Intensifying drought creating livestock nutrition challenges again
News reports of late indicate that areas of drought in some parts of Saskatchewan are the worst in a 100 years. There is an area between Regina and Saskatoon that is one of the three driest areas in Canada this year where the forecast for this area is severe drought. You can see it when you drive from Saskatoon to Regina. The pastures are eaten to the ground and there are very few signs of regrowth.
- Concerns Linger over Dry Pastures on Prairies (Western Producer)
- Canadian Drought Monitor, March 2019 (Agriculture Canada)
- Conditions at Freeze-Up Report, Nov 2018 (SK Water Security Agency)
If there is not a significant amount of timely rain, this is likely to lead to animal welfare concerns this summer, fall and winter.
Drought conditions are expected to impact pastures, hay and cereal crops, as well as surface water, over the summer. This will have an impact on large animal nutrition over next winter as well. SK veterinarians are concerned the reduction in hay production for baled feed, the reduction in hayfield regrowth for fall and winter grazing, the reduced growth in pastures, and the lowered yield of cereal crops (grain and straw) may mean there could be another severe feed shortage for livestock next winter.
Livestock provided with limited amounts of good quality feed (and therefore insufficient energy), with reduced access to water could result in there being animal welfare concerns and increased death rates near the end of next winter.