let's talk farm animals

Farmers use social media to express anger over Panera Bread’s new advertising campaign

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Farmers, worldwide, are learning of the powers of social media when it comes to speaking up, proudly telling the stories of what really happens on their farms and correcting misinformation, when they see it.

A great example of this came last week from the United States where dairy farmer Carrie Mess (known through her blog as Dairy Carrie) took on American company Panera Bread for a horrible advertising and promotion campaign that it had recently launched – one that seems to call farmers and ranchers lazy.

Carrie has a large readership, both through her blog and through Twitter, and her post and subsequent tweets instantly went viral. The result? Thousands of reads of her blog in a few short hours and hundreds of farmers and industry supporters across North America posting links and comments of their own about Panera Bread’s perceived lack of support for – and understanding of –farmers.

If you want to read the conversation last week, go to Twitter and search for @Panerabread or #EZChicken . It’s a good read and confirms the fact that farmers do have a voice. The farm community has also coined a hash tag of its own - #pluckezchicken which also worth checking out.

As of today, a marketing executive from Panera Bread has contacted Carrie. She’s posted a subsequent blog on their conversation at http://dairycarrie.com/2013/07/26/heres-what-panera-has-to-say-for-themselves-pluckezchicken/

Here’s her original blog. Thanks to her for permission to reprint it and kudos to her – and the legions of angry farmers and Panera customers – that have rallied around this issue.

Dear Panera Bread Company, You’ve lost a customer. Now most people wouldn’t offer to help someone out that they don’t like but I am going to be the bigger person here and give you a heads up.

On Friday I stopped into one of your stores to grab a bite to eat after spending the morning at the Dane County Fair watching the hard working 4H and FFA kids showing their dairy cattle. My mother-in-law was along for the ride and since the line was long and she needed time to pick out her sandwich before getting to the counter I grabbed one of your handy menus from a stand. That’s where I found this…

You can read her whole blog post here: http://dairycarrie.com/2013/07/23/dear-panera-bread-company/


Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 29th, 2013 :: Filed under Activism,Agriculture Education,Animal care,animal handling,Education and public awareness,Farm life,Speaking out
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Do you know what Animal Welfare really means?

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In my 15 years studying, researching and being employed in agriculture I’ve had many discussions with urban and agricultural friends, family, colleagues and even strangers about the meaning of animal welfare.  Often this conversation begins with animal welfare and then diverges into other different and oftentimes unrelated topics.  One such discussion began with welfare of laying hens in cages then turned into a discussion of the nutritional benefits of eggs from hens fed different diets.  I suspect welfare is never a short discussion because in many people’s minds welfare is associated with so many other issues.

So, what is Animal Welfare?


Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 25th, 2013 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Agriculture Education,Animal welfare,Canada,Chickens,Codes of Practice,Consumers,Education and public awareness,Laying hens,Misconceptions,Research,Speaking out,Uncategorized
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Drinkable Water - from Livestock Manure

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An article entitled “Drinkable Water – From Livestock Manure” received a great deal of interest when it was published in the Globe & Mail on June 26.  The story features a project that is one of four semi-finalists in the Globe’s  Small Business Challenge Contest.

The article starts off: “General audiences might cringe watching a video that shows Ross Thurston, president of Calgary-based Livestock Water Recycling Inc., drinking water produced from treated hog manure.

But livestock farmers will probably say, “Genius.”

Mr. Thurston’s company builds and installs systems that treat hog and cow manure, separating solids and phosphorus, extracting and concentrating ammonium and, finally, discharging water that’s clean enough to drink.”

You can read the whole article at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/the-challenge/drinkable-water-from-livestock-manure/article12810772/#dashboard/follows/

Micah Shearer-Kudel, Environmental Coordinator for Farm & Food Care Ontario, is working on many water quality initiatives funded through the Water Resource Adaptation Management Initiative (WRAMI). He submitted the following letter to the editor to the Globe and Mail:

The editor:

Drinkable water from livestock manure seems like a bad sci-fi movie theme, but is really a practical example of how today’s farmers are innovative environmentalists.  For example, Ontario farmers have invested $220 million dollars in environmental improvements on their farms in the past six years through Environmental Farm Plan projects. 

