let's talk farm animals

Animals are animals, not people

H with Horses PIC

Jean L Clavelle

A few weeks ago we were sitting around watching a Disney cartoon with our two young children before bedtime activities started. One of the more senior members of our family who happened to be in the room with us (a recent retiree from farming) made a comment that went something like “Disney has ruined society’s perception of animal agriculture”. At first, I brushed it off with a laugh but have been thinking that perhaps that statement holds more truth than I first thought.

Animals are animals, not people. They are not secretly speaking our language when we are not around despite every hilarious Far Side cartoon in the Sunday paper. Cows do not wear aprons, pigs do not ride skate boards, dogs do not have problem solving skills of an adequate level to save the world from imminent disaster (although I will admit all of those concepts make terrific story lines for toddlers).  Even though animals do communicate, form social bonds, have mothering instincts and relationships, they are not humans.  They do not share our social structure, our language, our problem solving ability or our emotions.  They are animals.

So when faced with the overwhelming messages of Disney and other tv shows, movies, toys, and books that show animals as having human characteristics how do we raise our children to understand that this portrayal of animals is not real?

My first thought is that I will teach them the main principles of raising animals on the farm - whether that be a dog, cattle, chickens, a horse or a ginuea pig.  With livestock you quickly learn that their needs come before your own.  It doesn’t matter if you are tired or hungry or cold because you’ve been outside all day, if the animals need to be looked after you better get outside and make sure they are fed and watered and comfortable.  Raising animals means that you treat them when they are sick.  If an animal has an illness that can be treated with antibiotics then antibiotics are used so that animal does not suffer. Raising animals means that you have a responsibility to use the latest techniques that will benefit not just the animal but the environment because that is the right thing to do.

Above all it means that you treat them with respect.  Whether they are simply companions or whether they are giving us milk or eggs or will be butchered they are to be valued with kindness and empathy.  And this does not mean giving them a luxury stall at the most expensive equestrian center or the finest silk day bed to lounge on while you are at work.  We must truly understand what that animal needs as an individual of a particular species.  Just as animals are not humans, dogs are not cats, beef cattle are not goats, horses can not be treated like pigs.  It is up to us, the people who care for them, to understand what they need in terms of their environment, their social activities, their nutrition.  And that is part of the process of respect.

I want my children to know that we will use those that pig for bacon, that beef animal for steak, and that dairy cow will give us milk.  But what a better way to teach them gratitude for the food in their bellies than to show them where food comes from.  It does not come from a grocery store.  As an adult I am now more grateful than ever, each time I sit down to a beautiful bacon and egg breakfast that I am involved in raising the animals that gave it to me.  I hope my kids have that same appreciation.  Even if I to continue to let them watch Disney cartoons.

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 14th, 2014 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,Animal care,Education and public awareness,Farm life,Food,Uncategorized
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Napanee dairy farmer in 2014 Faces of Farming calendar

By Kelly Daynard

Dairy farmers Kevin and Adrianna MacLean enjoy interacting with the public and answering their questions about farming.

Dairy farmers Kevin and Adrianna MacLean enjoy interacting with the public and answering their questions about farming.

Napanee - You may not have thought of celebrating Christmas with a herd of dairy cows but that’s just what residents of Napanee did last year when they were invited to a special holiday open house event at Ripplebrook Farm.

Ripplebrook Farm is a third generation family farm operated by Kevin MacLean, his parents Barton and Barbara and his step-son Taylor. The family milk 130 cows and crop 750 acres.

The family always embraces opportunities to showcase the farm and often host tours throughout the year. Last year, they decided to host a “Christmas with the Cows” event for their community. They had no idea how many people might attend and were both surprised and pleased when 200 showed up to watch their evening milking and spend the evening in the barn.

That’s just one example of Kevin’s work as an agricultural advocate – or agvocate. Youth groups, service groups and school trips all enjoy feeding the young calves and “helping” to milk the cows. A friendly member of their herd, nicknamed “Carrie the Curious Cow” is always a special hit with the visitors.

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on June 20th, 2014 :: Filed under 4-H,Agricultural Advocates,AgVocacy,Dairy cattle,Education and public awareness,Faces of Farming,Horses,milk
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Even Livestock are Getting in on the Tech Craze

Jean L Clavelle

RFID 2 PICAccording to StatsCan as of January 1, 2021 there are over 12 million beef and dairy cattle, almost 900,000 sheep and lambs, and nearly 250,000 bison in Canada.   Which is a lot of animals.  Bet you didn’t know that each and every one of those animals can be identified by its own unique number (much like our own Social Insurance Number).  The next question might be why…?  Why would livestock need to have their own number?

