let's talk farm animals

Making big changes to keep the cows happy

Guest blog by Andrew Campbell, Ontario dairy farmer

Keeping cows happy is one of the most important jobs of a dairy farmer. After all, did you know that happy and comfortable cows give more milk? It’s true! If a cow isn’t feeling well or isn’t comfortable, they just won’t give as much milk as those that are happy, comfortable, well fed and well watered.

It is why we are making a huge investment into the long term health of all of our girls with a new addition. The addition will mean more room for more cows, but will also feature some new comforts.

To tour the additions to Andrew’s new barn, visit http://www.dinnerstartshere.ca/component/easyblog/entry/making-big-changes-to-keep-the-cows-happy?Itemid=101

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on January 8th, 2014 :: Filed under Animal care,Dairy cattle,Housing
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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

 

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on August 19th, 2013 :: Filed under Animal care,Biosecurity,Housing,Pigs,Uncategorized
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Hot enough for ya?

In this blog post, Eastern Ontario egg farmer Stephanie Campbell talks about the challenges of keeping farm animals cool and comfortable during the heat of summer months. Watch www.dinnerstartshere.ca for more blogs from some young Ontario farmers.

By Stephanie Campbell

Is it hot enough for ya? I’m sure you’ve heard this saying many times this summer, but did you ever think that it could apply to farm animals as well? For most farmers, when the weather is very hot, it not only means that is can be uncomfortable for them to work in (especially if they have hay to do), but they also have the task of making sure their animals stay cool as well. This is why most barns have very good ventilation systems.

Fans on the side of an egg barn

Fans on the side of an egg barn

In my barn, we have an air exchange system with big fans and vents that turn on and off automatically based on the temperature of the barn. This ensures that the temperature remains as steady as possible to ensure the hens stay happy and comfortable. The air is fully exchanged every seven minutes. Even with this air exchange, on very hot days (i.e. days over 35 degrees Celsius), sometimes the barn can get a little warm. For this reason we have extra big fans (think wind machines in old movies) to keep the air fresh and moving through the barn.Read the rest of her blog here at http://www.dinnerstartshere.ca/blog/entry/hot-enough-for-ya

 

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on August 16th, 2013 :: Filed under Barns,eggs,Housing,Uncategorized
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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

 

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

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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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Dear Ryan Gosling…

Dear Ryan Gosling:

Letter sent to the Globe and Mail – July 11, 2021

To the Editor:

Putting ‘Actor turned animal welfare expert’ criticisms aside, let’s correct the premise first – a pig is not a dog or a chicken or a bat or a dolphin. They all have very different housing, health and care needs.  Although it may not come up at many Golden Globe parties, millions of dollars have been invested in researching farm animal welfare.  Virtually none of that money has come from the animal rights critics Mr. Gosling has aligned himself with to write this commentary, even though they fundraise to ‘improve animal welfare.’

The Code of Practice for Pigs is an amazingly Canadian process.  It’s based on science and put together with input from government, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, agriculture and food industry and farmers themselves. There is always a need for continuous improvement in farming, and critics voicing their disapproval is part of that process.  However, I support a more reasonable approach to improving animal welfare based on science and practical farm experience, which may not be as sexy, but might actually help real animals in real barns in Canada today and tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Crystal Mackay, Executive Director, Farm & Food Care Ontario

To see Ryan Gosling’s original opinion piece, visit here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/a-tiny-cage-is-not-a-life/article13117337/

 

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 18th, 2013 :: Filed under Activism,Agricultural Advocates,Agriculture Education,Animal care,Canada,Codes of Practice,Housing,Pigs,Pork
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Common myths about agriculture – even at the University of Guelph

Guest blog by Rudi Spruit, dairy farmer

Rudi Spruit is a student at the University of Guelph and wrote this response to an article that appeared in the university’s newspaper, The Ontarion.

About four weeks ago, I read an article in The Ontarion about Meatless Monday. As an agriculture student at the University of Guelph, I take a keen interest in anything agriculture-related, especially if it is published in the University of Guelph’s independent student newspaper.

I can see some reasoning behind Meatless Monday, including some health benefits. I don’t know this for a fact, but with the obesity rate where it is in the United States, I can see how eating less protein and more veggies might help the North American diet.

The concern I have is in some of the wording used.   The one problem that set me off with this article was the writer’s lack of understanding about farming in Ontario, evidenced when she mentions, “Others are concerned with animal cruelty; by opting for a vegetarian diet, individuals show they no longer support the conditions many factory farm animals are raised in.”

