Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) is inviting hay growers to delay this year’s hay cut to protect grassland birds. Growers can certify their hay as bird-friendly by registering at birdfriendlyhay.ca before May 1. May marks the end of CVC’s year-long “Delay the Hay” campaign. The campaign goal is 400 acres enrolled by May 2022. There are only 100 acres to go.
“Every acre enrolled helps protect at-risk grassland birds,” says Mark Eastman, Senior Coordinator, Agricultural Outreach at CVC. “By enrolling, farmers have the opportunity to grow a niche and marketable product that demonstrates their commitment to the environment.”
The program asks farmers to delay hay cutting until July 15. Typically, farmers cut hay in late-May or June, which coincides with nesting periods of ground-nesting birds, like bobolink and eastern meadowlark. There are few natural grasslands in the Credit River Watershed, so breeding and nesting often occur in old farm fields and active hay and pasture fields. By delaying the hay cut until July, farmers can protect at-risk grassland birds nesting in these fields. Farmers can enroll some or all of their owned or rented hay acreage in the program.
Through the program, CVC helps connect hay growers with purchasers looking to buy bird-friendly certified hay and landowners with tenant farmers looking to grow bird-friendly certified hay.
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