GFM Network News


Upcoming sainfoin varieties have improved persistence and yield when grown and grazed in mixed stands with alfalfa.

Persistence pays when it comes to forage breeding

Research on the Record with Reynold Bergen

Forage legumes provide high yields, protein and good animal performance while improving soil fertility by fixing nitrogen from the air. Alfalfa is the highest yielding and most widely used legume but can cause bloat. Legumes like cicer milkvetch, sainfoin and birdsfoot trefoil do not cause bloat. As little as 25 per cent sainfoin in a […] Read more

Electric fencing can be an effective way to give pastures or cells a break between grazing.

Management key when evaluating forage production

What should you consider when evaluating the performance of grazing systems and forage production? According to Sean McGrath, management is the factor least often measured in the forage industry, but doing so can keep you accountable for your management decisions and positively impact performance. McGrath, who ranches with his family at Vermilion, Alta., discussed this […] Read more


Round bales can be stored under tarps to keep out moisture and reduce rot.

Managing forage in a dry year

Planning for drought needs to occur before drought arrives

Drought is normal in Western Canada and it is not going to go away. We just don’t know when the next drought will be, or how long it will last. “Drought affects two basic parts of the rancher’s business,” says Dr. Art Bailey, range science professor emeritus at the University of Alberta. “On the demand […] Read more

“Trying to produce crops that are not suited to your soils leads to low yields, high production costs and a higher land requirement to meet production goals.

Yield and quality pillars of forage production

Grow well-adapted varieties and match your forages to soil and climate conditions

When it comes to cost of production and efficiency, Bill Thomas considers yield and quality to be the two pillars of forage production. In order to keep these pillars standing strong, careful planning is the key to creating an effective forage production program. Thomas, retired director of Perennia’s field services division, delivered his recommendations at […] Read more


By deferring grazing until later in the year, producers can use cattle to reseed sainfoin stands.


Tips for managing sainfoin in your forage stand

Keeping sainfoin populations high beyond five years is a challenge

Sometimes what’s old is new again. That certainly holds true for sainfoin as forage breeders release new varieties designed for today’s beef and forage operations. Sainfoin is a non-bloating legume native to Europe and western Asia. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) released varieties such as Melrose and Nova in the 1970s and ’80s. But these […] Read more

Manitoba alfalfa growers wanted for sampling program

Forages: News Roundup from the April 2019 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

The Manitoba and Forage Grasslands Association (MFGA) is looking for alfalfa growers to submit alfalfa samples in May and June as part of its Green Gold program. Hay fields must be fairly new, mostly alfalfa and in good condition. Producers must sample fields every Monday and Wednesday, and courier the alfalfa to Central Testing Laboratory. […] Read more


If you’re feeding alfalfa hay, you may actually have to restrict intake to prevent your cows from becoming over-conditioned.

‘As fed’ or ‘dry matter’ — does it matter?

Nutrition with John McKinnon

When I visit with beef producers about their feeding program, I often sense confusion when I talk feed dry matter (DM) values or express intakes on a DM basis. Most producers, when they think of their feeding program, think “as fed” and have difficulty converting to DM. Getting this conversion correct, however, is critical to […] Read more

A mild winter is great for access to feed, but make sure you have enough quality snow for a water source.

Strategies for year-round grazing

With careful forage management, cattle can harvest their own feed year-round

Winter feeding is the biggest input cost when raising cattle, so many producers try to minimize the number of days they have to feed hay. In some situations, with careful forage management, cattle can harvest their own feed year-round, especially in mild climates. Even in northern climates with cold weather and snow, year-round grazing can […] Read more


Extending fall and winter grazing

Crop residues are probably the most under­utilized source of winter grazing, says extension specialist

Extending the grazing season for cattle can help reduce production costs and there are various ways to increase forage production/utilization to ensure adequate fall grazing that can often be extended into winter. Lorne Klein, range management extension specialist, Ministry of Agriculture in Weyburn, Sask., says there are four sources of forage. “These are native prairie, […] Read more

Ensuring legumes aren't seeded too deep is an absolutely critical step in establishing a high-legume pasture.

Making the case for forage legumes

Alberta producers offer the wisdom of their experience from seeding high-legume pastures

If you’re fearful that seeding pasture with legumes will be a waste of time and money, several Alberta producers have some tips for you. A new video from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry features producers offering their advice — some of it hard earned — on topics such as seedbed preparation, nutrients, and weed control. Having […] Read more