let's talk farm animals

Ontario pig farmer in the 2014 Faces of Farming calendar

By Kelly Daynard

Plattsville – To hear Scott Richmond talk about his farm, you’d think he had more of a career as a poet or a novelist than as a farmer.

Scott Richmond’s a fifth generation farmer, raising pigs, corn and soybeans on his family farm near Plattsville

Scott Richmond’s a fifth generation farmer, raising pigs, corn and soybeans on his family farm near Plattsville

“My favourite thing is to walk out the back door when the dew is on the grass and the sun’s just coming up over the hills. It just smells like beauty”, he says when describing his chosen career. “I just can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Scott’s a fifth generation farmer, raising pigs, corn and soybeans on his family farm near Plattsville, in Oxford County. His farm was named Brae-Heid, in recognition of its rolling hills, by his long ago Scottish ancestors who emigrated here.

Scott said that there was never any doubt that he was going to farm. Looking back, he chuckles, “I don’t think I picked farming. I think farming picked me.” He studied agriculture at the University of Guelph, graduating in 2002. From there, he worked in construction for a while before returning home join his parents in their farming business.

Together, they have a “farrow to finish” pig farm where mother pigs (called sows) give birth to their piglets and the piglets are raised up to the age when they go to market. They also grow 250 acres of corn and soybeans that are used to feed their livestock.

A successful blind date a few years ago led to his marriage to wife Dawn and the recent arrival of their daughter, Meredith, the sixth generation of the Richmond family to live on the farm. Dawn wasn’t from a farm but Scott’s proud to report that she’s adjusted to her new rural life well. “She’s always eager to help out when needed.”

Scott says that the health and well-being of his pigs are always foremost on his mind – from the time he wakes in the morning until he goes to bed at night. His daily routine involves walking the barn to ensure that all of his pigs are healthy, content and have enough feed and water as well as checking his fields to ensure that his crops are also thriving. Said Scott, “I haven’t found a better business partner than Mother Nature.”

Scott is also active in his community. He’s vice president of his local curling club and past president of the Oxford County Pork Producers’ Association. He likes being involved in his community and his industry. “It’s a combination of coveralls and business”, he said in an interview. “I like working at home and being my own boss but I like helping in the industry too.”

Many Ontario pig farmers, like Scott, are also involved in helping their local food banks. In June 2013, a new pilot program saw a donation of 10,000- 500g packs of ground pork made directly to Ontario food banks in Southwestern Ontario including Sarnia, London and Hamilton. The program built upon the success of the “Donate a Hog” program that was started in 1998.

During the course of the 2013 pilot project, the donated pork represented the equivalent of 20,000 meals for adults. The entire quantity was dispatched within three to five days of delivery.

Next, the program’s organizers hope to build on the success of the Ontario Pork Program by securing enough funding to run the program year-round for two years. The hope is to purchase enough pork to make it available to food banks on a regular basis. Industry partners have expressed an interest in helping to match funds made available by Ontario Pork, the organization representing Ontario’s pig farmers.

The Oxford County Pork Producers’ Association, of which Scott is past president, has also been active in food bank initiatives, donating to their local food bank in Woodstock.

“I think it’s important for farmers like us to give back to our communities,” said Scott. “I feel really fortunate to have the life I live. If we can do something to help others facing hunger in our communities, that’s a very good thing.”

He added that more than 400,000 Ontarians visit their local food bank each month, with 160,000 of them being children. Many of them are lacking good protein sources, like pork, in their diets.

In 2014, Scott is the face of Ontario’s pig farmers and December in the Faces of Farming calendar, published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. His page is sponsored by Elanco Animal Health and the Ontario Association of Food Banks. Both are involved in the Ontario Pork Program.

To see an interview with Scott, visit - http://youtu.be/JFhaUrYkqLg

Share

Posted by Farm and Food Care on December 2nd, 2014 :: Filed under Faces of Farming,Farm life,Pigs,Uncategorized
Tags ::

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.

