GFM Network News


St. Albert’s Melissa Hills has been enjoying her small backyard flock of brown production layers and heritage breeds since the start of the pandemic.

Winter’s here but pandemic poultry are still a hit across Alberta

Reading Time: 5 minutes Backyard chickens saw a boom during the early days of the pandemic — and the interest hasn’t waned yet, despite the wintry weather. “I’ve had eight incubator package requests already through November and December,” said Tammy Wheatley, owner of The Urban Chicks, a company near Calgary that rents chickens out for the summer. “The pandemic […] Read more

Having a pregnancy rate above 90 per cent isn’t necessarily a sign that things are going well, says veterinarian Blake Balog.

Timing is (almost) everything when it comes to reproductive success

Pay attention to the length of your breeding season, calving distribution, and postpartum interval

Reading Time: 3 minutes Tackling reproductive failure in a beef herd starts with understanding what reproductive success looks like — and for most Alberta cattle operations, the usual measure of success doesn’t tell the whole story. “A lot of people might think, great, I got greater than 90 per cent (pregnancy rate), that might mean success,” said veterinarian Dr. […] Read more


This graphic from a new federal report shows the “most damaging extreme weather events” in terms of insured losses in 2018 dollars. However, it does not include last June’s hailstorm in Calgary ($1.3 billion in insured damage) and April’s flooding in Fort McMurray ($562 million in insured damage).

Climate change will bring drastic change here, say experts

Alberta has been hit hard by extreme weather in recent years, and a new report says more trouble lies ahead

Reading Time: 4 minutes Albertans can expect to see more extreme weather as climate change reshapes the landscape of the Prairies. “There’s quite a bit of strong scientific evidence that, in a warming climate, you can expect extreme weather events to occur with increased severity, in particular flooding and wildfire,” said Dave Sauchyn, director of the Prairie Adaptation Research […] Read more

Producers, particularly in hard-hit northern areas, will need to pay closer attention to disease issues this year, said agronomist Kristina Polziehn. She pointed to situations like this one — a pea field near Valleyview (pictured in late July) — that saw very high levels of aphanomyces root rot after receiving nearly two times the amount of normal moisture.

What’s on your radar for the coming year?

Three agronomists share some lessons learned from 2020

Reading Time: 5 minutes It’s impossible to know what you might have learned if you had been able to go on farm tours or visit fellow producers last year. So getting crop intel heading into this year’s growing season will require tapping into your networks and asking others what’s on their radar. In that spirit, we asked three agronomists […] Read more



“If we do it right, agriculture is going to lead the economy in Canada.” – Roger Chevraux.

Visions of the future: Canada’s crop sector looks ahead

Four crop industry leaders share their hopeful vision for their sectors in the coming decade

Reading Time: 7 minutes As we leave 2020 behind us, it isn’t hard to see hope on the horizon. That’s the view of four producers who sit on the boards of the province’s big crop commissions and were asked to share their vision for their sectors in the next 10 years. More pulses, please Shane Strydhorst’s vision of a […] Read more


There are lots of learning opportunities being offered online but chatting with other farmers is also key, says Steve Kenyon.

Stuck on the farm doesn’t mean getting stuck in a rut

Online conferences definitely have drawbacks, but farmers still need to ‘stay ahead of the game’

Reading Time: 5 minutes Most every winter, Alberta farmers find themselves hitting the highways to get the latest and greatest in learning at farm conferences and meetings. This year, though, they’re covering that ground on the information superhighway instead. “Normally as a farmer, I’m attending events in the summer and wintertime, and this year, I didn’t get to experience […] Read more

The pandemic has more older farmers thinking about their wills — and how to split up the farm, says consultant Merle Good.

Pandemic has many thinking about the future of the farm

If you plan to leave land to your off-farm child, you need a strategy that makes sense for the farm business

Reading Time: 3 minutes If the pandemic has you looking at your will and wondering how to split your farm up, you’re not alone. “COVID has increased the anxiety about our wills for all of us who are a little bit older,” said Merle Good, owner of GRS Consulting. “When I’ve talked to farmers about it, they’re starting to […] Read more


Even though they’re staying at home these days, life on the Taylor farm is pretty busy. Far left is William (holding Fetchy LaRue), Mark (with Meeps, a bottle-fed baby goat), Elias, Nathan (with Finn), Jacob, and Tamara (with Allen and Gilbert).

Yes, it’s different — but rural Albertans are making the best of it

Reading Time: 10 minutes Making the best of it Music fills the cul-de-sac, a familiar Christmas carol that draws the neighbourhood children outside and their parents right behind them, hastily throwing on coats and boots and gloves against the December cold. The night is a cacophony of noise — cheering, yelling, singing, screaming — and the noise grows only […] Read more

Gary Porttin, alongside son Ryker, fells a Christmas tree at R Family Tree Farm near Sylvan Lake.

Tree farmers growing magic and memories this holiday season

Demand is up for fresh-cut Christmas trees this year — and getting them can be half the fun

Reading Time: 4 minutes A little holiday cheer is in high demand at Christmas tree farms this year. “There’s a big demand for our trees this season,” said Peter Kappeler, owner of Fir Ever Green Tree Farm near Falun. “It’s become a big thing to take the whole family out to the farm and get a fresh Christmas tree.” […] Read more