Lack of forage due to dry conditions is weighing heavily on the minds of livestock producers across Canada. Manitoba’s Forage and Grassland Association (MFGA) recently released a list of tips on minimizing the impact of dry condition on forage supplies.
MFGA chair Darren Chapman says it’s all about being prepared in advanced, but sometimes even that can’t happen due to Mother Nature. Recent crop reports across the Prairies show most place are dry, which is close to a repeat of the year prior — meaning, farmers likely don’t have much carryover from last year’s storage.
Chapman says the MFGA came up with 10 tips on how to prep for the fall and winter when its dry.
- Start to consider annual crop fields to cut as green feed and to bale the straw
- Line-up corn fields to take as silage or plan to drop the stalks so they can be baled
- Start planning to use electric fencing on corn fields for grazing the stover
- Consider weaning early to reduce feed requirements
- Reduce the total need for feed via herd management, such as preg-checking cows to determine energy needs or to determine who could be culled earlier than usual
- Pre-buy feed, if possible to avoid having to buy in a panic
- Feed to real weights. It’s important to only feed enough hay to support the true weight of the cows in the herd
- Fine-tune rations to feed the right amount of hay and meet the nutritional needs at different production stages
- Feed test so you know what you have to source to balance your rations
- Further to point 9, use supplements and try alternative feed sources
Chapman also says it’s also good to check out local resources, such as Manitoba Agriculture’s website if you’re low on feed, as they have a useful tool to connect Manitoba producers who are selling hay with those who are needing to buy hay.