Hay crops vary across province How to stretch your hay supply

September 2009
Hay crops vary across province
How to stretch
your hay supply
If this year’s hay supply is not
looking great, here’s some tips
to manage your feed supply
and maintain a healthy herd.
/ page 2
by: MAFRI Forage Specialists
Depending on where you call home the hay situation ranges from slightly
below average to down right appalling. The province experienced a slow
cold spring and an unusually cool summer with some areas receiving
extreme moisture and others almost none. What this adds up to is poor
hay yields and a lot of low quality hay.
The northwest Interlake area is about 30 to / more...page 3
Nitrates in feeds
by: Pam Iwanchysko
At this time of year producers should be cautious of the feeds
that they are considering using for winter feed supplies,
especially if they have been stressed by environmental
factors such as drought or frost. Nitrates in grassy
plants such as oats or barley can accumulate in the
plants and may be potentially deadly if not fed with
How does nitrate get into the forage?
Nitrate is the form of nitrogen that plant roots
take up from the soil. It is transported to the
leaves where it is eventually converted into
protein. When plants are / more.... page 12
Dr. Fred
November 3-5, 2009
AAFC - Brandon Research
Centre, Brandon, MB
Dr. Fred Provenza is a Professor
at the Department of Wildland
Resources at Utah State University. His research has focused on
understanding animal behavioral
processes and specifically how herbivores learn to select their food
and habitat. Join the workshop
to learn how you can adapt your
livsetock to your land and reap
the economic and environmental
benefits. / page 10
Ration planning to stretch hay supplies for
cows and feeder calves
by: John Popp, Farm Production Extension - Beef, MAFRI
When hay supplies are low, differing options for wintering the cow herd need to be
considered. Straw is usually the first thing to come to mind. Straw does not contain
sufficient levels of nutrients and the use of grain, protein supplements and mineral/
vitamin premixes are needed to make straw-based wintering rations work well. It is
critical to supply all the nutrients the animals need in order for them to maintain
good health, body condition, high reproductive rates and desirable weaning weights.
The nutritional requirements of the beef herd change as the animals move through
different physiological stages. The general nutritional requirements of the breeding
herd are listed in Table 1.
Table 1: nutritional requirements of the breeding herd1
How to stretch your hay supply
16 Coming
Mid gestation
Late gestation
Replacement heifers 60-65
Breeding bulls
Yearling bulls
Mature cows
Board of
Nutritional requirements vary with body weight, frame size, predicted ADG and stage
of production. Contact your local Ag. Office for ration formulation services. All rations
must be balanced for protein, energy, vitamins and minerals.
Physical intake of a straw based ration will be restricted due to the fibrous nature
of the feed. This can create problems, particularly when
beef cows increase intake in response to cold temperatures.
The tough and
Rumen compaction may occur if straw is fed alone with
no readily available energy and/or protein supply for
critical question to
the rumen microbes. During cold periods the energy
ask yourself is – if
component of the ration needs to increase approximately
15-20% as the ambient temperature drops to -20 to - 25 the cow is worth
°C. In the last trimester of pregnancy the cow’s nutrient only 10 cents/lb
requirements also increase significantly. Therefore, it is and she is old – is
important to provide higher quality feed either in the
it worth spending
form of good quality alfalfa hay or increase protein
and energy supplementation of straw diets. We have the money to feed
received a good number of calls on ammoniating
her through the
lower quality roughages. It is an excellent way
winter or do you
to increase intake and digestibility of poor
quality feeds. Ammoniation of straw would run move her out of
approximately $20 to 25/ton, increasing protein your herd at a loss?
to 6 to 7%.
Table 2 (next page) shows differing winter feeding options for cows.
Table 2: Differing Wintering Ration Options for Beef Cows (1400-1450 Lbs)*
Grass-legume hay
Barley straw (lbs)
Ammoniated barley
straw (lbs)
*Add 5%- 10% for waste
depending on feeding method
Feed costs may vary depending
on location within the
province. In some locations
there is also a fair amount of
two year old hay available.
Additional factors you need
to consider are bedding, drug
costs, financing costs, death
32-10 feedlot
loss and yardage. If you find
supplement (lbs)
yourself very short of roughage,
we can develop cow rations
Barley silage (lbs)
for you with only 14 to 15
Corn silage (lbs)
lbs of straw, some screenings
and barley grain and still
Liquid supplement
make things work at a very
reasonable cost. The purpose of
the above is to give you a rough
2:1 mineral
idea of the amount of feed you
20% screening
will need to have on hand for
cows for the winter. Cull cows
and bulls in the wake of BSE
will not bear very much value.
The tough and critical question
to ask yourself is – if the cow is worth only 10 cents/lb and she is old – is it worth spending the money to feed her through
the winter or do you move her out of your herd at a loss? Testing feed is critical in determining a suitable feeding program
for you and Manitoba Agriculture and Food staff would be pleased to work with you on ration balancing.
