let's talk farm animals

Recalling one barn fire story during Fire Prevention Week

By Patricia Grotenhuis, 6th generation farmer

The heifer barn before the fire.

The heifer barn before the fire.

Waking to pounding at the door at 1:45 a.m. one June morning, we struggled to open our eyes. Nothing could have prepared us for the sight of flames shooting out of our barn. As my husband raced outside yelling a thank you to the girls who were at the door, I rushed for the phone to call for help. We already knew the barn could not be saved, but were immediately aware that the other buildings were in danger if the flames spread.
We had no idea if all of the heifers were outside on pasture. With our setup, they have the freedom to move back and forth between the barn and pasture as they please. We had to make sure the ones who were on pasture did not return to the barn, though.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on October 8th, 2014 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,Barn fires
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Faces of Farming - July

By Kelly Daynard

Deslippe familyFarming is one of the few careers that often spans generations of family members all sharing an unwavering commitment to the land and their livestock. Rochelle Deslippe of Amherstburg, in Essex County, is one such example.

Their family farm was started by her grandfather, Earl, in the 1930′s when he began a small hatchery raising turkeys. The farm was eventually taken over by Earl’s two sons, Jerome and Paul. Today, Jerome’s daughter Rochelle and her three children are the third and fourth generations of the family to be raising turkeys and crops on the farm, and Rochelle wouldn’t have it any other way.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 7th, 2014 :: Filed under 4-H,Animal care,animal handling,Faces of Farming,Turkeys
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The Externship Project: Busy week with a fresh cow program

Each summer DVM students from the Ontario Veterinary College delve into that practical experience at veterinary clinics across Ontario and additional locales. These blog posts are an opportunity to tag along with the five of them this summer.

By Chelsea Allan

Week three has come and gone and for some reason this week it has seemed to be extra busy. I’ve been up and at er’ by 5 a.m. almost every morning. But nothing beats waking up early in the morning and driving the countryside. It may seem kind of silly, but I love watching as all of the crops emerge and grow from the ground. Nothing is quite as pleasing as seeing the rows upon rows of perfectly straight lines of wheat, corn and soybeans. And every time I see a sprayer on the road I get this tingling urge to see if I could drive under it.

John_Deere_4930_SprayerHere is a sprayer in relation to cars…see I think it is a definite possibility but for sincere safety concerns I would not recommend it to anyone!

This week I had an exciting, but also slightly nerve-wracking, venture to tackle. Navan started a Fresh Cow Program. This program consists of me visiting farms once or twice a week to look at their fresh cows. Holy cow, although I was nervous about making sure I did a good job, I think I was more worried about getting lost. I will fully admit that my sense of direction sucks. Anyway, fresh cows are cows that have recently calved and have started producing milk. During this freshening or transition period there are many potential causes of illness. It is an important time to make sure that they remain healthy because they have significant energy demands from the milk they are producing and they have a potentially decreased immune system because they have just recently given birth.

To read what Chelsea’s job entailed this week, continue reading here.



Posted by Farm and Food Care on June 27th, 2014 :: Filed under AgVocacy,animal handling,Speaking out,Uncategorized
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by Kim Waalderbos

These days it looks like some of our cows are dancing the hokey pokey. There sure is a lot of wiggling and shaking happening in one particular corner of our barn. A closer look reveals the source of the movement – a new cow brush (see picture).

Since this stationary, two-brush device was installed last weekend the cows have been lined up for their turn to brush off and get spiffed up. The timing couldn’t be better as the cows discover this helpful tool to help scrub away at the long hairs that were part of their winter ‘coats’ and now fall to the floor below in heaps.

Cow brushes can commonly be found on dairy farms across Canada. They can look like our stationary brush that the cows move against or they can be fancier motorized brushes that are motion activated and when pushed, spin against the cows to brush away dirt, dust and hair. The goal is the same – to help cows keep clean and comfortable.

It sure is a popular thing to play with on our farm. And I think the cows look shiner and more content because of it.



