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Alfalfa as a Diversification Option for Grain Farms in Western Canada.

Khakbazan, M., Moulin, A.M., Coulthard, L., Nagy, C.N., Yarotski, J.B. (2009). "Alfalfa as a Diversification Option for Grain Farms in Western Canada.", Journal of International Farm Management, 4(4), pp. 1-10.


Western Canadian grain producers are considering diversifying from crop production and including forages in their rotations for hay production or livestock grazing. The addition of a livestock enterprise can stabilize farm income as returns from livestock are negative or weakly positively correlated with grain and oilseed returns. This study showed a high degree of risk and variability of revenue associated with the addition of forages to a crop rotation for livestock grazing, relative to hay production at the scale of this study. Revenue from grazed alfalfa exceeded that for hay production but costs were also higher. Sources of risk include cattle deaths and costs related to animal care. The choice between cattle or hay production should be based on an analysis of the uncertainty related to forage production, management of animal health, and contracted prices; and long-term fixed infrastructure costs such as fencing or watering systems.

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