Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 2, Edition 8

Two-stage weaning reduces calf stress

April 16, 2014

Photo credit: Quiet Wean

Capturing 'win-win' benefits in an area where new knowledge and options are emerging

Two southern Alberta ranches are among those who have found a two-stage calf weaning program is not only much less stressful for livestock and improves rate of gain, it also makes for a much quieter weaning week.

The two-stage weaning system involves processing calves about a week before the actual weaning day to apply a commercially available plastic guard, or nose-flap in the nose of each calf. It is a small plastic plate, about the width of the muzzle and three inches deep, that just clips into the nostrils, similar to the plastic closers found on many bread bags. The Canadian-made flaps are marketed by the Saskatchewan company Quiet Wean, www.quietwean.com.

Calves are then released back into the cowherd. In the majority of cases the nose-flaps prevents the calf from nursing its mother. Within four or five days the calf forgets about trying to nurse, and then calves and cows can be separated. On weaning day, calves can quickly be run through the chute again to remove the nose-flaps, which are reusable next year.

"It is natural for calves to be weaned – to stop nursing their mothers," says Dr. Joe Stookey, a researcher and professor in animal behavior at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon. "But in a natural environment the cow will simply dry up and discourage the calf from nursing, but the calf is still with its mother. What is not natural is for a calf is for mother and milk to disappear on the same day. Conventional weaning is probably the most stressful event ranch calves will experience in their lives."

Click here to read the complete feature article.

TrendsWatch: Exploring the 'millennials factor' and antibiotics endgame

April 16, 2014

Credit: Certified Angus Beef

Stakeholders Summit puts focus on critical under the radar game-changers that are set to emerge in a big way

Inside looks at several of the major trends shaping the pressures around farm animal care will take the spotlight at the upcoming Stakeholders Summit, hosted by the Animal Agriculture Alliance, May 8-9 in Crystal City, Virginia.

One factor that clearly pops out and hasn't yet been explored in much of the livestock welfare debate is what will be the impact of "millennials" – the first generation of young people born after the turn of the new century who will be entering young adulthood over the next 10 years.

In fact, the Alliance notes, the implications are huge. Worldwide and in the U.S., millennials are the largest generation yet – some 2.3 billion strong. How do they feel about the state of livestock welfare and animal agriculture industries? The answer may be complicated at the moment but the key element to recognize is the mindset of this generation is entering formative stages and will doubtless have a tremendous influence on the social license of livestock industries – perhaps much sooner than expected.

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Strong period of Code development

April 16, 2014

Canada has taken bold steps forward

Livestock industries across the country are increasingly showing a progressive approach to meeting new expectations in farm animal care. One of the highest profile examples over the past few years has been the development of updated Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals for several species.

The process has been facilitated by industry groups and other broad stakeholders through the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) process. Here's a series of snapshot comments from key people involved in several of the Codes that reflect the sense of accomplishment taking hold.

New pig Code completed – February 2014

"Canada has developed a new pig Code based the needs of animals, producers and consumers. The uniquely Canadian approach combines science and practicality for sound animal welfare."
– Florian Possberg, producer and Code Development Committee Chair

Click here to read the full story.


April 16, 2014

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

Students stepping up: Poster topics offer window on future

Students and mentors at the 2014 Livestock Care Conference, hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care

A highlight of the recent Livestock Care Conference, hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care, was the energy and fresh thinking led by a strong contingent of students from post-secondary Alberta institutions that keeps growing every year.

Students and young people in general are stepping up their game in becoming engaged in the direction of farm animal care across livestock industries, and the conference participation is a clear signal this trend is alive and well in Alberta.

One aspect of the student participation in the conference was the presentation of posters from student-led research projects. A quick scan of the topics addressed is worthwhile not only to see the depth and breadth of progress but to get a window on some of the key questions and topics, both local and bigger picture, that are being addressed and shaping the future. A few examples, among many, include:

  • Broiler chickens: A comparison of welfare standards
  • Does certified humane raised and handled beef exceed the Code of Practice in promoting cattle welfare
  • Animal welfare approved beef in Alberta
  • Resting behavior in tie-stall dairy cows: An ethogram
  • Biosecurity for an equine rescue facility
  • A new alternative in broiler feeding management
  • Controlling chronic wasting disease in Alberta

Congratulations to the students, along with their professors and other mentors, on championing progress and contributing to a sustainable industry.




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