Summer heat can exhaust pastures, producers

Ponoka and area producers can fight back against dry pastures

There are a number of things producers can do if dryness is affecting their pastures.

“Growing conditions are all over the map this year with some Alberta cattle producers dealing with too much rain and some with too little,” said Andrea Hanson, a beef extension specialist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF).

“For those producers coping with summer pasture that is going backwards quickly, there are ways to manage what forage you have left. For some, it may even be that the forage in the pasture is holding up but the water source has dried up or is questionable and hauling water is too difficult.”

If pastures are affected, it’s likely the crops in the area are affected as well.

“You may want to consider whether some of the crops’ quality and kernel weight will be sufficient to take it as grain or whether cutting it early and using it for livestock feed would make more sense. Also, be aware of nitrate issues, as annual crops that are stressed can be high in nitrates.”

Another effective way to manage forage is by managing cattle.

“Weaning early reduces the amount of feed, energy and protein required by the cow and allows her to increase or maintain her body condition, which is vitally important for her fertility.”

Early weaning does involve planning as the younger the weaning age, the higher the energy and protein levels will need to be fed. Calves older than 120 days can be backgrounded on pasture with comparable performance to normally weaned calves so long as there is plenty of high quality forage available.

An Alberta Beef Industry Development fund project found early weaning is great for stretching pasture resources and reducing the cow’s nutritional requirements while adding body condition to the cow going into winter.

A feed supply plan in necessary to stretch feed using crop residues and straw, a producer needs to know what the feed is.

”While there is a cost to testing, there is a much greater cost to over or underfeeding your cattle,” she stated.

Hanson adds it’s important to be tough when it comes to culling and to get those cows pregnancy checked, as cows that aren’t pregnant are simply eating away at profit margins.

Handle stress in a healthy manner

Today’s precision farm work requires a high degree of alertness and the ability to react quickly. With extended hours of summer daylight, farmers often stretch themselves to get the maximum out of the day.

With that comes an increased risk of serious injury due to fatigue — a major factor in farm-related injuries.

“Too many farmers push themselves, especially during the really busy times and long daylight hours,” said Blair Takahashi, an AF farm safety specialist.

“Personal health and safety is a worker’s most valuable asset — nothing should come before.”

Fatigue is a mental or physical exhaustion that prevents a person from functioning normally and can often times impair safe work performance.

“We typically see safety as being all about equipment and guards,” he added. “However, the most important safety tool a person can have is their attitude and subsequent decisions. That could mean taking a 15 minute break and stretch to refocus, have a drink of water, and a quick bite to eat.”

It’s important for farmers to recognize things they can do to ward off fatigue such as getting adequate and good sleep, eat nourishing food to keep a sharp mind and body, stay hydrated, change up the work periodically to include some healthy activity and plan for the mental and physical demands by allowing a well-deserved break after a set time period.

“Whether you operate a family farm, employ workers or are helping neighbours, pre-planning will go a long way to preventing unforeseen injuries and costly repairs,” he said.

“Although the human factor is a significant cause of farm-related hazards your safety is about the choices you make. It just takes a moment to make a decision that could literally be the difference between life and death.”

For more information on both these issues is available at or by calling 310-FARM (3276).

Just Posted

PHOTOS: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas …

Winter wonderland of lights: Everywhere you go in Ponoka, people are getting… Continue reading

Ponoka family physician retiring after 40 years of service to community

Dr. Brendan Bunting is hanging up his stethoscope after 40 years as… Continue reading

“Ponoka Civic Centre” is now the official name of Ponoka town hall building

Signage will also feature Cree word “mamawayawin”

Ponoka County struck by large amount of unpaid property taxes

CAO now has some discretion in cancelling certain tax penalties

Contentious gravel pit receives Ponoka County approval

Development permit lays out 51 conditions for operation

VIDEO: Federal Liberals’ throne speech welcomes opposition’s ideas

Trudeau will need NDP or Bloc support to pass legislation and survive confidence votes

Wanted man resists arrest, found in possession of machetes

Donovan Rain of Maskwacis facing multiple charges

Final appeal rejected for man convicted in deaths of missing Alberta seniors

Lyle and Marie McCann were in their 70s when they left their home in St. Albert in 2010 and vanished

Infants should be tested for autism if older siblings are diagnosed, Canadian study suggests

Blood test for infants with sibling who’s been diagnosed would get information to families earlier

Rural Alberta gets more police officers, but must pay for them directly

Premier wants areas to pay portion of overall costs on rising scale to bring in extra $200M by 2024

Two vehicle Hwy 11 collision results in 2 dead

Blackfalds RCMP were dispatched to a serious collision on Highway 11

Rebels win second in row 5-2 over Moose Jaw

32 saves from Goalie Byron Fancy leads the way for Red Deer

Nearly 40% of Canadians want creationism taught in schools: poll

23% of Canadians believe God created humans in the past 10,000 years

Blackfalds RCMP lay charges following fatal pedestrian collision

35-year-old male died in the hospital as a result of injuries

Most Read