two cows and calf

The Canadian Cow-Calf Surveillance Network (C3SN) is a network of herds from across Canada that reflects the industry.

It will provide benchmarking productivity information and estimate the prevalence of production limiting diseases within Canada. This surveillance network will also examine topics important to the cow-calf industry, such as antimicrobial use, animal welfare practices and biosecurity practices.

Scientists from the University of Saskatchewan, University of Calgary, University of Guelph and the University of Montréal are participating in this project.

Why does surveillance matter?

  • It informs future research
  • It identifies emerging problems
  • It provides estimates to support health and economic decisions

The project is proudly funded by the Beef Cattle Research Council.

Activities

The research team will be seeking veterinarians and producers who are interested in participating in this project, beginning in October 2018.

We will be recruiting a group of 175 beef cow-calf operations to serve as the network core from across Canada that meet the following criteria: 

  • Cow-calf producer must have a minimum of 40 breeding animals
  • Expect to maintain a cow-calf operation over the next five years
  • Maintain calving records and whose animals have individual IDs
  • Routinely conduct pregnancy checks
  • Have internet access and ability to communicate via email

These herds and producers will provide a platform that will contribute critical baseline information regarding the national beef cow herd. Key information on herd productivity, welfare practices, health, nutrition and biosecurity will be collected through regular questionnaires.

Biological samples such as serum and fecal samples will be collected from the core herds at regular intervals to provide meaningful estimates of various production limiting diseases in these herds.

Local veterinary practices help to recruit herds. If you are a veterinarian interested in working with the network, please contact us.

If you are a cow-calf producer who would like to participate, feel free to have your veterinarian contact the network. Local veterinarians are a key component of the network as they assist in the collection of biological samples.

Participating producers will receive a small honorarium for completing the annual surveys on a specific management topic along with two shorter questionnaires per year relating to productivity. Producers will also receive updates on information generated from the network.

Surveys will be paper based and will be kept confidential. All shared results are based on summarized data only. Individual results will be shared directly with individual producers.

There may be opportunities to participate in additional projects at the owner’s and veterinarian’s discretion. 

Purpose

The overall purpose of this initiative is to create an animal health surveillance network for the cow-calf industry within Canada.

This surveillance network would be a critical resource that could be readily accessed to provide very timely and efficient answers to a variety of emerging research questions. The network would collect vital baseline information on a variety of topics that are important to the national beef industry. These topics could include issues such as: 

  • biosecurity practices
  • economics of production-limiting diseases
  • animal welfare practices
  • antibiotic use
  • herd nutrition and management

The research will also utilize prevalence estimates and production parameters in economic models to measure the economic losses associated with various diseases in the Canadian cow-calf industry.

Animal health monitoring and surveillance programs provide critical information to key stakeholders in both industry and government in order to assist with the prevention and management of various disease risks. Diseases in the beef cattle industry can have significant negative impacts on the economic viability of beef operations, animal welfare, food safety, public health, and the environment. In many cases, policy makers in both industry and government have to make decisions about mitigating various risks with very limited available data.

Surveillance systems can provide quantitative evidence of the impact of management decisions and management practices on our beef operations and the extent to which producers are adopting practices such as animal welfare practices or health management practices. The estimates of production parameters that are established through surveillance may help to prioritize investment in research and risk management.

The importance of animal health monitoring and surveillance systems has been recognized in Canada with the formation of the Canadian Animal Health Surveillance System which is an initiative of the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Council and also includes broad-based collaborative support of industry and governments. All of these partners recognize the importance of animal health surveillance systems and have a shared national vision to have effective and integrated animal health surveillance in Canada.

This network is a continuation of a previous Western Canadian Cow-Calf Surveillance Network funded as a research project at the University of Saskatchewan.

This research project has been approved on ethical grounds by the University of Saskatchewan Research Ethics Board. Any questions regarding your rights as a participant may be addressed to that committee through the Research Ethics Office (ethics.office@usask.ca; 306-966-2975). Out-of-town participants may call the toll-free line: 888-966-2975.

Partners

We are grateful for the financial support of our partners: 

Researchers

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Dr. John Campbell
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences
Western College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Cheryl Waldner
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences
Western College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Saskatchewan

PROJECT CO-ORDINATOR

Sharlene April
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences
Western College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Saskatchewan

COLLABORATORS

Dr. Jessica Gordon
Department of Population Medicine
Ontario Veterinary College
University of Guelph

Dr. Murray Jelinski
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences
Western College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Saskatchewan

Kathy Larson
Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
College of Agriculture and Bioresources
University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Ed Pajor
Department of Production Animal Health
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Calgary

Dr. Sarah Parker
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences
Western College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Marjolaine Rousseau
Département de sciences cliniques
Faculté de médecine vétérinaire
Université de Montréal

Dr. Claire Windeyer
Department of Production Animal Health
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Calgary

News

The Canadian Cow-Calf Surveillance Network was successfully funded for five years, from April 2018 to March 2023. Collaborating researchers have met and plans are underway for surveillance activities.

The process of recruiting 175 cow-calf producers from across Canada has begun. The C3SN research team looks forward to working with these producers over the next years.

Contact

Sharlene April, Project Co-ordinator
Canadian Cow-Calf Surveillance Network (C3SN)
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences
Western College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Saskatchewan
52 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7N 5B4

Telephone: 306-966-7870
Email: c3sn@usask.ca
Twitter: @TheC3SN