Latest articles

A two-step (plus) grazing plan

Use the grass, but don’t abuse it — allow for recovery time

Often I see people’s eyes glaze over and a sense of disconnect when talking about grazing plans — surely after caring for cattle all winter, we can just turn them out in the spring and go round them up in the fall. Like most of agriculture now, the pressure for returns on a land base […] Read more

More details on Step 3 of the two-step grazing plan

Use the grass, but then give it a chance to recover before coming back

Step 3 of the two-step grazing plan could also be titled, “How To Not Graze,” as this by far seems to be the biggest challenge facing pastures in Western Canada and perhaps around the world. In order for grazing to be successful, we first have to grow forage, and in order to do this to […] Read more

Where does grass come from?

Aside from the obvious answer, it is important to have a grazing plan

We do some apparently strange things on our operation. We are short on cropland and long on native rangeland in our resource mix, so we run smaller cows and calve later than many of our neighbours. We also try to extend our grazing season, particularly the grass component, for as long as is humanly or […] Read more

Multi-benefits of multi-species pastures

Collecting plenty of solar rays above ground benefits soil health below ground

I am a big fan of diversity in both perennial and annual grazing situations. In some ways multiple species are more difficult to manage than less-diverse plant communities. In a multi-species scenario every action and in particular its timing will favour one species over another and shift the balance of power in the pasture. The […] Read more

Managing the carbon crop

The objective is to return more carbon to the soil than is released

One of the best parts of writing for Grainews is the people who contact me to question/disagree or express some interest in an aspect of a story I have written. I confess I have sometimes written pieces just to engage healthy discussion. I have always had an interest in the “global warming” debate and have […] Read more

Are you a (soil) health nut?

Any treatments applied above ground will eventually affect what happens below your feet

I was eternally blessed to enter the University of Saskatchewan while Les Henry was still teaching at a time when we were “forced” to take at least an introductory soil science course. I learned a lot in that introductory course; mostly about how much I didn’t know (and how much Dr. Henry did). But more […] Read more

Several options for winter grazing

Better to spend money on topping up nutrition than hauling feed

Winter grazing can work because it addresses one of the largest costs in maintaining a cow herd — yardage. For a simple definition, yardage is everything that is not feed. It includes tractors, fuel, depreciation on equipment, yard lights, fences, corrals and labour among other things. Some recent work in both Alberta and Saskatchewan has […] Read more

Winter grazing begins before Dec. 1

Don't assume winter grazing won’t work ‘here’ — look at the options

I confess, I am a winter grazier. I love grazing cows in the wintertime. I like reducing my labour and cutting my costs. I like free time for spending with kids or writing Grainews articles. Truth be told, I even like riding saddle horses in the cold, as a lot of our terrain is not […] Read more

Something magical about 10:2:1 ratio

A per cent hear and there in reproduction and growth makes a difference

If it is possible to have a favourite ratio, 10:2:1 is mine. The reason for the favouritism is this ratio comes from one of my favourite pieces of extension material, done by Melton et al. way back in 1995. The 10:2:1 ratio reflects the relative importance of reproduction:production:product, particularly for those marketing calves directly from […] Read more

The importance of unit costs for livestock

Ranch Management: All expenses can be looked at in terms of cost per head or cost per pound

It is relatively easy to find product offerings that promise to increase production. As a somewhat skeptical consumer, these technologies/solutions always need to be examined carefully before deciding whether or not they are worth using. That said, all of these products tend to reinforce one simple point: production matters. The less simple aspect of this […] Read more