let's talk farm animals

Ontario farmer uses barcodes to raise the bar on beef

By Jeanine Moyer

(Simcoe and Stoney Creek) - Ontario beef farmer Cory Van Groningen knows what’s important to his customers – quality

Cory Van Groningen

Cory Van Groningen

and trust. And he’s found a way to increase meat tenderness while tracing every single cut of beef from the farm, directly into the hands of his customer. All this is achieved by using barcodes and innovative tracking systems that begin at the animal’s birth, and follow right through to placing prime beef cuts in the grocery store cooler.

As co-owner of the family business, VG Meats, Van Groningen is responsible for keeping the supply chain short by raising cattle for their own processing plant and retail stores. He and his wife Heidi run a 400 cross-bred cow herd, producing beef for VG Meats and other retailers. Raising cattle directly for their own market means Van Groningen has complete control over the product through every stage, beginning at birth, to ensure health, quality and traceability.

Keeping with a 40-year family tradition of processing and retailing meat, Van Groningen also works alongside his parents and three brothers, managing and operating a processing plant and two retail locations. Selling directly to customers through two retail locations in Simcoe and Stoney Creek, ON, means Van Groningen and his family can talk directly to their customers, determining exactly what they want and what’s important to them.

“We’ve learned customers want to trust the people packaging their meat,” says Van Groningen. “They often ask questions as a way to learn more about products and test a retailer’s competency. Traceability is a way to earn their trust and help them verify they’ve made the right choice in choosing our meat products.”

As a farmer, food processor and retailer, Van Groningen knows consumer trust means the family business needs to be accountable for the products they sell. And that means product traceability right from the farm to the customer’s plate.

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on December 8th, 2014 :: Filed under Beef cattle,Food safety,Innovation and technology,Meat processing,Meat/slaughter plants,Retailers,Traceability,Uncategorized
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My meat journey

by Kristen Kelderman, Farm Animal Care Coordinator, Farm & Food Care

Over the last two years that I’ve worked with Farm & Food Care, I’ve been asked a lot of questions. Most of which have come from volunteering at public events. I’ve had great conversations with moms, kids, dads, grandparents and teachers, who all love farm animals and want to know more. Some common questions being ‘how big is that cow?’, ‘how many eggs does a chicken lay?’ and my personal favourite of ‘are you a real farmer?’

Others are more complex like ‘why are pigs kept in stalls?’

But there was one question that I will never forget . It was a question that caught me off guard and one that I have not stopped thinking about since that day. A mom approached me at the CNE and asked ‘how can you care for your animals and then eat them?’

Now that’s a tough question. She was not a vegetarian; she ate meat, but genuinely wanted to know.  I can’t remember what I said to her on that day, but on my drive home that night it kept cycling through my head. How do we justify this decision? I never really considered it that much.

As a young kid growing up on my family farm I became very familiar with life and death. I marveled at the miracle of a new calf being born and also mourned the life of a cow after she had died or been put down. Many times I watched and helped my dad put down a sick or lame cow. Life and death is part of everyday life on a farm. It was something that I never really questioned and I continued to think about this question long after.

It was not until recently on a tour of a Cargill beef plant that I had a “light bulb” moment. I began to piece together my thoughts as I walked through and watched how cattle are turned into the beef you see in the grocery store. Watching the workers do their jobs and trim a small part of the carcass at each point along the way was amazing. Very little goes to waste; even the hooves are processed into products that you buy for your dog at the pet store.

A couple of times our tour guide turned around and checked to see that I was alright. I was the only girl on the tour, but probably the one most fascinated by the whole process.

I left Cargill that afternoon with a renewed confidence in our food system. Regardless of what you read, hear or watch, I can say with firsthand experience that the animals who produce the meat we eat are raised and treated in the most humane manner, from the farm through to your plate.

If I had a time machine, I would go back to that day in August and when that mom asked me ‘how do you eat the animals that you care for?’ I would tell her the following:

We (as farmers) owe it to our animals to provide them a healthy comfortable life, but when the time comes we also owe them a quick and painless death. Farm animals are raised in Canada for food.  Whether it’s beef, chicken, pork or turkey meat that I eat, I know that the animal was well cared for and respectfully treated. I will confidently continue to eat Canadian.

 

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on March 3rd, 2014 :: Filed under Animal care,Beef cattle,Feeding the world,Food,Food safety,Meat/slaughter plants,Uncategorized
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Livestock Handling Tips from Dr. Temple Grandin

Livestock handling tips from Dr. Temple Grandin

By Kelly Daynard

In a recent blog, we focused on a recent presentation by Dr. Temple Grandin that was held in Mississauga and promised to share more about the lecture, sponsored by the Farm & Food Care Foundation.

