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Catherine Seidle developed a keen interest in the livestock and crop industries while growing up on a mixed farm near Saskatoon, SK. She studied animal science at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and went on to become a livestock and feed extension specialist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. Now on a two-year sabbatical to complete a master’s project on ruminant nutrition, she works with Greg Penner, a USask professor and Centennial Enhancement Chair in ruminant nutritional physiology. She has joined Penner in his development of feed barley strategies that deal in part with variability of kernel size.

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It is a time of transformation for the Field Crop Development Centre (FCDC) in Lacombe. Owned and operated by the provincial government since its establishment in 1973, the facility is now managed by Olds College, where staff have been tasked with a reimagination of the Centre’s feed and forage barley, malting barley and triticale breeding programs.

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Though hugely important to the western Canadian feeding sector, barley has a tough double shield that can overprotect its starch content from digestion. Dry rolling is the answer. When barley is crushed between grooved rollers the starch and protein are exposed and more easily and rapidly digested. However, over-rolling produces fine particles that can trigger digestive upset in cattle and cause animal welfare challenges and production losses.

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Wholesale meat producers with their own Calgary butcher shop, Brant Lake Wagyu (BLW) owners Michelle Ball and son Brandon said demand is on the increase for their ultra-high quality, Kobe-style beef products. What makes the meat so tasty, said Michelle, is a combination of excellent Wagyu-Angus genetics, slow production and a strict barley regimen.

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The 2020/21 crop year was good for Canada’s barley industry. According to Statistics Canada, production hit 10.74 million tonnes, the highest level since 2008 when tonnage topped 11.78 million tonnes. The 2020/21 crop is also up 50 per cent from 7.11 million tonnes in 2014, a year that saw the lowest barley production in Canada since 1967.

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