CFGA Quarterly Newsletter
Note from the executive director's desk desk
We were certainly pleased to see August arrive here on the east coast. After a very hectic spring and early summer, a few days of downtime with family was just what the doctor ordered. I hope you found that respite as well.
It is amazing to me, and most others that I have queried on this, that the days seem to be even fuller than the pre-COVID era of our lives. While I am enjoying more facetime with my young family and the productivity we have all found in not travelling for meetings, I do miss the personal interactions with colleagues and friends. Please stay safe until we can meet again, and until then, I will remain contented with seeing you all virtually.
The run up to the conference officially started in August and is now at full-steam-ahead on all levels. We have an amazing speaker lineup that will continue to shine a bright light on all the incredible work happening on Canada's forage and grazing lands from coast to coast. Thank you to all our partners who continue to support us year round and the conference sponsors who have joined for the 2020 event. Also, hats off to Serena Black, Talon Gauthier, Julie Robinson, Allison Finnamore, Trudy Kelly Forsythe, Kaylee Sheets and Chris Carson for moving this project down the field with style and grace. Lots of (new) small details to tackle in an online conference pivot play, and this team has brought all the skills necessary to the table to see it done.
We continue work on building out biodiversity and habitat assessment modules to support Environmental Farm Plan implementation in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. The project contract team did excellent work on a detailed work plan that brings together many provincial and federal representatives from numerous industry and government stakeholder groups. Stay tuned for updates on online tool rollouts and training workshops that are being prepared for delivery in Q4 of the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
We have entered the final funding year for our Agriculture Greenhouse Gases Project (AGGP) and have focused on supporting our provincial delivery partners to finish up the data collection on their pilot sites, and planning and delivery of awareness and training events throughout the fall and winter months. We also worked diligently on a phase two of this ground-breaking pilot project and will be pleased to share details of our go-forward plans over the coming months.
The Canadian Grasslands Protocol was approved in October 2019 and will have been on the ground for one year at the time of reading. Numerous NGOs from Wildlife Conservation to Land Trust have explored the use of the Canadian Grasslands Protocol to further the cause of conserving grasslands on the Canadian agricultural landscape. We are pleased with the progress achieved to date, but we are not done yet. Stay tuned for project and partnership announcements that will take this project to new heights.
Following on the learnings of the CFGA AGGP project, and feedback from our annual CFGA technical workshops, we committed to continuing towards a practice-based methodology for soil carbon sequestration under Canadian grassland management. Through our relationship with Viresco Solutions and Alberta Innovates, the CFGA was pleased to partner on the construction of a Soil Carbon Roadmap for the Canadian Grasslands Sector.
The intent of this project was to bring together the numerous voices around research, demonstration and knowledge transfer tables and build a long-term strategy to assign carbon sequestration rates to individual forage management practices. This is a long-term initiative with far-reaching goals and many hurdles yet to tackle; however, the support and dedication of all those who participated in the process provided a great deal of hope that we can get this job done. We will work over the coming months to develop funding strategies to further this work. Thanks again to all those who contributed.
Lastly, we will embark on a bold new initiative to better understand the whys and hows of alfalfa yield and quality over the next several years. Please accept my apologies for only offering a teaser on this project, but rest assured you will be hearing more very shortly.
I am often amazed after writing these updates by the amount of ground that the Canadian forage sector can cover when numerous stakeholders choose to get into a common tent and commit to staying there until the job is complete. Thanks to all those who have remained in the tent over the past three months and for the amazing work you are doing to advance the largest land use type in Canadian agriculture.
As always, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out.
CFGA's 11th annual conference will be virtual event Nov. 18 and 19
Originally scheduled to take place Nov. 18 and 19 in Kamloops, B.C., the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association's (CFGA) 11th annual conference is now virtual. So no matter where you are, you can attend this year's event.
"We're looking forward to creating an interactive conference where participants will have the chance to stay safe, learn and network with industry leaders," says CFGA executive director, Cedric MacLeod.
