let's talk farm animals

Third generation egg farmer proud to continue family tradition

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By Andrew Campbell

St. Ann’s - Eggs have always been a part of Jacob Pelissero’s life. He grew up on his family farm, helping to gather eggs, feed and care for the hens. And, as an egg farmer, he’s proud of the fact that he learned to make a great omelet while he was still a child.

Third-generation egg farmer Jacob Pelissero is proud to continue the family farm tradition.

Third-generation egg farmer Jacob Pelissero is proud to continue the family farming tradition.

But for his family, the path to egg farming wasn’t direct. It didn’t come until his grandfather started losing customers in the original family business - ice. Many decades ago, that business was big around St. Catharine’s, where the family would deliver ice throughout the summer to homes to keep their ice boxes cool.

But then a remarkable new invention, the refrigerator, started making an incredible surge into homes, replacing the need for ice deliveries. Realizing that his business was collapsing, Jacob’s grandfather had to do something to support his family.

Finally it came to him. He already knew the residents of his community and which of them had purchased refrigerators. Why not provide something that could be stored in them – like farm fresh eggs. That idea started a new career for the Pelissero family and three generations later, Jacob couldn’t be happier. “Egg farming is an incredible way of life. When you take care of the chickens, they take care of you.”

On top of producing fresh eggs, his family also raises pullets. This is the term used to describe young hens from the time they’re hatched until they’re old enough to lay eggs. Once mature, the grown laying hens then move to live on egg farms across Ontario.

Pelissero has just graduated with a degree in agriculture business from the University of Guelph and is looking forward to the time when he joins his father on the family farm.

Why continue the career? “The short answer is because I enjoy it. The long answer, because I love the idea of managing my own business, and caring for the birds that have supported my family for so many years.”

One thing that he’s especially excited about is a new hen barn that was constructed last summer. The barn has a new – but increasingly popular – feature in Canada called enriched cages. These offer room for hens to lay their eggs in a curtained nest, perch, and enjoy constant access to fresh food and water that all hen housing provides. Said Pelissero, “I think this type of construction is a perfect balance between a clean and safe environment for the bird, farmer and the egg.”

This young farmer has also taken to social media to tell his family’s stories. He is a member of the new Dinner Starts Here blogging and Twitter initiative that features young farmers talking about their lives on Ontario farms.

“Talking about the effort and care that goes into every egg is something I’m proud to do, and hope other farmers do as well. It is more important than ever before that consumers understand where their food comes from.”

Pelissero also notes that part of the reason he wants to talk about his farm is because he feels there are misconceptions about egg farming. “If I can help someone understand where their egg comes from, how the birds are cared for and the quality control measures that go into producing eggs, I know that person will feel good about feeding them to their family.”

Pelissero also works part time for Gray Ridge Egg Farms, where he offers advice to other egg farmers on how they can improve their own farms through animal nutrition and egg handling. “I’m confident in every egg that is collected, washed, graded, packed and put into your local grocery store because I see what goes into ensuring that a Grade A egg is a safe and nutritious egg.”

By following the blog at www.dinnerstartshere.ca and Jacob’s tweets @Jakeandeggs, you’ll be able to learn more about what he is talking about.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on January 26th, 2015 :: Filed under eggs,Faces of Farming,Farm life,Laying hens,Social media,Uncategorized
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Layering up - on the farm

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Since every trip outside this time of year involves adding layers upon layers of clothing to stay warm, we asked the Dinner Starts Here gang (dinnerstartshere.ca) what their favourite piece of clothing is to tackle winter farm duties.

Stephanie says her insulated rubber boots are must in winter to keep feet warm on the farm

Stephanie says her insulated rubber boots are a must in winter to keep her feet warm while working on the farm.

“I could not live without my insulated rubber boots,” says Stephanie Campbell. In the winter they keep her feet warm and dry no matter what she’s doing around her family’s chicken farm – from fixing the manure spreader to cutting wood in the bush. “I’ve learned over the years that having warm feet makes a huge difference in keeping the rest of me warm.”

For sheep farmer Sarah Brien it’s definitely her Carhartt overalls and jacket. “They keep me warm and fairly clean when I have to do things in the barn,” she says, adding this is “super useful when I know I won’t have time to shower before I go somewhere else.”