Share

Posted by Farm and Food Care on April 24th, 2014 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Animal care,animal handling,Education and public awareness,Pigs
Tags :: , ,

When the farm is no longer on the farm

By Carolyn MacLaren, General Manager, BC Farm Animal Care Council (BCFACC).

When I became involved in speaking about and explaining farm animal care a few years ago I had some ideas of what the issues were, where good things were happening and improvements were demonstrated, and where there were still gaps. I also had some familiarity of the “urban” issues from my university days in large Canadian centres where both schools I attended during my academic career had their share of “greenies” or “vegan” types as they were known. All of this I could deal with and I could reconcile, it was pretty easy for the most part so either I was good at it or I had the luck to not encounter too many disagreeable or militant types. Probably a combination of both, really.

I regularly meet very nice people who know absolutely nothing about farming and food production but have clearly been influenced by people and groups who aren’t telling our story as it really is, such as the PETAs (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) of the world. I have learned to take time to listen to those questions and understand what they are asking and what the issue or concern really is and then try to answer in the most direct and simplest way possible, citing examples and drawing on analogies, as I have been taught. For the most part this does the trick and people are appreciative that I took the time to discuss the issues and did not laugh at their lack of knowledge.

The computer game Hay Day may be fun but is a poor depiction of how farms really work.

The computer game Hay Day may be fun but is a poor depiction of how farms really work.

Now that I have children of my own, I make sure their perspective is imbued with a healthy dose of realism – “ … yes, calves do have their horns removed, it’s safer for them and the other calves, yes trimming a chicken’s beak is safer for them and the other chickens …”. We speak openly about what is on our dinner table and where it came from. It’s not unusual to hear my 8-year-old ask “So, Mommy, is this chicken or pig we are eating tonight?” before she happily and heartily digs in. When we drive out to the family dairy farm on a particularly aromatic day (usually when the spreading of manure is allowed again in the spring) our girls will tell their friends, who are loudly protesting the smell, that “that smell is actually very good because without it, there would be no cheese, no milk, no ice cream, no yogurt.” I have brought them to my side and it really wasn’t that hard. Or so I thought.

Share

Posted by BCFACC on January 16th, 2014 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Education and public awareness,Misconceptions,PETA,Pigs,Urban Myths
Tags :: , , , , ,

Farming in Perth County for seven generations and planning for more

Bob McMillan, Julie Moore and their family appear as the faces of January, 2014 in the 2013 Faces of Farming calendar

Bob McMillan, Julie Moore and their sons Reid and Nolan appear as the faces of January, 2014 in the 2013 Faces of Farming calendar

by Patricia Grotenhuis

Bob McMillan and Julie Moore may have struck people as an unlikely pair when they first started dating. He was a farmer passionate about the land and his livestock. She was a self described city girl from Toronto who knew little about farming when they met.

McMillan’s family’s history is entrenched in the rural community near Stratford.  His ancestors bought the Perth County farm in 1850 when they came from Scotland, and it’s been in the family  ever since.  The farm has changed a lot over the years, but according to McMillan, that just adds to the history for future generations.

“The roots are something I take for granted.  There are interesting stories and the history is nice to have.  There have been lots of changes, but everyone gets to add something to the farm,” says McMillan.

Moore added, “We continue to call the original stone house our home. Under our roof, seven generations have been born, married, celebrated and inspired. Our home farm is truly a place where a family story begins.”

The two are appreciative of farm life and their community, something that Julie has especially appreciated coming from the city.  “I love the sense of community here.  It’s so different from larger, urban centres – everyone knows the history and has a sense of connection and belonging,” she said.

In 2013, the couple and their two young children Nolan and Reid appeared in the eighth edition of the Faces of Farming calendar, published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. The couple’s winning application was chosen from a field of 31 exceptional entries in a new contest launched to select one farm family to appear in the calendar.  In their application, Julie described her family as a “progressive, passionate and proud farm family”. She also said that she felt they “typify today’s farm family – active, educated, engaged, caring and committed to our families, our farms and our community.”

