Category Archives: Mixed Hay

Reducing Risk of Fire on Your Farm & Ranch

Reducing Risk of Fire on Your Farm & Ranch

Part 2 – Reducing Risk of Fire on Farm & Ranch

As we discussed in Part 1 of Farm, Ranch & Fire, an agricultural fire tends to be more costly than other industrial fires.  Not only is property and equipment affected, so too are crops and livestock – the combination is a double whammy which increases the commercial value of the loss.

Clearly all the safety precautions in the world won’t help if a wildfire has advanced to the point that evacuation of your farm or ranch is necessary, nonetheless whatever fire prevention precautions can be taken should be.  In Part 1 of this article we looked at some simple steps every farm or ranch can take with a mind to fire prevention.  Now we will take a closer look at ways to reduce the risk of fire to your farm or ranch.

Fire Prevention Measures

Forest Fire.  No one ever wants to have to use it, but it is a good idea to develop an evacuation plan (bearing in mind livestock) and incorporate drills into your staff training and education.

Noncombustible Zones.  Keep dry and flammable vegetation at least 5 feet away from barns, outbuildings and residences.  Establish a noncombustible zone around fuel, chemicals, hay and equipment. Welders/ and cutting torches should only be used in clean areas well away from flammable materials (at least 35 feet). Keep roofs and eaves troughs free of combustible debris.  Maintain appropriate fire guards around crops and pastures.

Equipment.  Replace belts, bearings and electrical components in a timely manner.  Keep engine compartments clean.  Be sure mufflers and manifolds are in proper working order.  Follow maintenance schedules for machinery.  Machinery or vehicles with special hazards should be stored separately. Fire extinguishers should be on tractors, combines and other farm and ranch vehicles.

Buildings.  Be sure to include updating buildings with fire resistant materials (and sprinklers) in your budget and short and long-term planning.  To prevent the spread of fire, construct new buildings away from preexisting ones.  Keep vegetation cut around and between buildings.  Use fire doors and smoke detectors.

Electrical.  Be sure staff and family know how to disconnect main power.  Extension cords are not designed to be permanent wiring solutions.  When you need to use them for a temporary purpose, be sure they are rated appropriately for the task.  Keep an eye out for exposed wiring or frayed insulation around wiring.  Better safe than sorry.  Bring in a licensed contractor for advice, inspections, renovations and new construction.

Heating Sources.  Use dust and moisture resistant covers on lights.  Tank heater cords and heat tapes should be protected against damage by pests or livestock.  Use heaters with tip-over protection and be sure they are not placed in high traffic areas or where combustibles and flammables are stored.  Dispose of oily rags in a timely manner.  Cure hay to the proper moisture content before bailing.

Controlled Burns.  The Government of Saskatchewan has a great little article online entitled “FireSmart: Farm and Ranch Practices”.  The article has some excellent tips about controlled burns, as well as fire prevention in general for farmers and ranchers.

Farming and ranching may feel a bit like gambling sometimes.  There are many variables at play which can affect the prosperity of an operation from year to year – don’t let careless fire prevention be one of them.  Be vigilant, establish a culture of safety on your farm or ranch.

Barr-Ag

 

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any of our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse crops.

References:
The Government of Saskatchewan; Wildfire Education and Prevention; FireSmart: Farm and Ranch Practices
http://www.environment.gov.sk.ca/Default.aspx?DN=2116f4ac-765b-4e14-9486-4eb96e9b5e10

Farm Ranch Fire Prevention

Farm, Ranch & Fire Prevention

Part 1 – Simple Steps for Fire Prevention

In terms of forest fires, the summer of 2016 was tough for those living in northern Alberta. “The fire spread across approximately 590,000 hectares (1,500,000 acres) before it was declared to be under control on July 5, 2016.” [1]

While damages to Fort McMurray itself, work camps and surrounding boreal forest were extensive, losses in terms of agriculture were not substantial as the areas affected were not primarily agricultural in purpose.  However, the fires in Southern and Central Alberta in the summer of 2017, have had an impact on both farming and ranching. Extremely dry conditions set the stage for the commencement and growth of fires in several areas across Southern and Central Alberta – both prime agricultural regions.

Farming and ranching aren’t without their dangers – even under the best of environmental conditions, but in a dry year it is important to keep vigilant.  Agricultural fires tend to be more costly than other industrial fires because not only is property and equipment affected, so too are crops and livestock – the combination increases the commercial value.

While there is not much that can be done about Mother Nature, we can at least be sure that we take measures to reduce the risk of fire on farm and ranch.

