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Curtis Matwishyn
Wildlife habitat isn’t just in parks
Of Canada’s 68 million hectares classi ed as agricultural land, more than 30 per cent isn’t suitable for planting crops (i.e. too rocky, hilly, wet, or dry). These areas are often used as pasture for grazing livestock, but are also excellent wildlife habitat. Many farmers plant native grasses, establish buffer zones around water bodies to keep livestock out of aquatic habitats, seed strips of  owering plant species as a food source for bees and other pollinators, or move their livestock from pasture to pasture – this last way is called rotational grazing.
Some farmers will also delay cutting hay crops, in order to give grassland birds (such as the bobolink and eastern meadowlark, which rely on tall grasses to nest) a chance to hatch their young safely. These practices help to sustain wildlife populations, and promote biodiversity.
Going batty for bats
Farmers and landowners play a key
role in on-farm protection of species at risk. For example, some farmers have started installing bat boxes on their farms. These boxes provide a habitat for bats, which are essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems, as they eat many insects, including farm pests.
Robert Irwin
What about water?
• A mature sheep drinks between four and nine litres of water per day.
• A dairy cow drinks 80 to 160 litres of water daily, and produces about
27 litres of milk per day.
• Canadians, on average, use 291 litres of water per day per person – the
second highest rate in the world.80
Pro le
Gilbert & Stacy Matheson
Gilbert Matheson’s grandparents started their family farm in New Brunswick in 1957. Gilbert has been working on the farm since he was in high-school, but took over of cially in 2004. With the help of his wife Stacy and their seven children, Gilbert raises both laying hens and dairy cows, though he also hatches eggs and raises pullets – or young hens – for other egg farmers. His typical day starts at 7:00 a.m. with morning chores – mainly milking the cows and feeding all his animals – and ends at around 7:00 p.m. Gilbert says his work is his favorite hobby, though he particularly enjoys working with animals and building new things in the barn.
The Real Dirt on Farming 49
Stacy & Gilbert Matheson with their children

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