let's talk farm animals

What does sustainable farming mean to you?

Jean L Clavelle

Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan

Free run barn

Free run barn

I was at a conference this week discussing agriculture and food production in Canada.  I must say it was a pretty exciting and motivational two days.  The first reason being that we had some progressive innovative farmers and industry people in the room.  They were excited to be there, they are passionate about farming, they want to keep improving, and they want to show Canadians what they do.  Not only that but they were asking what do consumers want from us?  The second reason is that there was some interesting, scratch that, fascinating discussion about how food is grown.

Historically debate about growing food has been a bit one dimensional.  By only looking at food safety perhaps we are neglecting to look at animal welfare.  By prioritizing environmental factors perhaps we are overlooking the affordability of food.  There was a theme running through the last few days where a more holistic approach to growing food seems to have taken root, that there is a social commitment on the part of all of us involved in agriculture and growing food to balance the five principles of sustainable food growth and farming.  These five principles include: Food Safety; Animal Health & Welfare; Environment; Economics and Food Affordability; and Health and Safety.

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on December 15th, 2014 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,Canada,Chickens,Consumers,Sustainability,Uncategorized
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Inside Farming: Hormones Are Everywhere, Including In You

By: Chloe Gresel, CanACT member, University of Guelph

The beef with growth implants in cattle production

Many Canadians actively search for hormone-free beef for their next meal, but hormonal implants may not be the enemy. In reality, growth implants help beef animals convert feed more efficiently, which results in leaner meat and keeps the price of beef more reasonable for the consumer. In addition, the levels of horses in these animals not be as worrisome as some think. Photo by Rudolph Spruit

Many Canadians actively search for hormone-free beef for their next meal, but hormonal implants may not be the enemy. In reality, growth implants help beef animals convert feed more efficiently, which results in leaner meat and keeps the price of beef more reasonable for the consumer. In addition, the levels of horses in these animals not be as worrisome as some think. Photo by Rudolph Spruit

There is much buzz in today’s media about wanting hormone free meat. Can I let you in on a secret? There is no such thing. You see, just like humans, all animals have naturally occurring hormones in their bodies. What the consumer is actually trying to get when they ask for “hormone-free beef” is animals that are raised with no hormones outside of their own. Companies such as A&W are trying to scare consumers into thinking that their products are better because they are using beef that is raised without growth hormone implants.

Can I let you in on another secret? Implants are not the enemy. Growth implants are used to help beef animals convert feed more efficiently. This means the animals develop more lean meat and grow more on less feed. Beef animals that are implanted have increased weight gain from 5 to 23 per cent and convert feed to meat 3 to 11 per cent more efficiently than non-implanted cattle. By using less feed, costs are reduced for the farmer and beef is kept at a reasonable price for the consumer. There is also a smaller environmental impact when cattle are implanted, as farmers are using fewer resources to get them finished and ready for harvesting. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Animal Science stated that if we were to remove growth implants from our cattle production system, we would need 10 per cent more cattle, 10 per cent more land and feed, and 7 per cent more fuel and fertilizers to raise the same amount of beef.

You might be thinking that it’s great that implanted beef has a smaller environmental impact, but you still don’t want all those extra hormones in your own body. Well then, let me share this tidbit of information: 15 ml of soybean oil has over 28,700 nanograms of plant estrogen, while a 100 gram serving of beef raised with growth hormones has only 2.2 nanograms. Surprising, isn’t it? Studies have shown that there are greater differences in hormone levels between the different sexes of cattle then there are between cattle raised with growth hormones versus cattle raised without growth hormones.

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on June 23rd, 2014 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,Animal health,Beef cattle,Consumers,Feeding the world,Food,Food safety,Innovation and technology,Misconceptions,Regulations,Speaking out,Sustainability
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Innovative dairy goat farmers win prestigious awards

By Lilian Schaer

evin and Cindy Hope, with daughter Mackenzie, received their County of Peterborough Recognition award for agricultural leadership on May 24 in Norwood, Ontario.

Kevin and Cindy Hope, with daughter Mackenzie, received their County of Peterborough Recognition award for agricultural leadership on May 24 in Norwood, Ontario.

(Keene) Cindy and Kevin Hope always knew they wanted to create their own branded line of dairy goat products and goat meat right on their farm some day. What they didn’t know was that their efforts to build sustainability into their farming business would net them two prestigious awards.Cross Wind Farm was the recipient of a 2013 County of Peterborough Recognition Award as well as a Premier’s Award of Excellence for Agri-food Innovation Excellence in 2012. Cindy is delighted with this kind of recognition for the work her family is doing on their farm and in Ontario’s growing goat industry.

“To win an award of this magnitude means the world to us. It means the small producer does matter and is making a difference in our local food chain,” she explains. “The work that farmers put in in a day hardly gets noticed so this recognition is a great pat on the back for us.”

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on June 12th, 2013 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Farm life,Goat,Sustainability,Uncategorized
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Stewardship

Guest blog:  By a  B.C. dairy farmer

To me, the word sustainable has become a buzz word,or marketing doublespeak. As an all encompassing management practice, I prefer the term stewardship. And I try to put this into practice in all areas, not strictly agriculture. As a Christian, I have a biblical mandate to manage what I have been given.

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Posted by FFC on March 19th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,Dairy cattle,Future of Farming,Sustainability
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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

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Posted by FFC on July 20th, 2011 :: Filed under animal by-products,Environment,Manure,Sustainability,Veal
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Food prices are up - but what’s to blame?

by Patricia Grotenhuis, lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

Food prices are drawing a lot of media attention lately. It seems everything is increasing in price, both at grocery stores and at restaurants. Many different factors have been blamed for these price increases, but regardless of the reason, the outcome is the same. In some cases, food prices rise at the store without any increase for the farmer.

A Manitoba study showed the cost of a week’s worth of groceries for a family of four rose by $6.01 from 2008 to 2009, but farmers received $0.86 less. In 2009, beef farmers received $2.05 for the 600 grams of sirloin tip beef that cost you $9.15 in the store. In 2008, by comparison, the farmer also received $2.05 for the same cut of beef, but you only paid $4.61.

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Posted by FFC on April 19th, 2011 :: Filed under Economics,Farm life,Feeding the world,Misconceptions,Sustainability,Sustainability of the family farm
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