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It’s All Antibiotic Free, Baby!

Reprinted with permission from Hurdhealth.com


It’s All Antibiotic Free, Baby!

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After all of the recent Panera and Chipotle hype about antibiotic free production, I decided to look at the data. This is also a follow up to my previous blog about antibiotic free (ABF) meat; I am going to present some data to back up my claim that there is very little difference between conventional and ABF – in other words, it’s all antibiotic free, baby! #ItsAllABF!

Due to farmers following appropriate withdrawal times, there are very few violations. In fact in the last three years of USDA testing no broiler chickens have been found with violative residues for the scheduled (random) sampling. For beef only 2 violations out of 1,600 samples were found and only 3 out of 2,200 from market hogs.  Note that antibiotics are not toxins, there are useful and very safe products used by us all.

The Bottom Line

The residue detection levels in the 3 classifications that I analyzed (beef cattle, market hogs, and broilers) are extremely small and well below the levels that would cause adverse effects to a human eating the meat. In addition, if an animal tests positive for residues, it does not enter the food supply.

Meat from an ABF farm would supposedly have zero levels of residues – but, if you aren’t going to get sick or be affected by the perfectly healthy, wholesome conventional meat, why should you pay more for something that potentially carries more foodborne illness?

From a veterinary perspective, I am concerned with the internal struggle that the ABF farmer must face. Most farmers get some premium for raising ABF meat, so if the animals get sick does the farmer treat and lose the financial benefits of ABF or wait a day or two? Waiting can increase mortality and spread of infectious disease significantly. What about the veterinarian, who has taken an oath to prevent animal suffering, but management will only let him treat a small percentage of the barns? Can these restaurateurs really argue their ABF meat provides a better “conscience choice,” if it comes at the cost of additional mortality and animal suffering?


Posted by Farm and Food Care on September 6th, 2013 :: Filed under Animal care,Animal health,Animal welfare,Consumers,Economics,Food safety,Innovation and technology,Media,Regulations,Research,Social media,Speaking out,Traceability
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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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Farmers use social media to express anger over Panera Bread’s new advertising campaign

Farmers, worldwide, are learning of the powers of social media when it comes to speaking up, proudly telling the stories of what really happens on their farms and correcting misinformation, when they see it.

A great example of this came last week from the United States where dairy farmer Carrie Mess (known through her blog as Dairy Carrie) took on American company Panera Bread for a horrible advertising and promotion campaign that it had recently launched – one that seems to call farmers and ranchers lazy.

Carrie has a large readership, both through her blog and through Twitter, and her post and subsequent tweets instantly went viral. The result? Thousands of reads of her blog in a few short hours and hundreds of farmers and industry supporters across North America posting links and comments of their own about Panera Bread’s perceived lack of support for – and understanding of –farmers.

If you want to read the conversation last week, go to Twitter and search for @Panerabread or #EZChicken . It’s a good read and confirms the fact that farmers do have a voice. The farm community has also coined a hash tag of its own - #pluckezchicken which also worth checking out.

As of today, a marketing executive from Panera Bread has contacted Carrie. She’s posted a subsequent blog on their conversation at http://dairycarrie.com/2013/07/26/heres-what-panera-has-to-say-for-themselves-pluckezchicken/

Here’s her original blog. Thanks to her for permission to reprint it and kudos to her – and the legions of angry farmers and Panera customers – that have rallied around this issue.

Dear Panera Bread Company, You’ve lost a customer. Now most people wouldn’t offer to help someone out that they don’t like but I am going to be the bigger person here and give you a heads up.

On Friday I stopped into one of your stores to grab a bite to eat after spending the morning at the Dane County Fair watching the hard working 4H and FFA kids showing their dairy cattle. My mother-in-law was along for the ride and since the line was long and she needed time to pick out her sandwich before getting to the counter I grabbed one of your handy menus from a stand. That’s where I found this…

You can read her whole blog post here: http://dairycarrie.com/2013/07/23/dear-panera-bread-company/


Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 29th, 2013 :: Filed under Activism,Agriculture Education,Animal care,animal handling,Education and public awareness,Farm life,Speaking out
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Do you know what Animal Welfare really means?

In my 15 years studying, researching and being employed in agriculture I’ve had many discussions with urban and agricultural friends, family, colleagues and even strangers about the meaning of animal welfare.  Often this conversation begins with animal welfare and then diverges into other different and oftentimes unrelated topics.  One such discussion began with welfare of laying hens in cages then turned into a discussion of the nutritional benefits of eggs from hens fed different diets.  I suspect welfare is never a short discussion because in many people’s minds welfare is associated with so many other issues.

So, what is Animal Welfare?


Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 25th, 2013 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Agriculture Education,Animal welfare,Canada,Chickens,Codes of Practice,Consumers,Education and public awareness,Laying hens,Misconceptions,Research,Speaking out,Uncategorized
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Farmers Helping Farmers

By Kristen Kelderman

Summer is a time when most people tend to be outside enjoying the sunshine and warmer weather. It’s also a time when we see a lot more farm animals as we travel the back country roads to the cottage or other holiday destinations.

Certain farm animals like beef and dairy cows are regular icons that speckle rural pastures. Other animals, like pigs and chickens, are kept in cool climate-controlled barns and are rarely seen outdoors.

If you’re ever unsure about the care and treatment of farm animals that you’ve seen in your travels, the Farm Animal Care Helpline, managed by Farm & Food Care Ontario and a similar Alert line managed by Alberta Farm Animal Care are services that you can call.Helpline sm logo

The Helpline is a confidential ‘farmer helping farmer’ approach to advice and referral on animal care. The Helpline accepts calls about most types of farm animals: beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs, rabbits, goats, veal calves, sheep, chickens and turkeys. Ontario’s Helpline representatives are the most credible people who deal with animals every day - farmers.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 15th, 2013 :: Filed under Animal care,Uncategorized
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A biosecurity plan for all horses

by Jean Clavelle

If you have ever had anything to do with livestock, chances are you’ve heard the word biosecurity.   Biosecurity refers to practices designed to prevent, reduce or eliminate the introduction and incidental spread of disease.  Most of us would associate this with poultry or swine production systems but have you ever thought about biosecurity as it relates to your horse?

Horses are often kept in areas of high traffic and are therefore of high risk for exposure to disease.   With some basic practices and common sense you can reduce the biosecurity risk for your own horses whether you have a herd of 20 or of 1!  Pasture Horse

Here are a few tips:


Posted by FACS on July 12th, 2013 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,Animal health,Barns,Horses,Uncategorized,Veterinarians
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Pick on someone your own size!

It’s an interesting and generally unknown fact:  When sows (female pigs) farrow (or give birth), they can have litters of piglets totalling 20 or more. But most sows only have 14 teats – which means they can only nurse up to 14 piglets comfortably.

Piglets feeding from their mother sow.

Piglets feeding from their mother sow.

What do pig farmers do to ensure that all of the newborn piglets receive an equal amount of milk? Find out by reading the latest Dinner Starts Here blog written by Kendra Leslie. You can find it here:http://www.dinnerstartshere.ca/blog/entry/pick-on-someone-your-own-size


Posted by Farm and Food Care on June 28th, 2013 :: Filed under Animal care,Pigs,Pork
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Twinkle toes - pedicures for cows

by Kim Waalderbos

Our cows are walking with some extra bounce in their step. They’ve all just been given a cow-sized pedicure by our hoof trimmer Peter.

Peter comes to our farm two-to-three times each year to help care for our cows’ feet. It’s an important job because we want all them to be walking comfortably, so we dedicate a whole day each visit to trimming and shaping.

Hoof trimming is a regular and important part of cow care. Here the hoof trimmer uses a special tool to even up the bottom and tips of the cow’s foot.

When it’s her turn, each cow is loaded gently into the hoof trimming stall. Peter has a setup that allows each cow to lie down comfortably while he’s working.First he looks over each foot to check for any issues with sore spots or infection – that might need extra attention, maybe even a bandage or special wooden shoe to take the weight off a sore spot temporarily. Then he uses some clipper-like tools to trim the toe length, and knife-like tools to shape and file the foot.

The process is much like we trim and file our own finger nails – no pain involved. The cows are comfortable while Peter tends to their hooves, many even chew their cud while he works. In the case of our cow pedicures though, we don’t bother with any colourful nail polish!


Posted by Farm and Food Care on May 29th, 2013 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,Animal health,Dairy cattle
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Magic happens everywhere – both at Disney and on Ontario farms

By Kristen Kelderman

While the great Walt Disney was a man with a big heart and an even bigger imagination, I would argue against the famous tagline that Disney World is the most magical place on Earth.

For me there is nothing more magical then a trip home to the farm. The birth of a new born calf, the tiny seed that grows into a nine foot corn plant and the sweet smell of fresh cut hay on a warm June afternoon are some of the magical every day experiences happening on farms across Canada.

Don’t get me wrong. The Disney experience ignites a nostalgic feeling of childhood memories and my inner kid at heart begins to show. But the spark that lit up my magical moment at Disney this year was a behind the scenes tour at my favourite park, Animal Kingdom.

A team of nutritionists at the Animal Kingdom spend their days managing the meals of 250 species of animals living at the park. Two of the nutritionists studied at the University of Guelph

As luck would have it, our schedules synced up and we were able to go behind the scenes to tour the park’s incredible nutrition and veterinary facilities.

Eduardo and Shannon graciously took time out of their day to discuss the daily happenings and challenges of raising animals both in captivity and in the public eye.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on May 7th, 2013 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,careers
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