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Manitoba farmers face feed shortages

Manitoba farmers face feed shortages

As a result, beef producers consider culling herds

By Jean-Paul McDonald
Farms.com

Beef producers in Manitoba are starting to worry about a persistent dry spell that has hampered hay and feed production in the province for a second year in a row. The exceptionally dry conditions have some cattle ranchers worried about feeding their herds for the remainder of the year, as the usually green food sources have browned and withered in the arid conditions.

"Last year and this year have probably been the worst it's ever been for us here at our farm," said Dianne Riding, a Lake Francis, Man. cattle farmer, to CBC. "The dugouts are going dry. The grass … it should be green. It's drying up around here." 

Riding, who is also the vice-president of Manitoba Beef Producers, said that famers in her area are considering the grim prospect of selling half their herds or more by the fall if they can’t secure enough feed for their cattle.

"To be very honest, I have grown up my whole life around cattle. And we've been joking a little bit lately that we might be cowless this fall, depending if we can find enough feed or not," she said. "And that might be the first time in my life."

The Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) and Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) issued a joint call this week asking farmers to sell excess hay, straw or alternative feed sources to help other beef producers through this tough time.

"Faced with these conditions, (beef producers) are looking to source both traditional and alternative sources of feed and bedding. We are encouraging producers with these kinds of resources available to consider listing them for sale," said Tom Teichroeb, MBP’s president, in the release.

Even with a significant rainfall, the growing season for many crops is coming to an end, which adds more pressure to find feed supplies soon. "It is scary," Riding said. "But the big problem is, we have to look after these cattle properly. And their welfare comes above anything else that goes on in our life."

MBP and KAP have created an online resource for beef producers in the province to find information and listings for feed supplies. Farms.com provides free buy and sell classifieds listings for hay, straw, and alternative feed sources across Canada and the United States.

JoffBarnes/E+ photo

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