GFM Network News


Grazing corn is not an exact science

Grazed standing corn will need supplements

A great feed source, but added protein may be needed as winter progresses

Putting beef cows out to tramp through the snow to graze standing corn has become more popular in the last few years. It’s relatively low-cost forage which can make up a sizeable portion of a pregnant cow’s overwinter diet because whole corn plants (with ears) can provide a significant amount of dietary energy and protein. […] Read more

Many farms across Western Canada will likely be dealing with a certain amount of mouldy feed that can be fed in small amounts if blended off with better quality feed.

Vitti: Options for including mouldy feed in rations

Know what you have and blend it off with the good stuff


This year, not many people harvested and stored good-quality hay on the northern Prairies. A cool spring and droughty summer capped by a couple of feet of autumn snow forced many producers to harvest thousands of mouldy hay bales. For many, this is their only forage supply to overwinter beef cows. Fortunately, we can set […] Read more


Late fall pasture may fill cows up but are they getting enough protein?

Pregnant cows need their protein

Molasses lick-tubs can help maintain cow condition and keep fetuses growing

I was recently driving west through the southern Prairies and saw a beef cow herd grazing late-autumn straw-coloured pasture. I suspected the calves were probably just weaned, which simply puts these dams at their lowest dietary requirements. I believe that these particular cows were getting plenty to eat, but they were probably not getting enough […] Read more

Silage corn grown during drought can lead to feed quality and safety issues.

Drought-stricken corn can make dangerous silage

High nitrate levels, moulds and toxins might prevail


Much of this year’s corn crop across the southern Prairies has been once again hit by drought. My photograph of a southern Manitoba cornfield in mid-August shows one of the worst cornfields I have ever seen. It tasselled out early with curled grey leaves and no visible cobs on its stalk. Most whole plants were […] Read more


Regardless of growing condition, all grasses begin to decline in quality this time of year. A proper vitamin and mineral program helps to meet nutrient requirements.

Fall is no time to slack off on a livestock mineral program

Plenty of hidden benefits for overall herd health and reproduction

Since April, I’ve had the privilege to criss-cross the Prairies to witness the opposite effects of drought and continuous rainstorms upon hundreds of square miles of pasture. In some areas, the pastures were brown, short and by themselves didn’t produce enough feed to support cattle, while other regions were green, lush and had lots of […] Read more

This old textbook photo of a Venezuelan cow chewing a bone is an example of what cattle should not be doing to meet vitamin and mineral requirements.

Don’t force cattle to eat bones for phosphorus

It’s an important nutrient for overall animal health and reproduction

A long time ago in university, I came across a faded photograph in our animal science book (Animal Nutrition, Maynard et al, 1979) that showed a poor Venezuelan cow chewing on a bone. Its caption read that she suffered from phosphorus deficiency. I thought at the time that this poor animal was so skinny and […] Read more



Either store-bought or homemade creep feeder designs, stocked with a proper ration, can be used in early spring.

Creep feeding spring calves pays dividends

This program pencils out to a $23 per head net premium in 2019

It’s always heartwarming to see the twitch of a spring calf’s tail as it nurses its mum. As this calf approaches three months of age, the brood cow’s milk production decreases, only supplying about half of the calf’s nutrient requirements. The rest must be delivered by sprouting pastures. But that could spell trouble to calf […] Read more


Proactive management can keep hooves in good condition.

Harden up cattle hooves to avoid foot rot

A proper mineral mix will help hooves 
withstand injury and infection

After the snow melts, it’s not unusual to hear a lot of stories about footrot on pasture, which may not ease if we continue into a wet summer. Hooves of cattle standing on wet ground or in puddles become soft and pliable, which makes them susceptible to infection. Immediate antibiotic action is effective footrot control, […] Read more

Many dairy producers wonder how to save on feed costs without sacrificing milk and milkfat production.

A cost-effective diet for dairy cows

Dairy Corner: Feed and yardage costs add up, but production is optimized

Most dairy producers want to feed cost-effective diets to their high milk- (milkfat) producing cows. That’s a tall order, which is most often achieved by obtaining the best lactation diets, first as a formula on paper and blended into a TMR, then put in front of the cows. Finally, it’s up to them to eat […] Read more