More and more cattle producers are looking at extensive winter feeding options.

This involves feeding the animals out on the field through swath grazing, bale grazing, processing or using stockpiled forages.

Agri-Environmental Specialist Keana Boere says the animals are out on the field and their feed is already located on that field. 

"So producers don't have to start their tractor every morning. So it saves some time and some money. In addition, the nutrients that are deposited from the manure, or from those feed sources are already out on that field. So there are less manure hauling costs, and crops grown on that field potentially could use those nutrients in the next growing season."

She says as a result it's important when selecting a site for winter feeding to think about environmental impacts.

"So selecting sites with low slopes, because steeper slopes have a greater risk of runoff and the potential for nutrients to end up in water bodies. You can also add structures to a site like berms, spaces or ditches just to help control runoff and erosion. Second is to consider the ground cover of the site. Vegetation cover of any kind slows and traps runoff water."

More information on wintering sites and environmental impacts and conditions to be aware of can be found through your provincial agriculture office and websites.