Dr. Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist, offers his economic analysis of the beef cattle industry as part of the weekly series known as the “Cow Calf Corner” published electronically by Dr. Peel and Mark Johnson. Today, Dr. Peel talks about cattle feeding operations in Ontario.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit Ontario for the Ontario Cattle Feeders Association Annual Beef Industry Convention in London, Ontario. The organization is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2023.
In addition to a great convention, I had the opportunity to visit a number of cattle feeding operations and learn a bit about how cattle feeding works in this unique environment.
Cattle feeding in Ontario is almost entirely indoors due to the cold and wet climate of the region. The photos show several different cattle feeding operations. Ontario is a significant crop production region and feeders utilize corn (dry and high-moisture) and co-products (mostly wet distiller’s grains) intensively.
Waste management is a major issue with barns using either solid floors, which must be scraped and re-bedded weekly or slatted floors with liquid waste lagoons. In either case, farms must have several months to a year of manure storage as manure can only be applied to cropland in short summer windows of time. Manure is an increasingly valuable output, especially with current fertilizer prices.
The Ontario cattle feeding industry utilizes several sources of cattle. Most of the beef cows in Canada are in the Prairie Provinces and feeder cattle have historically moved east to supply the feedlot industry in Ontario. Cattle are also sourced from Virginia and surrounding regions in the U.S. at times when cattle prices and exchange rates are favorable. Increasingly now, however, the rapidly growing source of cattle are beef x dairy crossbred calves from Ontario and Quebec.
The organization is also celebrating 25 years of the Ontario Corn Fed Beef program, which continues to have success in both domestic and international beef markets. The program has been particularly successful in Japan.
Seeing cattle feeding in this environment emphasizes again to me, the extraordinary ability the beef industry to adapt to a wide range of locations and environments.
I enjoyed tremendous hospitality from cattle feeders in Ontario and I wish continued success for them.
Photos provided by Derrell Peel.