Fire Prevention Measures:

No Smoking.  One of the most preventable causes of fires is the haphazard extinguishing or “flicking” of cigarette butts. Provide safe and dedicated receptacles for butts at designated areas.  Be sure staff, seasonal workers and family are aware that using them is non-negotiable and smoking bans apply everywhere else – around combustible materials, in barns etc. Post “No Smoking” signs.

Remove.  Familiarity can minimize our ability to observe the obvious.  Be on the look-out for potential fire hazards and remove them whenever possible.  If a particular hazard can’t be removed, take necessary steps to mitigate fire risk associated with it.

farm fire prevention

Rooftop Fire Prevention Sprinklers

Education.  Teach staff, seasonal employees and family members to be safety conscious and mindful of fire risk.  Be sure everyone knows where the fire extinguishers are.  Conduct fire drills which include various scenarios.  Come up with a plan of action in the event of a fire and be sure staff and family know what to do.

Equipment. Be sure fire extinguishers, fire and smoke alarms are in proper working order.  Some operations my require the installation of warning systems or water sprinklers in barns or processing facilities.

Safety First.  Employ safe housekeeping practices.  Be intentional so that it will be a habit during busy harvest and planting season.  Put tools, supplies and equipment away properly. Maintain aisles, walkways, entrances and exits free of clutter and obstructions.  Inspect mechanized equipment on a regular basis to ensure things are in proper working order.

The Fire Department.  Maintain a good relationship with your local fire department – in the event of an incident you will be glad that you did.  Try to ensure adequate water supply is available.  Keep an updated list of hazardous materials that are stored on your property.

Fire is just one of the factors that can threaten the productivity and prosperity of a farm, but it is a threat that we have some measure of control over.  Part 2 of Farm, Ranch & Fire will look at other practices and strategies that can be employed to further fire prevention management on farm and ranch.

 

Barr-Ag

 

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any of our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse crops.

 

References:

[1] 2016 Fort McMurray Wildfire 

Learning About Canadian Forage

Cutting canadian forage

Canadian forage has a good reputation

Canada is the premier supplier of hay, straw and other forage domestically and internationally. According to the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, Canada exports approximately 600,000 tonnes of forage annually. This Canadian growth forage is valued at about $150 million and is shipped primarily to the Asia and the United States. Recently, markets for Canadian forage have started to emerge in parts of Mexico and the Middle East.

The Canadian Prairies have developed a good reputation for producing high quality forage such as Timothy and Alfalfa hay. Clean air, long warm days, cool nights and soil rich in calcium and magnesium all contribute to ideal growing conditions.

In an article published in Country Guide, Glenn Friesen of Manitoba Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development commented that these growing conditions are conducive to producing forages that increase animal performance.

High Quality Forage Dairy CowsFeeding your cattle high quality forage is essential for weight gain, producing higher levels of milk, and increasing reproduction success. In the end, all of these things add up to increasing profits for the cattle producer. For Canadian forage producers, this means keeping domestic and international customers happy.

Learning About Canadian Forage

Forages are plants used to feed livestock and can include Alfalfa hay, Timothy hay, pasture and browse plants, cereals and straw. In Canada, forages are the basis of our livestock industry. They also help conserve the rich soil as they add nitrogen to the soil and crop rotations improve the overall soil structure.

Alfalfa-HayAlfalfa hay is considered the one of the best quality forages available in the market and it is the most widely grown in Canada. Farmers from Asia and the United States purchase Canadian alfalfa for their dairy cattle and horses. It will grow under most conditions, can be adapted to many different climatic regions and does especially well in Western Canada.

The quality of the forage is dependent on the following factors:

  • Management of the soil
  • Nutrient composition
  • Seeding rates
  • Timing of cutting, raking and baling
  • Storage of the forage

Young forage is higher in protein and energy that older flowering forage, which is why cutting it at the right time is crucial to its quality.

Purchasing Canadian Forage

Barr-Ag Hay & Grain Exporters are positioned near the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, a location that provides a pristine environment for growing quality hay and other forages.  Among our most sought after products are Timothy hay, alfalfa hay, mixed hay, oaten hay, sweet hay, as well as various straws and our Canadian Grain Exports.

Unlike crops grown in countries with longer growing seasons and milder climates, our harsh Canadian winters help us to raise our hay crops using more natural methods. There is little to no need for pesticides and herbicides because prolonged cold weather acts as a natural pesticide and herbicide.

Because of the shorter growing season we get 1 or 2 cuttings in a season thereby giving the land ample time to rest and rejuvenate without excessive use of fertilizers. The availability of high quality hay, forage and grain, as well as Barr-Ag’s crop production methods are two reasons our customers have sought us out and helped make us Canada’s leading exporter of hay and forage.

To purchase Canadian forage contact Barr-Ag today!

