GFM Network News


From what you seed to how much is grazed, there’s a lot that goes into proper pasture management, Graeme Finn of Union Forage and Southern Cross Livestock told attendees at a recent West Central Forage Association field tour.

Drought management is a very long game, says master grazier

Getting through a year like this one is at the heart of the management system Graeme Finn uses

Reading Time: 3 minutes Managing for a drought should start the day you begin ranching. That was the message from Graeme Finn of Southern Cross Livestock for attendees at a recent field tour put on by the West Central Forage Association. “This year is the wrong year to start thinking about drought management,” said the Aussie native who now […] Read more

Feeding site permit requirement suspended

Feeding site permit requirement suspended

Reading Time: < 1 minute The Natural Resources Conservation Board is suspending the requirement for a permit for a temporary confined feeding site. The government agency “recognizes that due to the current very dry conditions and poor grass pastures, summer feeding of cow-calf herds may be required (and)… will not require producers to obtain permits” for temporary confined feeding. However, […] Read more


You can’t see the heat in this July 14 photo but the meagre cut of hay from this field west of Okotoks is clearly visible along the smoke from wildfires  in B.C. drifting in over the Rocky Mountains. And this area actually has received more moisture than ones to the south and east.

DISASTER: Hope dries up along with the pastures and fields

Everyone is hurting but the fallout for the cattle sector may be felt for years to come

Reading Time: 6 minutes The effect of the arid spring and the blistering July heatwave will be felt “for years to come.” “On a scale of one to 10, I’d put this at a 10 — it’s extremely severe,” said Melanie Wowk, chair of Alberta Beef Producers. “The herd will shrink — not just out of this province, but […] Read more

There are several key indicators of pasture productivity that should be tracked, says Manitoba producer Ryan Boyd.

If you’re aiming for pasture perfection, you need a scorecard

Getting maximum production is an elusive target but good records help a lot, says producer

Reading Time: 3 minutes Is your pasture above- or below-average? And if you don’t keep accurate records over time, how do you know? The first step is knowing what your land is capable of producing so you can set a proper grazing rate, says Ryan Boyd. That was driven home for the Manitoba producer when he was awarded a […] Read more


The new $70-million grasslands conservation effort will allow hundreds of Prairie ranchers to do projects on their land, says Tamara Carter, a Saskatchewan producer recently hired as the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s director of prairie grassland conservation.

Grasslands conservation effort gets $70-million boost

Major grasslands initiative to fund 800 stewardship projects across the Prairies

Reading Time: 4 minutes There have been a lot of grasslands conservation efforts, but none as large as the Weston Family Prairie Grasslands Initiative. Five organizations are being given nearly $25 million by the Weston Family Foundation for what may be the largest grasslands conservation effort ever in Canada. And each of the five groups will be committing additional […] Read more

Native grass prairies and sunset

Grasslands Conservation Guide available

Reading Time: < 1 minute Birds Canada has produced a 69-page guide to help landowners learn more about financial incentive programs available to preserve, enhance, or restore grasslands and important prairie habitats. The guide outlines available programs, including ones available in Alberta. Some offer funding for projects while others offer assistance in protecting habitat and species that rely on grasslands. […] Read more


The Coen family has strategically placed ditches that were excavated to create swales for capturing snowmelt, that either slowly soaks into the land or is captured in a series of small dams.

Innovative farmers ‘harvest’ water to boost production

Coen Farm created shallow ditches called swales to capture millions of gallons of snowmelt each spring

Reading Time: 3 minutes This winter, you might want to harvest something a little different on your farm — water. “Our farm harvests 40 years of water in two weeks just from snowmelt,” said Takota Coen, who farms near Ferintosh with his parents. “We live in one of the only places in the world where you can actually increase […] Read more

Grasslands make great carbon sinks when grazed properly, says a new University of Alberta study.

Making rotational grazing the norm would be a ‘win win,’ says study

If all of Alberta’s grasslands were rotational grazed, 1.2 million tonnes of carbon could be sequestered every year

Reading Time: 4 minutes Grazing your cattle just a little differently could be a win win for your operation and the environment, says a new study from the University of Alberta. “The idea is to evaluate alternative grazing systems to see which ones are best and which ones maximize the sequestration and storage of carbon,” said ecology professor, Mark […] Read more


There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to grazing management, says range management specialist Ross Adams. Shown here are cattle grazing south of Pincher Creek earlier in July.

Taking a fresh look at your land, cattle and grazing system

Range management principles are ‘fairly simple’ but applying them depends on local conditions

Reading Time: 4 minutes You might think you know your land inside and out, but getting back to basics can improve pasture productivity. “It’s important to look at this basic stuff because it helps tune the eye,” said Ross Adams, range management specialist with Alberta Environment and Parks. “It’s easier to integrate livestock into the system if you understand […] Read more

Forage mixes generally include species from four different categories — warm-season broadleaf plants and grasses along with cool-season broadleaf plants and grasses.

Pick the right forage for productivity and profitability

Productivity in many Alberta pastures is so low it ‘doesn’t pay a lot of bills,’ says forage specialist

Reading Time: 3 minutes There’s an elephant in your pasture. “The elephant is disappointment,” said Grant Lastiwka, forage specialist with Union Forage. “When you start to look at the average, Alberta hay yields are around 1.3 tonnes per acre across the province. That’s a low number. “When we look at pasture, all we’re getting in grazing days across many […] Read more