WHAT IS FORAGE?
Forage is feed for livestock, including cattle, sheep and horses.
It includes grasses, legumes and other crops such as cereals and
corn harvested as pasture, hay, silage or green-feed.
WHERE IS FORAGE PRODUCED IN BC?
is grown in every part of BC. While the production per hectare is
generally greatest in southern areas, high-quality, low-cost feed
can be produced from Prince George north where land prices are
lower. Most forage is grown and fed on the same farm.
HOW MUCH FORAGE DO WE PRODUCE?
On average, BC annually produces about 2 million tonnes of tame
hay equivalent cut for hay and silage. Tame hay includes alfalfa,
alfalfa mixtures, other legumes and grasses.
HOW IS FORAGE PRODUCED?
crops such as cereals, peas or corn are sown in early spring and
harvested from July to September mostly as silage. Perennial crops
of grasses and legumes are sown alone or with a companion crop and
harvested for 4 to 8 years. One cut per year, plus some fall
pasture, is harvested in northern areas; two cuts are common in the
Cariboo; three cuts under irrigation at Kamloops; and four to five
cuts are harvested per year in coastal areas. The mineral soils of
BC are often deficient in nutrients essential for crop growth, so
soil testing and nutrient application are essential to optimize
production. Livestock manures are used for this purpose wherever
WHAT DOES FORAGE LOOK LIKE WHEN IT IS USED?
is grown for pasture, harvested as green-feed, stored as hay or
silage, or processed for domestic or export markets. Stored feed can
be harvested as hay (less than 15% moisture) in small square bales
(22 to 45kg); large square bales (900kg); small (350kg) or large
(635kg) round bales; and in loose stacks (approximately 2700kg).
Silage (40 to 75% moisture) can be chopped and stored in upright or
horizontal silos, packed in plastic bags, or baled unchopped and
stored in long plastic tubes or individually wrapped. Processed BC
forage is sold as bagged small-bale haylage for the coastal horse
market or as alfalfa processed in pellets or small cubes for the
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE FORAGE LEAVES THE FARM?
75% of forage produced in BC is utilized on the farm. Another 20% is
shipped within the province. Several trucking firms are in the
business of transporting forage to livestock producers in the
province. Some forage is shipped out-of-province to supply the
Alaska dairy market, the Yukon horse market and the Pacific Rim
processed forage market.
WHAT CHALLENGES DOES THE FORAGE PRODUCER FACE?
Forage producers are looking for ways to overcome the problem of
wet weather at harvest. Faster hay drying techniques using a
macerator are being developed. A macerator finely chops the forage
and lays it in a swath. Because the cut material is in small pieces,
drying time can be reduced considerably. Producers are also
developing cheaper silage storage techniques. Like most other
agricultural producers, they are seeking ways to reduce their cost
WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING FORAGE?
- All livestock producers
- Commercial forage producers
- Forage seed producer
- Suppliers of fertilizer, seed farm machinery and irrigation
- Forage processors
Interesting Fact About Forage:
More hectares of forage are grown in BC than any other
cultivated crop. While traditionally forage has been grown as feed
for livestock, it is also used as feed for game animals such as
fallow deer and exotic birds such as emu and ostrich.
- Contacts and other resources:
BC Forage Council
- BCMAL -
- Canadian Dehydrators
Canadian Hay Association
- InfoBasket: Your Portal to Agri-Food Information on the Internet