Dairy farmer Justin Williams also loves his Carhartt pants. “They are very comfortable and stronger then denim to protect my legs,” he says. “They also have many pockets to store nuts and bolts.”

Storage is important to Andrew Campbell too, which is why you’ll see him most often in his duct pants around his dairy farm. “With lots of pockets to hold a jackknife, cell phone, keys and even pliers or a hammer if I need it, they are a must have.”

Whatever the job is this winter you can bet beef farmer Scott Snyder will have incorporated his insulated coveralls into his outfit choice. Scott’s also adapted his summer time favourite: steel-toe boots into his winter wardrobe as well. “I was coaching hockey without them and a 200 pound defencemen stepped on my toes with a skate,” he says. “It cut my shoe…and it wasn’t pretty.” Now Scott wears his steel-toe farm boots behind the bench in the arena three to four times a week.

Beyond that, Andrew says layering is very important. “With everything from a t-shirt, hoodie, vest and heavy coat, I’m ready to move back and forth from the cold winter air to the warmth of the barn.”


Posted by Farm and Food Care on January 19th, 2015 :: Filed under Faces of Farming,Farm life,Uncategorized
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Is our food SAFE?

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Jean L Clavelle

Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan

People are really asking "what makes food safe?"

People are really asking “what makes food safe?”

We are at the beginning of 2015 now, which is accompanied by the obligatory New Year’s resolution to cut back, get fit, eat healthy. But, what makes any food choice healthy? Is it non-gmo, gluten free, chemical free, antibiotic free, hormone free, eating clean? I’ve been pondering this question for some time and I’ve come to believe the underlying question people are really asking is how do we know our food is safe?

In Canada, the first place we turn to for food safety is Health Canada (HC). HC’s role is to “work with governments, industry and consumers to establish policies, regulations and standards related to the safety and nutritional quality of all food sold in Canada.” They are responsible for protecting human and animal health, and the safety of Canada’s food supply.

To begin, any person company or exporter that wishes to sell any type of chemical that will be used in part of the food production chain must submit detailed scientific information that examines the potential risks of the particular product. It often takes more than a decade to complete adequate research necessary to provide sufficient evidence to support the safety and efficacy of claims. Not surprisingly the result is thousands of pages of data at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. Over a period of several more years, HC scientists then rigorously review the information to ensure the product is not harmful to humans and the environment. They also cross check the data and compare their results with other international studies to verify that the data submitted is accurate.

Now, depending on what type of chemical is being submitted for approval, there are various regulatory branches of HC put into play. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency employs over 350 scientists with a responsibility for pesticide regulation. The term “pesticide” includes

A pesticide label is a legal document that must be followed by the user.

A pesticide label is a legal document that must be followed by the user.

herbicides (used against weeds); insecticides (used against bugs); fungicides and antimicrobials (used again fungus and other microorganisms); insect and rodent-controlling devices; and algicides (which can be used to control algae in pools). Every pesticide includes a label indicating the correct amount of the product to be used so that risks to human health and the environment are minimized. Did you know that a pesticide label (the information found on or in the container) is a legal document that must be followed? You might also be interested to know that any pesticide for sale and use in Canada (whether it be for agriculture, for use in your home, for conventional food or organic production – and yes there are chemicals used in organic production) has a unique number, called a PCP number, that any person can use to find its label instructions.

The Veterinary Drug Directorate (VDD) evaluates and monitors the safety quality and effectiveness of veterinary drugs for food producing animals like beef cattle, pigs and chickens. Once a drug has been authorized for use by the VDD it is given a Drug Identification Number (or DIN) which lets the user know that the product has undergone and passed a review of its formulation, labelling and instructions for use. A drug sold in Canada without a DIN is not in compliance with Canadian law. Regardless of whether a drug is for you or for animals it must have a DIN to be legal.

Once a compound has been shown to be safe within its intended use by HC, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for enforcing the food safety policies and standards that Health Canada sets. In my former professional life, one colleague referred to the CFIA as the most powerful government agency in Canada (much greater than even the military) because of its far-reaching and autonomous power whenever food safety might be a concern. Although CFIA can be a challenging government agency to work with, consumers should take heart at the diligence they have for food safety.