Barley grain (lbs)
Hay quality and quantity - huge variation across province
(from page 1) 40% below average and the northeast and central
Interlake area is about 50 to 80% below average due to excessive
rainfall. The south Interlake area is about average.
ing cattle producers to consider downsizing their herds. Some
higher priced hay is moving into the horse industry with lesser
amounts being bought by the sheep and goat industries.
In the central part of the province hay yields have been average
to good while the far west was drought stricken and hay yields
have been reported as 30 to 75% of normal. The drought area
extended from the far southwest corner right up to the Russell area. The southwest is now experiencing high grasshopper
infestations to make matters even worse.
An early frost could exacerbate the situation considerably! If
you have poor quality feed it is recommended that you have
your feed tested and formulate a ration. If you are going to be
short then it is important to work out a feed budget as you may
find that it would be better to down-size your herd than buy
expensive feed. MAFRI staff can assist you with this process.
In the northwest, hay yields have been 30 to 50% of normal but
silage yields are coming in quite good and a lot of silage is being
At this time of the year we start getting a lot of calls on what
hay is worth. We don’t set the prices, however we have heard
that cow hay is ranging from 3.5 to 6 cents per pound and good
quality hay 6 to 8 cents per pound. Alberta and Saskatchewan
are reporting similar prices with some cow hay moving at the
3.5 cent range. The shortages and the poor quality hay are caus3
Wayne’s Clippings
As I write this we are well into
September and finally getting a
few “summer like” days. It certainly has been a very challenging year
for forage and grassland producers throughout Manitoba. In this
issue we have tried to include some
articles that will help producers
deal with some of these challenges.
Within the MFC we are also faced with a few challenges however many opportunities. The Manitoba Forage Council is one of
the more active forage councils in Canada and as a result we are
involved in a number national forage and grassland initiatives in
addition to the many programs at the provincial level.
Friends of Forage and Grassland
One of the major challenges that we face is that of securing financial resources and other support to enable the MFC to develop
and implement programs of benefit to the forage and grassland
sector. Friends of Forage and Grassland is a special initiative
designed to gather support from companies and individuals.
See the last page of this newsletter for details about this special
initiative. We welcome your comments and look forward to your
opportunities in the Middle East for Canadian forage exporters, to share findings with Canadian exporters and producers,
and to develop a long term international marketing strategy.
This funding has been approved and we will now be moving
forward with this initiative. If you are interested in further
details please contact Glenn Friesen or myself.
Provincial Forage and Grassland Strategy
The development of the Provincial Forage and Grassland
Strategy is progressing very well. Working with Kelwin Management Consultants we have had excellent input from most
sectors of the forage and grassland industry. Over the next
couple of months we hope to finalize the process of setting
priorities and developing recommendations for action. These
recommendations for action will then provide our forage and
grassland industry with a number of “next steps” to move
forward. If you have further thoughts or input please contact
Randy Baldwin at [email protected]
The above mentioned initiatives are just a few of the many
areas that MFC is involved in. Just recently we met with
the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation to provide
input on forage and pasture insurance programs. We will also
be meeting with Minister Wowchuk to discuss a number of
topics of mutual interest to MAFRI and MFC. If you have
thoughts on these or any others topics related to forage and
grassland production please let us know. We appreciate very
much the input of Directors and MFC Members.
All the best,
Wayne Digby
Executive Director
[email protected]
Canadian Forage and Grassland Association
I mentioned in a previous newsletter that the MFC is very
involved in helping to form a national forage organization that
would bring a national voice to the many different aspects of the
forage and grassland industry. This initiative is moving along very
well with very good support from the many different sectors of
the forage and grassland industry. Stay tuned for further developments.
Middle East hay marketing mission and the development of a long term international marketing strategy
for forages
Board News
In the June newsletter I indicated that the MFC on behalf of
a national forage alliance had submitted an application for
AgriMarketing Funding to assist with assessing emerging market
Grazing Clubs going strong
By: Rodger Sheldon, Farm
Production & Extension
Pasture & Grasslands, Ste.
There are 31 Grazing
Clubs in Manitoba. Some
clubs are very active with
monthly meetings, some
clubs have amalgamated,
a few clubs are no longer
active and some clubs host
only one or two events per
year. There are also 17 Holistic Management Groups,
some of which are meeting
regularly similar to provincial Grazing Clubs. Michael
Thiele and Wayne Lenfesty
are contracted by Ducks
Unlimited to act as Grazing
Club Coordinators in the
South Parkland and Southwest areas of Manitoba in
conjunction with MAFRI
and PFRA staff. This area
is focusing on farming practices that support the duck
population. Some clubs are
working with local Conservation Districts (CD’s) as
well as MAFRI and PFRA
staff to organize and hold
field days and workshops.
