Prairie farmers wanted for feed testing survey

Prairie farmers wanted for feed testing survey
Jan 30, 2023

Researchers are looking to hear from around 500 farmers

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Researchers in western Canada want to hear from livestock producers to get a sense of how often producers are or aren’t testing their feed.

Kathy Larson, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan focusing on the adoption or non-adoption of practices, and Emma Stephens, a bioeconomist at AAFC’s Lethbridge Research Station, are looking for 500 farmers to participate.

The survey is open to farmers in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The Beef Cattle Research Council and Saskatchewan Agriculture Development Fund are supporting the survey with funding.

Before any extension work can be done to support farmers with feed testing, researchers need to understand the state of feed testing across western Canada, Larson said.

“We don’t really know what producers are testing for, what feed they’re testing, or how often they’re testing,” she told “Before we can direct any extension work we want to find out a bit more detail about feed testing.”

The survey should take about 25 minutes to complete. It asks questions like:

  • Have you done any lab tests for quality of any of your feed in the last three years?
  • On your operation, who is typically responsible for collecting feed samples?
  • Do you use a forage probe to collect samples when you test bales for quality?

Larson conducted a similar survey in 2017 with a national focus. The survey found many farmers don’t test feed on a regular basis.

“We asked the frequency of feed testing and found that it was quite low,” she told “That 2017 survey found that testing annually was less than 40 per cent in Western Canada. And we’d say as a recommended practice to test feed at least once per year.”

That same survey showed producers in Ontario and Atlantic Canada test their feed even less frequently, Larson added.

The top reason producers identified for not conducting regular feed testing in the 2017 survey was herd health.

“The cattle seemed healthy so (the producers) didn’t think they needed to test,” Larson said. “The cattle weren’t showing any outward clinical signs of having issues. Cost wasn’t a top barrier.”

Anyone with questions about the 2023 survey can contact Larson by email or at (306) 966-4025. And Stephens can be reached by email or at (403) 915-8409.

The survey will close once 500 producers have completed it.

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