Industry Profile

Manitoba’s Forage Industry

Forage management has come a long way from the days of old. In the past, Manitoba’s vast land resources provided ample grazing and forage producing opportunities for producers. These days, producers have adapted new management techniques – ones that maximize their production, and are kind to both wildlife and the environment.

Maximizing Forage and Land Productivity

Producers are increasing forage and land productivity by incorporating techniques that increase the land’s animal carrying capacity without damaging it. A relatively new strategy called intensive grazing features a large number of short term, small paddocks for grazing rather than using the traditional “back 40” for pasture. This encourages even animal grazing (even the unpalatable plants are eaten), and provides an ample rest period for the rejuvenation of the plants when the stock moves to the next paddock. This procedure also provides an even distribution of manure and provides nutrients for the plants.

Land productivity has also been increased by the use of both annual and perennial forages for livestock grazing. This practice is beneficial because annual and perennial crops can offset each other. The livestock can graze each one at its peak season. This technique also decreases the need for stored feed, thereby, decreasing the cost of inputs such as fuel.

Environment Protection

Manitoba’s forage producers endeavor to protect the environment while maximizing land use by utilizing a number of techniques such as fencing, appropriate forage species and seeding techniques.

Fencing not only protects stock, it also helps protect water quality, fish, and wildlife habitats by keeping grazing animals away from water sources like ponds and streams.
Breeding forage species is an instrumental technique used by producers to maximize the potential of adverse land. For example, producers that have saline soil are now able to utilize saline forage species to minimize the impact of the soil and prevent the spread of salinity.
Seeding techniques by producers include planting forages and sod seeding legumes on marginal land to eliminate soil erosion. This increases the stock carrying capacity and adds nitrogen to the soil. Another practice some producers use is a rotation with a perennial such as alfalfa in their annual crop rotation. Alfalfa is a nitrogen-fixing perennial that adds nitrogen to the soil, thereby reducing the fertilizer requirements in subsequent years. The use of forages also help control weed, disease, and insect cycles without the use of pesticides.

A Varied Industry

Manitoba’s forage seed industry uses about 160,000 acres to produce certified forage seed for other forage producers or seed for turf grass to be used in lawns, parks and golf courses.
Manitoba particularly, is well suited for preserved forage production for the export hay market. National and international hay customers demand superior quality for their dairy and equine industries, and Manitoba’s high quality soil, lower land costs, long hours of daylight, and ideal moisture levels make it possible for Manitoba producers to produce hay to meet their needs.
Manitoba is also known for its excellent quality of products and services with its pelleted and double-compressed hay products. More producers are taking advantage of the state-of-art technology that is used in pelleting and double-compressing hay for domestic and export markets. Our high quality products are marketed overseas as far west as Japan and Korea, as far east as Europe, and as far south as Florida and Texas. These industries provide value-added forage products for export, giving Manitoba producers another venue for their products.
Manitoba’s compaction industry goes to lengths to ensure their product arrives in top form. Bales are double compressed and then packed into sealed shipping containers to ensure the moisture content and product quality is maintained. This dedication to the production and delivery of high quality products has elevated the status of the Manitoba forage and hay industry and the promotion of these products at World Dairy Expo and the MidWest Horse Fair continues to do so.

Promoting our Industry

The Manitoba Forage & Grassland Association is very proud of the Manitoba forage industry and continues to team up with its many partners to promote our superior forage and hay products, at annual events such as the MidWest Horse Fair and World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S. Products showcased annually include: hay, (both dairy and horse), packaged products such as timothy hay and alfalfa pellets, and compacted hay.