With hay in short supply, Portage Vale woman travels to P.E.I. to keep goats fed

·3 min read

When Dawn Langille purchased two goats in September, she never imagined having to leave New Brunswick to find feed for them.

After she got them home, she learned there was a hay shortage. "I wouldn't have gotten the goats at that time had I known," she said.

Langille, from Portage Vale, said she managed to get the number of a man who sold her 10 bales. When she called again, he didn't have any more available.

Nobody else did either.

'Not enough to go around'

"We went from having a snowstorm in early May to really no precipitation until mid-October," Lisa Ashworth, with the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick, told Shift N.B.

Ashworth said producers normally get three cuts from their hay fields. She said the first cut was average for most. After that, there was no regrowth.

"The volume of stored feed to get through the winter simply doesn't exist," Ashworth said.

Submitted by the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick
Submitted by the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick

Ashworth said New Brunswick farmers could normally obtain feed on Prince Edward Island in past years when weather impacted hay production. But, after a P.E.I. also had a dry season, it's even harder to come by.

"It's a sellers' market, for sure," she said. "You can basically charge whatever you would like and producers will have to decide if they have the ability to pay.

"But really there is a shortage at any price. There simply is not enough to go around."

Trip to P.E.I.

With the help of her daughter, Langille eventually tracked down a man on P.E.I. who had hay for sale. She said the price was less than half of what she would have paid in New Brunswick.

It took her seven hours to drive to P.E.I. and back, but she got 30 square bales of hay.

"I only have so big of a trailer so I couldn't transport much more than that," she said.

"If I need more ... it'll be another costly trip to P.E.I. for hay. They're expensive goats now."

According to Ashworth, many producers are short of feed by a couple months. She said straw can sometimes be used as an alternative but there is a shortage there, too.

The only option left would be fewer animals.

Rain for next season

As for what Langille would do if she couldn't secure enough hay, she said: "I don't know and I don't want to find out."

Submitted by Dawn Langille
Submitted by Dawn Langille

For now, Langille said she is working to make her supply last by taking her goats into the bushes to eat, even cutting down trees for them to munch on.

"People are looking for hay all the time," she said. "It's unreal in New Brunswick. I don't know what people are going to do."

Ashworth isn't too sure, either.

But she said supporting local farmers can help and so does checking on neighbours.

While she said it might be "too late for this year," there is one thing she knows for sure going forward.

"Having rain now certainly makes everything better to get started next year."

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