Funding for all events was
provided through the federal Greencover Program
coordinated by PFRA and
MFC. MAFRI (in cooperation with DU, PFRA,
MFC and local CD’s) took
Northwest District
Lawrence Cattlemen/
Meadow Hen Cattlemen
Grand Plains
Pasture Field Day
Pasture Field Day
June 16
June 23
Pasture Field Day
Pasture Field Day
Winter Nutrition Workshop
Holistic Mgmt Workshop
Holistic Mgmt Financial
June 24
June 25
Nov 2
Nov 17-19 14
Nov 27-29
Nov 21 & 22
Dec 2
Dec 2
Dec 3
Dec 3
Dec 4
Dec 4
Dec 5
Jan 27
Jan 13-15
Feb 3-5
Feb 10
Meadow Hen Cattlemen
Lawrence Cattlemen
Grand Plains
Alonsa/Westlake/Meadow Hen/
Beef & Forage Workshop
Beef & Forage Workshop
Beef & Forage Workshop
Beef & Forage Workshop
Beef & Forage Workshop
Beef & Forage Workshop
Beef & Forage Workshop
Lawrence/Meadow Hen
Bale Grazing Field Day
Bale Grazing/Corn Grazing Day Feb 11
Beef & Forage Workshop
Benchland Annual Meeting
Completing The Animal Health
Cycle A Holistic Approach
Building Soil Health with
Cover Crops
The Foundation of Health,
Healthy Food, Healthy Stock,
And Healthy Farms
Parkland Rancher’s Seminar
Holistic Mgmt Workshop
Interlake District
South Interlake
Beef & Forage Workshop
Beef & Forage Workshop
Beef & Forage Workshop
Beef & Forage Workshop
Reduce Your Costs
Tour of Extended Grazing
Systems @ Gladstone
Beef Week
Arborg Holistic Mgmt
Feb 12
Feb 17
Mar 5 & 6 24
June 23
Dec 4
Dec 4
Dec 1
Oct 29
Dec 11
Jan 29
Feb 28
a lead role organizing and holding these events over
MF C Reports
Mar 5
Feb 11
More Grazing Clubs listed on page 6
Check out the past activities of clubs in your area and
contact Michael Thiele at (204) 365-0328 or 759-3309
to find out more. All upcoming meetings are posted at
offer an
approach to
learning new
for your
cattle operation.
Michael Thiele at
(204) 365-0328
or 759-3309
Central Plains/South Parkland/Pembina/Southwest District
West Souris River
Field Tour at Todd
Daniels & Ted Art’s Farms
Field Tour at Don
Armitage’s Farm
Grand Valley Club
Fencing Workshop
Shoal Lake/Minnedosa/Minto
MB Zero Till Farm Tour
Shoal Lake
Field Tour Darr Farm
Greener Pastures/Club
Native Range Health
Field Tour of Logan/
Alexander Farms
Neil Dennis Farm Tour
Greener Pasture/Minto/
Shoal Lake/Border
Bismark Cover Crop Tour
Extended Grazing Field Tour
Forage & Beef Workshop
Grand Valley
Winter Backgrounding
& Market Outlook
NW/Central/SW/SP Clubs
Redvers Beef & Forage
Central/SW/SP/Pembina Clubs
Soil Health Workshop
SW Clubs
Holistic Mgmt Workshop
Greener Pastures
Livestock Winter
Holistic Mgmt Workshop 1 day
Holistic Mgmt 1 day Workshop
Beef & Forage Workshop
West Souris
Annual Winter Workshop
Shoal Lake
Ken Miller Workshop
Ken Miller Workshop
Ken Miller Workshop
Shoal Lake
Iain Deans Farm Tour
Conservation Workshop
Central SW/South Parkland/
Soil Food Web Workshop
June 18
July 3
July 7
July 8
July 10
July 29 & 30
July 31
Aug 12
Sept 29/30 14
Dec 5
Dec 3
Dec 8
Jan 6
Jan 20 & 21
Feb 13
Feb 13
Feb 26
Feb 27
Feb 26
Feb 24
Feb 18
Feb 20
Feb 18
Mar 4
Mar 5
Mar 17
Interlake tour showcases unique businesses
By: Pamela Iwanchysko, MAFRI
The Provincial Pasture Tour was held in the Interlake area
of the province on July 28th - hosting approximately 65
producers and industry representatives. Participants began
the day at the Ashern Auction Mart where they learned
about the Co-operative and viewed a live demonstration
with a brush mulch chopper.
The bus tour began with a stop at OTR Recyclers managed
by Peter Schroedter just outside of Ashern. Peter spoke
about how he uses mining tires for water and silage troughs.
This unique business generated a lot of interest from many
of the producers.
Events Review
The next tour stop was a drive to Jean Bolay Farms at Fairford. Jean is an immigrant to Manitoba who has set up one
of the largest rotational grazing sheep and cattle operations
OTR Recycling - owned by Peter Schroedter
in the North Interlake wilderness. He utilizes both guard
and working dogs with his animals. Participants were also
able to view the Deutz silage chopper/trailer which has a
live floor semi for transporting bi-products for winter feed.
