It’s officially summer and that means haying and forage harvest season for many. This year has proven to be especially challenging for producers facing conditions ranging from drought in Southern Saskatchewan to extreme moisture in the Northern and Easter Saskatchewan.
As we head into summer, this is the time to take stock of your pastures, hay crops, swath grazing options and pellet pricing. Take the time to do pasture assessment to determine what the carrying capacity is and to anticipate weaning times. For producers facing a feed or grass shortage, thankfully, there is a large amount of carried over feed available from 2016 and range pellets are relatively available. If you have storage capacity, range pellets tend to be lower in price in the summer months and you may be able to capitalize on some buying opportunities over the summer. Other options for finding feed is to source late seeded cereals in the wetter areas for silaging, green feed or swath grazing if there is adequate fencing for cattle. Online ad sites such as www.kijiji.ca and the Western Producer have numerous listings for hay and pasture for rent. Price discovery is challenging during the growing season, but here are the historical figure for hay prices.
Standing hay and pasture are more difficult to assess, but it is possible to take clippings for feed testing in order to determine the value of the stand. Your local Saskatchewan Agriculture Forage Specialist can help with pasture assessments. For silage and hay, be sure to have the feed tested and measure the price per unit of energy (TDN or total digestible nutrients) and protein on a dry matter basis in order to compare forage values. For silage, be sure to get a wet chemical analysis of the feed and test for molds and mycotoxins. Pay attention to the moisture level of the feed. Also, with purchasing and transporting silage, there will be secondary fermentation of the silage and one must account for potential spoilage losses.
There is no end of options and possible solutions to manage forage inventories through the summer and for the winter. Take time to determine your feeding needs and options for this year and next. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further advice and nutritional consulting.
Julie-Anne is passionate about cattle. Working to provide solutions to cattle producer to increase their bottom line while working with healthier cattle and land.