Well it is simple really.  With individual animal numbers we are able to easily track where any one animal came from in Canada.  The ability to identify animals and their origins during an animal health or food safety emergency is paramount to the success of the response operation and the protection of human and animal health.  Meaning it gives us the ability to prevent the spread of disease and further, to eradicate disease as it arises - to protect not only Canadian livestock but consumers and customers as well.

It was initiated in 1998 by beef and dairy industry leaders who recognized the importance of protecting our national herd and assuring consumer confidence which lead to the establishment of a national identification program.  On January 1, 2021 the Government of Canada passed regulations for compulsory animal identification for both cattle and bison. The Canadian Sheep Identification Program (CSIP) followed suit with its own industry-led trace-back system introduced in 2004 applicable to all ovine animals in Canada.

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Posted by FACS on April 14th, 2014 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,Animal health,Beef cattle,Bison,Dairy cattle,Sheep,Traceability,Uncategorized
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The Distance from Farm to Plate

 

be Jean L Clavelle

Since becoming involved with social media over the last year I have begun to take note of people’s attitudes, opinions and knowledge as it pertains to agriculture and food production.  I grew up on a farm, attended an ag college and subsequently worked in agriculture so I’ve been surrounded by like-minded people my entire life.  However, agvocating has opened my eyes to the realization of just how little the From AgricultureMoreThanEver.cageneral public knows about where food comes from.  It is fascinating (not to mention a little scary) to delve into the general public’s belief system and knowledge base in this area.

To clarify I am pro conventional agriculture, organic farming and alternative production practices.  I believe in new technologies and in providing the consumer with what they desire and believe there is room for multiple types of systems.   It is surprising though at how little understanding there is of contemporary food production practices by the general public regardless of what type of system we discuss.

Now, at every chance available I ask questions.  Whether it is on Facebook, Twitter or in an actual real life face to face conversation (I know, how old school).  This is not to be antagonistic, just to understand an individual’s perspective - and sometimes position - on food production and possibly to dispel some misconceptions or false information that seems to be endemic in the populous.  I also ask so as to understand why and how they developed their beliefs.  Where did we fail in our society that such a basic life necessity is so distanced from that of every other day to day need?

A recent conversation of animal welfare versus animal rights included a discussion about what happens at a slaughter plant.  Surprisingly I was asked if I understood what “actually” happens there.  Now, I do not object even the slightest to someone’s choice of being vegan though I was thoroughly astounded about the question of whether or not I’d considered what happens at a slaughter plant.  We raise animals to eat and with that comes the understanding that the death of those are animals are inevitable and it is our responsibility to be respectful of and honour that animal’s life.  For this person the thought of that many animals dying on a daily basis was just too overwhelming and simply too much to bear so adopted a vegan lifestyle.  Despite the intrinsically dark nature of animal slaughter it never occurred to me that this essential step in getting meat from the farm to the plate should come as a surprise to anyone.

Stats Canada stated that almost a third of Canadians lived on farms in 1931 and in 2006 that dropped to 2%1.  How did we go in one or two generations to be intimately involved in supplying our own food to now having so little idea as to be completely oblivious.  And that is only going to become more evident in future generations.  My cousin told me a few years ago that her young daughter wanted to take the “wrapping” off of her peas – she wanted to take the shell off the pea pod.  If we are so distanced in garden vegetables how shocking must a barn filled with thousands and thousands of laying hens seem?

So in conclusion, my friends, I offer no suggestions here.  I only request that we all continue to speak out in an honest and respectful way.  To seek out what really drives a person’s belief system so that we can help to dispel those myths and to continue to keep producing food in the best way possible.   Because it is essential that our customers and our society understand what it means to do so.  That we are not forced to do it in a way that would not be beneficial for our children, environment or our future.

  1. Found at statcan.gc.ca
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Posted by Farm and Food Care on March 31st, 2014 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,AgVocacy,Canada,Consumers,Education and public awareness,Misconceptions,Social media,Speaking out
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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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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?

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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.

 

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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!

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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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“Shocking” undercover dairy video hits home

There’s a growing community of agricultural advocates in North America - farmers and farm enthusiasts who are passionate about what they do and who, more importantly, are focused on finding ways to stand up and tell their stories to the world.

One of these enthusiasts is Dairy Carrie, a dairy farmer from Wisconsin. You can read her blogs at www.dairycarrie.com.

In particular, we’d like to call attention to her latest blog entitled “Shocking undercover dairy video hits home” which features footage filmed on her farm. If the title has piqued your curiousity, chcek it out for yourself at http://dairycarrie.com/2013/02/14/shockingvideo/

Read the comments below the post too. They’re sure to make you smile!

 

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on February 15th, 2013 :: Filed under Activism,Animal care,Dairy cattle,Family vs factory farming,Farm life
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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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