Industry Profile - Timothy Hay

The long hours of sunlight characteristic of a Manitoba growing season coupled with good growing temperatures provides excellent conditions for the growth and production of Timothy hay unsurpassed in quality anywhere in the world. Timothy is a grass that cures to a light green color and yields a product that is normally free of dust and mould. It also tends to be high in energy and lower in protein than other grasses. Manitoba-grown Timothy hay is sweeter than that grown in more southerly locales around the world. The long hours of sunlight allow the plant to develop more soluble sugar and the cooler temperatures (especially during the night) mean the plant produces less lignin. This translates into Timothy hay that is very palatable and promotes high levels of dry matter intake.

Manitoba producers have been growing Timothy since shortly after the province was first settled in the 1800s, and over the years it has become an increasingly important crop to Manitoba's livestock industry. In recent years, producers have been working closely with researchers and Manitoba Agriculture and Food specialists to increase the quality of Manitoba's Timothy crop and the handling/processing techniques. Each year, various research projects are devoted to the betterment of the Timothy crop, its processing and its marketability. All this research helps Manitoba producers determine the optimum time to cut and bale their Timothy, so they can better meet the needs of their customers.

There are several companies located in Manitoba that process Timothy for export to international markets. These include Sunridge Forage Ltd. (Russell), Lake Winnipeg Hay Co. (Fisher Branch) and Canadian Greenfield Forage (Teulon). Currently, these processors export Timothy hay bales primarily to the Japanese and Korean markets, however other markets have expressed interest and are being investigated. Our Manitoba processors are dedicated to ensuring that their forage products are of top quality and therefore use only the best quality Timothy hay and latest processing techniques. Each Timothy crop examined to ensure it is free from contamination and, if necessary, is dried to meet the optimal compacting/transport moisture requirements. Manitoba processors compact medium square bales, the only place in North America where this is done. The final package is a double compressed long stemmed hay bale between 25 and 35 kg in weight, depending on density. The bales are then packed into sealed shipping containers that ensure the moisture content and product quality are maintained during transportation. It is this commitment to high quality standards that ensures hay is still in excellent condition once it arrives at its destination - retaining the fibre length and feel of freshly baled hay.

The international demand for Manitoba-grown Timothy is on the rise as overseas farm operations experience the high quality of our product. As well, the word is spreading that Manitoba hay processors have a reputation of being leaders in the forage compaction and forage handling industries, using and helping to design the latest compacting, handling and drying equipment. All those companies operating in the Manitoba compaction industry are using latest technological equipment that is designed to retain leaves and fibre length so the highest quality of hay is what reaches Manitoba's hay customers. For further information on Manitoba's Timothy industry, the following are several contacts associated with the industry.

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