One of the biggest challenges farmers and ranchers face is feeding their livestock through winter. It can be costly and time consuming. But as the seventeen ranchers in this video series demonstrate, bale, swath or corn grazing on pasture is a way to make the winter more profitable while freeing up a lot of time.
Grant Lastiwka, Forage and Livestock Business Specialist for Alberta Canada Agriculture and Forestry, says the goal of “Managing Risk in Winter Grazing Systems” was to help new winter graziers learn from the experience of old hands at the practice. If you’ve got a question, it’s answered by one of the 47 short videos. You’ll find information about different feeding options like swath, bale, straw/chaff bunch, corn grazing and stockpiled forages. Ranchers talk about winter fencing, from the kinds of fencing the use to how to power and ground your fence in snowy conditions, how to water animals, and how they figure how much forage animals need. There are videos on feed quality, weather challenges, water accessibility, management practices, managing for animal type and wildlife issues.
The longest video in the series is 5 minutes, though most are in the 3 to 4 minute range. That means you can learn a lot during a coffee break. This video, “Dealing With Extreme Snow and Cold” gives you an idea just how serious these ranchers are about winter grazing and provides a lot of great information about livestock grazing behavior in deep snow and the innovations and hacks ranchers have come up with to address challenges. It’s a great example of the kind of useful instruction you’ll get from all the videos in the series.
“As the producers that participated would attest, grazing cattle through the challenges of extremes in winter weather is a lifelong learning process, must be planned with flexibility in mind, and plans adjusted quickly to meet the changing situations that arise,” says Lastiwka. “Cattle prices change, but to turn a profit, more often than not, ranchers need to consider lower input cost grazing-based winter feeding systems.”
Thanks to the West-Central Forage Association, Lakeland Agricultural Research Association, Chinook Applied Research Association, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and the Alberta Beef Producers for making this video series available and to the 17 Alberta producer winter graziers from across the province that helped make information on winter grazing systems more available. Further extension and research information is available at www.Foragebeef.ca, or if you’re in Canada, by calling the Alberta Ag-Info Centre at 310-Farm (3276) or by contacting one of the 11 local forage associations, or forage and applied research associations.