Farms.com Home   News

P.E.I. dairy farmers worried about feed after poor growing season, damage from Dorian

Some dairy farmers on P.E.I. are worried about how they will feed their cows this winter after a poor growing season and damage from post-tropical storm Dorian. 
 
Gordon MacBeath, a fifth-generation dairy farmer in Marshfield, P.E.I., said this was the toughest growing season he has seen in 42 years of farming. 
 
"It's been a challenge since early spring, there was a lot of winterkill on our grasses and then it was cold, wet and the forages got off to a poor start," said MacBeath, who milks 100 cows at Goldenflo Holsteins, along with his son.
 
"Then of course we were hit with a hurricane and then followed by some early frost so, yeah, it's it's been a tough year."
 
MacBeath has giant piles of corn silage that he was able to harvest, but said the issue now is quality.
 
"The hurricane compromised the plants and so it didn't finish maturing," MacBeath said.
 
"Corn is an energy source and the energy is in the kernel and if that doesn't mature properly, their energy content will be down, the digestibility will be down and that'll impact the intake of the cow."
 
Lost energy
 
The farm has nutritionists that take samples of feed to be analyzed, then advise MacBeath on what supplements he needs to add for extra energy.
 
MacBeath said the expense of adding those supplements this year will be "significant."
 
"Last year, our grain content in our corn silage was around 55 per cent. This year it's 35 per cent," MacBeath said.
 
"We have to replace that with another energy source, either locally which will be tough because the grain growers, their crop was compromised as well so likely, in the end, we'll be importing from off-Island."
 
MacBeath said the extra expense is necessary to maintain milk production.
 
"For a healthy comfortable cow to produce large volumes of milk then she's got to have good quality feed going in," MacBeath said.
 
"If your crops are compromised and their digestibility goes down, that feed will just sit in the cow stomach for longer periods of time, rather than digest and pass through and generate milk."
Click here to see more...