Farming In Manitoba, Canada
Farming in Manitoba is very diverse with dairy, pig and
beef on the livestock side and grain farming on the other.
Mixed Farms are very popular and offer some flexibility
with a cattle or pig enterprise plus arable. A dairy farm
can be from 160 to 600 acres, with mixed from 320 and
grain exceeding 3,000 acres.
Before immigrating to Manitoba in September, 1983, we
farmed all our lives in Lanarkshire, Scotland. We had
a dairy farm in the Clyde Valley, milking 100 cows.
In Manitoba along with my uncle, we farm 1,550
acres of crop, growing wheat, winter wheat, malt barley
and canola (rape). Since we've been here we have only
dried 40 tons of wheat and 45 of canola. Both grain
and oilseeds are cut with a swather and left a few days
to mature, then picked up by the combine. In Manitoba
more direct combining is done each year. Wheat is dry
at 14.5%, Barley at 13.5%, and Canola at 10% for acceptance
at the elevator.
Almost all the grain and oilseeds grown in Manitoba
are transported by rail to their destination. Over 65%
of the entire crop is exported. The Canadian Wheat Board
(CWB) controls the delivery of wheat and barley
through a delivery quota and contracts based on the
number of acres grown. These will normally be large
enough to enable farmers to sell all their grain before
the following harvest. The CWB sets the initial price
for grain paid on delivery to the elevator, and will
normally make a final payment at the end of the crop
The open market is another option and its price is
based on the day to day prices of the World Market.
They take their lead from the commodity markets of Chicago
in the U.S.A. and Winnipeg, Manitoba, and can be higher
or lower than the CWB initial price. Click
here for current Grain and Oilseed prices.
Crops such as peas, beans, mustard and lentils are
not subject to quotas, and are grown on contract with
private companies. Delivery is fairly rapid, sometimes
straight from the combine. So you have 3 options; CWB,
the open market or private contracts which lend flexibility
to what can seem a restrictive method of marketing.
In most areas the plough was abandoned many years ago
in favour of the chisel plough and field cultivator.
Some farmers cultivate twice after harvest and deep
band, liquid fertilizer, ready for spring unless planting
winter wheat. With the ground frozen during the winter
and no rain, leaching is not a problem. (Perhaps 5%)
We have moved to a one-pass system in the spring. The
air-drill allows us to incorporate the seed and the
liquid fertilizer in a single application. This is more
like zero tillage. Zero tillage is popular and the number
of farmers converting to it is increasing each year.
Using air seeders or air drills, it brings a complete
reliance on chemical for weed control. It also takes
longer for stubble to warm up, making the start a little
Other crops grown in Manitoba are flax, corn (maize),
sunflowers, potatoes, oats, rye and sugar beets. There
is no tram lining in Manitoba as we only need to spray
once, mostly for wild oats and millet plus broad leaf.
Depending upon the humidity each year, fungal disease
and its associated spraying may be an issue and has
to be watched each year.
In Manitoba, alfalfa hay is at 18 to 24% protein, if
the weather is hot you can cut and condition it one
day and bale it the next. Square bales are lifted by
a bale picker, which also stacks them in the yard. If
the set up suits round bales, quite a few have changed
to them. Dairy farms can get as much straw as they want
to bale for nothing from the neighbours. Very few people
fertilize the alfalfa as it fixes its own nitrogen.
A good stand of alfalfa can be cut twice a year for
5 years. Sweet clover is another good fodder crop, as
is tame millet.
Manitoba unlike the U.K., has a milk board which controls
the quota system. There are 2 ways to get quota in Manitoba:
first if you buy an existing dairy, the quota will be
transferred to you. Second, you can buy quota from the
board as they hold a sale every month.
The quota they sell comes from farmers giving up milk
production. In recent years the price per daily kg of
quota has increased dramatically, now in excess of $20,000
(approx. 8,900 pounds) per kg. You get all kinds of
set-ups from free stall with towers and parlor milking
to the tie stall with a pipeline. With the good weather
to make it, hay is the most common forage, however,
there is more and more silage being produced within
the province. A point worth remembering is the income
per litre is the same for all 12 months of the year.
Click the icon below to go to the Manitoba Milk Board
Manitoba Milk Board
As far as beef is concerned, calves are sold in the
fall (autumn) at around 600 lbs. If you finish them
out you can do it on the farm or send them to a custom
feedlot at a weekly cost. They will do everything including
marketing them for you. Click
here for the Livestock prices.
Manitoba has a northern continental climate, with cold
winters and warm summers. Annual average precipitation
is approximately 21.5 inches, 70% of which falls as
rain in the summer months and the remainder falling
as snow during the winter. A large part of this rainfall
comes in the form of thunder showers, brief but heavy,
although general rains do occur. The most snow I have
seen in the fields since we came would be around
12 inches, mind you if it blows, it can drift in the
Our farm is 13 miles from Brandon and there have only been
a few days when we could not get to town. The roads are
banked up the railways and the snow just blows off them.
The temperature in Manitoba can vary from -45 C to +40
C but rarely reach these extremes. All buldings are
set up with the weather in mind, if the temperature
falls drastically you treat it like a wet day in the
U.K. and don't go out anymore than you need to. The
summer temperatures of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit are
quite pleasant with the low humidity. For
the current weather and forecasts in Manitoba, click
In other words, Manitoba has a drier heat and cold
than the U.K. Houses are double or triple glazed and
very well insulated, which helps both summer and winter.
Farmland is at so much per 1/4 or 160 acres. The better
the land the more tax. The most expensive 1/4 would
be the 1/4 which contains the buildings. This can be
handy when assessing a farm you wish to buy.
Manitoba has its health service just like the U.K.
and you only pay for prescriptions, dentist and glasses.
We also have an Agricultural College which offers free
advice to farmers. Click on the icon below to go to
the Agriculture Manitoba website.
Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives
In Manitoba, newcomers are readily accepted into the
farming community, with neighboring farmers always willing
to lend a hand. This willingness to help probably dates
from a century ago when Western Canada was first settled
and cooperation was necessary to survive.
Every farm is on a school bus route and education compares
very favorably with the U.K., with Universities in both
Winnipeg and Brandon. The local towns offer a wide range
of leisure activities for all age groups. The focal
point during the winter months is the local town's ice
rink, where the adults spend time curling and the children
skate and play ice hockey. There are many other activities
in the larger centers such as indoor sports facilites,
technical colleges offering a wide variety of daytime
and evening course, cultural centres, art clubs, church
organizations and for children, youth clubs, scouts
and 4H clubs (4H is like Young Farmers Club), summer
activities are less town oriented as golf, boating,
fishing, and swimming in the many lakes take over. Pony
clubs are also popular.
One thing which is different from the U.K. about buying
a farm, is that a single agent can show all the farms
for sale in the province, regardless of who has that
farm listed. As part of our service, and for your convenience,
we can show you all the listings that are ours and other
agents. To ensure we stay current with what is available
throughout the Province, we are members of the Farmmarketer
Finally, and perhaps one of the most pleasing aspects
is, you don't pay the U.K. Capital Gains Tax if you
immigrate to farm in Manitoba.
To see machinery prices, click on any of the following
manufacturer icons to go the website.