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Feed shortages impact livestock production costs

  • 2 min read

Just as weather conditions in Atlantic Canada impacted feed crops, Mother Nature has caused feed shortages across the rest of the country as well.

Corn production down

Mother Nature has caused feed shortages across the rest of the country.

Statistics Canada recently reported corn for grain production fell 3.5 per cent due to delayed planting in the spring because of cold and wet conditions, followed by a dry growing season and poor weather during harvest. This was particularly seen in Ontario and Quebec where most corn is grown in Canada.

“At this time, there is still 50 per cent of the corn grain in the field and some soybean as well,” says Christian Duchesneau with the Quebec Forage Council. He says some producers have decided to leave the crops in the ground until next spring because the moisture content is still high and snow in some parts make it tough to harvest.

“They will have no other choice but to buy some of the missing feed, because it’s not in their silos,” Duchesneau adds. “So, their cost of production will probably be higher than usual.”

Ontario Forage Council manager, Ray Robertson says Ontario producers reported they had acres that didn’t get planted for the first time ever because of the wet spring. Like Quebec, there is still a lot of corn remaining on the fields and some producers have decided to leave it where it is.

“Our corn varieties have changed and have better stand capabilities, so rather than harvest right now when moisture levels are high, they’ll wait to harvest in the spring,” Robertson says.

Hay stores short

Robertson reports hay stores are also short due to a poor second cut and the need to supplement pastured cattle by feeding bales or stored feed during the drought of early summer. However, the quality of what is available is good, he says.

John McGregor, extension support person with the Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association, says because of the variation of the drought and excess moisture conditions across Manitoba, the amount of feed available and the need to adjust varies greatly around the province. Many producers purchased feed to help cover shortages.

“They are using straw or lower quality forage and supplementing with grain and by-products to bring the nutritional levels up to meet the needs of the cattle,” McGregor says. “Some are grazing standing corn that couldn’t be harvested and others are still baling corn stover to help offset shortages.

“We are hearing reports of herd reduction with producers selling non-production cows, not keeping replacement heifers and/or selling off whatever cattle they can without hurting production,” McGregor adds.

Bottom line

Decreased feed stores means livestock producers are facing higher than usual production costs and tough management decisions. Grain and grain by-products as well as other supplementation can help stretch limited roughages.

Article by: Trudy Kelly Forsythe