A Bird in the Hand or Two in the Grass?

    CALGARY, May 6 /CNW/ - International Migratory Bird Day, May 9,
celebrates the return of Canada's wintering birds. By now they have left their
wintering grounds in Mexico, Central and South America and many are already
here looking for suitable nest sites here in Canada.
    Many of those species are coming back to share the approximately 21
million hectares of grass pastures that Canadian cattle producers own or
manage. It's important for ranchers and farmers and the birds that those
pastures are in good condition so the work to make that happen will go on long
after May 09.
    So what can cattle producers do to provide high quality habitat for
migratory birds and care for those pastures? Lynn Grant, Chairman of the
Environment Committee for the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) says,
"Often it's just exactly what they are doing to sustain long-term productivity
for cattle."
    "This time of the year," says Grant, "it's good practice to keep cattle
off the natural pastures so the grass plants have time to really get growing.
We like to keep our cows on seeded grass pastures for a while."
    Other advice from the grazing experts includes keeping cattle numbers in
line with the available grass so the grazing intensity never gets to a severe
state. Recognizing that there is no one 'best' system, flexibility is
important, and remembering that an adaptive management approach helps to deal
with the surprises that weather can bring.
    Another tip from the experts is managing the grazing to keep diversity in
the natural grass systems. This keeps the pasture healthy and also makes sure
that each bird species can find the vegetation type that suits them.
    "Management is the key." says Grant. "We like to see the waterfowl and
song birds in our pastures. It's a sign that the pastures are in good shape.
When the pastures are in good shape so are the cattle and that sure helps my
bottom line."

    The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) is looking to work more
closely with partners like Ducks Unlimited Canada to help cattle producers
manage habitat for both cattle and birds. The benefits of habitat conservation
of course extend beyond waterfowl to many other species that depend on
wetlands, riparian areas and the fields and pastures that surround them.

    For accompanying audio clips, please visit the CCA's Media Resources at

For further information:

For further information: Natalie Arnieri, Communications Coordinator,
(403) 275-8558 x 410, arnierin@cattle.ca

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