let's talk farm animals

Google and Apple show an interest in pig manure


In my last blog I wrote about using farm and processing waste as an alternative, renewable fuel. Well this week bio-fuels got a big boost from an unlikely source.


Posted by FFC on April 16th, 2012 :: Filed under animal by-products,Environment,Manure,Pigs
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Waiting to make poop power pay

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

Alternative energy is becoming increasingly important in our oil-limited world.  Record high gas prices at the pump and creeping hydro bills are just signs of things to  come.  Farm equipment manufacturers are saying that farmers need more incentives to generate alternative energy from sources such as livestock manure.

Although the technology to turn poop (and other food and farm wastes) into clean energy has been commercially available in Canada for more than a decade, it hasn’t taken off the way I think it should. I got involved in the development of bio-diesel about ten years ago. The livestock and poultry farmers I worked for at the time saw the technology as a way to deal with shrinking markets and opportunities to recycle animal by-products. The technology has improved since then but the costs have not.

For example, one company, Bio-Terre Systems, has developed a low temperature anaerobic digestion system for processing farm manure and other organic wastes. The new system operates at lower temperatures than conventional systems cutting operating costs. Other companies have come-up with a new generation of extractors to improve the quality of bio-fuels that can be used in our vehicles. Farmers can use the energy to power their farms or sell it back to the electricity grid.

So what is holding it back? Right now although the technology is available the business incentives are not. Farm engineer Dennis Hodgkinson says environmental regulators in Canada have been slow to embrace anaerobic digestion and he believes that is slowing the advancement of the technology.

Mr Hodgkinson says the Europeans have built hundreds of conventional anaerobic digesters on farms but that development has been supported by preferential treatment. In Canada these business incentives, tax incentives and preferential green energy rates, don’t exist in our every day business, he says.

Right now, he explains, it is individual farmers that are choosing to make personal investments to adopt the technology because they believe in its potential.  Eventually he predicts  the economic circumstances will develop to make it attractive to both farmers and energy buyers.

This is a good technology, it can make real environmental improvements and it already has in a limited way. Now it is a matter of waiting for the economic circumstances to be right. That means waiting for even higher prices at the pump.

Until the next BLOG.


Posted by FFC on April 9th, 2012 :: Filed under animal by-products,Innovation and technology,Sustainability
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“Pink slime” - What’s in a name?

By: Leslie Ballentine, Farming and Food Commentator

“Pink slime” a pejorative term for boneless lean beef trimmings has been getting a lot of attention from, food advocates and US policy makers in recent weeks. Called “lean finely textured beef within the industry,” the ground beef filler is reportedly not used in fabricating meat in Canada. Never-the-less, the hoopla is spilling over our border and is another example of how a name can affect the industry. 


Posted by FFC on April 2nd, 2012 :: Filed under animal by-products,Consumers,Food,Food safety,Meat/slaughter plants
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A teachable moment on fur applies to agriculture too

By Leslie Ballentine, Farm and food commentator

As anyone who knows a teenager is probably aware this year’s hot ticket items for Christmas receiving (or any other occasion) included real UGG boots (not the synthetic copies) and Canada Goose jackets.  The price of these natural fibre clothing items put them in the “not happening” category in my household and that of many of my friends. But both items are hot sellers among the under-30 crowd. So it should come as no surprise that they are also receiving negative attention by the “don’t use animals” crowd.


Posted by FFC on January 16th, 2012 :: Filed under Activism,animal by-products,Animal cruelty,Innovation and technology,PETA,Wildlife

Christmas music wouldn’t be the same without animals

By: Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

When we think of Christmas and animals we may think of Santa’s reindeers or the manger in Bethlehem. We may think of turkey dinners and Beeswax candles or horse drawn sleigh rides, the Red Cardinal or fur-lined mitts.  We don’t often think of music though.


Posted by FFC on December 19th, 2011 :: Filed under animal by-products,Consumers,Turkeys,winter
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Eco-friendly plastic: a new use for chicken feathers

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

Turning chicken feathers into ‘green’ plastic is not a new idea. Government and university scientists in the U.S. first began serious research into the possibility years ago. The goal for researchers and plastic manufacturers has been to develop a substitute for petroleum in some plastic products. This year, some technical hurdles have been over-come and this bio-degradable plastic is now being produced commercially.


Posted by FFC on November 7th, 2011 :: Filed under animal by-products,Chickens,Environment,Innovation and technology,PETA,Research
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Ontario veal farm digester turns manure into power for neighbouring homes

On Wednesday June 29, 2011, Delft Blue Veal Farms (division of Grober Inc.) proudly hosted the event, Harvesting Clean Energy on Ontario Farms

Delft Blue's digester



Posted by FFC on July 20th, 2011 :: Filed under animal by-products,Environment,Manure,Sustainability,Veal
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Farm animals save lives

By Leslie Ballentine,  Farm and food commentator

When we think of cattle, pigs or poultry we may think of our next meal. But what many don’t know is that farm animals provide more than just sustenance.  They also save lives in other ways too.


Posted by FFC on July 4th, 2011 :: Filed under animal by-products,Beef cattle,eggs,Innovation and technology,Pigs,Research
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