2010 News Archive

 Mare and foalLivestock producers in Alberta and Saskatchewan facing two years of drought will receive funding from federal and provincial governments to buy feed while damaged pastures recover. Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz joined Jack Hayden, Alberta Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, and Bob Bjornerud, Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister, to make the announcement in Lloydminster.

“Ranchers in Western Canada know how to deal with all kinds of weather, but when they get hit hard with back-to-back droughts, AgriRecovery is there to make sure they have the support they need,” said Minister Ritz. “This investment will help producers buy the feed they need to keep their animals off the pastures while the grass recovers from the drought damage.”

Under the 2010 Pasture Recovery Initiative, livestock producers living in the eligible counties and municipal districts in Central and Northern Alberta and West Central and Northwest Saskatchewan will receive pasture assistance for breeding cattle, as well as assistance for other types of breeding livestock, totaling up to $114 million subject to size of the eligible livestock. It is estimated that there are more than 2.2 million breeding animals in the affected areas.

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Livestock producers in Alberta and across Canada are part of a global evolution in farm animal care. It is emerging front and centre in everything from retail standards and world trade agreements to verified on-farm management approaches. The good news for Alberta’s livestock producers is they are helping lead progress to succeed in this environment.

Livestock producers in Alberta and across Canada are part of a global evolution in farm animal care. It is emerging front and centre in everything from retail standards and world trade agreements to verified on-farm management approaches. The good news for Alberta’s livestock producers is they are helping lead progress to succeed in this environment.

This was the picture drawn by speakers at the Livestock Care Conference, March 26 in Red Deer, hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC). The conference drew a record attendance of more than 180 livestock producers, industry representatives, academics, researchers and students. “Responsible livestock care is important to everyone from producers to consumers to obviously the animals themselves,” says Dr. Ed Pajor, professor of animal behavior and welfare at the University of Calgary. “The new level is about showing – not just practicing – responsible care. As a result, we’ve seen a rapidly growing focus on standards and processes of verification at many levels, both globally and locally. It’s not just about the future of animal agriculture, it’s happening now.”

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Cimarron trailerSome of you use your trailers as much or more in the winter as in the summer, but there are a bunch of us whose interaction with our horses over the winter mostly involves a lot of hay pitching. The horse trailer gets parked, drifted in with snow and mostly ignored until the first clinic, lesson, show or trail ride of the season.

When you do pull that trailer out of moth balls for the first trip of the year, Kris Canaday of Bar T5 Trailer Sales has a few reminders for you: 

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spring pastureWith all the talk of drought in 2009 and concerns over feed shortages, it’s no surprise the alarm bells are sounding once again. With dry conditions last year and plants already impacted by over-grazing, pastures are expected to grow at a less than normal rate through the spring, especially if moisture conditions remain low.

"We're much drier than this time last year," confirms Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development soil moisture specialist Ralph Wright. "Extremely low soil moisture, typically seen once in 12-to-25 years on average, is being recorded across large areas of Alberta. That extreme dry soil zone is four times larger than this time last year."

"Most of the province didn't get enough precipitation to recharge soil moisture reserves in the fall before the ground froze," says Wright. "Plenty of spring rain will be needed to replenish dry soils and avoid a repeat of last year when drought conditions across much of the province crippled pasture and hay production."

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With soil moisture at extreme lows across much of the province, cattle and livestock producers are becoming increasingly concerned as they near the end of their winter feed supplies. Many are worried about the impact dry soils could have on their pasture and hay land this spring once the snow melts, says provincial forage and grazing specialist Grant Lastiwka. He speaks with producers province-wide through the Ag-Info Centre telephone hotline operated by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD). 

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