Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

RANCH MUSINGS: Hang in there, if you can

Where I am starting is looking at feed supply for the winter by sending forage samples for analysis

I have been following the news about what supports there are for farmers and ranchers faced with fire burning up the summer and winter feed for cattle and income support for falling profits in case prices or profit margins fall.

This can happen if more cattle are marketed thus reducing the price due to increased supply, or when costs of inputs rise steeply.

We are now in the middle of a federal election which may slow the acceptance, by some provinces, of the changes proposed to Agristability by the federal government. This program is a federal/provincial cost shared program.

There is a suite of programs designed for drought, flood and pests (grasshoppers) as well as wildfire.

There are still the programs for insuring the establishment of crops and production levels.

If you don’t get the information from your online network then sign up to get the Ministry of Agriculture newsletter for our region.

It is called The Roots. Call Marissa Nightingale, Resource Development Agrologist, Cariboo Region (Marisa.Nightingale@gov.bc.ca).

She produces the very good newsletter and includes valuable links to programs. If you are not connected to the internet, call her at 1-250-267-2540 (cell) or 1-236-713-2265.

More general inquiries can be made to AgriServiceBC@gov.bc.ca or by phoning 1-888-221-7141.

Where I am starting is looking at feed supply for the winter by sending forage samples for analysis. I know our hay is like most people’s good early hay, but the volume is down from last year so we have to find out what the nutritional needs are for the cows. We may not need any more good hay, but some kind of supplement.

Speaking of supplements, if you like to feed some grains not fit for human consumption, there may be lots of that depending on the harvest in the drought-stricken Canadian Prairies.

READ MORE: Shifting gears from haying to marketing

Check with the local feed stores to see what they expect. Economics of the industry really tells us to keep our costs down.

Many in the industry don’t want to ship (market) mother cows they have been breeding for years. It might just be more profitable in the short run, to replace some of the bottom end of the herd (in quality eg. performance at calf production). But if any of the support programs will yield enough financial relief, you might be able to keep them.

One compelling reason for hanging on to your basic herd would be that most predictions are for higher prices in the near future. The best time to sell is nor usually when many others are selling. The drought is forcing many to do just that.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

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