Many Manitoba livestock farmers don’t have enough food for their animals this fall and winter, so provincial farm groups are asking producers with extra straw, hay or alternative feed to sell their goods online.
Manitoba Beef Producers, Keystone Agricultural Producers and Manitoba Forage & Grassland Association released a joint call to action Wednesday for farmers to come together to ensure livestock get fed.
"Due to the impact of the last number of years, a lot of producers really are going into this year fairly, almost depleted in their feed stocks," said Carson Callum, general manager of Manitoba Beef Producers.
Droughts and flooding in the past few years have disrupted the hay crop, Callum said. This summer has been better for timely rainfalls, but it hasn’t been enough to reverse the built-up damage, he said.
"It’s a delicate balance," Callum said. "There’s a sweet spot that you need to have throughout the summer months to be able to grow proper crops. We can never control that."
It’s hard to know how many farmers are short on feed because conditions vary across the province, Callum said. Cattle farmers are affected, as are other livestock farmers whose animals feed on forage, like sheep and goats.
"We just want to ensure that folks in the agriculture sector are supporting each other," Callum said. "If a crop producer has the ability to sell his perhaps damaged crop, or even put straw down and provide it to livestock producers, we really hope to see that."
Crop producers benefit by making money on the hay or straw they sell, Callum said.
If livestock farmers don’t have enough food for their animals in the fall, they may have to sell some of their stock. Fluctuations in weather that lead to feed shortages are nothing new, and it’s up to producers to help each other during hard times, Callum said.
There are a number of ways producers can buy or sell straw, hay and alternative feed. The provincial government has a hay listing service on its website. There’s an option to specify location and whether the feed should be organic or weed-free.
Facebook groups such as "Manitoba Hay And Feed For Buy/sell" and "Hay/Feed For Sale in Saskatchewan, Alberta & Manitoba" are updated frequently with people selling goods. Sometimes websites, including Kijiji and eBrandon, have listings for hay and straw.
Producers can get information on how to source feed by contacting Manitoba Agriculture at 1-844-769-6224 or visiting one of its 30 offices. The website hayexchange.com also has hay listings in Canada and the United States.
The Headliner community journalist
Gabrielle Piché is the community journalist for The Headliner. Gabby is a cub reporter fresh from Red River College’s creative communications program. She majored in journalism and spent the summer of 2020 as an intern at the Winnipeg Free Press. Gabby also has a B.A. in communications from the University of Winnipeg. She reported for newspapers in the Interlake, including the Selkirk Record, in 2019, and received the Eric and Jack Wells Excellence in Journalism award in 2020. When she’s not chasing stories, you can find Gabby listening to podcasts, attempting yoga or petting somebody’s dog Email her at email@example.com