Posted by Farm and Food Care on May 12th, 2014 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,Dairy cattle,Uncategorized

An Animal Lover Turned Farmer - Kendra Leslie

By Andrew Campbell

(Paisley) - Kendra Leslie grew up in rural Ontario, but didn’t grow up on a farm. Instead, she was an animal lover who was always curious as to what a farm life was like. She was so interested in agriculture, that she took a job with a nearby pig farmer when she was still in high school. What started out as a part-time job on weekends and in the summer months, quickly turned into a passion. Graduating in agriculture from the Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph, Kendra is now a full-time caretaker of a sow herd for an Ontario pig farmer.

Kendra Leslie feels at home in rural Ontario.

Kendra Leslie feels at home in rural Ontario.

A sow is a female pig old enough to give birth to piglets and Kendra spends her days at work caring for those mother pigs and their piglets. “Every day is different, which is something I love about my job, ” says Kendra. “From feeding the sows to checking every animal in the barn to ensure they are eating properly and are healthy, we take the care of each one very seriously.”

But that’s only one of her daily chores. Kendra’s also responsible for weighing piglets to ensure they remain healthy, checking expectant mothers with an ultrasound and ensuring that any sows that have recently given birth are doing well.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on April 24th, 2014 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Animal care,animal handling,Education and public awareness,Pigs
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Meet the men of February in the Faces of Farming calendar

by Kelly Daynard

St. Marys - Farmers, by their very natures, are entrepreneurs, always looking for innovative new products to try on their farms or looking at new research to find better ways to care for their livestock and crops.

The Rankin family of St. Marys is a great example of that. In the 1920’s, Dow Rankin was a cheese maker who watched as his cousin became one of the first in Canada to farm mink. At the time, farm or ranch-raised mink was unheard-of. The demand, at the time, was for pelts from mink raised in the wild.

But the Depression brought with it a change in the market and ranch-raised mink began to increase in popularity. Dow started by buying three females (at a time when there were only 600 breeding female animals in all of Canada). By the time Dow’s son, Jim, returned home from college to farm in 1949, he had increased to a herd of 40 females with the herd size increasing significantly in the decades since.

The Rankins are proud Ontario farmers, raising mink.

The Rankins are proud Ontario farmers, raising mink.


Today, Jim is retired from the farm that is now managed by the third and fourth generations of his family to live and work there.

Jim’s son, Kirk, said that the path to a career as a third generation mink farmer was, for him, an indirect one. After high school, he pursued a career in forestry with a desire to be a game warden. Yet, when he met his future wife and farm girl Judi, he knew that he’d rather have a life with her in southern Ontario than one on his own in the north. He returned home to farm with his dad and is now thrilled to have sons Jamie and Curtis and nephew Steve working alongside him.

Farm responsibilities have been divided up according to the passions of each of the four.  Jamie enjoys managing the intricate art of creating feed rations which have to be changed and balanced depending on the animals’ age. Curtis studied mechanical engineering and spent a short time working at a car plant before his rural roots drew him home. Today’s he has a lot of responsibility for the care of their animals. Steve also tried an off-farm career before returning to the farm in 2004. He especially enjoys maintaining and operating the farm’s equipment.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on February 7th, 2014 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,Faces of Farming,Fur farming
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Livestock on the road – how you can help in an accident

By Jean Clavelle

Wtransport PICell, it’s that time of year.  Cattle are coming home from pasture, calves are being weaned and sent to feedlot and horse enthusiasts are enjoying the last few pleasant riding days left of the season.  No one plans to have one, but accidents do happen especially when animals are involved.  And whether you are the one involved in a motor vehicle accident or an innocent bystander it’s important to know what to do and how you can help when livestock are on the loose.

The top 5 things you need to know about livestock in an emergency:

  1. Livestock do not understand lights and sirens mean pullover.  This will definitely not make them stop.
  2. When an animal feels cornered, it will fight or try to run.
  3. Livestock view us as predators and their natural instinct is to flee from predators.
  4. Prey animals are herd animals and become extremely agitated when isolated or separated from other animals.  Single animals are extremely dangerous animals.
  5. Once livestock are excited or scared it will take at least 20 to 30 minutes to calm them back down.
    Read All »


Posted by Farm and Food Care on October 4th, 2013 :: Filed under animal handling,Animal welfare,Beef cattle,Broiler Breeders,Chickens,Horses,Misconceptions,Pigs,Poultry,Sheep,Transportation,Turkeys,Uncategorized,Veterinarians,Weather
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Meet the face of September in the Faces of Farming calendar

By Patricia Grotenhuis

Taking over shares in her family farm while majoring in molecular biology and minoring in statistics at the University of Guelph was not what Kelsey Ottens pictured herself doing when she finished high school.

