An Acton farmer, Geoff Maltby, will mark the start of the hay harvest on July 15. Geoff Maltby is participating in Credit Valley Conservation’s (CVC) Bird-Friendly Certified Hay (BFCH) program where he agreed to delay the date he cuts hay to protect grassland birds.
Grassland birds such as bobolink and the eastern meadowlark breed and make their nests on the ground in grasslands. In the last 10 years, bobolink and eastern meadowlark have experienced population declines of 33 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively, due to loss of natural grassland habitat. Thankfully, late cut hay fields provide suitable alternative habitat for grassland birds.
“Farmers are key partners in conservation. The Bird-Friendly Certified Hay program exemplifies how the farm community is making a real difference in the recovery of grassland birds,” said Mike Puddister, Deputy CAO and Director of Watershed Transformation at CVC. “Since the program began in 2013, over 164 bobolink and eastern meadowlark have been found using the Bird-Friendly Certified Hay fields.”
Maltby became involved in the BFCH program when it first started three years ago. He currently has 10 acres enrolled in the program. “It doesn’t make much difference to me to delay cutting my hay field, but for grassland birds it means they survive,” said Maltby. “I can give you a dozen reasons why to grow bird-friendly certified hay, but not one reason why not.”
Being a part of the program made sense for Maltby because he was motivated to protect grassland birds on his farm and by the quality of hay produced to feed his own horses. It was a natural extension to his farming operations and stewardship ethic.
“Farmers participating in the BFCH program are showing that environmental protection and farming are mutually beneficial,” said Mark Eastman, CVC’s Agricultural Extension Program Coordinator.
Hay growers can connect to hay purchasers, such as the growing local equine community, to sell this niche product on the program’s online marketplace www.birdfriendlyhay.ca.
Learn more about growing, selling or purchasing BFCH by contacting Mark Eastman at 1-800-668-5557 ext. 430 or www.birdfriendlyhay.ca.
Geoff Maltby, Acton farmer participating in the Bird-Friendly Certified Hay program.
Conservation authorities are a provincial/municipal partnership. For more than 60 years, Credit Valley Conservation has worked with its partners to build a thriving environment that protects, connects and sustains us. Credit Valley Conservation gratefully acknowledges financial support from our member municipalities for facilities, programs and services: the Regions of Peel and Halton; the Cities of Mississauga and Brampton; the Towns of Caledon, Erin, Halton Hills, Mono, Oakville and Orangeville; and the Townships of Amaranth and East Garafraxa. CVC is a member of Conservation Ontario.
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Credit Valley Conservation
905-670-1615 ext. 224