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Feed Watch: July 29, 2019

While rain has boosted pasture growth in recent weeks, it didn’t come early enough for a second cut of hay in Saskatchewan.

First cut hay yields are well below normal in Manitoba as well, although there is still some hope for a better second cut. Still, the most recent crop reports reaffirm that most parts of the Prairies are facing a hay shortage, and producers are already looking for alternate feed sources.

Alberta
Alberta’s crop report is currently on a bi-weekly schedule, so we’ll have an update available next week. Meanwhile, Alexis Kienlen with Alberta Farmer Express reports that hay prices are unlikely to soften, even with recent rain.

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Pea straw has higher protein levels than oat, barley or triticale straw.

A lack of carryover and competition from other areas experiencing hay shortages will likely keep hay prices high. There are reports of trucking companies charging as much as $6.50 a mile to move hay, meaning it may be cheaper to move cows to the feed.

Ted Nibourg, farm business management specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, says hay prices generally solidify around the end of October, Kienlen reports. If producers sell more calves to the feedlots rather than keep them for backgrounding, that should ease demand for hay. And recent rain will help cereals, which should help cattle producers plug the feed gap.

Saskatchewan
Across the province, 25 per cent of the hay crop had been baled or silaged, and another 20 per cent cut, the latest Saskatchewan crop report noted.

Producers in all regions had reported that there would be no second cut. First cut yields have been below normal, and hay will be in short supply this year in many areas. Hay quality is currently rated as four per cent excellent, 47 per cent good, 32 per cent fair and 17 per cent poor.

In the southeast, 22 per cent of the hay had been baled or silaged, and another 26 per cent cut. Hay quality was rated as 56 percent good, 35 per cent fair and nine per cent poor. Hay yields are less than average overall.

Haying continues in the southwest, with 44 per cent of the hay crop baled or silaged and another 16 per cent is cut. Hay quality is rated as six per cent excellent, 55 per cent good, 22 per cent fair and 17 per cent poor. Hay yields are significantly less than average overall.

In east-central Sask., producers had baled or silaged 13 per cent of the hay and cut another 15 per cent. Hay quality was rated as four per cent excellent, 42 percent good, 29 per cent fair and 25 per cent poor. Hay yields are well below average.

Producers in west-central Sask. had baled or silaged 27 per cent of the cut another 26 per cent. Hay quality is rated as 32 per cent good, 37 per cent fair and 31 per cent poor. Hay yields are significantly below average.

In the northeast, haying was going well, with 21 per cent of the hay baled or silaged. An additional 35 per cent was cut. Hay quality was rated as 13 per cent excellent, 47 per cent good, 27 per cent fair and 13 per cent poor. Many producers have indicated that hay yields are below average as swaths are below normal in size.

Haying was also underway in the northwest, with 12 per cent of the hay crop baled or silaged, and an additional 15 per cent cut. Hay quality was rated as eight per cent excellent, 50 per cent good and 42 per cent fair. There are indications that hay yields are below average as hay swaths are smaller than normal.

 

Estimated Provincial Hay Yields in Sask (tons/acre) – July 22, 2019 
  Dry LandIrrigated Land
 Alfalfa 0.9 1.6
 Brome/Alfalfa 1.0 1.2
 Other Tame Hay 0.7 0.9
 Wild Hay 0.7 1.7
 Greenfeed 1.7 2.3

*Table courtesy of Saskatchewan Agriculture

Manitoba
Producers in the northwest, parts of the Interlake and the east received much-needed rain earlier this month, bumping most of Manitoba’s soil moisture to optimum moisture levels down to 30 cm., the latest crop report noted. However, hay and forage yields are at 40 to 60 per cent of normal. Manitoba offers a hay listing service for producers searching for hay.

Much needed rain arrived this last week in Northwest, parts of the Interlake and Eastern regions. July 22nd Soil Moisture (0-30 cm) indicates majority of Manitoba soils now at optimum soil moisture.

In the southwest, the first cut was 50 per cent complete. Yields were below average, but hay was good quality. Rain had slowed cutting and baling. Second cut looked good for producers who had an early first cut. Most pastures were in fair condition.

In the northwest, rain had delayed haying, but the weather forecast looked clear. Hay yields were looking to be 30 to 50 per cent of normal. New fields were a little better, at 50 t 60 per cent of normal. Pastures had improved with recent rain. Grasshoppers were a major problem on pasture and hay fields. Annual crops intended for silage and greenfeed were improving.

The first cut was close to wrapping in central Manitoba, with most yields running a quarter to half of normal. The second cut looked better in areas that saw significant rain, but in other areas, fields were browning. Producers have been weaning calves early and creep feeding to deal with drought. Dugouts are running out of water.

In the east, rain had boosted pasture growth and producers had rotated livestock through pastures. Grass hay fields were yielding 40 to 50 per cent of normal. First cut was 80 per cent cut and/or baled. Quality was good. Average hay yields were 1.0 tonne/acre for alfalfa, 0.75 tonne/acre for grass/alfalfa hay, 0.5 tonne/acre for other tame hay and a 0.25 tonne/acre for wild hay. Dugouts in some areas were running very low.

In the Interlake, rains had greened up some pastures, but others in dry areas were just hanging on. Hay yields were between 30 to 60 per cent of average. Yields looked best on new stands and fertilized stands. There was still hope the second cut would be better. Producers were baling timothy seed fields that had been written off. Dugout levels were variable, with some running dry.

Do you have a current photo illustrating the pasture or feed situation in your area that you’d like to share? Send it to [email protected] (subject line: Feed Watch) or tweet it to @LtoG. Be sure to share your name, location and some information about the situation in your region.

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