Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 1, Edition 4

Is it time to re-think weaning?

January 25, 2013

Getting ahead of the issue now is critical – it's also a leadership opportunity

It's a potentially sensitive, highly charged emotional topic that could become both a lightning rod and the next big discussion in livestock welfare. The good news is, it's also an area where new knowledge and options are emerging.

For Joe Stookey, perhaps most important is that it represents a powerful opportunity for industry-driven innovation and leadership.

The topic is livestock weaning.

"It's a huge issue," says Stookey, a researcher and professor of animal behavior at the University of Saskatchewan. "The impact it has down the line in our production systems is tremendous. The impact it can have in how our livestock industries are viewed by the public is tremendous. I see it as the most significant welfare concern that so far has flown largely under the radar."

Opportunity to improve welfare, productivity

Stookey knows well both the issue and the challenges involved at the production level. Weaning is a major focus of his research and he has worked closely in particular with the beef industry while investigating ways to better understand the impact and importance of weaning from a welfare perspective and ways to improve weaning approaches.

He doesn't point fingers or assign blame. He sees the economic and practical hurdles involved. He does, however, think it's high time for livestock industries as a whole to look at weaning with fresh eyes and drive toward more welfare-friendly, sustainable solutions. While his focus has been on the beef industry, he says the issue resonates and needs attention across sectors.

Click here to read the complete feature article.

'Boar pit' at Banff Pork Seminar tackles farm animal care

January 25, 2013

Blunt discussion cuts to heart of the issue for North American pork industry

Boar Pit Session Chair, Shannon Meyers of Fast Genetics.

From the W5 fallout to the activist challenge and Pig Code progress, frank talk focused on farm animal care was in the spotlight during a 'boar pit' session at the Banff Pork Seminar.

The no-holds barred boar pit discussion was designed as interactive format, anchored by a panel of industry leaders speaking out on the big issues of the day, with questions and dialogue from an audience of over 200 producers, company reps and other pork industry players.

The panel included Al Mussell of the George Morris Centre, Crystal Mackay of Food & Farm Care and long-time pork producer and industry leader Florian Possberg, along with moderator Shannon Meyers of Fast Genetics.

Click here to read the full story.

More BPS highlights

Two speakers provided a window on the activist challenge and how it shapes the dynamic of farm animal care:

Full court press on the activist agenda. "Game on." That's the attitude Washington D.C.-based public affairs expert Rick Berman has when he looks at the challenge animal activist groups pose for livestock industries. It's a mindset he says the pork industry, and others in animal agriculture, would do well to adopt. More.

Rick Berman

Dr. Wes Jamison

Activist messages under the microscope. One critical way to manage the activist threat is by better understanding the dynamics involved in the core messages, says Wes Jamison, a leading researcher and thinker on interest group activism, based at Palm Beach Atlantic University. More.


January 25, 2013

Quick takes on key activity and what's coming, from NewStream editors

Hot topics, leading speakers slated for Livestock Care Conference

Innovative assessment models, new global standards and what producers need to know are three of the big focus topics of the March 21-22 Livestock Care Conference featuring a cross-section of industry and leading international experts.

Hosted annually by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC), the conference has built a track record of delivering knowledge to help producers and other stakeholders manage their role in the new world of farm animal care. It offers a combination of perspectives on the big picture trends and issues of the day, along with bottom line interpretation to help producers and their industry understand what they need to know to manage this issue.

The 2013 Livestock Care Conference will be held in Calgary. Click here for information on registration and other conference details.

As NewStream editors with Meristem Land and Science, we've attended and been involved in knowledge transfer from the Conference for years. If you want to keep up on the latest in farm animal care, this is one conference you don't want to miss.

This year we are once again partnering with the conference organizers, AFAC along with the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, to deliver a communications program out of this event. The Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) is a core sponsor of this communications effort. Watch for more details to come – including highlights of the agenda – in the next edition of NewStream Farm Animal Care.

Taking 'ProAction': Dairy looks to simplify sustainability file

It's an attractive concept. In an increasingly complex world of animal welfare and a host of other on-farm sustainability related issues, there's a rising chorus on the need to simplify and streamline approaches to on-farm program delivery. Now Canada's dairy farmers are leading the charge, with a new ProAction Initiative.

The initiative dovetails in part with plans for the development of a dairy animal care assessment program. According to the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), Dairy Farmers of Canada intends to utilize their Canadian Quality Milk (CQM) program as a common platform for multiple on farm initiatives, under the ProAction Initiative banner, including the animal care program. Watch for more on this in future NewStream Farm Animal Care editions. More information is available on the NFACC website.

National strategy update moves forward

Canada's push to update and broaden a cross-country strategy on all aspects of farm animal health and welfare is taking shape, led by the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Council. Watch for emerging details here.




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Banff Pork Seminar digs deeper on welfare issue

Trust factor rises as lynchpin to swine industry future

Welfare won't derail positive pork outlook

More from Banff

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Posted: January 29, 2015