June 18, 2019 9:25 pm
Updated: June 19, 2019 7:12 am

Dry conditions spark concern for Saskatchewan’s grazing cattle this summer

WATCH: Farmers and ranchers may be worried about grazing conditions if the rain taps don't turn on soon to feed beef cattle through the summer and fall months.

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Saskatchewan has been facing dry conditions across the province due to a lack of rainfall.

As a result, some farmers and ranchers may be facing some grazing challenges this summer.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan farmers look skyward as drought conditions persist

Dr. Bart Larder, a professor in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the University of Saskatchewan, addressed a group of producers with concerns about grazing and forage systems with the dry conditions on Tuesday.

Cattle grazing methods, he explained, may have to change this year if the rain taps don’t turn on soon.

“Don’t have your stocking rate too high [for] the number of animals per unit area,” he said. “Maybe have a shorter rotation.”

WATCH: Saskatchewan farmers look skyward as drought conditions persist


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Although Dr. Larder couldn’t give any immediate solutions, he suggested some things producers can do to help manage the situation.

“Drought is tough on everything,” he said. “You can maybe do an early weaning, get the cows off the calves earlier. The last thing you want to do is de-stock or reduce your herd numbers.”

Leah Clark, a provincial cattle specialist, said the dry conditions can also put cattle’s water drinking sources at risk. As water evaporates from sloughs or dugouts, it can leave dangerous sulphates behind, she explained.

READ MORE: Over 200mm rain needed to ease drought conditions in southern Sask.

“It can cause trace mineral deficiencies in the animals,” she said, “which can affect reproduction, hair coat, immunity, and from there, if sulphates are elevated it can cause nutritional induced polo.”

Clark explained nutritional induced polo can cause severe neurological problems, and in extreme cases, death.

A drought has not been officially declared in Saskatchewan, but many in the province are worried about the lack of moisture and how it will affect their herds this summer.

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