The fields west of Calgary are wide open. Little snow cover leaves barely any remaining grass open for grazing.
“Right now, the grass has been used almost entirely by our grazing rotations,” Cherie Copithorne-Barnes told CL Ranches. “If we do not have moisture going forward, I have no place to take my cows. There are no reserves left. ”
CL Ranches produced half of their normal feed during last year’s extreme drought.
Prairie cattle producers face shortage of feed and water as winter approaches
“We need to supplement last year’s lack of grass growth with the sponsors we feed and at the moment these sponsors are in short supply and very very expensive,” Copithorne-Barnes said.
Fortunately, the warm weather means that the cattle eat less. It’s temporary relief, and Calgarians enjoy it too.
Everywhere there are signs of spring. The usually hardened ice of the Bow River is seen to break up. And even occasionally a tree is fooled by unusually hot temperatures.
“When the air temperature warms up, it does deceive the trees into thinking that spring has arrived. So their buds are starting to swell a bit, ”Lisa Silva told Blue Grass Garden Center.
Since December 1, Vancouver has seen the Calgary snowfall almost twice.
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“Vancouver was placed right next to a sea. There is a lot of moisture there. And there is a lot of heat. The temperatures were very close to freezing so that air could hold a lot of moisture and give that big snowfall, ”said Terri Lang, a meteorologist from Environment and Climate Change Canada. “While it’s much drier, much colder in Calgary, and we’re not likely to get that heavy snowfall.”
Yet, in an average winter, Calgary sees nearly double Vancouver’s snowfall levels.
Much of the city’s December air was too cold to hold much moisture, and January’s chinooks did not help either.
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“The moisture is all turned out on the West Coast on the West Coast Mountains. By the time it gets to the other side of the mountains, it’s dry, and it’s getting hot as it comes down, which’s your Chinook effect, ”Lang said.
While long-term forecast models for more snow – and more cold – require this February, growers will need the benefit of sustained wet weather as soon as spring formally arrives.
“Droughts tend to build up over time, and they do not disappear overnight.”
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, 2021 was the ninth driest year in the last 137 years of record keeping.
Addressing water management in southern Alberta: ‘We will have more droughts’
For now, farmers say they will appeal to the federal government again this year for possible help. Some also call for a cross-country truck convoy to bring fodder from eastern producers on their return journey.
“Whether we like it or not, I can not stop these cows from calving this spring. And they have to keep eating, ”Copithorne-Barnes said. “So we need options.”
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