Manitoba cattle producers who depend upon native hay will have to find other sources of winter feed because persistent rains have submerged most wild hay fields in the province.
“A lot of that native hay won’t be harvested this year,” said Tim Clarke, a forage specialist with Manitoba Agriculture in the northern Interlake.
“They (producers) will be scrounging … either going elsewhere to put up feed or buy feed, I imagine.”
Native hay fields are drowned out across the province, even in the southwestern corner of Manitoba, where producers usually struggle with dry conditions.
“Most of the native hay is in water,” said Lionel Kaskiw, a farm production adviser with Manitoba Agriculture in Souris. “Anybody that had marshland and marshes by lakes, all those are filled in (with water).”
A series of storms that dumped 50 to 75 millimetres of rain on many parts of Manitoba in late August has only exacerbated the problem, Kaskiw added.
“After the rain, we got those guys who aren’t going to get that stuff…. And if you do get it, the quality is going to be so poor…. It’s going to be glorified straw.”
The lack of hay is most acute in the Westlake region, east and northeast of Dauphin. Farmers in that area haven’t been able to harvest any native hay and most tame hay hasn’t been baled, said Jim Heshka, a farm production adviser for Manitoba Agriculture in Dauphin.
Heshka estimated that 20 percent of the first hay cut remains in the field and quality will likely be poor.
The Manitoba Cattle Producers Association lobbied the provincial government over the summer, seeking financial help for cattle producers struggling with the wet conditions. But as of last week, no aid programs had been announced.