Other stops included an annual forages for grazing demonstration which included millets, ryegrass, oats & turnips at
TMJ CHAROLAIS in Ashern. This demonstration showed
the effects annuals have on soil organic matter, fertility and
improved feed values.
Last but not least the tour looked at some past brush control methods including Grazon and Remedy treatments and
glyphosate applied in 2006 for brush and poplar control.
The tour ended the day with a steak BBQ hosted by Ashern
Service (Diane and Mike Price) at the T-Bar Ranch.
Jean Bolay speaking about his management practices.
The Manitoba Provincial Grazing Tour was co-sponsored
by: Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, Manitoba Forage Council, Northstar Seed, Brett Young Seeds,
Dow Agro Sciences, Gallagher Power Fencing, Kane Veterinary Supplies Ltd., Kelln Solar, Manitoba Cattle Producers
Association, Native Pasture Improvement Project, Manitoba
Cattle Enhancement Council, Central Testing Laboratory,
Sun Dog Solar, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Prairies
East Sustainable Agriculture Initiative, and the Western
Farm Leadership Council.
Thanks to all those who attended the day and made the tour
a success once again this year.
Investigating Florida and Kentucky
Horse Hay Markets
by Jane Thornton, MAFRI
On March 23, 2009 Darren Chapman (Chapman Farms), Bill Drew and Darryl
Balasko (Churchill Gateway Development Corporation), and Jane Thornton (MAFRI) flew to
Florida and Kentucky to learn about the horse industry and its feed requirements. Funding for the week long
tour was provided by Manitoba Agri-Ventures Initiatives, Churchill Gateway Development Corporation
and the Manitoba Forage Council.
It is probably pretty hard for most Manitoban’s to realize how important the equine industry
is to Florida and Kentucky. Kentucky is number one in the thoroughbred (TB) industry
and has built a huge tourist industry that revolves around horses. The Kentucky Horse
Park; part tourist attraction, part horse show facilities, brings in $240 million a year.
Kentucky has five racetracks and there is a thoroughbred race every week of the year. In
Kentucky horses have surpassed all other forms of agriculture in cash receipts.
There is no doubt that this is a big money business, farm land sells for about
$20,000 per acre and the board fencing, which everyone has, is $16,000 to $20,000 per mile. Many horse farms were 400
acres to 4000 acres in size and they have not just one of these fences but two; one four board fence surrounds the entire
property and then another three or four board fence makes up the numerous interior paddocks.
Florida is second in the thoroughbred industry and as a result is very focused on breeding, training and racing. They
have many horse hay brokers/ feed stores, however, their hot and humid climate prevents them from putting up quality
hay. A Bermuda grass called ‘coastal hay’ is produced and sold into the horse industry but it’s only a small portion of the
total hay sales. The ‘coastal hay’ that we saw appeared to be of medium quality and has the reputation of causing impaction colic in horses.
Also very problematic is hay storage; no matter how well you store hay in Florida, the hot, humid climate causes deterioration in about three months making it unsuitable as horse feed.
Kentucky has better hay making conditions than Florida but by our standards they would
still prove challenging. Kentucky receives about 46 inches of precipitation per year; distributed evenly throughout the year. Both Florida and Kentucky have quite acidic soils, pH 5.5,
so you do not see a lot of alfalfa being grown.
All of the hay brokers/feed stores that we visited talked about timothy, alfalfa and orchard
grass. Timothy is almost exclusively sold in pure form to the TB industry when horses are in
training. Some pure alfalfa is sold but not much and the rest is alfalfa/orchard grass mixtures. We wondered, why these forages? We were told, ‘tradition’. The University of Kentucky now has an equine program and in that state more alfalfa/orchard grass is being sold
to horse owners, perhaps because of the nutritional training at the university, but this is just
speculation and I’d say that anyone wanting to move forage into either state should stick
with what they want.
What kind
of quality are they
looking for?
This leads into the question on bale size. While more medium squares are being sold the greatest demand is still for small
squares. Bales in the 50 to 70 lb range are most popular, three string bales that weight 120 to 130 lbs are also sold and
then comes the medium square and compacted products. Compacted products are not really favored; this may be because
some companies are compacting alfalfa making it stemmy and dusty from leaf shatter. Some of the breeding farms are able
to handle medium squares and are using them to a certain degree. The current recession has prompted many farms to look
for cheaper options for feeding their stock and medium squares fed in covered feeders is being adopted.
What kind of quality are they looking for? Green. Green. Green. It cannot be overstated that hay going into this market
must be very pretty, and mold and dust free. Some, but most do not require a feed test they just want beautiful hay and
consistency. You cannot ship bottom bales or moldy bales.
It will be the last load they buy from you and possibility the last load from Manitoba. Competition
amongst the broker/feed stores is very strong
and many have been in the business for
over 25 years. They seem to have many
contacts and your hay had better be
what you say it is from the first load to
the last load or they will drop you like a
hot potato.
