'Worst it's ever been': Manitoba beef producers bracing for major culls as feed supplies dry up

Farm groups calling on non-cattle farmers to sell extra hay, straw after dry conditions slash feed yields


CBC News (Canada)

Aug 10, 2019


Manitoba beef producers are struggling to feed their herds amid a provincewide feed shortage brought on by back-to-back dry years, farm groups say.


"The dugouts are going dry. The grass it should be green. It's drying up around here," said Dianne Riding, a cattle farmer in Lake Francis, Man., and vice-president of Manitoba Beef Producers.


"Last year and this year has probably been the worst it's ever been for us here at our farm."


Dry conditions across the province have resulted in yields of hay and forage both traditional feed sources for cattle far below expectations, the farm group said in a joint release with Keystone Agricultural Producers this week.


Riding said farmers in her area, about 65 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, are faced with the prospect of selling off half of their herds or more this fall if they can't find a way to feed their cattle.


Culls of that size would deal a major financial blow, she said, and could drag down the price of cattle and shrink calf crops in coming years. If prices fall dramatically, it could take as many as four or five cows to buy one back, she said.


"To be very honest, I have grown up my whole life around cattle. And we've been joking a little bit lately that we might be cowless this fall, depending if we can find enough feed or not," she said. "And that might be the first time in my life."


Calls for farmers to sell excess straw, hay ...