countries.

During his address, MacAulay proposed the Canadian-led Agroecosystem Living Labs approach, which is a way to accelerate the development of sustainable agricultural practices and technologies around the world.

“The Government of Canada is pleased with G20 Ministers’ strong support for our innovative approach to help farmers develop farming practices in real-life situations that will protect our environment," said MacAulay. "By reducing trade barriers and getting new technologies and practices to the farm as quickly as possible, we can put more money in farmers’ pockets, and help support them with the vital job of feeding the world sustainably.”

The Living Labs approach would bring scientists, industry and farmers together to develop, test and monitor new technologies and practices on farms. Through these efforts, countries will be better able to address pressing environmental issues such as soil and water conservation, and climate change.

The other ministers strongly supported Canada’s proposal, which was included in the G20 final declaration.

MacAulay also held meetings with his counterparts from the European Union, Mexico, Netherlands, Turkey, Japan, India, Italy and Germany, raising issues of mutual interest and promoting the importance of open trade.

Argentina, as current G20 president, proposed that the G20 discuss ways to promote healthy, fertile and productive soils to improve food security and human health, in addition to a discussion on sustainable soil management.

 

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Got Hail, Now What?

So far this year, AFSC (Agriculture Financial Services Corporation) has had about 51 hail claims in the High River area.

They're expecting more claims with the storm activity seen last week and this past Monday night.

Manager of Business Risk Management Products with AFSC, Daniel Graham, says clients have up to 14 days after a hail event to report the damage and submit a claim.

"When submitting a hail claim clients are asked to provide the date of the storm, the crop type that was damaged, the legal land locations, estimated number of acres that have been damaged and the degree of the damage that had occurred. They're also asked to provide details of the storm like the time, duration, direction, size of hail stones, strength of wind, and the amount of rain that may have accompanied the hail."

He says with an early harvest expected in parts of the Province, some hail assessments may not be complete before the crop is combined.

"If this is the case, producers need to contact their local AFSC branch office and get permission to leave inspection strips on the fields of the damaged insured crops."

Clients can review the inspection strip policies on the AFSC website, or by contacting their local branch office.

Graham says overall, they've had about 3,400 hail claims in Alberta, which is down from the average 3,900 claims for this time of year.

He adds, there's been a sharp increase in the number of hail claims across the Province in the past month, as July and August are typically the times of year with the most hail storms.

 

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Agriflash Headlines for August 1

John Deere to Acquire Argentina-based Manufacturer

John Deere has signed an agreement to acquire Argentina-based PLA, a privately-held manufacturer of sprayers, planters, and specialty agriculture products.

PLA was founded in 1975 and was the first company to manufacture self-propelled sprayers in Latin America.

The company has approximately 450 employees and currently markets products on four continents.

 

It's Hail Season in Alberta

AFSC has had about 3,400 hail claims on insured crops across Alberta so far this year.

Manager of Business Risk Management Products with AFSC, Daniel Graham, says this number is down from the average 3,900 claims this time of year.

He says, there's been a sharp increase in the number of hail claims across the Province in the past month, as July and August is typically the time of year with the most hail storms.

Read More:

 

G20 Ag Ministers Conclude Meeting in Argentina

Federal Agriculture Minister, Lawrence Macaulay, wrapped up meetings over the weekend in Argentina with Ag Ministers from the G20 countries.

He proposed the Canadian-led Agroecosystem Living Labs approach, which is a way to accelerate the development of sustainable agricultural practices and technologies around the world.

It would bring scientists, industry and farmers together to develop, test and monitor new technologies and practices on farms.

Read More:

 

Tough Year to Feed a Cow

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry says, hay supplies and pasture still remain a concern for livestock producers.

Their latest crop report for Tuesday, July 24th shows some poorer crops have been used for pasture, and several crops are being cut for feed.

Their report also shows ranchers are already relying on feed in some areas.

To view the full report, you can visit their website.

 

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Taber Corn is Back!

We all love the sweet, sweet flavour of Taber Corn and the good news is they're back for the season!

Matt Racine was out for his first day selling the corn Tuesday, July 31.

"Freshly cut, driven up from Taber. We have an operation out near CrossIron Mills. There's about 20 of us with our pick-up trucks. We set up and load up the trucks then head out."

He says, the corn selling season is getting a bit earlier every year.

"It used to be a week into August, but it was the same time last year, started July 31st today and last year was August 1st."

The Taber Corn truck will be in High River every week of the season from Tuesday to Saturday.

 

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