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Tough times still coming for Manitoba cattle producers

Recent rains have greened up pastures, but that’s only going to blunt the worst of it

Recent rains may have averted the worst-case scenario for Manitoba’s hay shortage, according to Tyler Slawinski, auctioneer at Gladstone Auction Mart.

Recently, 12 municipalities in Manitoba’s Interlake and Parkland regions declared a state of agricultural emergency due to dry conditions that created a lack of sufficient hay and the below-average quality of what was produced.

One rancher in the Interlake’s Vogar area made only 15 bales from one of his hay fields that normally produced 400. The rancher, Calvin Reykdal, told the Manitoba Co-operator that he had about a sixth of the hay crop he requires.

Also, Art Jonasson, the reeve of the Municipality of West Interlake stated the larger ranchers could sell off 30 to 40 per cent of herd due to the shortages.

With much of Manitoba having received up to 25 millimetres of precipitation with more in the forecast, Slawinski said pastures have greened up. That will see ranchers leave their herd on the pastures for as long as they can.

Nevertheless, he said ranchers are “scrounging up whatever they can” such as crop residue from grain farmers .

Slawinski said Gladstone had been planning on a much larger number of cattle coming through the auction, but with current conditions he believes the fall rush won’t be as large.

“Everybody is going to be sorting and culling as hard as they can to match their feed supply,” he said.

At the end of August, the municipalities of Armstrong, Bifrost-Riverton, Coldwell, Fisher, Grahamdale, West Interlake and Woodlands in the Interlake declared a state of agricultural emergency, as did five municipalities in the Parkland region, Alonsa, Ethelbert, Lakeshore, McCreary and Ste. Rose.

The provincial government announced Sept. 12 that livestock producers affected by dry conditions on pastures can apply for funding to support water access and management under Ag Action Manitoba.

“We recognize that many producers are feeling the effects of our dry summer and that they may require additional assistance to secure a safe and reliable water supply for their livestock,” said Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler in a prepared statement.

Producers have until Oct. 11 to apply and must complete an environmental farm plan to be eligible for assistance. Also, applicants within federal tax deferral areas will be given priority.

Nearly 4,000 head of feeders and slaughter were auctioned between Sept. 5 and 11, with 1,325 at Winnipeg Livestock Sales. As fall approaches, more cattle will be sent to auction.

The lighter feeder steers garnered $170 up to $276 per hundredweight. The lighter feeder heifers saw bids of $145 to $220 cwt.

– With files from Geralyn Wichers

About the author

Columnist

Glen Hallick writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. He previously reported for Postmedia newspapers in southern Manitoba and the province’s Interlake region.

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