Pastures Suffering From Cool, Dry Spring

May 14, 2021

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Pastures in Manitoba are starting to see a bit of growth, although it has been slow due to the cool temperatures and lack of moisture so far this spring.

John McGregor is with Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association.

"What's going to happen with producers if they don't have any feed and they want to put their cattle out on the pasture, is they're probably going to have to look at a sacrificed pasture, that they can do a little bit of grazing on, if there is anything there, but not graze the other pastures and give them a chance to actually get some growth, six to eight inches of growth before they put the cattle out on it. If they don't do that they're going to set that pasture back even further and they're going to run out of pasture if we do get rain in June, July and August. It's kind of being caught between a rock and a hard place. You want to put the cattle out there, but if you do, you're going to damage the pasture."

He was asked about supplemental feed.

"I think if producers have supplemental feed, they will likely want to keep it out there. In some cases, those pastures don't even have enough to keep the cows going. They're going to have to feed it, but there are some fellows that just ran out of feed this winter and there's just hardly any available for them to buy."

McGregor adds it might be too late for some pastures.

"Unfortunately, even if we get rain, we're already going to see a reduction in pasture growth. Cool season grasses, by now, middle of May, they should have had moisture and been growing. Already, those are going to be suffering maybe 70 per cent of normal, assuming that we get some rain. The warm season grass pastures, they've probably got another week or two before they're going to need moisture or else they're going to see a reduction in potential yield."

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