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August 4, 2021

What We’re Watching | Experiencing drought stress? Ask the experts: webinar recording

On July 29, Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) hosted a webinar on drought stress, moderated by Stacey Domolewski, Research and Innovation Coordinator for the BCRC.


  • Dr. Cheryl Waldner, NSERC/Beef Cattle Research Council Senior Research Chair in Beef Cattle Health in Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Dr. Bart Lardner, Professor in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the University of Saskatchewan
  • Dr. John McKinnon, Professor Emeritus in Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the University of Saskatchewan

Questions covered:

  • 07:40 – Are there any concerns with nitrates in hay during a drought, and how can producers manage for nitrates?
  • 09:45 – What classes of cattle do best on alternative feeds, and are there certain things to watch with specific classes of cattle?
  • 12:00 – In 2002 some producers saw an increase in white muscle disease in calves feeding on canola. Is this related and if so how do you manage for it?
  • 16:00 – Are nitrates a concern when grazing (particularly: durum). Are there ways to mitigate against the risk, if feed is high in nitrates?
  • 17:40 – Can you test a standing barley crop for nitrates before cutting it?
  • 18:20 – How much straw can you feed cows before you start seeing problems?
  • 21:00 – Is there a minimum amount of fibre that cows need in their diet from forage sources?
  • 23:00 – Are there specific things to look for when testing water?
  • 26:20 – If we do get some rain, should we mow and bale dried up pasture to encourage regrowth?
  • 28:20 – Straw is hard to find. If you have the protein and energy covered off, how low can you go on dry matter intake for the cow herd or backgrounding calves?
  • 31:00 – If there’s still green in a salvage crop, what should I worry about in grazing?
  • 32:40 – Is there a higher risk of using pulse straw compared to cereal straw in cattle diets?
  • 33:52 – Does salt and mineral consumption increase when it’s hot, and in dry conditions?
  • 35:30 – Are there certain weeds that producers can take advantage of as feeds, and are there weeds to avoid?
  • 37:45 – Are there tips or considerations for ammoniation of straw?
  • 41:40 – Will we see more health issues in calves after weaning, as a result of the drought, heat, and smoke? And is there anything to do ahead of time to help?
  • 43:55 – Can nitrate levels decrease in a standing crop if it’s not fully matured, and if so, what conditions and timelines are necessary for that to happen?
  • 45:15 – Should we be thinking of weaning calves earlier this year, and if so, how do we manage them for best health outcomes?
  • 48:20 – If you have poor quality water, is there anything available to treat it? Is there any kind of water soluble mineral products that can be used to address copper deficiencies and things like that?
  • 52:50 – What is the expected deterioration in quality of barley, most of which has not successfully flowered?
  • 54:00 – Can a liquid protein supplement be used to top-dress native or slough hay to get cattle through to rebreeding?
  • 56:50 – Are there any alternative feeds that producers should be cautious when using, or not think of using at all (e.g. flax, hemp, sweet clover)?
  • 59:45 – What do producers need to be aware of when it comes to chemicals that have been used on early harvested or salvaged crops?
  • 01:02:05 – Are there any specific disease symptoms that producers should be especially aware of during drought or dry conditions?

Mentioned resources:

‘What We’re Watching’ is a quick look at some of the issues and insights Alberta Beef Producers’ content creators and editors are watching to stay up-to-date, to broaden perspectives, and to explore issues relevant to the agriculture industry.

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