The conference's theme, Vision 2020: Growing Forage Opportunities, will focus the event on what those in the forage and grassland sector need to know in order to thrive in their environment. Speakers will address topics such as forested rangelands, the ecological services of grassland ecosystems, and, in the highlight of the conference, present the Canadian Forage School. The country's leading experts will walk participants through all angles of forage and grassland production - from the soil, up. The conference will also include breakout sessions for more focused attention on pasture and rangelands or tame forages and hay.
Woven in to the main virtual conference schedule on Nov. 18 and 19 will be panel discussions, question and answer periods, coffee break "rooms" and networking opportunities. The CFGA conference will also feature the association's first-even virtual trade show where participating CFGA conference sponsors can showcase their products during the year ahead, not just during the conference, and schedule one-on-one virtual meetings with participants.
New dates for the CFGA technical workshops, originally set for Nov. 16 and 17, will be announced shortly. Technical workshops highlight various national projects in a
working group format for researchers, provincial staff and industry representatives.
Steve Kenyon is one of the experts speaking at this year's conference. The owner of the custom-grazing business Greener Pastures Ranching in Busby, Alta., Kenyon, manages 1,400 head of livestock on 3,500 acres of leased land with regenerative-grazing management. By using extended-grazing techniques, Kenyon is able to pasture cattle year-round.
At the 2020 CFGA conference, Kenyon will present twice. His first session will focus on planning a year-round grazing system.
"When planning a year-round grazing system, we have to look at the economics," says Kenyon. "Every year is different. Market values change, conditions change. We have to weigh the risks and make decisions based on economics.
"Do we want to graze our perennials late or save some for the spring? Do we need calving ground? Are there any failed grain crops available? What is the price of hay? What is the quality of that hay? Can we access crop residues to bunch graze? What is the risk with those? Can we plan a swath grazing? Is there a location we would like to bale graze on? All of these questions will help us plan a year-round grazing system."
His second session will focus on building biology to get free fertility.
"Our industry is all about additives. We are all looking for that magic bullet that comes in a box, a bag or a bottle," says Kenyon. "My topic is on fertility. Let me be blunt. It is not about adding fertility. It is about building biology. If we can build a healthy soil full of soil biology, we don't need to add fertility. I have not added fertilizers to my land in over 20 years."
There are two registration levels for the CFGA's 11th annual conference:
- Standard registration offers full access to conference recordings for two weeks following the end of the event.
- VIP conference access offers exclusive access to conference recordings for a full year following the end of the event.
Both registration levels provide access to the conference, the Q&A sessions, panel discussions, trade show and networking opportunities at the time of the event. It's a win-win-win opportunity!
CFGA gold sponsor
Dairy Farmers of Canada
proAction progress report
The proAction program continues to be an essential indicator of the high standards and excellent practices Canadian dairy producers apply on farms every day. In recognition of this, the Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) has released the 2019-20 proAction progress report, highlighting achievements and progress made over the past year, including the launch of proAction's biosecurity module, the announcement of new partnerships and programs and the ongoing commitment to the values of proAction demonstrated by farmers and industry partners during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under proAction, dairy farmers show consumers, in a transparent and demonstrable way, how they adhere to some of the most stringent standards in the world.
DFC would like to thank Canadian dairy producers for their invaluable support and contributions to proAction, which ensures it continues to be a collaborative national success story. In the spirit of continuous improvement, DFC looks forward to building on this momentum in 2020-21 and beyond.
Changes coming to proAction's traceability and animal care modules
One of the core principles of DFC's proAction program is a commitment to continuous improvement, ensuring the program reflects the latest available research, technology, feedback from farmers and input from experts. To that end, DFC recently issued notices of change for two of the proAction modules: traceability and animal care.
The changes made to the traceability module include new requirements for reporting traceability data to DairyTrace, instead of the Canadian Livestock Tracing System (CCIA), following the designation of Lactanet Canada as the official national administrator responsible for the traceability of dairy bovine animals. proAction will require reporting by September 2021, but farmers are encouraged to report to DairyTrace immediately. Other changes include acceptance of a new single white button tag which farmers can use to identify calves born on farm and destined for the beef industry. This tag will gradually replace the use of single yellow button tags by fall 2023.
