Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 1, Edition 13

McDonald's and the animal welfare 'tipping point'

June 28, 2013

Why animal welfare is critical to brand reputation for Canada's livestock industries

One of the best indicators of where the world is headed in livestock welfare innovation – and what Canadian producers need to know to prepare – is the activity led by McDonald's Corporation.

The company serves 69 million customers each day in more than 100 countries. It is the largest procurer of beef in the world by volume and the largest foodservice customer for Canadian beef, all of which is processed at plants in Alberta. It is also a leading customer for Canadian chicken and eggs.

McDonald's has been proactively involved in animal welfare since the mid-1990s, when it established a relationship with renowned animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin and formed its first animal welfare council, which included experts in poultry, swine and beef.

In recent years the company has built aggressively on this legacy, reaching a key milestone in 2012 with the formation of its new Global Animal Health & Welfare Team. Along with Grandin, the lineup of 12 leading academic consultants on the now 40 member team includes Dr. Ed Pajor, who is a Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethology at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM), and a board member of Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC).

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Six Golden Arch insights to winning on animal health and welfare

June 28, 2013

Progress is about partnerships and being 'a little better tomorrow than you were yesterday'

Bruce Feinberg, Senior Director, Global Quality

Bruce Feinberg calls it a game-shifting sign. At the company's last shareholder meeting, the parade of NGOs and other special interest groups who are typically critical of McDonald's Corporation actually praised some of its effort in animal welfare rather than just challenging the company to do more.

"We think we're starting to break through in this particular space," says Feinberg, who is Senior Director, Global Quality, Worldwide Supply Chain Management, McDonald's Corporation "We realize we've just scratched the surface. The journey for us is just starting. But at least some of the folks who have really criticized us in the past are giving us credit for taking a leadership position and trying to do something about it. To me, it's a sign we're on the right track."

Here are six more insights from Feinberg that help illustrate the increasingly successful mindset McDonald's has adopted around animal health and welfare.

  1. Recognize changing consumer demands. "There's no doubt that consumers' wants and needs are changing," says Feinberg. "It will come as no surprise that the millennials are really driving a lot of the change that our business is seeing today. People want to know where their food comes from, what's it in, that it's nutritious for them and their families. There is also a want for greater transparency. Those are expectations we are constantly evolving to meet."

Click here to read the full story.

Pigs Code: Litmus test for industry?

June 28, 2013

Pigs Code: Litmus test for industry?

How will the new Pigs Code be received by producers already grappling with tremendous change and challenges?

The answer to this question will no doubt have strong bearing on the future of Canada's pork sector as well as Canada's success in achieving nationally coordinated approach to managing the farm animal welfare issue.

The draft Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs is now released and available for review as part of a public comment period that wraps-up on August 3, 2013.

The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) coordinates the work on Codes, in conjunction with a two committee process that includes a Code Development Committee and a Scientists' Committee.

Key changes on housing, management

"The Code Development Committee has worked to develop the draft Code since 2010 and the public comment period will allow us to extend the conversation to a broader group," said Florian Possberg, pork producer and Chair of the Code Development Committee. "All comments will be reviewed by the Code Committee."

The Canadian Pork Council (CPC) has issued a statement noting that while has participated in and supported the process toward development of the new draft Code, it has not yet taken positions on the various revisions within the document. The CPC observes that while the draft document reflects the way producers raise hogs today, there are key areas where significant change is being proposed, both in terms of management practices and in housing design.

Extending the conversation

"The Canadian Pork Council and its members are encouraging producers to carefully review the text of the draft Code and submit comments," says Jean-Guy Vincent, Chair of the CPC. "The public comment period is a critical part of the process. As it will fall to producers to implement the Code, it is essential for producers to review the draft text and respond with informed and constructive input."

Get more information on the CPC website.

Research Watch: Benchmarking benefits

June 28, 2013

Respecting producer knowledge and working together on solutions

Several provinces and industry organizations are taking a closer look at the importance of benchmarking studies to help industry understand and better manage farm animal care approaches at the individual farm level.

A leader in driving this approach and a strong believer in its benefits is Dr. Dan Weary of the University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program.

"One of the things I think we need to do much better is providing farmers the science to allow them to create tailor-made solutions for their farms," says Weary. "We need to help them do a better job of identify gaps in their own system and identify options that work well for that specific farm."

Getting producers engaged

Benchmarking is an excellent approach to facilitate that process, he says. Most recently, UBC has been involved in examining the use of benchmarking as a service for farmers and a vehicle for engagement on issues such as cow comfort and lameness."

"The key thing we're learning about this approach is that it really gets the farmers engaged," says Weary. "It's about us supporting them with data and ideas that help them make better decisions."

Ten different farms may have ten different specific solutions while sharing a basic framework of accepted standards and best practices, he says. "I like this because I believe it really works for the animals. I also like it from an ideological perspective because it respects the knowledge that producers have about their own operations, and it's about working with that knowledge as opposed to trying to apply generic solutions."


June 28, 2013

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

'Hell or high water': Stampede rolls on

The thoughts of many in and around agriculture are with those grappling with challenges following the massive flooding in Alberta.

Despite the floodwaters invading its grounds, it's no surprise the Calgary Stampede has vowed to carry forward with the 2013 edition of the Greatest Show on Earth. It's one example among many of the determined spirit of the city and province the event represents.

Calgary Stampede has also shown leadership in farm animal care in recent years. It is an associate member of Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) and was presented with an AFAC Award of Distinction for innovative approaches such as its new animal welfare committee and industry-leading animal handling guidelines.

This year it has built further on that progress. Learn more here. Many are looking forward to a great event.

Big issues in spotlight at NFACC Conference in October

Codes of Practice. Assessment Models. The big developments in Canada and how we compare to the world. All of this and more will take centre stage at the 2013 National Farm Animal Care Conference: "Achievements, Challenges and Future Directions," is slated for Oct. 9-10 in Ottawa.

It's a can't miss conference for those closely following where farm animal care and related issues are headed in Canada. NewStream Farm Animal Care will be there.

"This conference is about working together across the value chain and among diverse interest groups, to learn from one another and support Canada as a leader in farm animal welfare care."" says Edouard Asnong, a Pike River, Québec, hog farmer and chair of NFACC.

Register and learn more on the NFACC website.




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