let's talk farm animals

When the backyard chicken novelty wears off

By Leslie Ballentine, Farm and Food Commentator

As many people are aware, the latest rage in the “Eat Local” food trend is to raise your own backyard chickens. Municipalities across the country have been faced with lobbying campaigns, disputes and even legal challenges to allow for city chickens.  Some municipalities have refused, some have agreed with very specific requirements, others just keep deferring a decision.


Posted by FFC on May 22nd, 2012 :: Filed under backyard flocks,Poultry
Tags :: , , ,

Do goats really eat tin cans?

 By Patricia Grotenhuis

Many storybooks show goats eating everything around them, including tin cans.  It’s a common myth.

When I was 9, I bought my first goat, and had my own herd for 14 years.  I did see the goats eat a number of things over those years, but they had a very definite eating pattern – which didn’t include tin cans.

If they did come across a tin can, they would probably get much more enjoyment out of stepping on it and listening to the sound of the tin crinkling than anything else.

In this barn, goats are eating from a fresh bale of hay

Goats are browsing animals, not grazers like cattle and sheep, so goats like treats of leaves, cedar branches, and weeds in their pasture, much like a deer. They take a lot of time to search out the best snacks. They will often stand on their hind legs to reach the best part of foliage that may be out of reach to other types of livestock like sheep.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on May 16th, 2012 :: Filed under animal handling,Farm life,Goat,Misconceptions
Tags :: , , ,

Animals on the loose

by Kristen Kelderman, Farm Animal Care Coordinator

During the past five years living away from home, I have travelled the notorious 401 highway back to Eastern Ontario too many times to count.

Through blistering heat waves and slippery icy pavement, I have endured the three and a half hour drive often thinking how dull, boring and monotonous it has become. It was brought to my attention recently that, in reality, the hustle and bustle of the highway is anything but humdrum. In a matter of seconds all chaos can break out; it’s a special concoction of travelling at high speeds with little focus and numerous distractions. Add in a pinch of road rage and you’ve got the potential for a ticking time bomb.

Accidents are no new reality for those who use the highway to commute to work every day. We share the roads with other commuters, school buses, taxis, vacationers, transport trucks, police and farm animals…yes that’s right folks, farm animals.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on April 26th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,Barn fires
Tags :: , , ,

Trimming to Perfection

By Kristen Kelderman, Farm Animal Care Coordinator

As the spring breeze starts to warm and winter wheat fields showcase a lavish bright green hue across the countryside, I begin to notice myself missing the farm more and more. Summer is my absolute favourite time of the year to work and visit my home farm; it’s a whole different world… with an endless to do list. While it is not every day that I get to enjoy this anymore, I had the pleasure of accompanying hoof trimmer Vic Daniel to a family dairy farm in Ontario, recently. 

Hoof trimmer Vic gives a dairy cow's feet some close attention and care

Vic invited me to tag along to a farm with him, after we met at Eastern Ontario Dairy Days, where he presented a wealth of knowledge on dairy cow lameness.  On average, a dairy farmer will ensure their cows” hooves are trimmed twice a year. Proper foot care is an important component of a farmer’s herd health program.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on April 12th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,careers,Dairy cattle,Farm life,Research,Uncategorized
Tags :: , , , , , ,

Little Hop-a-long

 By Patricia Grotenhuis

One day when I was in high school, I noticed that one of my goat kids seemed to be having trouble walking.  It was only, at most, a month old, and while the others were out on pasture, it had stayed near the barn.  I went out to see what was wrong, and checked the kid over.  One hind leg was being favoured, and the hoof was on a slight angle. 

I flagged my dad down right away, and he confirmed my suspicions…the kid had a broken leg.  We could not call the vet or bring the kid in to the vet clinic, so we made a splint ourselves for the small kid.  Popsicle sticks were the perfect size to stabilize the leg, and we wrapped it with multiple layers of vet wrap, which sticks to itself but nothing else and provides support.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on March 22nd, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,Canada,Farm life,Goat
Tags :: , , ,

Introducing the farmers of March in the 2012 Faces of Farming calendar

 by Patricia Grotenhuis

Research and development are critical components of Rob and Jim Judge’s work as hog farmers.  They have been working to improve pig genetics in Ontario and shipped a group of pigs with their improved genetics to Korea recently.

The father/son team of Jim and Rob are the faces of March in the 2012 Faces of Farming calendar

The father-son team is featured in the 2012 Faces of Farming calendar, which is published by the Farm Care Foundation. Their page in the calendar was sponsored by New Life Mills, a supplier to their business.  Their Simcoe-area farm family has a “farrow to finish” type of hog farm which means that the pigs are born on the farm and raised there until they go to market. The family also raises chickens and crops in addition to the pigs. 


Posted by Farm and Food Care on March 15th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,Canada,Family vs factory farming,Farm life,Innovation and technology,Pigs,Sustainability of the family farm
Tags :: , , , , , ,

Technology on the modern farm

 by Patricia Grotenhuis

So many people seem to look back at the “good old days” as the way things should be now on farms.  That would, however, put an end to the tremendous growth and development we have seen recently.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on March 9th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,Innovation and technology
Tags :: , ,

A lifelong passion for farming educates thousands

 By Patricia Grotenhuis

What happens when you mix a farmer and former school teacher with an urban area?  You get a Learning Barn which provides thousands of people the opportunity each year to learn about where their food comes from.

Mary Ann Found and spokesrobot Owen talk to a young fan about farming

Mary Ann Found always loved teaching children about agriculture.  While her children were young, she would invite their classes to come visit the farm for a tour.  While teaching at a nearby school, she would often bring farming into her lesson plans, and even brought live animals to school from time to time.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on March 1st, 2012 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,Consumers,Education and public awareness,Farm life,Speaking out
Tags :: , , , , ,

A change of plans

 by Patricia Grotenhuis, lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

On the farm, nothing ever works the way you planned.  The quickest way to make a cow calve or something break is to make plans to leave the farm for a few hours.  We’ll have weeks of just staying around home with nothing on the agenda and everything will work perfectly for my husband.  We will start feeling comfortable and think “maybe this time will be different”.  A visit is arranged with an out-of-town family member or friend, or a trip to the city (an hour away) is planned. 

Everything is going great right up until the day of the outing, and suddenly BAM!  There’s a problem in the barn.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on February 10th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,Dairy cattle,Farm life
Tags :: , , ,

The Ick Factor

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

A Toronto hospital is asking for donations of human placenta to repair and reconstruct damaged eyes.  I’m sure most non-doctors would consider this disgusting and give it high marks for the Ick Factor. Superficial communications can often create the Ick Factor and the Ick Factor often influences our opinions. Agriculture and food production can be subject to the Ick Factor too.


Posted by FFC on January 31st, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,Beef cattle,Food,Misconceptions,Urban Myths
Tags :: , , , ,