Grass Fed Beef

In Nappan, Nova Scotia, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientist Yousef Papadopoulos is developing new grass and legume mixtures for cattle forage to improve the quality of meat and growth results. These beef trials are ongoing. Learn about the initial successes of this project.

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Video Transcript

[High-tech intro music]

[Montage of three still images of Simmental and Charolais beef cattle]

Text on screen: Grass fed beef: An edge for Atlantic beef producers

[Dissolve to video images of cattle in distant pasture among rolling green hills. Cut to Yousef Papadopoulos taking notes near cattle in an enclosed pasture. Close up on cattle eating grass.]

Narrator: Eastern Canada has vast tracts of farmland ideal for livestock grazing. And to make the most of it Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientist Yousef Papadopoulos is developing new grass and legume mixtures that can turn ordinary pastures into grassland that beef cattle can't wait to get at.

[Cut to Yousef Papadopoulos speaking. Cattle in background.]

[Text on screen: Yousef Papadopoulos, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada]

Papadopoulos: Over 50 per cent of acreage in Canada is ..can grow grass but can't grow anything else, so it is a tremendous power for productivity and what we would like to do is we want to utilize these resources that can't be used for any other agriculture product and make the best out of it.

[Cattle in pasture. Cut back to Papadopoulos speaking.]

We can grow forages, good productive forages while sustaining the quality, not only quality, but quantity.

[Cut to Papadopoulos taking notes, observing three cattle in an enclosed pasture.]

Narrator: The beef trials at the Nappan, Nova Scotia farm will run through 2016 with performance and quality evaluated for best growth results.

[Cut to Papadopoulos speaking. Cut again to Papadopoulos inspecting shoots of grass. Close up of grass.]

Papadopoulos: We identified the top four mixtures and put them in combination with two different legumes and we divided this pasture behind me into those different mixtures, we have eight mixtures. This forage has the balance of the fibre as well as the good quality the protein, the sugar that has high energy content.

[Images of cattle grazing.]

Narrator: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research biologist John Duynisveld, a specialist in animal nutrition and grazing is seeing good fat and marbling quality in his results.

[Image of John Duynisveld on ground, inspecting the grass in a pasture, surrounded by other researchers. Cut to a cow eating, then several cattle in the distant pasture. Cut to John Duynisveld, speaking.]

[Text on screen: John Duynisveld, Research Biologist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada]

Duynisveld: Getting the degree of back fat and marbling is one of the bigger challenges to achieve and we are finding some of the mixtures seem to have definite advantages in that regard.

[Cut to cattle grazing and back to John Duynisveld, speaking.]

Well, every one of them actually would have sufficient back fat to make "A" quality grade and their marbling is single "A" and double and triple "A" degree of marbling.

[Several cattle in a distant field with blue sky in background.]

Narrator: The goal is to provide beef producers with improved profit margins. Papadopoulos knows the research can be a source of better sales. With pasture as a feed source for finishing cattle, beef producers are not as dependant on expensive grain as a feed supplement.

[Cut to Papadopoulos speaking to camera. Cut again to Papadopoulos speaking with a group of cattle producers in the field.]

Papadopoulos: Now these grain... it is very expensive to purchase so for beef farmers especially in eastern Canada but many other regions.. they are cutting away from their profit .

They are looking at every outcome of research we have and we have a quite popular animal field day because our farmers really want to know.. they look at our pastures they say this one looks a lot better than what I have....what you have there, how can I duplicate it?

Narrator: Grass fed beef is getting a reputation for quality says Duynisfeld.

[Cut to John Duynisveld, speaking.]

Duynisveld: ...and there is a very growing demand from the consumer market standpoint for grass fed beef there is a lot of interest and it is something it appears we can do quite well in Nova Scotia and the Maritimes.

[Close up of Simmental cattle in grassy enclosure.]

Narrator: Duynisveld says the pasture grass approach is not for everyone but there are advantages in lower costs and new sales opportunities.

[Cut to John Duynisveld, speaking.]

Duynisveld: In many ways it is a lot easier to feed animals in the barn because of a lot of your conditions are less variable from day to day, but the costs are also a lot higher, but with a pasture finishing scenario you have a lot less infrastructure costs and you can potentially get these market premiums that are out there as well so the opportunity is there for producers who are willing to take on the management to make this happen.

[Three cattle looking at camera. Cut to several cattle grazing.]

Narrator: Beef producers in the region are aware of the research and are showing interest in the project results.

[Cut to John Tilley in a barn, speaking.]

[Text on screen: John Tilley, Nova Scotia Cattlemen's Association]

Tilley: They are ahead of the curve, they've got types of grasses that maybe we will all start using in a couple of years. I mean that's what I am looking at, we're looking at well OK if we are going to renovate pastures that we've got at home, what should we put in it? It's no good for us to put in what we have always put in because they are not working right. So, you know a place like Nappan provides us with the information...

[Cut to several cattle chewing grass with hills and forest in background.]

Tilley: ...that we are going to need to make those choices. So, it is very, very important for us in the Maritimes. We need to find a way to use forage, to use grass and clovers and so on, because that's what we've got here. That's what we can grow. So that is going to be the future. Anything that pushes that future forward is what we need to have.

[light background jingle]

[Fade to black]

Text on screen: Canada. Copyright, Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada, as represented by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2014.

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