Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 1, Edition 8

Special Report: Livestock Care Conference 2013

March 27, 2013

Innovation, 'social license' and economics take focus at annual event hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) and Alberta Veterinary Medical Association

There's no question farm animal welfare is an issue putting livestock industries in the spotlight and driving new expectations. But what are the best pathways to bolster consumer trust while balancing industry economics and practical challenges?

That was the crux of the discussion and debate at the 2013 Livestock Care Conference, where a range of farm animal care experts, industry leaders, producers, students and other stakeholders took stock of the state of the welfare issue, industry progress and how to capture the opportunities ahead.

"In a market system, the real driver of change is through the consumer," says Dr. James Reynolds of Western University in Ponoma, California. "Livestock industries have a license to produce. Society gives the license and it comes with conditions. The challenge is to continually foster understanding and strengthen that relationship."

Livestock producers and their industries represent the front line of responsible livestock welfare and animal husbandry practices. Through efforts such as AFAC and similar-targeted efforts in other jurisdictions, they have emerged as leaders in promoting awareness, communication, research, guidelines and innovation on farm animal care.

Today there are increasingly higher expectations for transparency – not only communicating and explaining but also increasingly 'proving' best practices and approaches, says Reynolds. In Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere there has been a whirlwind of activity and progress over many years now reaching a high point.

Click here to read the full story.

Inside the LCC

March 27, 2013

Knowledge-packed event put a spotlight on the big issues, key progress and what producers need to know

James Reynolds

From innovative assessment models to new Codes of Practice, farm animal care is higher profile than ever, with major implications for livestock producers and their industries. The Livestock Care Conference featured insights and perspectives on the latest developments:

Inside the 'bear pit.' Strong viewpoints. Frank talk. Calls to action. Reminders of the strength in working together and thinking bold about future potential. More

Snapshots of industry progress. Assessments. Certification. New ideas and fresh approaches. In today's fast-evolving livestock business, perhaps the best indication of the latest trends in farm animal care is the progress of the producer organizations at the leading edge. More

Codes, trust and tackling challenges head-on. Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals are one of the hot topics at LCC. What's the approach, in a nutshell? More

Driving industry progress: Award of Distinction. Innovation. It's one word. It's also the key to success for livestock industries navigating the fast-shifting waters of farm animal care. More

Lily Edwards-Callaway

Ratcheting-up on assessments. Everyone in the room at LCC knows the expectations and pressure to not only "show" but "prove" livestock welfare standards is going in one direction – up, up, up. Understanding what's needed to deal with that trend is a big focus of the conference. More

'Talking posters' highlight student achievement. The future of farm animal care is in good hands. That's true if the students pursuing education and careers related to livestock welfare are any indication. More

Supporting the next generation. That's what the "Meet the Experts" session is all about. More

The Sobey's farm care approach

March 27, 2013

A look inside how the iconic Canadian food company increasingly views farm animal care as a critical part of its overall sustainability agenda

David Smith

Sobey's Inc. is proudly Canadian. It's also proudly a leader as among the first food retailers to recognize and embrace the importance of farm animal care to its expanding sustainability agenda.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of Empire Company Limited, Sobeys owns or franchises more than 1,500 stores in all 10 provinces under retail banners that include Sobeys, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, and Thrifty Foods, as well as Lawton's Drug Stores. Sobeys and its franchise affiliates employ more than 97,000 people and serve approximately 10 million customers every week.

According to David Smith, Vice President of Sustainability for Sobey's, the strong performance of the company is built upon its focus on food and determination to be widely recognized as the best food retailer in the country. Today the game plan for that agenda includes a rising interest and participation in supporting farm animal care, including through strengthening its connections with the livestock producer organizations on the front line of managing this issue.

In one recent high-profile example, Sobey's and Tim Horton's became affiliate members of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) - the organization that includes livestock industry representatives and other farm animal care stakeholders, charged with coordinating a national approach to farm animal welfare that has included the development of revised Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals.

Smith provides a candid perspective on where Sobey's sustainability efforts are leading and the growing role of farm animal care in the big picture of product value, branding and sustainability.

Click here to read the complete feature article.


March 27, 2013

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

A true leader in farm animal care progress

Innovation is one of the most important keys to success for livestock industries navigating the fast-shifting waters of farm animal care. Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) recognized a leading research scientist who exemplifies that drive to improvement in livestock welfare in presenting an AFAC Award of Distinction at the Livestock Care Conference in Calgary.

The recipient of the Award of Distinction for Innovation was Dr. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Lethbridge, a beef cattle researcher whose work has included a strong focus on animal welfare standards and reducing transport stress in farm animals.

"There's no better compliment than to get this type of award from the industry you work for," says Schwartzkopf-Genswein. "Being involved in beef cattle welfare at this time is really exciting because there are a lot of questions and the industry is really interested in the answers and focused on moving forward." The award is designed for those who have developed a new process, product or source of knowledge that has made a significant impact on improving the welfare of livestock and the industry.

"Dr. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein is a world-class beef cattle behaviour and welfare Researcher," says Greg Bowie, Vice Chair of Alberta Beef Producers, who presented the award. "Her research has directly aided the beef industry by providing measurable scientific evidence. These results have been used to inform the beef industry of practices impacting beef cattle welfare as well as providing recommendations, both having a significant impact on improving the welfare of livestock in Alberta."

Livestock trailers help in major pile-up near Leduc

It hasn't taken long for the new livestock emergency handling equipment trailers deployed in Alberta to be put to good use.

One of the trailers was used to assist in livestock handling during the major pile up that occurred under white out conditions last week near Leduc, Alta.

"There's no question the province is much better equipped today to handle livestock hauling accidents and other incidences involving loose livestock, because of these trailers and the equipment they contain," says Floyd Mullaney, a lead consultant working with Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) on the project that developed and deployed the new trailers.

Who would have guessed they would have played such and important role early on? That's the point, says Mullaney. "The trailers are about preparedness. You never know what might happen. They are in place to help in a variety of circumstances to allow first responders to take care of livestock and protect everyone involved."




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