Events Review
It is not enough to have one beautiful load to send to Florida or
Kentucky, they want large lots of hay
so that their customer can buy the
same hay throughout the season. Because of the short period of time hay
can be stored, particularly in Florida,
hay is bought in smaller quantities
but frequently. They do not buy
their winters supply all at once but
once they find a hay that they like
they want to buy it every time they
order hay.
Interestingly timothy fetches a better
price than alfalfa and orchard grass. Earlier in my research, hay had been selling
for as much as $500 per ton but when we arrived their top product was selling
for around $365 per ton. This price drop reflects the end of the busy season and
perhaps the effects of the recession.
Where do they buy hay? The entire eastern seaboard is too hot and humid to
put up the amount of quality hay required to meet this market. Brokers buy
what they call western hay and northern hay. We found that hay was coming
from as far away as Oregon, Idaho, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. I was surprised
that I didn’t really hear of hay coming out of Nebraska and Wyoming, although
I’m sure some must. It is possible that their large irrigated farms are not targeting the horse industry and for the most part primarily offer medium and large
square bales. It would be interesting to find out more.
Hay among the stores was priced very closely for a similar product. This means
that freight and hay costs have to be watched very closely for the brokers/stores
to remain competitive. Certainly each broker/store that we visited had made a
conscious or unconscious decision about who their client was. Some brokers/
stores were definitely working on the prestige of their product and the prestige
of their client in the industry. Others met the demand of the many other horse
fractions which may or may not have had the same level of income to back their
While each store had clients coming and picking up product the bulk of the hay
is delivered to farms and this is a full service delivery with hay stacked into the
clients facilities. So while our eyes may gloss over when we hear $500/ton the
brokers/feed stores in Florida and Kentucky work very hard to provide a top
quality product and top quality service.
While in Florida we visited Jacksonville Port to look at the possibility of shipping hay and/or grains from Churchill to Florida. Their facilities are certainly
impressive and could easily handle our containers. Logistically hay may arrive
into Florida at the wrong time of year since Churchill is only open through the
summer when Florida’s hay demand is at its lowest. However, it might provide
opportunity for Manitoba’s more northwestern hay growers to get their product
to market at a competitive price. This will take some long-term planning with
many aspects to consider, but possibilities do exist.
To find out more about how you might participate in the Florida and Kentucky hay markets contact the Manitoba Forage Council.
Join the
For only $40 per year members
- significant discounts to
- four 16 page newsletters per
- invitations to all upcoming
- lobbying power
- research and communication of results that benefit the
forage and grassland industry
Send your $40 cheque to:
125 Patterson Crescent
Brandon, MB R7A 6T7
or pay on-line at
Membership period is
August 1, 2009 to July 31, 010
Western Canadian Holistic
February 8-10, 2010
Russell, MB
Management Conference
Darci Lang - Darci started speaking when people wanted
to hear about her “focus on the 90%” philosophy and how
it shaped her life. She believes we hold a magnifying glass
out in front of us in our lives and only we can choose where
we focus it, on the 90% or the 10%. During motivational
sessions we hear great messages and we are totally motivated
until at least...the car ride home. How can we carry that
message forward? Focus on the 90% is one simple idea and
how it applies to all areas of our lives. One idea, not 19 ways
or 27 ideas, just one. Focus on the 90%.
No matter if this is your first holistic management conference or your second or third – this conference will give you
ideas on how you can re-work your business and develop a
healthy sustainable business and lifestyle.
Guests from Missouri, Ontario, Nebraska and Manitoba
will lead sessions on a number of topics: Here’s just a few
to wet your appetite. For a full agenda or to register go to
www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca or call Dauphin MAFRI at
(204) 622-2006.
Ann Adams - Ann is the Director of Educational Products
& Outreach at Holistic Management International. She
has created a workbook that helps individuals and families
easily understand Holistic Management and put it into
Rolande Kirouak – “Disaster Proof ” Find out the tools
for managing life’s ups and downs. When was the last time
you did something just for you? If you are going to do great
things, you have to feel good. Make yourself disaster proof
and you will successfully manage the ups and downs of your
life with efficiency and joy. You’ll be energized, rejuvenated,
ready to take on the world!
Watch for our December newsletter for more details or
check out www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca
A Dr. Fred Provenza Workshop
“Using Animal Behaviour to Improve Production and Landscape Health”
November 3-5th, 2009 - AAFC Brandon Research Centre, Brandon, MB
Dr. Fred Provenza is a Professor at the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State
University. His research has focused on understanding animal behavioral processes and
specifically how herbivores learn to select their food and habitat. Throughout this 2 ½ day
workshop, Dr. Provenza will discuss principles and processes of plant and animal behavior
as they pertain to food and habitat selection. This information can be used for enhancing
livestock distribution which can change traditional foraging patterns and improve management of riparian areas, control weeds, and minimizing damage to economically valuable
crops by wild and domestic herbivores.