McMillan and Moore have expanded their business by purchasing a neighbouring farm. They’ve also built a new barn and added new corn storage/dryer facilities.
They’re doing their best to make sure they leave the farm in a better condition for the next person who works the land by implementing numerous environmental improvements. McMillan has switched to new tillage systems to help conserve soil.  He uses crop rotation to make sure nutrients are not being depleted from the soil, and to improve soil health by having crops with different root systems each year.  Crop rotations also lessen the insect and disease pressure on the plants.

To explore changes that could be made on the farm to improve the environment around them, McMillan completed an Environmental Farm Plan and implemented many of the changes the program suggested.  As part of a conservation project, the couple has planted 1,000 trees on their property.

“We plant for another day and another generation, so we can grow our rewards down the road,” says McMillan.  “It’s impressive to see the benefits now from past projects.”
McMillan is also devoted to caring for his livestock - pigs - and follows stringent guidelines on what the animals are fed and how they’re cared for.

They’ve also got a strong commitment to their community.  McMillan is currently Deputy Mayor of Perth East, sits on Perth County Council and is involved in other community boards and associations.

“I want to be a younger voice in politics, and I want to continue making people aware of farming through my politics,” says McMillan, who was first elected as a councillor in 2003 and is serving his second term as deputy mayor.

Moore is also involved in the community, serving as a school board Trustee with the Avon Maitland District School Board, volunteering with many projects at her sons’ schools and as a consultant to the South West LHIN.  She enjoys running, and has completed several half marathons.  Their two sons, Nolan (7) and Reid (3) enjoy everything there is to see and do on the farm.

Julie is using her newfound knowledge of farming to help educate friends and family from the city about where their food comes from, and the dedication of the people who grow it.

“I didn’t have an appreciation for my food, where it comes from and the work and skill that goes into producing it.  Farmers are highly skilled. They need to be to produce quality food. Food that is safe and healthy food for us to enjoy” says Moore.

Share

Posted by Farm and Food Care on January 14th, 2014 :: Filed under Animal care,Environment,Faces of Farming,Family vs factory farming,Farm life,Future of Farming,Pigs

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 »

Share

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
Tags :: , , , , , ,

Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan pleased with the success of another ‘We Care’ Billboard Campaign!

By Jean Clavelle

TBillboard campaign June 16his year marks another triumph for the “We Care” billboard campaign initiated by the Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan (FACS).  The program, which began in 1996, feature beef, bison, horse, chicken, egg and swine producers with their animals and are posted around busy thoroughfares of Saskatoon, Regina and Moose Jaw.

Share

Posted by Farm and Food Care on September 20th, 2013 :: Filed under Activism,Agricultural Advocates,Agriculture Education,Animal care,Beef cattle,Broiler Breeders,Canada,Chickens,Consumers,Dairy cattle,eggs,Faces of Farming,Farm life,Future of Farming,Horses,Media,Pigs,Pork,Poultry,Sheep,Speaking out,Uncategorized
Tags :: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pigs in the city

 

Ron and Sharon Douglas of Clifford are shown with their Ontario Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.

Ron and Sharon Douglas of Clifford are shown with their Ontario Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.

By Jeanine Moyer

One Ontario farm couple is so passionate about farming that several times each year they take their farm on the road. Ron and Sharon Douglas of Whispering Brook Yorkshires, Clifford, ON, spend nearly 100 days travelling to schools, fairs, festivals and exhibitions across Ontario each year, educating the urban public about agriculture.

And with them come their own pigs – in the comfort of the Pig Mobile  – a converted livestock trailer with the sides replaced with windows to allow people to see the pigs as they would live on the farm.

The Pig Mobile is as close as you can get to an Ontario hog farm without actually stepping foot in a barn. The animals are carefully chosen to represent hogs at various growth stages including a sow and baby piglets, weaner, grower and finishing hogs. Ron designed the unit himself, modeling the trailer as close to a real pig barn as possible. The unit is complete with ventilation, a farrowing unit, slatted floors and feeders similar to those found in any Ontario hog barn.

