A weekly press release prepared by the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. If you require further information, regarding this press release, please call the Fergus Resource Centre at 519-846-0941. Office hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For technical information, call the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or visit the OMAFRA Website: www.ontario.ca/omafra
WINTER FEEDING OPTIONS
FROM A PASTURE PERSPECTIVE
by Jack Kyle, OMAFRA, Lindsay
As we approach the winter feeding season, it is an ideal time to be thinking about next year’s pasture season. Even if the ground is frozen and covered with snow, there are things that you can do over the winter to improve pasture growth in the coming year.
The first step is to evaluate the condition of your pastures as the current grazing season draws to a close. Are there improvements and changes that you would like to make for the coming grazing season? How you organize and manage your livestock during the winter feeding period can have a big impact on next year’s pasture.
Feeding Hay On Pasture To Improve Fertility: Is there a pasture that needs extra fertility to encourage grass growth? Feeding hay on this pasture field over the winter or part of the winter is a way to add this fertility. By moving the feeding site across the field you will increase the soil fertility of the field because of the manure that is deposited around the feeding area and any hay that is wasted. I have been in a number of pasture fields that received this type of treatment in the previous year or two. It is amazing how the grass thickens up from the increased nutrients and the grass seeds that are in the hay that was fed.
Always put the hay bale on fresh ground. If you are using a bale feeder then it will be necessary to move the feeder before each filling. With a feeder wagon, pull it to a new area every couple of days. A method that is used by some producers is to place the bales across the field and then use an electric wire to give livestock a few bales at a time. This has the advantage of placing all the bales at once, but the disadvantage of having to move an electric fence every few days while the livestock are in the field. You will be amazed at the impact these practices will have on improving grass production in the following years.
Graze Corn Stalks: Do you have the opportunity to use any crop residue for winter forage? If you have access to grain cornfields they can provide feed for several months during the winter. Cows can winter quite successfully on corn stalks. They will glean any grain that has been missed by the combine and the leaves and stalks provide reasonable feed value. An electric wire will allow you to control the area that is grazed and make for an easy feeding system for part of the winter. Cows can graze through fluffy snow that is 8-12 inches deep.
Stockpile Grazing: Stockpile grazing refers to grazing the late-summer and fall growth in a field after the growing season ends. Cattle and sheep can successfully graze through several inches of fluffy snow. Select fields with firm soil conditions and a good accumulation of forage growth. Animals should be given access to only part of the pasture area at a time so that they consume most of the available forage, rather than picking out only the best. Fields that are stockpile grazed will be slightly slower to become productive in the spring.
The savings gained by not having to harvest and store the forage will more than offset this loss of early spring growth.
There are a number of options that may fit your livestock operation that will help keep costs down and can be used to improve the productivity of your pastures. Consider your needs and opportunities and choose the ones that will work for you. For information on grazing corn stalks, stockpile grazing, and other pasture tips, refer to the OMAFRA Forage Website at www.gov.on.ca/OMAFRA/english/crops/field/forages.html.
DAIRY EXPANSION INTEREST REMAINS STRONG
Interest in new dairy barn construction and herd expansion is stronger than it has been in recent years, according to Jack Rodenburg, OMAFRA Dairy Production Systems Program Lead. Declining quota prices, extra quota days and open borders are all reasons for optimism. But according to Rodenburg, it is not only the dairy economy that is strong and with a tight job market and high labour costs, dairy producers need to continue to seek ways to increase their productivity and labour efficiency. New facilities that eliminate bottle necks, improve cow health through better comfort, and allow for implementation of new labour saving technology are all factors driving the many expansion and renovation projects planned for next summer. OMAFRA staff Jack Rodenburg, Harold House and Dr. Neil Anderson have organized free stall design seminars around the province each winter for the last 14 years and enrolments are expected to be high across the province for this years courses. Free stall seminars are planned for Woodstock January 30 and 31, Listowel February 6 and 7 and Kemptville February 27 and 28. Single day tie stall seminars will be held at the same locations the day prior to the start of the free stall programs. The courses are intended for dairy producers with plans to do major construction or renovation projects in the next 2 or 3 years and also for the contractors, engineers and equipment suppliers who work with them. For more information or to register for one of these programs, call 1-877-424-1300.
APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED
The deadline to submit Risk Management Program (RMP) applications has been extended to December 31, 2007. Agricorp encourages producers to submit their applications by this date to be eligible for the 2007 Risk
Management Program. Producers need to decide whether to participate based on the individual needs of their operations. They can leave RMP at any time, and will not be required to repay any previous payments made to them. Producers may wish to sign up for 2007 and re-assess for 2008 once more detailed information about premiums becomes available. Pre-harvest market prices and 2007 premium examples are now available from Agricorp to help producers decide whether to participate in RMP. Please visit our website
at www.agricorp.com for details. For participants who met the original November 15, 2007 application deadline, we are aiming to issue payments by the end of December. Eligible applications received after November 15, 2007 will more likely receive payments in 2008. If you have any questions, please call Agricorp at 1-888-247-4999.
COMING EVENTS: 2008
Jan. 4 Dairy Day at Grey-Bruce Farmers’ Week, Elmwood Community Centre. Please call 519-986-3756 or www.greyagservices.ca for details.
Jan. 5 Sheep Day and Goat Afternoon at Grey-Bruce Farmers’ Week, Elmwood Community Centre. Please call 519-986-3756 or www.greyagservices.ca for details.
Jan. 6 Horse Day (Adult and Youth) at Grey-Bruce Farmers’ Week, Elmwood Community Centre. Please call 519-986-3756 or www.greyagservices.ca for details.
Jan. 7 Beef Day and Ecological Evening at Grey-Bruce Farmers’ Week, Elmwood Community Centre. Please call 519-986-3756 or www.greyagservices.ca for details. Please call 519-986-3756 or www.greyagservices.ca for details.
Jan. 8 Crops Day at Grey-Bruce Farmers’ Week, Elmwood Community Centre. Please call 519-986-3756 or www.greyagservices.ca for details.
Jan. 19 Farm$mart Conference, University of Guelph. For more information, please check website at: www.uoguelph.ca/farmsmart
Jan. 23 Ag Day in Canada from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Italian Canadian Club, 135 Ferguson Street, Guelph. For more information on Ag Day in Canada please check the website: AgCanadainCanada.ca or contact your local FCC office at 1-800-387-3232.
Dec.13 15th Annual Farmers’ Santa Claus Parade of Lights through the streets of Rockwood at 7:00 p.m. Everyone welcome!