With extreme annual weather changes in the province of BC, farmers and ranchers are looking for ways to grow feed for cattle in diverse ways and trying to adapt to the ever challenging weather conditions. Forage winter kill, high levels of pest pressure, above seasonal summer temperatures, drought – it seems as though we are constantly faced with one extreme or another.
Garrett Ranch in Vanderhoof recognizes these challenges and is looking to change the way they feed cattle. Extending summer grazing, introducing alternative crops, integrating other ways of winter feeding, and practicing regenerative agriculture are just a few examples of what they are doing. They graciously opened their doors (or rather their gates!) to us on Thursday August 19 to showcase these new aspects.
First we started in a 30 acre corn field where forage type corn is being grown for grazing. Cattle will be turned out onto corn in October. These types of corn varieties put more energy into forage growth than cob growth and fill, making it an excellent feed and grazing source for cattle. Many benefits of grazing cattle on corn include: extending grazing season, less manure handling, reduced machinery use and fuel costs. Electric fencing is used to manage the cattle and rotate them through the corn crop.
Next we moved into a meadow field where a type of bale grazing called “rake bunch” is integrated into Garrett Ranch’s winter feeding plan. These bales or hay bunches are smaller, loosely raked piles that do not use twine. The cattle graze the meadow land and feed on these bales with the hopes of not having to winter feed until February! Soil fertility, reduced input costs (twine) and feeding time, increased biodiversity are just a few examples when it comes to the benefits of implementing regenerative agriculture practices, such as bale grazing.
Regenerative agriculture is described as: “farming and grazing practices that, among other
benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring
degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water
cycle” (source: What is Regenerative Agriculture?)
Garrett Ranch is integrating livestock, specifically cattle, to aid in and conduct their regenerative ag practices.
Everyone had a great time. Visiting with neighbours and friends, seeing practices being implemented to help with our ever changing environment and weather, sharing ideas and feeding cattle in regenerative ways.
Thank you to Four Rivers Co-op for coordinating the event! We love getting to attend farm events happening in our communities!
SEPTEMBER 4, 2021: POUCE COUPE, B.C. – LAND SOCIAL AT WILDWOOD FARM
SEPTEMBER 12, 2021: TERRACE, B.C. – NORTH-WEST FARMER MEET-UP AT THIMBLEBERRY FARM
GOT LAND? WANT LAND?
Through the B.C. Land Matching Program, Young Agrarians offers support to farmers looking for land for their farm business, and landholders looking for farmers to farm their land. We’ve made more than 146 matches on over 6,000 acres to date! Reach out to Land Matcher Morgan if you’re in Central & Northern BC and looking for land, or have land you’d like to share with a farmer, or check out the program page to find your regional Land Matcher.
The B.C. Land Matching Program is funded in Central & Northern B.C. by the Province of British Columbia, with support from Patagonia.