Share

Posted by Farm and Food Care on August 29th, 2013 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Agriculture Education,Animal care,Pigs,Pork,Speaking out
Tags :: , , , ,

You have to shower before going into a barn?

It may be hard to believe but farmers might ask you to take a shower or wear overalls and plastic boots over your shoes before entering.

In her blog post on the www.dinnerstartshere.ca website, pig farmer Kendra Leslie explains why:

When you walk into a hospital, the first thing you do is wipe your hands down with hand sanitizer, right? Well, essentially, that’s biosecurity.

The reason you use hand sanitizer when you go into a hospital, is so you don’t bring in new bugs into the hospital. As pig farmers, we take the same sort of steps to insure that our pigs stay healthy and no new bugs or illnesses are brought into the barn.

A shower in a Canadian pig barn

A shower in a Canadian pig barn

Most pig farms require that you shower in before entering the barn. By removing all outside clothing, showering and putting on clothes that do not leave the barn, means that the chance that new bugs or diseases will enter the barn is low. It’s very important that anyone entering the barn shower and change into barn clothes, whether they have been around pigs before or not.

To view the whole blog visit

www.dinnerstartshere.ca/blog/entry/you-have-to-shower-before-going-into-the-barn

 

Share

Posted by Farm and Food Care on August 19th, 2013 :: Filed under Animal care,Biosecurity,Housing,Pigs,Uncategorized
Tags :: , , ,

Be a real champion

Reprinted with permission

By Trent Loos

With county fair season upon us I thought the message here should be shared with all. For the purposes of this particular piece I am going to reference showing pigs only, but it certainly applies to all animal species. I think in a real serious manner we need to address the oldest principle in animal ownership, which I believe should still be called “animal husbandry.”

You may not realize this but before people received “animal science” degrees they could earn a degree in animal husbandry. This name change, to me, was the beginning of our losing the battle in the arena of public perception regarding this industry. But here we are now and it is up to those of us that own pigs to shape the public’s notion of proper animal welfare….

To view the rest of the blog, click here http://www.hpj.com/archives/2013/jul13/jul29/0724LoosTalessr.cfm

 

Share

Posted by Farm and Food Care on August 12th, 2013 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Agriculture Education,animal handling,Education and public awareness,Pigs
Tags :: , , ,

Drinkable Water - from Livestock Manure

An article entitled “Drinkable Water – From Livestock Manure” received a great deal of interest when it was published in the Globe & Mail on June 26.  The story features a project that is one of four semi-finalists in the Globe’s  Small Business Challenge Contest.

The article starts off: “General audiences might cringe watching a video that shows Ross Thurston, president of Calgary-based Livestock Water Recycling Inc., drinking water produced from treated hog manure.

But livestock farmers will probably say, “Genius.”

Mr. Thurston’s company builds and installs systems that treat hog and cow manure, separating solids and phosphorus, extracting and concentrating ammonium and, finally, discharging water that’s clean enough to drink.”

You can read the whole article at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/the-challenge/drinkable-water-from-livestock-manure/article12810772/#dashboard/follows/

Micah Shearer-Kudel, Environmental Coordinator for Farm & Food Care Ontario, is working on many water quality initiatives funded through the Water Resource Adaptation Management Initiative (WRAMI). He submitted the following letter to the editor to the Globe and Mail:

The editor:

Drinkable water from livestock manure seems like a bad sci-fi movie theme, but is really a practical example of how today’s farmers are innovative environmentalists.  For example, Ontario farmers have invested $220 million dollars in environmental improvements on their farms in the past six years through Environmental Farm Plan projects. 

Saving soil, planting trees or funding plant research doesn’t usually make the news, but they are all excellent examples of commitments made by farmers that help people, animals and the planet. 

 

Share

Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 22nd, 2013 :: Filed under Environment,Environmental Farm Plan,Pigs,Research,Water Quality and Conservation
Tags :: , , , ,