Of course this is a basic over view of one component of ensuring safe food.  It is always a good idea to use your best judgement and common sense when it comes to food safety, just please know that in Canada food production and food safety is overseen with a great amount of diligence attention and care.


Posted by FACS on January 12th, 2015 :: Filed under Canada,Food,Food safety
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The Highs & Lows of Week One On #Farm365

January 7, 2021

By Andrew Campbell, Ontario dairy farmer

Who knew so many people would want to look in on the farm?

What started as a simple idea on New Year’s Day based on other photo-a-day challenges, #farm365 on Twitter has turned into something far greater than a few pictures of corn or cows. It’s turned into a great force of farmers sticking up for themselves and consumers getting a better idea of what it takes to send food out of the driveway. I wanted to share a few highs and lows about the first week. Let’s get the lows out of the way.


I knew activism was a powerful engine. I’ve talked about it. I’ve witnessed it. But this has been a new lesson in experiencing it. With incredible media attention about the idea (see highs a little later) it appears a select few animal activists got mad. They didn’t like the positive news of a farmer sharing what really goes on. They took to their own communities demanding action among their fellow radicals. They posted to message boards that the #farm365 hashtag needed to be hijacked to show the truth behind the barn door! Unfortunately their truth usually involves photoshop, graphic images and misconceptions of what an animal needs and wants. It’s too bad that these activists from as far away as Europe and Australia have been called in to the cause. It’s unfortunate many don’t share their real identities, or realize that choice in the grocery store is good. Some can choose not to consume meat, dairy or eggs. But some choose to, and would like to see the truth behind a simple smartphone camera as we work through a day.

In the dozens of conversations with folks across the farming sector, it was clear early that engaging would go nowhere. It wasn’t worth the eventual fight because they weren’t going to listen. Instead, the focus was to talk to those interested in learning more and having legitimate, even if challenging questions.

That’s where the good starts.

One challenging question came from a woman around Toronto. She asked about veal. I told her about veal. Where the bull calves were raised, what they were fed, and how the eight to 12 month process of raising that bull calf, while ultimately destined for the plate, was cared for and treated in the best way we knew how.

Her response made me speechless.

I think I should be their (animal rights organizations) main audience: animal loving consumer!! Stop me from creating demand through, oh i dunno, education and facts. But they failed. Their facts were words backed up by other vegans. So I asked them to show me where those vegans got their information and it ended up being by …a vegetarian. Who likely got their information from some other vegetarian. And I am sure there was never an ounce of bias that got translated from one vegetarian to another. I believe fact may have been buried somewhere deep in the origin, but it is no good to me or anyone if it has been processed through someone else’s agenda. And bias.

And so they have sent me straight into the arms of what they consider to be the enemy (i.e. farmers) to search for information with substance and fact and I found goodness and love and concern of welfare, in spite of slaughter. They lose. They really lose and I hope that that will be made plain to those of you who are giving us the gift of information.

She concluded:

But thank you again Andrew, I’ve been buying beef and eating butter under a cloud of guilt for too long.

It made me believe again that this was exactly the type of discussion that was needed.

The arms of the farmers she ran to have been another incredible high. Farmers are compassionate, well-meaning and very proud individuals. And when one of their own was on the brink, they came running. They came running in droves. Many showed their farms in the moment, sharing their beliefs and systems and they did it with the great passion they work with every day. They are the true heroes of what #farm365 is. A look at what really goes on behind a barn door or in a field. No Photoshop, no terror, just fact. Fact that is desperately needed around the dinner table.

And then there is the media. When I announced a few days before the end of 2014 that I was going to try this out – a CBC radio host called wanting to talk. And then a web editor wanted to talk and the story went national before the ball in Times Square dropped. And then more media called and more stories ran and they have been an incredible glimpse of what I wanted this to be from the start. Simply a peek in the barn, in the moment, at what a farm does to put food on the table.

It’s has been an incredibly exciting week that I know is leading to an incredibly exciting year.

Here are links to some of the media from the week:









Lorne Brooker Show, Belleville – January 7, 2015 http://www.cjbq.com/lorne.php


Posted by Farm and Food Care on January 8th, 2015 :: Filed under Activism,Agricultural Advocates,AgVocacy,Dairy cattle,Faces of Farming,Farm life,Social media,Speaking out
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Be positive when responding to critics in social media

By Brent Royce, Ontario farmer

As I’ve watched Twitter over the last week I’ve been both surprised and disappointed by how those in Ontario agriculture have reacted to the point that for a few days I didn’t even know what to say or how to say it.

