let's talk farm animals

Questions about animal and food production - answered!

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Jean L Clavelle

Farm Food Care Saskatchewan

 

I was really excited to take part in Farm and Food Care Ontario’s twitter party a few weeks ago to promote the launch of their latest venture – ”Real Dirt on Farming”.  This is a booklet designed to answer all of your questions about farming and food production in Canada.  It is the real dirt so to speak on everything from livestock to crops to horticulture. It was great to see so many questions from all of you and how interested you were in how your food is grown.  The sad part was that it ended way too soon, and there was so much more to share!  On that note I would like to answer some questions about food production to make your decisions about food purchases easier.

Eggs with darker coloured yolks are healthier.  There are actually no nutritional differences between eggs with different coloured yolks.  The colour of the yolk is dependent on what a hen eats.  Any diet for hens that includes a compound called xanthophylls will result in a darker yolk. A hen that eats a wheat-based diet (more common in western Canada and low in xanthophylls) will produce an egg that has a pale yellow yolk. Hens that eat a corn-based diet (most common in Ontario and higher in xanthophylls) will produce eggs with darker yellow yolks.  This is also why free range eggs tend to be darker in the summer because hens will eat grasses or alfalfa which have higher xanthophyll levels.

White and brown eggs come from chickens of different breeds

White and brown eggs come from chickens of different breeds

Eggs with brown shells are better because they are more expensive!  Ummm, no.  There are no nutritional differences between eggs with white shells and eggs with brown shells.  Eggs with brown shells come from different breeds of chickens.  But then why do brown eggs cost more?  Well that’s because the breed that produces brown eggs is a larger bird and requires more feed to lay one egg.  Brown eggs are more expensive simply because it costs more to grow them.

Conventional milk produced in Canada is raised with hormones.  Not so!  Bovine somatotropin (bST) is a hormone that occurs naturally in cattle.  It regulates growth and lactation in cattle and has no effect on humans.  Recombinant bST otherwise known as rBST is a commercially produced version of the natural hormone and it can increase milk production by 10 to 15%.  The problem however is that it may also increase the risk of mastitis and infertility and cause lameness in cows which is why Health Canada has not approved it for use in dairy production here.  So what that means for you is that no milk, cheese or yogurt (conventional or organic) comes from cows given rBST.

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Posted by FACS on November 24th, 2014 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,Beef cattle,Chickens,Dairy cattle,Education and public awareness,eggs,Misconceptions,Poultry,Turkeys
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Please welcome Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan to the Table!

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Jean L Clavelle

Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan

As of December 10 2014 our province will see the launch of a new organization called Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan (FFCSK). FFCSK represents the wide range of producers established here in Saskatchewan, from livestock to crops to horticulture as well as government and related businesses with a common goal to provide credible information on food and farming within the province. It is FFCSK’s mandate to cultivate awareness and appreciation of agriculture in consumers with the belief that getting to know farmers equals getting to know food.

Previously called the Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan or FACS, the group began investigating the potential of a move to FFCSK in 2011. FACS currently represents the livestock and poultry industries to advance responsible animal care within the province. However Adele Buettner, FACS Executive Director noted that “…the general public does not understand how their food is grown or how agriculture has changed over the years, neither is there currently one central location in Saskatchewan where consumers can readily access reliable information on food production.” It was recognized a wider need was not being met so FFCSK was created to represent the people who are passionate about food and farming in Saskatchewan and provide a coordinated effort, expertise and a unified voice on behalf of the whole agri-food sector.

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Posted by FACS on November 12th, 2014 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Speaking out
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Proud to have “farmer’s hands”

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By Patricia Grotenhuis

"Hands" was the theme of the 2015 #facesoffarming calendar

“Hands” was the theme of the 2015 #facesoffarming calendar

“Where do you work?” the nurse asked, looking at my hands.

“I work at home,” I said, “on a farm.”

“I knew it!” she exclaimed. “It’s a dairy farm, isn’t it? I could tell by your hands. I would know a dairy farmer’s hands anywhere – I used to live on a dairy farm.”

The other nurse in the room seemed surprised by the exchange, so my nurse called her over to show her my hands.

“See,” she explained, “they’re soft in some spots, calloused in others, and stained.”

It was the most accurate description of my hands I’ve ever received. Washing the cows’ udders leads to the soft patches, while forking all of the feed and bedding leads to the calluses. It depends on the day what the stains are from. Sometimes they come from the teat dip we use on the cows after milking to maintain udder health. If I’ve been helping my husband fix something, the stains could be from grease or oil. I enjoy canning when I can find time, so in this particular case, they were stained from pitting cherries.

My hands have never had a manicure, and will never be described as “pretty” or “well looked after”. I’m okay with that, though. I’ve had farmer’s hands most of my life, and to me, it means I spend my time caring for our animals and land, no matter what toll it takes on my body or skin.

The 2015 Faces of Farming calendar

The 2015 Faces of Farming calendar

Soon, winter will be here, and with it will come chapped, cracked skin from my hands being exposed to the elements while I work. It means my hands will catch on fabrics, and sometime they will crack deep enough to bleed. I’m still okay with it, though. It will just be yet another way of showing people I am proud of what I do, and proud to take the best possible care of our animals and land.

“Hands” was the theme of Farm & Food Care Ontario’s 10th Anniversary Faces of Farming calendar. Meet the farmer models in our 2015 calendar here: http://farmfoodcare.org/news/2015-faces-of-farming-calendar

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on November 7th, 2014 :: Filed under Faces of Farming,Farm life,Uncategorized
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Dairy farmer sisters from Hagersville in 2014 Faces of Farming calendar

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By Patricia Grotenhuis

Hagersville - Milking cows and growing crops are two passions that Heather and Jennifer Peart of Hagersville have

Heather (l) and Jennifer (r) are dairy farmer sisters near Hagersville, Ont.

Heather (l) and Jennifer (r) are dairy farmer sisters near Hagersville, Ont.

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The sisters, fourth generation farmers, decided to turn their love of farming into a lifelong career when they bought their first 50 acre farm in 2005. At the time, they were only 18 and 20 years of age. Jennifer was studying for her Agricultural Business degree and Heather was studying for her Animal Science degree, both at the University of Guelph.

Since then, they’ve gradually increased the amount of cattle and land they own. Today, they each own 25 cows and together, have increased their land base to 200 acres growing corn, hay, wheat and rye to feed their livestock.

Currently, Jennifer milks cows in the morning before heading to her off-farm job. Heather is the full time herd manager at their family farm, Peartome Holsteins, and farms full time with parents, Doug and Mary-Ann.

Both sisters are enthusiastic agricultural advocates. When they showed their cows at the annual Simcoe fair recently, they estimate that they answered about 400 questions from visitors about their cows on a whole variety of topics. And, when they milked their cows at the end of the day at the fair, an audience of about 100 circled around to watch. “We really enjoy answering questions about our animals,” said Jennifer. “It’s fun when a routine milking can turn into an impromptu agricultural education session.” Jennifer also sits on the Haldimand County Agricultural Awareness Committee.

Their commitment and passion for farming has attracted some attention. In 2014, they are being featured as the faces of November in the 2014 Faces of Farming Calendar produced by Farm & Food Care Ontario. Their page is sponsored by AdFarm.

“It’s nice to be able to change the face of farming by being a young female in agriculture,” says Jennifer.

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on November 3rd, 2014 :: Filed under Animal care,Dairy cattle,Education and public awareness,Faces of Farming,Farm life,Uncategorized
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