Ottens, now in her fourth year at the University of Guelph, was looking for a summer job two years ago when her parents approached both her and her brother about buying the family’s broiler breeder farm from them. A broiler breeder farm breeds chickens for other farmers to raise for meat.  The siblings now own the majority of the farm. Her brother runs the farm while Ottens helps with management decisions and works at the farm on weekends and during holidays from school.

“It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.  It’s a part time job, but way more interesting than other jobs I could have had,” says Ottens. Although she is not sure what life holds for her at the end of university, Ottens says she will probably have a career off of the farm, but continue farming.

Kelsey Ottens

Kelsey Ottens

Because of her commitment to farming, Ottens is featured in the 2013 Faces of Farming Calendar published by Farm & Food Care Ontario.  Her page is sponsored by the Ontario Broiler Chicken Hatching Egg Producers’ Association.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on September 3rd, 2013 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,animal handling,Broiler Breeders,Canada,Faces of Farming,Farm life

New vehicle focuses on animal care

by Kristen Kelderman

Animal care has always been an important part of a farmer’s everyday life. In the past, animal care has hid behind many titles. We have referred to it as animal husbandry, animal welfare, and stockmanship to name a few. But at the end of the day, it’s the same basic principle packaged in a slightly different box.  We, as farmers, strive to provide our farm animals with the best possible care including nutrition, housing, comfort, health and enrichment (often called the five freedoms).

I remember as a young girl when Dad would stay up all night and worry when a cow had went through a hard calving or had a bad case of milk fever. And I remember thinking to myself man; the vet is not doing a very good job at keeping our cows healthy. But it wasn’t until l was a bit older that I truly understood that animal care is a responsibility of everyone on the farm, my Dad, my Mom, our vet, our nutritionist, our service technician for our milkers, my siblings and myself. We all play an integral part, even though we might not think so. Farm Animal Care & Emergency Awareness vehicle

This was a light bulb moment for me as a young farm kid. Since then I look at animal care in a holistic manner where everyone involved in the industry has an interest in the care of farm animals. And the more I talk to people about this, the more it is becoming mainstream thinking.  And the conversations are only getting started.

At Farm & Food Care, we have just launched our new Farm Animal Care & Emergency Awareness vehicle. As part of our commitment to increasing awareness and information on farm animal care issues, we will be turning up the volume and getting people talking about animal care.

We will be out at farm industry events like the Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock with hands on interactive demos. See our non-penetrating captive bolt euthanasia resources, tour the outfitted van or get your questions answered.

Farm animal care seems to be the latest hot topic on the horizon and in the news. But in truth farmers and those in the industry are the people who live and breathe it every day, and it’s not a fad topic to them. No matter if you’re a pig farmer, a banker, a veterinarian or a milk truck driver, at the end of the day we are all in this together. Responsible animal care is something that we all strive for.



Posted by Farm and Food Care on August 26th, 2013 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,Animal welfare
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Reducing weaning stress, as simple as Two Steps!

Quiet Wean PicNot often do science and research result in real world applications with just a few studies.  Often, practical adaptations are made after years of study at multiple centers involving many scientists and dozens or hundreds of publications that have each built on the tiny steps of the one before it.

Often that is the case, but not always.  Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan were investigating behaviour of beef cows and stumbled across something quite extraordinary that resulted in a new understanding of how to wean calves.  After just a few projects, these researchers were able to offer a method of weaning that dramatically reduces stress for both the cow and calf, and results in healthier bigger calves for the producer.  Better still the idea has taken off across North America!


Posted by Farm and Food Care on August 22nd, 2013 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,Animal health,Animal welfare,Beef cattle,Innovation and technology,Research,Uncategorized
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