Provincial Conferences

Manitoba Forage & Grassland Annual Provincial Conferences:
Beef and Forage Days, Manitoba Grazing School, Holistic Management International Conference, Provincial Grazing Tour, Forage Symposium, Provincial Pasture Tour

The face of agriculture in Manitoba has changed since the loss of grain subsidies and the BSE situation. More and more producers are looking to diversify their operations and maintain economic stability. The cowherd in Manitoba has steadily increased over the last decade. There has also been significant growth and interest in the feeding and finishing sectors of the beef industry in Manitoba, taking advantage of the natural resources such as vast pasture lands and sizable feed supplies to produce top quality beef. This indicates a change in the beef and forage industries in Manitoba, from a more traditional industry to an industry that remains competitive in the domestic, national and international markets.

Beef and Forage Days
The Manitoba Beef and Forage Days have provided the tools to Manitoba’s producers to adjust to these changes and continue to remain viable, even in times of economic downturns. In previous years this event has brought in internationally renowned experts in the area of livestock and forage production.  Topics typically include proper nutrition and animal health tips, forage production information as well as program updates from the Manitoba Forage Council and the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association.

The Manitoba Beef and Forage Days originated in 1996, as a joint initiative between the Ag. Reps in Eriksdale, Vita, Ste. Rose, Holland, and Teulon. Every year each of these Farm Production Advisors meet with their local planning committee, comprised of producers, agri-business and staff to discuss current issues that would be appropriate for up coming meetings. The beef and forage planning committee than select appropriate keynote speakers that can provide relevant information in areas such as production, environmental sustainability, new technology and current market issues such as value adding. The information gathered at these meetings is critical in order to provide the necessary tools, and/or different options to the producers of Manitoba. Since the inception, over 1200 producers a year attend the meetings, at seven difference locations in the province. Not only is this a venue of learning current technology and information it also allows producers to share ideas with other producers.

Manitoba Grazing School
This conference is a joint initiative between Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, the Manitoba Forage Council and supporting agribusinesses which was initiated in 1997 and has grown from 150 to 450 + participants over the years.  In 2002, MAFRI identified this event as one of the premier extension events in the province.

Through the grazing school, new grazing technologies have been adopted throughout Manitoba, specifically extended grazing systems and management of intensive grazing systems.

Topics have ranged from production, to economic and environmental sustainability issues and many speakers have challenged Manitoba farmers to think outside the box.

Manitoba Forage Symposium
This symposium is a joint initiative between Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, the Manitoba Forage Council and supporting agribusiness.  Our committee would like to continue to compliment the success of the Grazing school; however extend the focus of this symposium to include forage topics such as silage, feed quality and export hay, as well as tying forage utilization to livestock expansion.  Three first class forage symposiums have been organized since 2003 and participation has been excellent.

The symposium would focus on topics not dealt with at the Beef and Forage Days seminars or the Manitoba Grazing School. Topics and issues will address questions that producers within the province are asking.   The Forage Symposium is an excellent vehicle to extend producer knowledge on issues such as Carbon Sequestration using forages, Forages for Permanent cover and Forage for Export Markets. To build producer knowledge on these issues will further our goals of managing environmental concerns while increasing the efficiency of our livestock production and export forage sectors within Manitoba.

With this symposium we aim to raise the image of the forage industry as an income generator and one that is very environmentally friendly.  Forages have so many benefits that they must be taken more seriously, as public scrutiny of the Ag industry increases.  Forages such as alfalfa are excellent at carbon sequestration and in their improvement of soil organic matter. Forages grasses such as timothy are excellent in their erosion reduction characteristics while fueling the expanding hay export industry.

Provincial Grazing Tour
The provincial grazing tour is a spin off from the Manitoba Grazing School focusing on many of the practices that are promoted at the grazing school, where participants can actually see these new ideas and technology in action.  Producers from right across Manitoba and Saskatchewan and even some from North Dakota have participated in this event.  The provincial grazing tour will highlight some best management practices of producers across the central area of Manitoba.  The tour will focus on grazing management and improving production efficiencies of livestock through these management practices. Some of the management practices that will be promoted through this tour are:

a)    Brush management
b)    Extending the grazing season
c)    Rotational Grazing and using legumes in pastures.
d)    Pasture Watering Systems and Riparian Area Management

The goals that will be incorporated into the tour are to achieve optimum production and selection of livestock that fit their environment, instead of artificially changing the environment to fit the livestock. Since many ranchers have cows that are too big and inefficient, they are forced to change their environment by feeding harvested and purchased feed to keep their cows in production. This quickly takes most of the profit out of ranching. The target will be to select a cow that can survive strictly on what the ranch produces with little, or no, inputs.  The benefits will be: improving the soil, the forage and the bio-diversity of the land. By managing the soil, the forage and understanding the basic grazing concepts, the conditions for optimal grass growth throughout the entire growing season will be accomplished.    Managing the land and using the livestock as tools to harvest the crop allowing grazing to take place 365 days/year is the overall goal.

Holistic Management International Conference
Holistic Management is most easily defined by simply adding W to the word holistic.  This describes what the process does – helps us manage whole situations rather than perceived parts.  Managing the whole gives better results and fewer unexpected problems.  Holistic Management gives human values a priority, while creating profit through proven financial planning producers and ecosystem enhancement techniques.  It helps to identify specific goals and to make grazing decisions, land decisions, financial decisions and to perform effective monitoring, in ways that specifically further farming or ranching goals.  Holistic Management accounts for three goals:
In Manitoba there has been a real influx of producers who have accepted holistic management practices on their operations to increase profit and simplify the work on their operations.  In conjunction with the Holistic Management International organization in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Manitoba Forage Council and Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives staff will be organizing an international conference in Manitoba this year.  This will focus on Holistic Management practices right across the world with speakers from across the globe at this event.

Project Objective:
The objectives of theses conferences are:
•    To bring in leading experts in innovative fields of ruminant livestock and forage management, providing technical information to the producers of Manitoba, which allows them to remain competitive in this dynamic industry.
•    Provide opportunity for crop producers in Manitoba to access information that will allow them to incorporate forages into their rotations, allowing them to value add to their current operations.
•    To provide the opportunity for producers in Manitoba to recognize the benefits from diversifying their current practices to a forage/beef system to enhance overall farm profitability.
•    Provide current and timely information such as market projections, new opportunities and food safety, to beef and forage produces in Manitoba thus allowing them to remain viable.

Project Contact: Wayne Digby, MFC
Ph: (204) 726-9393
Funding Partners: MFC, MAFRI, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Greencover Canada, Manitoba Cattle Producers Association, University of Manitoba, Holistic Management International,  Manitoba Finals Rodeo Association and numerous industry sponsors in the following areas:  forage seed, marketing, farm consulting, government services, animal health, nutrition and management
Project Results: Project is ongoing.