NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 1, Edition 9
Creating a strong new culture of livestock welfare
April 8, 2013
Dr. James Reynolds
Nurturing a positive and proactive mindset is critical for industry success as assessments and audits play an increasing role in the next generation of farm animal care, says Dr. James Reynolds.
A new world of higher scrutiny and expectations has emerged for farm animal welfare but livestock producers and their industries can tackle the challenge by aligning on the right side of the issue and embracing a renewed 'culture of care,' says leading livestock welfare expert Dr. James Reynolds of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Western University in Ponoma, California.
"There's a lot of argument, worry and fear around the discussion of farm animal welfare that I'd like to take out," says Reynolds, speaking to producers and a cross-section of industry stakeholders at the 2013 Livestock Care Conference in Calgary. "When we're challenged on how we do things, there's a tendency to resist and give a litany of reasons why we can't change. But anyone can change and anyone can get better."
Any successful industry or business requires a constant evolution based on new knowledge and changing consumer preferences, he says. Livestock production is no different and animal welfare is part of the business that should be expected to continually advance.
"We don't need to be perfect; we don't need to move from zero to light speed," says Reynolds, a veterinarian and professor of large animal medicine and welfare. "But we should be planning ahead and taking steps to evolve. Animal welfare as a concept is really not a lot different than animal health. It's something we all want to support and keep improving. We should expect change and be part of leading it in a way that strikes a good balance between welfare and production needs."
Related: Rise of assessment and audit programs. The next frontier in proving good welfare is fast approaching, with several key approaches in use or taking shape in the U.S. and Canada.
Lessons from JBS on championing livestock welfare
April 8, 2013
Seven key insights from a processors perspective
Dr. Lily Edwards-Callaway
It's no secret the heavyweights of the global food industry are ramping-up their focus and programs related to animal welfare. One solid example from a processor's perspective is JBS, the world's largest animal protein company.
From creating welfare 'superstars' on the front line of its work force to adopting industry-leading standards including assessment and auditing programs, the company has put livestock welfare at the vanguard of its business approach.
"It's absolutely a top priority," says Dr. Lily Edwards-Callaway, Animal Welfare Specialist with JBS, speaking at the 2013 Livestock Care Conference. "We strongly believe we are stewards of our animals. It's our responsibility and we take it seriously. We work to build up our culture of animal welfare every day."
Building up a culture of high standards
JBS is the world's largest beef producer, largest processor of beef and leather, second largest poultry processor, third largest pork processor and largest lamb processor. Edwards-Callaway oversees the animal welfare programs for cattle, pigs and lambs at JBS USA. Her portfolio includes processing plants across that country as well as the newly acquired beef plant located in Brooks, Alberta.
She provided an overview and numerous examples of how the company supports high standards of livestock welfare through a multi-faceted, systematic approach based on a culture of training, awareness, transparency and continual improvement. Here are examples of seven key insights she delivered on ways of championing livestock welfare designed to deliver clear benefits.
Canada tackles bold new blueprint for farm animal welfare
April 8, 2013
Industry-driven progress is helping Canada lead as global developments put welfare in the spotlight
Jackie Wepruk of NFACC
From the boardrooms of big food companies to the frontline of farming operations. At the top level of international bodies such as the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to the supermarket down the road. From new science and social trends to a flurry of activity encompassing new standards, codes, assessments and audits.
In all these areas, new thinking and developments in livestock welfare are making waves and creating new approaches and expectations.
Any changes come with challenges. In livestock welfare, a big one is how to meet the new expectations while balancing the practical needs and healthy economics of production systems. But for Canadian livestock producers and their industries, the good news is that they are firmly at the centre of the opportunity to develop solutions that strike the right balance, says Jackie Wepruk, manager of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).
"Producers and their associations have been well represented at the table on the key activities taking place in farm animal welfare in Canada, and it's critical that continues," says Wepruk, speaking at the 2013 Livestock Care Conference. "We need that strong producer voice to meet the goal of not only providing leadership and making real progress on farm animal welfare, but also maintaining the viability of Canadian animal agriculture."
Related: Progress on the Codes. Eight Codes of Practice are simultaneously under development.
Strategies for success: Industry perspectives
April 8, 2013
One of the best indications of the latest trends in farm animal care is the progress of the producer organizations at the leading edge
Mike Slomp, Industry and Member Services Manager of Alberta Milk
Producer organizations on the front line of the care and handling of farm animals are leading the charge in advancing Canada's preparedness for new marketplace expectations around livestock welfare.
Three examples were highlighted at the 2013 Livestock Care Conference in Calgary. Each provides a barometer of the rising pressures different livestock sectors face as well as a window on the innovative approaches they are adopting to meet the new demands and improve their position for a successful future.
Perspectives on progress
Here's a brief overview of some key developments and perspectives highlighted during this session.
Mike Slomp, Alberta Milk. Dairy farmers have been at the forefront of progress to implement a newly updated Code of Practice for the care and handling of dairy animals, through the Code process coordinated by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals: Dairy Cattle was released in 2009 and has provided the sector with an up-to-date reference for supporting best practices under a unified approach.
April 8, 2013
Quick takes on key activity and what's coming, from NewStream editors
Bear pit session at LCC provides window into industry thinking
<Dr. Clover Bench
What are the lessons for producers and industry in the developments we see in livestock welfare today? What are the opportunities and benefits? What is the right direction for Canada's livestock industries to build a successful future?
These questions and more were front and centre at the 2013 Livestock Care Conference during an open-format "bear pit" session on the big issues and what's needed for a new generation of farm animal care progress. The bear pit was a wrap-up session designed to get input from conference participants after they had heard a series of presentations from featured speakers.
Dr. Clover Bench of the University of Alberta moderated the interactive discussion, which touched on everything from where the pressure points are for producers to how different livestock sectors can best work together and capture benefits.
The range of perspectives and topics highlighted provided a glimpse inside the mindset of a livestock sector that is increasingly embracing change and emerging as a leader in farm animal care progress.
Industry steps up its game in supporting students in farm animal care
One of the clear highlights of the 2013 Livestock Care Conference was the participation of students who are pursuing post-secondary studies in fields related to farm animal welfare.
This strong representation of the next generation of leaders in livestock care was supported by a number of industry partners as part of a special Sponsor a Student program initiated by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC).
"Students are the future and they are an invaluable part of a successful conference," says Dr. Angela Greter, AFAC Program Manager. "The event offers a range of excellent learning and networking opportunities for the students, including two sessions that are tailored specifically for them. Their participation in the general sessions adds fresh viewpoints and contributes greatly to the quality of discussion.
"We are extremely grateful to all of the sponsors who supported the participation of the students as part of the 2013 program."
Along with AFAC, sponsors of the program included: Alberta Turkey Producers, Alberta Chicken Producers, Alberta Lamb Producers, Alberta Equestrian Federation, Alberta Milk, Alberta Hatching Egg Producers, Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, Alberta Pork and Egg Farmers of Alberta.