More generally he will explore what it means economically, ecologically, and culturally for
people and their livestock to be adapted to the local landscape. Once understood, behavioral principles can be translated into practices that provide solutions to managing and making
a living from the land. Unlike ranch infrastructure (corrals, fences, and water development),
behavioral solutions cost little to implement, they are not fossil-fuel intensive, and they are easily transferred from one situation to the next. In the case of grazing, for instance, behavioral solutions are increasingly attractive given current economic
and environmental concerns.
Register online at www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca or call Souris MAFRI (204) 483-2153 with your credit card.
Coming Events
“On the Cutting Edge?”
Attend Manitoba Grazing School
December 1st & 2nd, 2009
Victoria Inn, Brandon, MB.
Once again the Grazing School Committee has recruited some excellent speakers to
vault you to the top with your agriculture production. Over the past 11 years the Manitoba Grazing School has become a recognizable tool for those interested in discovering innovative ways to manage your business. This has stemmed from the high calibre
speakers, challenging topics and the 300 plus like-minded individuals who attend each
year who are more than willing to discuss methods that have succeeded or failed on their
farm. Another way to stay on the cutting edge is to visit the 25 display booth representatives who are showcasing their latest products and are ready to answer any questions you may have.
Pam Iwanchysko, Grazing School Chair and Farm Production Extension – Forage Specialist with MAFRI is looking forward to
another great year at grazing school. “Our featured keynotes Bruno Wiskel and Dick Wittman promise to be entertaining and
thought provoking. Bruno has become well known for his sense of humor and his innovation and Dick has a very high reputation
of developing farms with good book keeping skills and economic common sense.”
Bruno Wiskel will launch the first day opening session with his amusing presentation on “The Prosperous Farmer – The Joy of
Farming”. Bruno has turned his real life knowledge as an agricultural entrepreneur into four books and hundreds of newspaper
articles and technical papers. He has lived up to his credo of “helping people in agriculture become outstanding in their field,” by
hosting a series of seminars that illustrate how he has been able to increase his farm income ten fold.
The second day’s opening session features Dick Wittman who questions, “Are you getting a Passing Grade in Farm Management?”
Dick manages a large-scale dry land crop, range cattle and timber operation in Idaho and also provides workshops and private
consulting services to lenders, agribusiness and ranchers on farm business transition and farm management for family run businesses. This seminar combines serious and humorous discussions on basic principles, actual farm problems and practical, successful
Some other topics included this year are: Selecting the Right Forages for your Beef Operation, Extending the Grazing Season
for Backgrounding Calves, Winter Site Management, Diversifying your Operation, Preserving the Grasslands and Separating
the Wheat from the Chaff in the Sustainability Debate, featuring speakers such as Laura Rance, Editor of Manitoba Cooperator,
Duane McCartney, Devesh Sing, Director of Research for Barenbrug USA and more.
Graziers of the Year Nominations
Now is also the time to nominate someone you feel is an outstanding grazier in Manitoba. The Graziers of the Year are chosen for their innovative style of management and their competency. Please
contact your MAFRI office and put forth a candidate name today.
The 2009 Grazing School has moved from the Keystone Centre to the Victoria Inn in Brandon,
therefore space will be limited. Please reserve your spot now. For more information or to register
go to: www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca or call Dauphin MAFRI at (204) 622-2006.
Nitrates in feed
(continued from page 1) stressed or injured this process is interrupted and excess nitrates accumulate. Drought, hot dry winds, hail
or frost can result in high nitrate levels. Even cool, cloudy weather can cause the problem.
What other factors will affect plant nitrate level?
Large applications of nitrogen fertilizer or manure increase soil nitrate and thus the nitrate available to the plant. Herbicides that
disrupt or interfere with normal plant function may also result in nitrate accumulation.
Is there a stage of plant growth that is more prone to nitrate accumulation?
Immature plants will usually have higher nitrate levels. In cereal forage crops, nitrate levels can start to decline from the milk stage
onward. However, never assume that a crop will be safe. Oats can still have relatively high nitrate levels even at the milk stage.
Always test to be sure.
Are some plants more prone to accumulate nitrates?
Annual forage crops tend to accumulate greater amounts of nitrates than perennial forages. Oats and millet and can be particularly
troublesome. Several weedy species will also accumulate nitrate if appropriate conditions exist. Never assume a particular crop will
be safe. If there has been a stress and soil nitrate is expected to be high, have a nitrate test conducted by a lab.
When is the best time to cut injured or damaged crops?
Nitrates accumulate over time in an injured or damaged crop. Typically, the highest accumulations will occur 2-3 days after the injury or stress. It is best to cut or harvest the crop within 1 day of the damage. Nitrate levels will gradually decline 10 to 14 days after
the injury if the plant resumes growth and repairs itself. Plants killed by the injury or stress will not be able to decrease their nitrate
Does baling or ensiling reduce nitrate levels in feeds?