Nothing could be further from the truth, and the Meatless Monday campaign does nothing to help animal welfare. The concern with animal cruelty is great to everyone, especially farmers. Farmers choose to work with animals because they enjoy it. Caring for animals properly is a matter of doing the right thing.  Contented animals are also more productive animals and lead to higher quality food products. Like any animal owners, farmers must also follow laws for humane treatment, and neglect and abuse of animals of any kind (pets or livestock) is against the law.

In Canada, 98 per cent of all farms are still family owned and operated. It is true that farms are bigger than they used to be, but they’ve had to accommodate a growing world population and a declining farm population.

Fifty years ago, one in three Canadians farmed. Today, it’s one in 47, yet Canadians still want affordable, local food, so we need to produce more – and more efficiently – if we’re going to feed our growing population.

Let me tell you about my family’s dairy farm. We’re the proud caretakers of 370 cows who live in the barn throughout most of the year. There is a reason for that – and that reason will hit us all in about two months: winter. Cows don’t like it. We keep them in the barn for the same reason your pets live in the house: for comfort, fresh feed, fresh water, and safety.

In the summer, cows are often too hot and a lot of them, if outside, could risk facing heat stress and death. So our barn is designed to cool those animals down. Even when they are given a choice of going outside, they pick the barn 98 per cent of the time.

Larger farms came about because approximately 100 years ago, half of the population farmed, whilst now only two per cent do. That means two per cent of the population feeds the remaining 98 per cent. To do that, farms have to get more efficient at producing quality product in large quantities with minimal labor input.

My grandfather milked 60 cows with the help of his family of nine, which created enough income for one family. Today, my dad milks 200 cows with my mom and no other help except for the occasional weekend assistance by me, which creates enough income for all of us.

Today, there are tens of thousands of Canadian farmers like my dad, providing the same amount of care, with the same amount of detail and the same amount of animal welfare. Most farmers care greatly for their animals and take the utmost pride and care in their animals.   If you have any questions about the modern food system and animal agriculture do not hesitate to contact Farm & Food Care Ontario. It’s an organization created to answer the public’s questions about their food and farming supplies.

Also, if you want to enter a modern farm facility without leaving your desk, just visit Farm & Food Care’s website at www.virtualfarmtours.ca to tour a number of Ontario farms, including dairy farms like mine.

 

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Posted by FFC on December 7th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,Canada,Dairy cattle,Feeding the world,Future of Farming,Meatless Monday,Speaking out,Summer,Sustainability of the family farm,winter
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Breaking down the options for your breakfast

by Kristen Kelderman

One of my favourite traditions growing up was our Sunday night breakfast for dinner and curling up to watch the Walt Disney special on CBC. Often we would grab a dozen eggs and whip up some delicious omelets for everyone to enjoy and my sister and I would fight over whose turn it was to crack the eggs.

Since then I have cracked my fair share of eggs, but never have I really questioned where my eggs come from or where do the chickens live and what kind of care are they given?

Growing up on a farm, I never second guessed this and assumed that much like my family; chicken farmers care for their birds just like we do with our Holstein cows.

But consumers today are much more engaged and want to know more about their food and how it’s raised. And this is a fantastic opportunity for Ontario farmers to tell their story! While many people are concerned about what type of eggs they buy- free run, free range, enriched or conventional- they often don’t understand the implications that come with the associated housing systems.

The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) is evaluating the tradeoffs that exist between the different housing systems and how they impact the environment, animal health and well- being, food affordability, food safety and worker health and safety. This research follows two flocks over three years on a commercial farm at the same location with three different housing systems, an aviary, an enriched system and a conventional system.

While the preliminary data has just been released, it provides some very intriguing results regarding environment, animal health and well-being and food affordability. When compared to aviaries, conventional and enriched systems had better air quality with lower levels of ammonia and dust particulates.

Eggs coming in, by conveyor belt, from a Canadian laying hen barn.

And when considering the health and well being of the birds, there were varying results in which system had the most fractured wings, the most breast bone deviations, overall feather coverage and highest incidence of foot problems.

Overall each system had associated health pros and cons, but one did not stand out ahead of the others. The interesting information from this research is that this is the first time food affordability data has been collected on a commercial sized farm.

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Posted by FFC on November 22nd, 2012 :: Filed under animal handling,Animal health,eggs,Housing,Research,Uncategorized
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In the face of crisis

By Jeanine Moyer

Living on a farm means we live farther away from our neighbours than most people. Instead of lawns and fences separating our house from the neighbour’s we have fields and streams. Sometimes I think the distance between each farm can make the relationship between neighbours stronger. And tests the strength of a relationship like an illness or disaster when neighbours come together to face adversity.

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 19th, 2012 :: Filed under animal handling,Barn fires,Barns,Family vs factory farming,Farm life,Sustainability of the family farm
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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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