Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 2, Edition 12

Calgary Stampede targets animal care leadership

July 15, 2014

Photo credit: Calgary Stampede

Five insights as new initiatives in animal care for western events roll forward

Calgary Stampede is a unique player in the world of animal care. It sits at the intersection of centuries of western heritage and a modern, largely urban society with rising expectations.

It has become a highly visible focal point of debate on the animal care issue. It has also taken a proactive stance as a leader - managing a pressure cooker of expectations while introducing clear initiatives that are making a difference.

Check out some of the background here and here from past NewStream stories.

In addition, here are five new observations on the ongoing Calgary Stampede animal care effort and its place in today's landscape.

Key observations

1. Animal care remains at the forefront. Calgary Stampede is hands down the most recognized western events celebration in the world. Animals are the lifeblood of Stampede activities and the event embraces the responsibility that brings. As animal care has risen in the public consciousness, the Calgary Stampede's efforts to show transparency, accountability and a commitment to continual improvement have expanded to meet this demand.

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Faces of progress

July 15, 2014

Dr. Christy Goldhawk

Driving improvements at the Stampede

A few more examples among many of the people behind the chutes, on the infield and inside the barns who make animal care a top priority for 'the greatest outdoor show on earth.'

Ramping-up research. The University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Calgary Stampede have partnered on a new post-doctoral fellowship position that seeks opportunities to apply scientific rigor and research to animal-related events. The position is held by Dr. Christy Goldhawk who has championed animal care progress and research in her burgeoning career.

High-tech tool

High-tech tool. Goldhawk is part of the UCVM team working behind the chutes on benchmarking research to determine the impact of Stampede activities on the animals. Here, the team uses infra-red thermography (tool looks like a radar gun) as a non-invasive way to measure the heat of an animal's eyes as an indicator of stress.

UCVM stress studies so far have indicated the majority of animals performing in the rodeo are fairly calm and relaxed. Also, when animals show fear related responses they occur more among novice animals rather than experienced animals.

Click here to read the full story.

Trends to watch this summer

July 15, 2014

What's coming on the road ahead?

Animal care is becoming a powerful part of the agenda at many levels

The days are longer and the world is brighter. It's a great time for fresh thinking, getting things done and setting up a productive back half of the year.

That's certainly true in the world of farm animal care with lots of activity and opportunities moving ahead over the summer months. Here's a heads up on a few key trends to watch.

1. Convergence

Moving from silos into the big picture. Tying the local to the national and international. This has been the pattern in agriculture for a long time and it's taking place at a rapid clip in animal care. Examples are everywhere, including key developments taking shape over the next few months. Among these, McDonalds is continuing talks with the Canadian cattle industry to make the country the first to pilot a new "verified sustainable beef" effort. What starts here in beef could soon expand to other species and countries around the world. The recent University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Beef Cattle Conference was a leading event among many showing that animal care is a fundamental part of the agenda in everything from at-home production to global marketing opportunities.

Animal care is talked about less on its own and far more frequently as part of the broader "sustainability file" that is shaping the future of agriculture.

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Domino falls on animal welfare as barrier to trade

July 15, 2014

Challenges on seal trade sets WTO precedent that could impact global meat industries

There have been whispers for years and now it's happening. Animal welfare issues are rising from a threat on the relatively 'soft' areas such as public perception challenges toward the 'hard' areas such as potential trade barriers.

A big domino to fall recently is the decision on a World Trade Organization case between Canada, Europe and Norway on the seal trade. Following months of dispute and appeals, the European Union won the right to refuse to import seal products on the basis of mistreatment of animals. (See full background here.)

Raising the 'moral' argument

The decision includes the key statement that the EU has this right as "necessary to protect public morals," which meat trade observers have noted could open a Pandora's Box of potential claims related to animal welfare.

Will the decision escalate animal welfare disputes? What are the next dominoes to fall? For the Canadian livestock industry, this development underscores just how important it has been for commodity groups to update their Codes of Practice and tackle other welfare-related improvements in recent years. The trade questions appear to be coming sooner than many expected. The future, it seems, is now.


July 15, 2014

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

Dear NewStream: Thoughts from our readers

New weaning options

One of the most satisfying aspects of journalism is response to articles from readers. Critical or complimentary, we appreciate NewStream readers taking time to send us their thoughts. Here are a few selections from over the past few months.

On "Piercing the veil on sustainability" in our last edition, Edana Brown, of Toronto writes:

Cameron Bruett's suggestion that pressure for better animal welfare is coming from the "radical one percent" is exactly the kind of thinking that the livestock industry does not need. It's this kind of thinking that drives wedges between producers and their customers, and makes statements like "we care for our animals" sound like lip service.

On "Two stage weaning reduces calf stress, beef producer Lyndon Mansell of Innisfree Alta. writes:

Cameron Bruett at Future Fare

We have used the Quiet Wean product on several occasions. One caution; a week is the longest you ever want to leave them in. There can be damage to the nostrils if left in much longer. Sometimes weather will change plans, if there is cold wet weather in the forecast we will put off separating cows and calves for a couple of days. A shoulder-holder chute would make removing the Quiet Wean easier. No complaints with the product; some become brittle with time and some calves will get them off somehow.

On "Will the market pay more for welfare" Krishna Kaphle of Tribhuvan University Rampur, Chitwan in Nepal writes:

The market should and the state should not only aim for cheap with no strings attached. Minimum welfare the implementation of 5Fs and the practice of 3Rs should be the bottom line. Yes, the market will drive farm gate purchase and for the issue of animal's welfare food for future will be sourced from trusted sources be it the farm or the store. Thus, the market will be ready to pay marginally more for better trusted products and this should drive the change for better welfare.

On our "Diamond 7 Ranch produces cattle with care and compassion" Doug Taylor of Edmonton writes:

I wouldn't get too congratulatory for the farmer who gives a pain killer to an animal in advance of burning the flesh of this animal followed by a burn medication to remediate the damage and pain done. All in the name of an identification system that is long out of date and eminently replaceable by new and more functional technology to say nothing about humane.

I suggest that is not the way to win friends and influence people but perhaps the tradition is more important than the public image. The townie's will not get the distinction.

We thank readers for those and other comments and welcome your thoughts at any time. The email link is at the bottom of each edition.




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