Ensiling may reduce nitrate concentrations under some conditions. However, this cannot be relied upon to always ensure lower
nitrate levels. Crops ensiled with a high soluble sugar content (e.g. cereal grains) have a rapid fermentation process. This rapid
fermentation does not promote degradation of nitrate during the ensiling. Checking silage nitrate levels when the pit is being filled
usually provides an accurate indication of what the nitrate level will be later on.
Curing and baling will not reduce nitrate levels. In fact, if round bale greenfeed is baled too moist (18-20% moisture) and heats the
problem can become worse. The nitrate present in the feed may be converted to nitrites by the microbial action that causes heating.
Nitrites in a feed are ten times more toxic than nitrates.
What levels of nitrate are safe to feed to cattle?
Nitrate levels may be reported in three different ways depending on the analytical procedure used. The results may be reported as
nitrate (N03), nitrate nitrogen (N03-N) or potassium nitrate (KN03). Be sure you know which method was used before trying to
interpret the results. Refer to the table on the next page*
Forage Bits
% NO3
% KNO3
Generally safe for beef cattle and sheep
0.5 - 1.0
0.12 - 0.23
0.81 - 1.63
Caution - some subclinical symptoms may
appear in pregnant horses, sheep and beef
High nitrate problems - death losses and
abortions can occur in beef cattle and sheep
Maximum safe level for horses. Do not feed
high nitrate forages to pregnant mares.
*The values quoted above are on a dry (moisture free) basis.
Deadstock disposal
by: John Popp, MAFRI
One of the realities that we are faced with much more often in the fall and winter is
deadstock disposal. Rothesay no longer does pickup on farms and you need to be
aware that disposal and storage should be done in accordance with Manitoba Livestock Manure and Mortalities regulations. Approved methods are rendering, composting, burial and incineration. Some of the local landfill sites are prepared to take
livestock and it is worth the time and effort to investigate these…we don’t need a bad
image right now as we try to regain further markets. Don’t think that the back “40” –
coyotes and crow disposal method is the way to go. It can land you some fairly hefty
Western Canadian Holistic
Management Conference
“Healthy People, Healthy Land
& Healthy Profits”
February 8 - 10th, 2010
Russell, MB
Register NOW!
www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca or
call Dauphin MAFRI at (204) 622-2006
U.S. pastures rated best in the decade
Daily Livestock Report by: Steve Meyer & Steiner Consulting Group
Sept 3, 2009
CME Group A CME/Chicago Board of Trade/NYMEX Company
US beef cow slaughter seasonally increases into the fall as individual producers make an economic decision as to which animals they will carry over the winter months in order to have a calf the following
spring. The decision is in part informed by the current profitability of the operation, expectations for
calf prices in the future, as well as expectations for input costs and therefore future expected margins.
In the last two years, this last point has been an especially important component of this overall equation. Hay shortages and skyrocketing costs significantly impacted producer profitability and were part
of the reason why we saw an acceleration in US beef cow slaughter and a larger than normal fall cow
This year, however,
promises to provide
cow-calf operators
with some relief.
Hay prices are some
25% lower from
their peak and are
currently below
both 2008 and 2007
August levels.
Poor pasture conditions cause producers to run through their hay stocks quicker and face the winter with an insufficient supply. In some cases, producers faced the option of buying hay in the open
market at staggering costs. This year, however, promises to provide cow-calf operators with some relief.
Hay prices are some 25% lower from their peak and are currently below both 2008 and 2007 August
levels. Pasture conditions this year have held up much better than in recent years and the latest report
from USDA indicated that 52% of all pastures were rated to be in good or excellent condition, compared to 39% the year before and 37% average for the last week of August in the past five years. This is
the best pasture condition rating in more than a decade, surpassing even the conditions we saw back in
2004. Good pasture conditions and, even more importantly, lower grain prices have pressured the cost of
hay lower. Current expectations are for the US corn harvest be the best one on record, with all time record yields (based on recent
private estimates). If that is the case, we could see hay prices drop further and likely remove some of the incentive to continue to liquidate the beef cow herd. To be sure, producers still are far from an environment that would be conducive to a full herd rebuilding
but we should continue to see lower beef cow slaughter than in recent years. For the week ending August 22, US beef cow slaughter
is down 9.8% lower than a year ago but still some 11% higher than the five year average. Dairy cow slaughter, on the other hand,
remains above year ago levels, in large part due to the second round of the dairy herd retirement program. The program is expected
to end soon but there is already talk of a third round.
Manitoba Cattle Enhancement Council Producer Forum
(Prelude to 2009 Grazing School)
We’ve come a long way since the BSE crisis shut the U.S. border to Canadian cattle in 2003, but we still have a long way
to go. This fall, the Manitoba Cattle Enhancement Council (MCEC) will ask the province’s cattle producers and other
industry stakeholders to help it identify the key sector challenges it should address in the years ahead as it works to bring
federally-certified slaughtering and processing capacity back to the province. MCEC is hosting the special half day forum
for producers on November 30 at the Victoria Inn in Brandon, just prior to Grazing School. This free event will feature
some speakers who will address domestic and international value chain and trade initiatives. But primarily, the forum is an
opportunity for producers to participate in workshops that will help guide MCEC’s strategic planning.
