Alberta’s paradise for Ranchers and Farmers
As many people are aware, Alberta is known for its diversity of land types and weather patterns. We have outstanding farmland in northern Alberta referred to as “The Peach Country”, and in southern Alberta known as “The Prairies”. Throughout the central and western side of the province is what we call “The Foothills”, which consists of beautiful ranch land among rolling hills and big sections of forestry area. Within a short drive you can find the Rocky Mountains, prairies, foothills, lakes, rivers, and creeks. It’s a beautiful province with the utmost opportunities.
With a drastic change in land types, we also experience extreme weather changes throughout the four seasons. Our summers can get as hot as +40 degrees Celsius and our winters as cold as -40 degrees Celsius before the windchill. Due to the weather, we face the struggles that come along with it, especially for Farmers and Ranchers in Alberta.
Ranchers’ work day in and out tending to crop and animals, which is required even on the coldest days of winters and hottest of summer. Typically, winter calving operations will calve anywhere from January- April, meaning babies are born in the coldest months of the year. Calves will frequently spend their first few hours in the warmth of a barn, machinery shop and even in our own homes. Ranchers ensure each pen of livestock has fresh bedding in their shelters to help keep the animals healthy, dry, and provide a comfortable temperature throughout the winter months and cold snaps.
The summers require a different approach – animals require shade to have an escape from the powerful sun and bugs along with access to clean water at any given time. Often you will find the cows grazing in the evenings and overnight so they can spend their day resting in the shade where it is most desirable.
Challenges for Alberta Farmers?
Farmers typically have a different set of responsibilities which include tending to the crops, extreme heat levels, drought, or excessive rain fall, insects and pesticides, just to name a few. In a drought-filled summer there is much higher risk for fires, and droughts make for poor yielding crops and lack of feed for the livestock. Some farmers will irrigate their crops with pivots or flood irrigation. With high heat temperatures, moisture is needed more than on a year with average temperatures. Crops will use water to keep the plants cool before they use the moisture for development; therefore, much more moisture is needed in hot summers. When a crop is harvested in higher heat temperatures it requires aerated bins, and/or extreme bin management from the farmer to ensure the heat doesn’t get too hot and spoil and even rot the product.
Working hours of Farmers and Ranchers?
Most applications have temperature restrictions, so farmers will work tirelessly through the late evenings and early mornings to ensure the crop isn’t affected in a negative way from the applications each crop may need to perform best yields, or they must wait until the ground temperature meets the application requirements. Most volumes of grain inventory are moved throughout the fall and winter months which makes for unsafe travel conditions.
The main focus for ranchers is ensuring their livestock remains healthy and strong throughout the course of the year to maximize weight gain and profits. Starting with the early hours of a calf’s life, ranchers enable full potential by ensuring each calf gets its colostrum and desired vitamins. Like humans, young calves have a weaker immune system which can cause sickness like pneumonia. Once the herd is moved to summer pastures calves begin to flourish on the lush green pastures, but a rancher’s job continues. Flies, moist ground, and infections can all effect cows/calves negatively, ranchers continue monitoring their heard 365 days a year.
These are just a few examples of the challenges Farmers and Ranchers face in Alberta each year to provide food for the world.