Forage consists of herbaceous plant material, such as hay or pasture, used to feed domestic animals. These crops include cereal grains, legumes, grasses and silage. Most forage is grown and fed on the same farm. B.C.'s forage production includes a wide range of annual and perennial grasses and legumes grown for hay, silage and pasture.
Major crops include:
- Red and white clover
- Orchard grass
- Tall fescue
- Cereals: wheat, barley and oats
While the majority of forage output helps sustain the beef and sheep industries in B.C.'s Interior, a significant share supports the Lower Mainland's dairy sector. Small amounts are traded among farmers or sold to feed companies for resale.
The information in this section may serve as a guide to producing nutritious, high-quality feed.
Forage production is the largest agricultural land use in the province. It has significant impacts on the economies of many rural communities and has an important role in environmental protection and climate change adaptation. There is a wide variation in forage quality, quantity and return on investment throughout the province. As such, there is opportunity to improve all three factors, which in turn will have positive impacts on animal performance, forage marketing and sector expansion. The Forage Action Plan project is a multi-phased approach that includes; stakeholder consultation, analysis of opportunities and challenges, development of an action plan and implementation of the action plan. The Consultation Summary Report supports the Stakeholder Consultation phase of the overall Forage Action Plan Project.
- BC Forage Action Plan Project - Consultation Summary (PDF)
- BC Forage Action Plan Project - Consultation Summary – Background Report (PDF)
Forage crops can be grown in every part of B.C., from dense production in the south to low-cost production in the north.
General production fact sheets from the Peace Region Forage Seed Association.
Custom Rate Estimates for certain operations on farms:
- Custom Rates Survey Summary (Government of Alberta)
Some forage crops are eligible for production insurance coverage. Production insurance helps producers manage their risk of crop losses caused by hail, spring frost, excessive rain, flooding, drought, etc.
Good techniques can increase yields through better soil management, fertilization and livestock rationing. Learn more on farm practices of particular interest to forage production.
Environmental considerations and diseases
Drought is inevitable. The following factsheet identifies Key Points on forage crops and effective water use:
Information on the management of plant pests and diseases and current pesticide and crop protection on forage crops:
The forage seed industry represents about one-fifth of B.C.'s forage output — mainly in the Peace River region, where forage seed is rotated with crops, such as canola. The Creston Valley yields 12,000 acres of Timothy seed and Timothy hay while other B.C. crops include creeping red fescue, Timothy, bromes, alfalfa, clovers and native grass seeds.
The Peace Region Forage Seed Association accounts for the second-largest output of forage seed in the world, and conducts seed research trials.
Read about fund regulation under B.C.'s Farming and Fishing Industries Development Act.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has a mandate to ensure a safe food supply for everyone in Canada. Other local, provincial and federal legislation and regulations apply.