Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 2, Edition 1

What's coming in the New Year

January 9, 2014

Birth of a new year is a time of blue sky thinking. What does the future hold?

Birth of a new year is a time of blue sky thinking. What does the future hold?

What does 2014 hold for farm animal care? It's a question ripe with possibilities. With livestock welfare gaining more of the spotlight on a range of stages both domestically and internationally, from the farm to the marketplace, one thing for certain is a pivotal year ahead for Canadian livestock producers and their industries.

Four key trends important to watch for 2014

Here are a few of the developments to keep an eye on:

Photo credit: Canada Beef

1. Delivering assurance

Canada has made a lot of progress on updated Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals. Now the focus is shifting strongly to assessment models. How do producers and industry provide proof that the Codes and / or other animal care standards are being followed? Different commodity groups are looking into options, some already have programs in place, and all are aiming to answer this question.

The word "assurance" has become the rallying cry behind this push, which brings a range of key considerations for both producers and industry to grapple with.

"If we want to maintain and grow our industry, we need to understand what our customer wants," says industry leader John Kolk. "We need to make sure we are up to date in meeting expectations in order to be as competitive as we can be. It's not good enough to say, hey I'm a farmer, trust me. Those days are gone."

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Producer perspective: Straw Man's view

January 9, 2014

John Kolk talks today's challenges and the path forward

The fresh blanket of snow across the landscape near Picture Butte, Alta., could serve as a symbol of the new chapter and blank slate of possibility for agriculture as it looks ahead to 2014.

It's from this geographical standpoint and 'fresh thinking' mindset that John Kolk takes stock of the bigger picture for agriculture and the new set of expectations taking shape for producers and their industries.

Kolk has enjoyed a long career both as a producer and also as a representative and trusted advisor for the industry in a variety of roles, including with a strong focus on sustainability issues. An irrigation and dryland farmer, for many years he also operated a progressive cattle feedyard and poultry operation.

Most recently, Kolk has been in the spotlight as a key player in The Straw Man Team – an innovative approach to support a stronger Canadian beef industry. (Learn more about Straw Man here.)

What Kolk sees today on the animal care front is a new era with new demands that is closely tied to the trends apparent with other key issues such as environmental stewardship. "It's becoming one of many larger issues that get thrown in the basket of social license. We need to address it as thoroughly as we do these other issues. We need to be on top of it and be trusted to be on top of it, to be competitive in the marketplace of the future."

Click here to read the complete feature article.

LCC Spotlight: Industry Innovation Showcase

January 9, 2014

Cherie Copithorne-Barnes

An up close look at those driving progress in farm animal care

Industry leadership comes in many forms. Many of the best examples are generated when producers take the initiative to implement unique approaches that work at the farm level.

A number of these case studies in innovation will be featured at the upcoming Livestock Care Conference, hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC). CL Ranches near Jumping Pound, Alta., is among those showcased.

Ground level focus

"A big focus for us is looking at the opportunities for innovations that support animal welfare and finding ways to make them become very practical at the ground level," says Cherie Copithorne-Barnes, CEO of CL Ranches.

"We want to take something that may be a concept and translate it into hands-on, common-sense management. Or take something that works with a small herd and say 'how can we apply that to 1,000 head?' There are lots of ideas out there and often it comes down to how can you customize into something that works for your farm."

Communicating well with customers and the public at large is also a priority, she says. "Farm animal care is something we do every day and we need to be spreading the awareness of that. It's an important part of the quality of our product and our image with the public."

Other innovators featured during the Industry Innovation Showcase portion of the Conference include:

  • Kevin Meier, Sangudo Meats
  • Agricultural engineer Kase van Ittersum of CAWI Canada
  • Joe Kleinsasser and Levi Hofer of Egg Farmers of Alberta

Don't miss the conference

The 2014 Annual Livestock Care Conference is, held March 26th and 27th in Edmonton, Alberta. Get complete agenda and registration information here.

Crossing the finish line on the Pig Code

January 9, 2014

Photo credit: Alberta Pork

Landmark framework expected to launch later this spring

It's one thing to say industry needs an updated Pig Code. It's quite another to actually get that done.

The task has not been easy. The lightening rod issue of sow stalls threatened to hijack the process A perfect storm of industry challenges have made the timing difficult. And once a draft Code was achieved the process was flooded with feedback from a public comment period process that dwarfed all other updated Codes in the sheer volume not to mention emotion of responses it garnered.

So there is no small feat in the recent announcement late in 2013 that farm animal care stakeholders made strong progress at meetings in Ottawa to forge agreement on the tough issues toward finalizing the renewed Code.

Keeping on track

This was a critical stage where the progress achieved could have gone off the rails. It's a testament to all involved that it didn't. The meetings included a major focus on the public comments around the issue of sow housing, as well as finding consensus on broader issues like feed and water, animal health, husbandry practices and euthanasia.

"We have made great strides towards final agreement and are on track to have a new Code for the new year," says Florian Possberg, chair of the Pig Code Development Committee who runs a family hog operation in Saskatchewan. "Final agreement on a substantial portion of the Code content has now been reached, with plans to complete the remainder at a final meeting in January. After that, some time will be needed to have the final Code translated, copy edited, and published."

Expect everything done later this spring. Watch for updates here and in future editions of NewStream Farm Animal Care.


January 9, 2014

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

Sow housing, pain control speakers at Banff Pork Seminar

Two speakers at the Banff Pork Seminar Jan. 21 to 23 will tackle the latest information from the industry frontlines on sow housing and the new Code of Practice.

Dr. Jennifer Brown has a strong history in animal care research. She currently directs collaborative research in all stages of pork production including transport and slaughter at the Prairie Swine Centre in Saskatoon, Sask. Her Banff presentation will look at "Group sow housing and considerations for barn conversions."

Dr. Mike Sheridan is a founding partner in Swine Health Professionals Ltd., a swine veterinary practice in Steinbach, Man. That groups works in Manitoba, as well as across Canada and internationally. He'll take a provocative look at animal care with his presentation "Pain control: What do honey and Jewish homemade wine have to do with the impact of pain?"

Full information is available at www.banffpork.ca.




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