Saving soil, planting trees or funding plant research doesn’t usually make the news, but they are all excellent examples of commitments made by farmers that help people, animals and the planet. 



Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 22nd, 2013 :: Filed under Environment,Environmental Farm Plan,Pigs,Research,Water Quality and Conservation
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Dear Ryan Gosling…

Dear Ryan Gosling:

Letter sent to the Globe and Mail – July 11, 2021

To the Editor:

Putting ‘Actor turned animal welfare expert’ criticisms aside, let’s correct the premise first – a pig is not a dog or a chicken or a bat or a dolphin. They all have very different housing, health and care needs.  Although it may not come up at many Golden Globe parties, millions of dollars have been invested in researching farm animal welfare.  Virtually none of that money has come from the animal rights critics Mr. Gosling has aligned himself with to write this commentary, even though they fundraise to ‘improve animal welfare.’

The Code of Practice for Pigs is an amazingly Canadian process.  It’s based on science and put together with input from government, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, agriculture and food industry and farmers themselves. There is always a need for continuous improvement in farming, and critics voicing their disapproval is part of that process.  However, I support a more reasonable approach to improving animal welfare based on science and practical farm experience, which may not be as sexy, but might actually help real animals in real barns in Canada today and tomorrow.


Crystal Mackay, Executive Director, Farm & Food Care Ontario

To see Ryan Gosling’s original opinion piece, visit here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/a-tiny-cage-is-not-a-life/article13117337/



Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 18th, 2013 :: Filed under Activism,Agricultural Advocates,Agriculture Education,Animal care,Canada,Codes of Practice,Housing,Pigs,Pork
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Farmers Helping Farmers

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By Kristen Kelderman

Summer is a time when most people tend to be outside enjoying the sunshine and warmer weather. It’s also a time when we see a lot more farm animals as we travel the back country roads to the cottage or other holiday destinations.

Certain farm animals like beef and dairy cows are regular icons that speckle rural pastures. Other animals, like pigs and chickens, are kept in cool climate-controlled barns and are rarely seen outdoors.

If you’re ever unsure about the care and treatment of farm animals that you’ve seen in your travels, the Farm Animal Care Helpline, managed by Farm & Food Care Ontario and a similar Alert line managed by Alberta Farm Animal Care are services that you can call.Helpline sm logo

The Helpline is a confidential ‘farmer helping farmer’ approach to advice and referral on animal care. The Helpline accepts calls about most types of farm animals: beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs, rabbits, goats, veal calves, sheep, chickens and turkeys. Ontario’s Helpline representatives are the most credible people who deal with animals every day - farmers.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 15th, 2013 :: Filed under Animal care,Uncategorized
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A biosecurity plan for all horses

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by Jean Clavelle

If you have ever had anything to do with livestock, chances are you’ve heard the word biosecurity.   Biosecurity refers to practices designed to prevent, reduce or eliminate the introduction and incidental spread of disease.  Most of us would associate this with poultry or swine production systems but have you ever thought about biosecurity as it relates to your horse?

Horses are often kept in areas of high traffic and are therefore of high risk for exposure to disease.   With some basic practices and common sense you can reduce the biosecurity risk for your own horses whether you have a herd of 20 or of 1!  Pasture Horse

Here are a few tips:


Posted by FACS on July 12th, 2013 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,Animal health,Barns,Horses,Uncategorized,Veterinarians
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Major US Study on Backyard Flocks

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Over the last few years, there’s been a growing interest in raising chickens in urban centres.  Municipalities have been debating the topic and, in some cases, like Toronto, have rules banning urban flocks. This week, we profile a blog post on the topic from Mike, an Ontario chicken vet.Free range hens

Through my many associations, I become aware of studies and surveys on all things chicken. Recently, I had a study passed on to me that dealt with the demographics of backyard poultry owners. It was performed by the National Animal Health Monitoring System, an arm of the US Department of Agriculture. They talked about the need to know about the location and number of backyard flocks in terms of disease control (they ARE an animal health monitoring system….it’s what they do) but what interested me most was the demographic of the typical American Backyarder. Surveys were performed in Miami, Denver, LA and New York.

To read the whole blog, go to http://mikethechickenvet.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/major-us-study-on-backyard-flocks/


Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 8th, 2013 :: Filed under Animal care,Chickens,eggs,Housing,Uncategorized
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