- ‘In the next couple of weeks, people will have to make some hard conclusions.’
- Jason Hale is the vice-chair of Alberta Beef Producers and farms near Bassano, Alta.
- He says there should be significant rainfall in the following two weeks to give fields enough time to grow.
After last year’s summer drought drove many Alberta cattle herders to cull their herds, the ongoing dry climate this winter and spring, primarily in the southern part of the region, could mean more of the same.
“If we don’t get some significant rain, you know, in my place in the next couple of weeks, people will have to make some hard conclusions because there must be time for that grass to grow,” said Jason Hale, vice-chair of Alberta Beef Producers and a herder near Bassano, almost an hour and a half east of Calgary.
High feed prices and insufficient moisture to maintain the grass for grazing mean some ranchers assess how many cattle they can realistically keep.
Hale said some herders are selling calf-cow pairs to other producers now “because they don’t have the pasture to help them.
“As this [drought] continues, it will get worse.”
He said individual herders’ situations vary, relying on how much feed they had collected and how much fall grazing they could do a prior year. In general, a lot of the grass that would usually be taken over this year has already been used because of the lack.
“It places us in even worse trouble because there isn’t that stockpile of forage. And to make that stockpile up, it doesn’t just occur in a year,” said Hale.
Last year, veterinarian and wrangler Melanie Wowk made the hard decision to cull almost a third of her cattle, getting a 300 cow herd down to 200.
Source – cbc.ca