In a talk that was both entertaining and thought-provoking, Dr. Grandin gave some animal handing tips that were brilliant in their relative simplicity. Here are a few of her examples:

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on June 28th, 2012 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,Animal care,animal handling,Auction sales,Beef cattle,Codes of Practice,Dairy cattle,Horses,Housing,Meat/slaughter plants,Other livestock,Pigs,Poultry,Sheep,Temple Grandin,Uncategorized
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An evening with Dr. Temple Grandin

by Kelly Daynard

If we’re fortunate, there’ll be a few times in our lives when we feel like we’re in the presence of greatness.
By greatness, I’m not referring to fame because these days, it’s clear that anyone can be famous without doing a single meaningful thing in their lives (the number of celebrity debutantes in the media can attest to that). I’m referring to that opportunity to meet someone who has made a real difference in the lives of others and who, in some way, has changed the world.

That opportunity happened for about 200 people in Mississauga (and another 100 4-H members watching online) last week when Dr. Temple Grandin appeared as the keynote speaker at an event sponsored by the Farm & Food Care Foundation (www.farmcarefoundation.ca).

Dr. Temple Grandin

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on June 14th, 2012 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,Animal care,animal handling,Education and public awareness,Meat/slaughter plants,Speaking out,Temple Grandin,Uncategorized
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Reporter feels business end of electric prod

Steve Buist, Hamilton Spectator, 2021.06.06

The use of battery-powered electric prods to get hogs moving is a controversial animal welfare issue.

The prod is poked into the back or rump of the pig and with a push of a button, a flash of electric current jumps between two contacts. It’s enough to elicit a loud squeal in some pigs.

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Posted by FFC on July 23rd, 2009 :: Filed under Meat/slaughter plants,Pork,Transportation
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The end of the line

Steve Buist, Hamilton Spectator,2008.06.06

It’s Friday, May 9. I didn’t need my alarm clock this morning. I was wide awake by 4 a.m.

I admit that I was a little apprehensive. This is Piggy’s last day. This morning, he’s being shipped from the Littlejohns’ farm in the hamlet of Glen Morris to Great Lakes Specialty Meats, a small packing plant in Mitchell, about half an hour north of London.

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Posted by FFC on July 22nd, 2009 :: Filed under Farm life,Meat/slaughter plants,Pork,Transportation
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Horse owners concerned about proposed transportation legislation

08Dec19 By SHANNON RUCKMAN, The Prairie Star editor

BILLINGS, Mont. - With close to 10 million horses in the nation, Montana horse owners and enthusiasts are concerned about the welfare of the equine industry if legislation is passed banning the transport of horses to slaughter facilities.

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Posted by FFC on July 21st, 2009 :: Filed under Horses,Meat/slaughter plants,Regulations,Transportation
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PETA’s New Anti-Leather Ad in Security Checkpoint Bins Could Help Cash-Strapped Airport’s Bottom Line Take Off

For Immediate Release:

December 15, 2020

Memphis, Tenn. — In light of the Transportation Security Administration’s decision to allow advertising on the bins used at airport checkpoints in order to pay for security equipment upgrades, PETA has dispatched a letter to Larry D. Cox, president and CEO of Memphis International Airport (MEM).

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Posted by FFC on July 21st, 2009 :: Filed under Activism,Meat/slaughter plants
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NMA, AMI seek to overturn California slaughter law

Feedstuffs, (12/25/2008) ,
Rod Smith

The National Meat Assn. (NMA) has filed a lawsuit in a federal court in California seeking to overturn part of a California law passed this summer that bans the slaughter of non-ambulatory livestock for meat for human consumption, and the American Meat Institute (AMI) has moved to intervene in and broaden the action, according to an announcement yesterday.

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Posted by FFC on July 21st, 2009 :: Filed under Meat/slaughter plants,Regulations
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Scientist Temple Grandin explains animals’ emotions in Animals Make Us Human’ book review

Tricia Springstubb, The Plain Dealer, January 11, 2021

At last! We’ve installed a 100-percent squirrel- proof bird feeder. I’m gloating over the desperation of the fat-tailed rodent who normally hoovers up the seed and, if I’m not quick enough on the refill, sets to gnawing the back door. He is relentless in his dangling upside down, flattening himself against the lid and rising up on his hind legs, beating his chest. Foiled!

And then I begin to read Temple Grandin’s “Animals Make Us Human.”

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Posted by FFC on July 19th, 2009 :: Filed under Beef cattle,Education and public awareness,Meat/slaughter plants
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