Sources: http://www.country-guide.ca/2014/03/25/putting-prairie-forages-on-americas-stage/43638/

http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/industry-markets-and-trade/statistics-and-market-information/by-product-sector/crops/pulses-and-special-crops-canadian-industry/forage/?id=1174594338500

A Japanese Dairy Farm-Timothy Hay and Alfalfa Hay Customers

Harvest season 2012 was a very busy time for everyone at Barr-Ag. Along with our farming responsibilities, we usually host clients from abroad. They come to examine Timothy Hay, Alfalfa Hay, mixed hays and other crops and set up their purchasing. We took the time this year to sit down and profile one of our Asian customers. The farm was happy to oblige us with all the data we needed, but for confidentiality reasons has asked that we do not post their name.

Japan is divided into 47 sub-national jurisdictions (like states or provinces) known as Prefectures. Our client’s dairy farm, located in the Tochigi Prefecture, is about 2 hours north of Tokyo. Tochigi Prefecture is the second largest producer of raw milk in Japan. The farm has been operational for 26 years and is home to 2000 Holstein dairy cows. For the past 7 years this dairy operation has been receiving our shipments of Timothy hay and alfalfa hay every month. “We like that Barr-Ag is a farm-based company because of the stable supply source”. “We would recommend Barr-Ag to other dairy farms because having a relationship directly with the grower is a big advantage”.

The 2011 Tsunami in their country had a devastating effect on agriculture. “Our neighbour farms have gone out of business.” “We experienced significant loss because we were unable to ship our product for a few weeks.” Because our business relationships at Barr-Ag extends over long periods of time, we get to know our clients and we care about them. We kept in close contact and adjusted our supply schedule to meet their immediate needs after the Tsunami.

There wasn’t much else we could do from a small, rural, agricultural community in Olds, Alberta, but we wanted to do what we could to help. “Barr-Ag donated a few containers a month after the disaster. We distributed them to our neighbour farms to help”. It’s what farmers seem to do everywhere; neighbours helping neighbours even if they happen to live 5000 miles away.

Mixed Hay for Horses

During our winter season in Alberta, horses are unable to forage in pasture and hay becomes their main food source.  When choosing hay for your horses, it’s important to be mindful of not only the quality of hay you are offering your horses, but also the type of hay.

Generally, hay can be classified in three different types.  Legume hay, that would include hays high in protein and nutrients like alfalfa, is very popular among horse owners.  Grass hay, which would include timothy, orchard, and fescue are also popular, especially for adult horses.  Mixed hay is usually a blend of grasses and legumes and with the right combination horses are eager to dive in!

Mixed Hay

Mixing grass hays with legume hays has its advantages, including benefits to growers and producers.  Growing legume hay like alfalfa will help add nitrogen to the soil by nitrogen fixing.  In fact, alfalfa could fix up to 500lbs of nitrogen per acre and this nitrogen usually goes directly to the plant.  This natural process can help cut down on fertilizer use and growing costs.

What are other other benefits of choosing mixed hay for your horses?  They love it!  Adding legume hay to grass hay may increase the appeal of the feed for most horses and in many cases it is very easy for them to eat.  Plus, introducing a legume like alfalfa in mixed hay also improves the feeds quality by increasing vitamin A, protein, calcium, and the amount of energy in the feed.

If you throw down a grass hay flake and a legume hay flake, your horse may go straight for the legume hay.  When you grow your different hays together, it becomes too difficult for picky eaters to separate out the tasty portions.  Some horse owners prefer the mixed hay because it ensures their horses are getting a balance of key nutrients, making them strong and healthy.

Mixed Hay Right for your Horse?

Remember that each horse’s food requirements vary and are dependent on age, stage of development, workload, activity and metabolism.  You should always consider each individual when choosing hay for your horses and when deciding on portion sizes during feeding times.

Because legume hay tends to be higher in protein, calcium, vitamin A, and calories than grass hays, they make a great feed for young and growing horses, high performance athletes, and lactating mares.

Grass hay is usually lower in protein and energy and higher in fibre.  This makes it a good choice for most adult horses.  It satisfies their appetite, but cuts down on the excess calories and protein they may not need.

Mixed hay will give your horses the dietary benefits of alfalfa without giving them the excess they might not require.  According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, too much excess could predispose young horses to problems like developmental bone disease and epiphysis.  If you are unsure, consult your veterinarian when putting together your horses diet plan.

Mixed Hay Sales from Barr-Ag

Consider Barr-Ag when choosing hay for your horses!  While Barr-Ag grows some irrigated mixed hay, most of our mixed hay crop is grown on dry land. It is a versatile crop which combines non-GMO alfalfa, Timothy, orchard hay, brome hay and fescue.

For further information about mixtures currently available or to schedule a visit, contact us.