These changes will not only help DairyTrace provide a full pan-Canadian picture of the movements of dairy cattle, they will also have direct impacts on the overall strength and responsiveness of the industry's traceability system and keep tag revenues within the dairy industry, ensuring a financially sustainable system.
The changes made to the animal care module include fixed peer report zones established based on the benchmark data, the temporary implementation of a new scoring category for cattle assessments, escalating continuous improvement expectations over time if targets are not met (e.g. increase in cattle assessment frequency and the number of cattle evaluated) and the release of a corrective action plan template to drive advancements. The temporary inclusion of the new category aims to prioritize focus on farms which need improvement, while the corrective action plan is designed to provide more structure to guide this improvement and ensure timely follow-up.
In an effort to ensure the proAction program reflects the latest best practices, the program is reviewed at regular intervals and the program is updated as necessary. While herd scores are improving across Canada, there is still an opportunity for further progress to highlight the industry's commitment to action. For some changes, transition periods have been put in place to provide time for the farmers, dairy professionals and provincial staff to adjust, as needed, while ensuring timely action on areas requiring improvement.
A detailed list of changes can be found in the notices at the DFC website. The changes will also be incorporated into the next version of the proAction Workbook and Reference Manual in 2021.
Provincial association news
Prince Edward County farmer receives Ontario Sheep Pasture Award
Matthew Fleguel and Liz Johnston of Waupoos Island Sheep Farm in the Picton area of Prince Edward County are the recipient of the 2020 Ontario Sheep Pasture Award. Sponsored by Mapleseed, the Ontario Forage Council and the Ontario Sheep Farmers, the award was presented virtually Oct. 23 at the Ontario Sheep Convention. For their environmental and pasture improvements and management, the recipients will receive $250 and a bag of forage seed.
Waupoos Island Sheep Farm consists of 1,800 ewes that go to grass around May 1 and lamb on pasture. The ewes are loaded on a barge at the local pier and taken across the lake to Waupoos Island. They are rotationally grazed with pasture providing all their feed through the lactation. At weaning in late July, the lambs are moved to hay regrowth and the ewes are moved to graze brush, which allows the farm to stockpile grass on the permanent pastures.
"On many years, we are able to graze our lambs into October and our ewes until late November on hay regrowth and stockpile, respectively," says Matthew. "Our grazing season continues in the form of feeding corn stover, using portable electric fence. In ideal conditions, this has been known to continue until the end of January.
Matthew explains that the primary pasture management tool is rotational grazing.
"All 1,800-plus ewes are moved as one group so that grazing periods can be short and rest periods long," he says. "Pastures are all scouted on a regular basis to assure rotation speed is matched to growth."
The pastures have a lot of fescue, which is both a strength and a weakness. It grows well in cool conditions, which can make summer grazing limiting, but is great for fall stockpiling. The permanent pastures are all on Waupoos Island, which provides advantages in sourcing stock water, combatting coyote damage and keeping sheep on the pasture instead in someone else's crops.
Scott Fisher, Mapleseed sales manager (Western Ontario), says the Waupoos Island Sheep Farm is a unique operation and a worthy recipient for this year's Mapleseed Pasture Award.
"This year's Ontario Sheep Pasture Award recipient has demonstrated their ability to utilize forages on their farm and utilized the concept of rotational grazing to its maximum," adds Ray Robertson, Ontario Forage Council manager.
CFGA gold sponsor
News from Kemin
Opportunities to reduce shrink in silage piles
by Eugene Rodberg, Kemin Animal Nutrition and Health - North America
Dairy producers understand that shrink (dry matter loss) in silage costs money. For example, if corn silage has a market value of $60 to $70 per as-fed ton, then every one-per-cent-unit increase in dry matter loss raises the price of the corn silage by $0.65 per as-fed ton. It doesn't sound like much; but as an example, a high-producing dairy cow consuming 25 kilograms of corn silage per day at $65 per ton, typical dry matter loss of 20 per cent increases feed cost per day by $0.325. For 1,000 cows, it's an extra $325 per day or $118,625 per year.
