NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 2, Edition 6
One producer's journey to next generation poultry housing
March 20, 2014
The challenges and rewards of building leading edge production systems
Lethbridge, Alta. egg farmer Levi Hofer is like a lot of today's poultry producers. He has one eye on the present, the other on the future.
Like others in his industry, he has an opportunity to change his production system as part of normal business practices. In Hofer's case, at least some of the production facilities at the New York Hutterite Colony where he is egg flock manager were starting to age, so replacement or updating needed to be considered. But that needed to be done in a way that meets consumer and industry demands.
As of 2014, layers at the Colony are housed in new state-of-the-art facilities called "furnished housing." It's a new style that moves on from conventional cage housing and provides a more natural open environment, with nesting areas, scratch pads and perches.
Search for the leading edge
The egg barn in the Colony's system, a conventional cage system, was built in 1994. But it was beginning to show its age, and like any system time and cost of maintenance raised the obvious question of whether to repair or replace with a new system.
The Colony team decided to take a long hard look at their options. In fact they invested more than four years into system research before making their final choice.
Q&A: Dairy sector test pilots assessment program
March 20, 2014
Aligning welfare assurance with practical and efficient approaches
Canada's dairy sector has become the first industry to test pilot an Animal Care Assessment Program based on the new Animal Care Assessment Framework process that has been developed by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).
A key person involved with Animal Care Assessment for Canada's dairy industry is Ron Maynard, a P.E.I. dairy farmer and board member of Dairy Farmers of Canada.
He discusses the assessment program and the role of the test pilot:
Q: Why is animal care assessment needed?
Ron Maynard: This is part of a broader trend where customers and consumers in general are asking for more information about how food is produced. It's not good enough to simply tell them about our practices. We need to be able to prove what we are doing.
We are interested in providing assurance to our buyers in a number of important areas, including animal welfare. We worked with NFACC to develop an updated Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle, which captures how we manage farm animal care with responsible practices. The next step is to be able to prove dairy farms are following the Code. This what the Animal Care Assessment Program will do.
Livestock Care Conference 2014: Meeting the new challenges
March 20, 2014
Heini Hehli, AFAC Chair
Agenda set to tackle everything from activist activities to consumer perceptions, to leading examples of how producers and industry are taking charge
What do the latest trends and developments in farm animal care mean for producers, industry and other stakeholders? What is needed for Alberta and Canada to lead and succeed? These questions and others will be at the forefront at the Livestock Care Conference, March 26-27, 2014, in Edmonton.
(Haven't registered yet? Get complete details here.)
Producers, all stakeholders welcome
The annual conference is designed for everyone from industry leaders and individual producers to researchers, industry, students, government and other stakeholders with an interest in farm animal care. It is hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) in partnership with the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA).
"It's an important time in farm animal care with new developments and expectations," says Heini Hehli, Rimbey, Alta.-area dairy producer and Chair of AFAC.
New Pig Code: Four things to know
March 20, 2014
The Code is now finalized but what does it mean for producers and their industry?
After several years of multi-stakeholder discussion and development work, nailing down a new Pig Code for Canada is no small achievement. Here are a few of the keys to the Code, in a nutshell, and where to get more information.
1. Producers commitment. While the work of revising the Code may have ended, the challenge of implementing it has just begun, observes Alberta Pork. "We've all had our input into this document including the Canadian public," says Darcy Fitzgerald, Executive Director. "Now it is time to allow our producers – who are very progressive – to work through those necessary changes in the time allotted."
While there may be different perceptions floating around, the bottom line is this has been a process producers and industry fully participated in along with other stakeholder groups. "This Code isn't something that the government imposed on us," says Fitzgerald. "It reflects our industry's commitment to the animals we care for and the best practices needed to do that."
March 20, 2014
Quick takes on key activity and what's coming, from NewStream editors
Farm animal care prominent at CCA meetings
At a time when farm animal care has risen to the forefront as a key sustainability issue, Canada's beef sector is well represented with knowledgeable leadership.
The recent Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) 2014 Annual General Meeting in Ottawa saw Dave Solverson acclaimed as President. The native of Camrose, Alta, runs Woodwind Ranch, a 5,000 acre cow-calf to finish operation, along with his brother Ken. Among numerous high profile industry leadership positions Solveron has served as head of the CCA's animal care committee.
Among newly elected members to the executive committee was also another familiar face in farm animal care leadership – Doug Sawyer, the Pine Lake, Alta.-area, producer who long served as chair of Alberta Farm Animal Care.
Capping these farm animal care connections was CCA's introduction of the Beef Industry Innovation & Sustainability Award (BIISA), a new award that publicly recognizes industry stakeholders and value chain members for their outstanding commitment to the sustainability of Canada's beef industry through loyalty and innovation.
The CCA announced McDonald's Canada as the first recipient of the BIISA. McDonald's was selected for its long-standing commitment to Canadian beef in its hamburgers as well as its 'Our Food, Your Questions,' online platform. Part of McDonald's leadership has included major initiatives related to working with the value chain on animal welfare commitments, as highlighted in a past edition of NewStream Farm Animal Care.
GFII in Alberta includes livestock welfare processor opportunity
The price tag of progress continues to be a major hurdle to farm animal care innovation but this is a challenge livestock sectors and their supporters are tackling head-on. One of the latest promising examples is found among the new options available to industry under new Growing Forward II funding in Alberta: a new Livestock Welfare Processor program now accepting applications.
This program is designed to assist meat processors to improve animal handling and ensure humane slaughter at provincially or federally licensed meat and poultry facilities, thereby supporting the growth and sustainability of Alberta's livestock industry and, in the language of the program, providing "a stable, socially acceptable business environment" that enhances profitability, boosts competitiveness and strengthens public confidence.