They say patience is a virtue. For hay growers who delay the hay cut, it also helps save at-risk grassland birds.
Only three per cent of Ontario’s grassland ecosystems still exist intact. Ground-nesting grassland birds, like eastern meadowlark and bobolink, have come to rely on active hay and pasture fields to raise their young. Traditionally, hay cutting occurs in late May to mid-June when baby bobolink and meadowlark are still in the nest. Delaying the hay cut until mid-July gives the birds the time they need to fledge and gives the species a chance for survival.
Every nest protected has the potential to save 2-7 baby birds. Year over year, the positive impact hay growers can have in restoring bobolink and meadowlark populations is exponential. Every acre counts.
“It doesn’t make much difference to me to delay the cutting of my hay field, but for grassland birds it means they survive.” – Geoff Maltby, bird-friendly hay farmer.
CVC’s Bird-Friendly Certified Hay program helps hay growers grow and sell bird-friendly hay. It connects farmers with agricultural landowners with land to rent and hay purchasers looking to buy bird-friendly hay.
“Farmers have the opportunity to grow a niche product that demonstrates their commitment to the environment,” says Mark Eastman, CVC’s agricultural outreach coordinator. “We currently have 300 acres enrolled in the program. Our goal is to reach 400 acres of bird-friendly hay by 2022.”
Commit to Delaying the Hay Cut in 2022
Join other local hay growers in delaying the hay cut until July 15 to protect grassland birds. You can certify all or a portion of your hay fields as bird-friendly through CVC’s Bird-Friendly Certified Hay program.
Read about our bird-friendly farmers
Barry and Tina Wright certify a portion of their Erin farm hay acreage as bird-friendly every year. “The flexibility of enrolling only a portion of my farmland allows me to balance my desire to grow higher-protein early-cut hay with my desire to leave a little space for the birds,” says Barry. Read Barry and Tina’s story.