Hay is becoming a valuable commodity as some cattle producers experience a feed squeeze.
Last year’s hay production was below normal due to dry conditions in many southern and central areas of Saskatchewan.
“I get lots of calls from people looking for hay, but it’s a very scarce commodity,” said Travis Peardon, a livestock and feed extension specialist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture in Outlook. “I don’t know if anyone has any extra hay that they are willing to part with. It’s really not an option for producers to even find more hay to stretch out their existing feed resources. It is definitely a challenge.”
Cows with young calves need additional feed to meet their energy requirements. Feed barley is usually the go-to grain when it comes to supplement a ration containing straw.
“There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of feed barley left in the country either,” Peardon said. “A lot of the feed mills that are making pellets, producers are trying to source those and sometimes there is a two or three week wait before they can get that product. It’s kind of a scramble out there to find enough feed if people don’t have a large carryover from previous years.”
Straw is the last resort as a source of roughage in the ration.
“When we do nutrition work for producers, we hate to see them using straw in rations because you are diluting out the nutrients from your hay. But it’s a necessary evil this year and people are having to top that up with a fair bit of grain to keep that nutrition on a positive plane for these cows.”
This week’s snow is a catch 22—it’s a reminder of winter, but the moisture is needed. Peardon calls it a ”real blessing.”
“We should definitely see most dugouts fill from runoff which was a big concern earlier in the winter when we didn’t any snow. Especially dugouts that might typically have some higher mineral issues. If they can get filled up with runoff and get flushed out a bit, hopefully we won’t have to worry about issues like we had last summer with high sodium and high sulfates that were having some impacts on cow health in the province.”