Less feed for cattle: Farmers hoping for rain to let their pastures grow
Dry season means some farmers need to dip into winter supplies to feed their cattle now
The dry weather and summer heat have resulted in less hay growth this summer, but it's the pastures that are really suffering, according to cattle farmers.
Beef farmers rely on on the grass to re-grow to feed their cattle until the end of October, but some farmers are already having to rely on their winter hay and silage to feed their animals now.
"I want grass to grow, and grow everyday because the cows eat everyday," said beef farm operator Scott Drake, of Steerman's Quality Meats in Millview, P.E.I.
"With the shortage of grass, we've been pulling cattle off the pasture prematurely — the bigger ones — and putting them on feed, because we know the pasture's stressed and not going to be able to keep up."
'We either got to find more feed or cut down our numbers'
He said if things don't improve, or if he can't find extra feed for the winter, he may need to cut down his cattle numbers.
"If it lasts for too long, and we have to cut into inventories too hard, we either got to find more feed, or cut down our numbers."
Though the dry spell is not affecting him financially just yet, Drake said that if it continues, it will.
"We've got somewhat of a cushion from the year before. Last year was an extremely large crop and we actually put up too much. But in that sense, we're just lucky to have those extra bales because we're going to need that and more with this coming season."
The dry season is hurting some farmers more than others
This isn't a province-wide problem, but it is hurting some farmers more than others, explained Brian Morrison, the chair of the Prince Edward Island Cattle Producers Association.
"I have had a few producers call and actually looking to buy hay or silage and they're calling around to their neighbours looking to see if anybody has any extra, and kind of planning ahead," said Morrison.
Moving forward towards the winter, Drake plans on cutting all viable hay fields, and looking to neighbours to see if he can get an extra field to cut.
Hoping for rain
For Drake, dealing with the weather conditions is just a part of his job.
"That's something a farmer always has to do, is deal with what mother nature gives."
This summer is a "little bit of a unique situation," said Morrison. "Usually there's enough rain to move things through the summer, but you know, every two or three years, things change and weathers patterns change. So, of course that affects the crops."
He said he hopes that everyone will find enough feed for the winter, whether it's from buying from neighbours or through trading.
"Hopefully we get a little more rain through August and September and that'll bring the pastures back so that will allow them to save some feed for the winter," said Morrison.
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