MCEC thanks its sponsors for helping to defray the cost of the forum, including Grazing School for providing the meeting
November 30, 1:30 to 6:00 p.m., Victoria Inn, Brandon, Manitoba
Register: (204) 452-6353 or [email protected]
Elkhorn Farm has largest DUÇ
wetland restoration project
in Manitoba
we are working hard to ensure there is a viable cattle industry
in Manitoba,” Rick Andrews, Head of Wetland Restoration for
DUC in Manitoba said.
2004 was the last year the Kliever family put up hay up on their
southwest Manitoba farm. 2004 was also the last year they
bought fertilizer. By the end of 2003, the Klievers had all their
land (including grain land) sown down to grass. They restored
118 wetland basins on their farm – making it the largest Ducks
Unlimited Canada (DUC) wetland restoration project of its
kind in Manitoba. Part of the process involved using 93 earthen
plugs to dam the ditches and utilize the already present water.
The wetland restoration project wrapped up this spring and the
Klievers are seeing the benefits.
“The more diverse the plants and animals, the healthier
everything is and we see it more and more. Our restored
wetlands add to that,” Kliever said. “Now that we’ve done it, I
look at everyone else’s fields and wonder why they don’t do it
Today, the Klievers intensively graze all their land, custom
grazing 500 head of cattle in the summer on 44 paddocks. Their
practice of moving the cattle every day and sometimes twice a
day rejuvenates the paddocks and the forage that much more.
The cattle don’t graze forage to the ground which lends itself to
healthier more productive plants.
Restored wetlands not only provide feeding and nesting sites for
waterfowl and many other species, they also reduce the impacts
of floods and droughts, cleanse the water and store greenhouse
gases that could otherwise add to climate change.
What changed the family’s outlook on conservation and what
may have shaped a plan for the future can probably be credited
to a Holistic Management course the Klievers took with Don
Campbell from Meadow Lake, SK. Holistic management
practices promote healthier and more sustainable landscapes
using animals as management tools and fertilizer producers.
In additional to the wetland restoration, the Klievers also signed
a Conservation Agreement with DUC, which means they
cannot break or drain the land forever, protecting the farm for
future generations.
For more information on other DUC programs visit yourland.
ducks.ca or call Ducks in Brandon at 1-866-251-DUCK.
The Klievers worked with DUC on the project. “We have
programs to help cattle producers like the Klievers remain
sustainable in the long term. Sustainability and good
stewardship is the key to keep rural families on the farm and
Affiliated Members
2009/2010 Directors
Jim Lintott, Dugald - Chair
Don Green, Fisher Branch - Vice Chair
Nevin Bachmeier, Kleefeld - Director
Russel Chapman, Virden - Director
Clark Combs, Deloraine - Director
Ken Harms, Snowflake - Director
Chris Kletke, Brunkild - Director
Fraser Stewart, Selkirk - Director
Michael Thiele, Shoal Lake - Director
Lorne Rossnagel, Plumas - Director
Glenn Friesen, Carman - MAFRI Rep
Greg Johnson, Baldur - MCPA Rep
Ken Gross, Brandon - Industry Rep - Ducks
Unlimited Canada
Gary Halwas, Russell - Processor Rep
Heinz Nolting, Rosser - MB Forage Seed
Association Rep
J.C. (Kees) Plazier, Winnipeg - U of M Animal
Science Rep
Shannon Scott, Brandon - AAFC Brandon
Research Centre Rep
Eric Thornhill, Dugald - MB Sheep Association
Larry Black, Deloraine - MB Dairy Farmers Rep
Wayne Digby, Brandon, Executive Director
The Forage Focus is the quarterly
newsletter for the Manitoba Forage
Corie Arbuckle
Masthead: Denice Girdner
Editors: Wayne Digby, Glenn Friesen,
Pam Iwanchysko
Manitoba Forage Council
125 Patterson Crescent
Brandon, MB
R7A 6T7
Phone: 204.726.9393
Fax: 204.726.9703
[email protected]
Friends of Forage & Grasslands Launched
To aid in the sustainabilty of the Council, we are encouraging our members, associates & sponsors to
support the council by purchasing space on the home page of our soon to be launched new website.
For $250 per year your logo or name will be prominently featured on our home page and linked to a
website of your choice. We will also have a sponsor page listing all of our supporters.
Our website usage has been increasing yearly, from 14,000 visitors at our first revision to nearly
27,000 visitors yearly from across the world. Our viewers include producers, marketers, government and industry representatives - all valued supporters.
Jim Lintott, Chair, Manitoba Forage Council.
Please support the council in this endeavour. Contact us at (204) 726-9393.
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