Can you afford shrink?
Shrink can never be eliminated, but a certain portion can be reduced through various management practices. There are four types of dry matter loss:
- Fermentation: Fermentation loss is a normal part of silage production and consumes two to five per cent of silage dry matter depending on the sugar content of the forage being ensiled
- Leaching: Leaching loss is common when forages contain excessive moisture before the forage is ensiled. Leachate may also originate from the loss of plant cell contents (the liquid portion of the plant) including sugars, pectins and proteins. Leaching losses can be one to three per cent of silage dry matter
- Spoilage: Spoilage loss occurs when oxygen penetrates plastic covers, sidewalls or seams for prolonged periods. The penetration of oxygen into the silage pack allows for mould growth which impacts animal performance. This accounts for one to three per cent of silage dry matter loss
- Feed-out: Feed-out loss is associated with growth of yeasts and moulds. When exposed to oxygen and temperatures above 15 C, yeasts and moulds grow rapidly in the silage, doubling in less than one hour. This rapid growth strips the forage of valuable starch and protein while causing silage to heat. USDA estimates feed-out losses are equal to the combined losses from fermentation, leaching and spoilage. Feed-out loss can represent five to 11 per cent of silage dry matter loss
What can be done to combat these losses?
First, promote good fermentation. Proper fermentation rapidly reduces pH, which slows or stops the growth of most microbes. These microbes can cause abnormal fermentation and later contribute to greater spoilage during feed-out.
Promoting good fermentation involves:
- Harvesting at proper whole-plant moisture, which is 60 to 70 per cent for corn silage stored in bunkers or piles
- Rapid filling and packing to adequate density, with a target of 240 to 270 kilograms per cubic metre (kg/m) or 15 to 17 pounds per cubic foot (lbs./foot)
- Excluding oxygen through sealing with enough plastic and tires
Second, manage feed-out to limit oxygen penetration and minimize heat accumulation. The recommendation for minimum removal during feed-out is 15 centimeters (six inches) during cool weather and 30 centimetres (12 inches) during warm weather.
Losses from harvest through feed-out can be further reduced by the judicious use of forage preservatives. Blended buffered acid products applied at harvest rapidly reduce pH and directly inhibit the growth and survival of yeasts and moulds. Acid blends work on a wide range of mould and yeasts; therefore, they offer better control than straight propionic acid. On the other hand, silage inoculants enhance fermentation during longer storage periods, normally greater than 60 days.
Proper forage management also requires the removal of spoiled or discoloured silage. Typically, spoilage occurs in the top 30 centimetres (12 inches) or along the side of the silage pile. However, spoilage pockets can develop anywhere in the silage bunker. Train employees to recognize off-colour silage and the proper safety associated with removing spoilage.
Taking the above steps with silage can ensure proper nutrient management. As a recap, keep in mind these simple steps:
- Harvest at the optimum maturity and moisture (60 to 70 per cent)
- Utilize a quality, well-researched silage additive
- Pack with the correct weight to exceed density requirements
- Seal with two layers of black plastic and plenty of weight to secure the plastic
- Pitch any spoilage to protect ration integrity
- Feed off with the correct method and rates
To enhance your forage preservation options, turn to trusted experts to provide products and services to improve the nutritional value and integrity of your feed. The unique growing conditions of 2020 have made forages more valuable than ever before. Proper silage
management will reap dividends for your operation
1. Muck, R.E. and B.J. Holmes. 2004. Bag silo densities and losses. ASAE Paper No. 041141, Amer. Soc. Agric. Engineers, St. Joseph, MI.
2. Pelhate, J. 1973. Stabilisation de la mycoflore de maïs-grains Humides ensilés. Ann. Tech. Agric. 22:647-661.
Thank you to our CFGA partners