With the New Year, a new hashtag has emerged: #farm365 is the brain child of a very good agriculture spokesman - @FreshAirFarmer. The uptake of this has been amazing to say the least; agriculture has grabbed hold of this and have run to open their farm doors virtually to help connect with the urban public.

In life we are told there are two things for certain: death and taxes. In farming we have two certainties as well - two per cent of us who farm and two per cent of people that will always be against what we do.

One thing that I take pride in with farming is that no matter what, when things go wrong you have neighbours and fellow farmers that step up to help you out. This holds true for farmers on Twitter. We are there to back each other up, offer ideas, solve problems and the list goes on. We take great pride in what we do so when one comes under attack, others step up to back them up. This is amazing as lots of times you haven’t even met the other farmers on Twitter and it has made me proud to be part of it.

If we back up a second, I said we have two per cent of our population that are farmers and two per cent that are against us no matter what we do. That leaves us with approximately 96% of the population that want to know what we do and understand it better. We as farmers need to remember this at all times on social media as this is a very large number of followers that we can either turn away or provide them with a better understanding of agriculture. We are business people and, as in the normal population, we need to conduct ourselves in a professional manner – showing both dignity and respect for alterative views.

With #farm365 and animal pictures being posted to Twitter, we have also had the animal rights people show up very dominantly. I have no problem if someone chooses to be vegan and everyone’s entitled to their choice – it’s the beauty of living in a free world and we’re lucky to live in a world where there are such abundant food choices that we can have discussions (even debates) about alternative food sources.

When the #365 movement started, I knew we would have people challenge and try to discredit farming. What has disappointed me is the way some of Ontario agriculture has sunk down to the same “name calling” level as the activists. This doesn’t look or sound well to the other 96%.

My feeling with Twitter or any form of communication is I’m willing to engage anyone about how we farm as long as they are willing to listen with an open mind. Education of where everyone’s food comes from is our responsibility - after all we grow it. If conversations are going nowhere but are conducted with a positive tone, I will end them on a positive note. I have vowed to never get into a name calling or mudslinging competition with anyone. This approach will make me – and all farmers - look bad. For my non-farm followers, it could also turn them away.

Over the years I have found that a good positive image on social media has gained me followers around the world - both ag and non ag. Over the last few days my engagement in #farm365 has brought more action to my Twitter account than I can keep up with. Yes, some is negative but so much is positive. Personally, a few positive responses from agriculture or people far outweigh the negative attacks from a select few. I also try to respect my followers and why they chose to follow me.

I ask everyone in Ontario agriculture to use social media as a tool in the tool box and respect the power it has – it’s no different than if someone was to enter a bull pen! Be positive, proactive and proceed with caution.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on January 7th, 2015 :: Filed under Activism,Agricultural Advocates,Agriculture Education,AgVocacy,Social media,Speaking out
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Schill family model for “January” in 2015 Faces of Farming calendar

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Floradale – Ryan Schill is a fourth generation farmer. He and his wife Romy, both 28, are raising their two young sons, Cameron and Emerson as well as 300 sheep on their farm in Wellington County. Both of their families have been in farming for many generations. Their farm has been in the Schill family for 94 years.

The 2015 Faces of Farming calendar

Fourth-generation farmer Ryan Schill with one of the lambs.

In 2015, the family appears in the tenth anniversary Faces of Farming calendar, published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. Ryan’s photo is also on the cover – the first sheep farmer in Ontario to appear in that prestigious position. Their page is sponsored by AdFarm.

Sheep have been an interest of Ryan’s for many years. Raised on a mixed farm (producing crops, pigs, beef cattle, chickens and more), he had 25 sheep when he was much younger while helping his grandfather.

Romy was raised on a dairy farm near Moorefield. The two met through Ontario’s 4-H program and when they married in 2008, they knew that they wanted to farm. Romy had studied at the University of Guelph receiving her degree in Agricultural Science, while Ryan travelled to Alberta for his post secondary education, receiving an Agricultural Certificate from Lakeland College.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on January 5th, 2015 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Faces of Farming,Sheep
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