A compulation of stories and tales from ranchers committed to sustainable agriculture

Winter grazing at minus 30

Erika and I have been ranching in the Peace River region of northwest Alberta for close to 10 years. We started with 65 cows and now have well over 750 cows plus of course their calves, yearlings and bulls. Looking after all these animals in the summer is not to hard provided that there is enough grass and adequate water… Wintering cows is a different story and needless to say what worked when we started would not be too feasible today. We always look at new and innovative ideas, to see what works, what does not and modifying things from there. Several years ago we began bale grazing cows…. in a nutshell leaving and or setting the bales of hay in the field and letting the cows take care of things rather than bringing them feed on a daily basis and spending large amounts of money for machinery and fuel. It works well as it reduces costs, by letting the cows take advantage of the natural environment, letting them fertilize the pastures without a liter of diesel being burned to do so and not having to worry about heating water bowls as the cows rely on the snow for water. This year we decided to take it a step further by leaving the calves on the cows longer rather than early weaning them…. well it is working well. The calves are growing good, they are healthy and our cows have done a great job babysitting their calves. What used to be a big chore to look after in the winter has become a lot less since our new discovery… amazing how we over manage our business sometimes with no contribution to the bottom line.

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