Harvesting hay, grazing cattle on state lands helps DNR manage habitat
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture have joined forces to help connect the state’s cattle farmers in need of additional forage to DNR area wildlife managers needing to manage grassland habitat.
Research over the last two decades shows that grassland wildlife and pollinators respond positively to well-managed haying and grazing. For many years, the DNR has used its conservation grazing and haying program to manage grasslands.
COVID-19-related disruptions at meat packing facilities have caused farmers to hold on to cattle longer than normal. As a result, some farmers have larger herds and are running out of feed.
“The DNR is eager to partner with Minnesota cattle farmers and demonstrate the value grasslands bring to local communities,” said Dave Olfelt, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director. “We know we can help local farmers while using haying and grazing to help us manage grassland habitat for wildlife and pollinators.”
Haying and grazing activity on WMAs is timed to avoid nesting and fall hunting seasons. Typical hay leases are about 30 acres in size, a small portion of most WMAs.
Cattle farmers who need additional forage are encouraged to email their DNR area wildlife manager to discuss options in their area.