Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 2, Edition 15

Sow crates phase-out takes hold world wide

October 23, 2014

Woolworths, Pick n Pay action in South Africa latest examples

The pressure started in Europe. The focus then became North America. Now the drive to phase-out so-called 'sow crates' or gestation stalls has firmly taken hold in a variety of major pockets around the world.

The latest examples include shifts by South Africa based retailers Woolworths and Pick n Pay.

Woolworths has announced that from the end of September, all fresh pork sold at the supermarket chain will be sourced from farms that no longer use conventional sow stalls. The Cape Town headquartered retailer is touting this "introduction of sow-friendly pork" as a first for South African retailers, represents a milestone in the company's "Good Business Journey" sustainability initiative.

'Kinder to sows' marketing push

The move includes a labelling initiative that will see "Kinder to sows" stickers on fresh pork that meets the new sourcing requirements.

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Spotlight on research: A closer look at feedlot lameness

October 23, 2014

Targeting innovations to treat and prevent this important issue

Although feedlot pen riders do a good job of identifying lame cattle needing treatment, there has been very little work done to fully understand lameness experienced in that industry. Knowing the types and prevalence of lameness could help to build better ways to treat and prevent it says researcher Dr. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein.

She and her research team at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Lethbridge Research Centre along with collaborators at the University of Calgary and Iowa State University are looking more closely at lameness in feedlots.

"We need to pay more attention to lameness and the causes of it, particularly in the feedlot where management factors, type of cattle and pen conditions can have a big influence," she says. "In many cases it is obvious that the animal is in pain associated with lameness and it is important that these animals be dealt with quickly and appropriately. The tricky part is knowing when an animal should be culled because, depending on the cause and the severity of the lameness, some animals may improve."

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Red Deer fallout: Stepping up industry leadership

October 23, 2014

Dr. Angela Greter is Acting Executive Director of Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC)

Serious allegations need a clear response

'Boobytrap journalism.' 'Gotcha campaigns'. A 'pile on,' 'paint-all-with-one-brush,' attack on the image of an industry.

However hidden video exposes driven by animal rights groups are characterized, for even the most cynical that should in no way minimize the serious issues raised.

By now some of the surprise and shock value of these efforts is lost — agriculture has come to expect this type of revealing video effort to make news every six months or so – but it's still always a big blow to the industry and a major source of frustration. For all the progress that has been made there are still examples of failures that give the industry a bad name.

Disturbing images

The latest example making news is the case of alleged animal abuse at the Western Hog Exchange facility in Red Deer, as shown in undercover video released by the Mercy for Animals organization.

Click here to read the full story.

'Fear marketing' or good business?

October 23, 2014

A&W targets chicken with next salvo in antibiotics-free campaign

Through controversial to say the least in agriculture circles, by many accounts A&W earned a marketing bonanza with its now ubiquitous "antibiotics-free beef" campaign.

'Don't mess with success' seems to be the prevailing logic as the burger giant has expanded this approach with an eggs guarantee and just now (announced Oct. 20, 2014) has turned its sites on antibiotics-free chicken.

"A&W becomes the first quick service restaurant in North America to serve chicken raised without the use of antibiotics and fed only a vegetarian diet with no animal by-products," states the company announcement.

Overtones for welfare issue

This approach has been called into question by many in agriculture who call it fear marketing that implies misconceptions about industry practices. The A&W activity is also of interest from an animal welfare perspective as there are overtones and that extend to that issue. The approach is one many in the food industry are watching closely as an option for addressing perceived rising consumer expectations on a range of sustainability issues.

See more on all aspects of the A&W campaign on this website.


October 23, 2014

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

Canada's CYL mentorship builds next generation cattle leaders

Stacey Domolewski

Animal welfare research just one of beneficiaries

This edition of NewStream Farm Animal Care has an article on feedlot lameness by Stacey Domolewski, a young Master's student from the University of Saskatchewan.

Stacey grew up on a cattle operation in southern Alberta. She is participating in the Cattlemen's Young Leaders (CYL) mentorship program of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA). Under that program, young people selected are paired with mentors from many walks of life as part of a hands on experience in areas of interest to them. Stacey identified science writing as an area of interest and was paired with Terry Hockaday Meristem's founder who has many years of experience in that area and serves as part of the NewStream editorial team.

The lameness article will be of interest to many in the beef industry from a practical perspective. But it is also part of a series of actions that will help Stacey establish her career and have an impact in industry leadership. She is already building a network through the CYL effort. That included a trip to Ontario this year and a visit to McDonalds headquarters. Dr. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Lethbridge Research Centre was a willing supporter, agreeing to share her research in an interview with Stacey, and helping to review the result from a technical perspective.

In addition Stacey is already working with the Beef Research Council of CCA on research reports. A quick check of that beef cattle research website here shows a valuable resource in beef research including animal welfare. Stacey will have an opportunity to work on more of these, including an opportunity to work in different media including video, print and social media.

She will also have an opportunity through Meristem to attend the 2015 Livestock Care Conference sponsored by Alberta Farm Animal Care and participate in communications. Added to that she will be working directly with producers in Western Canada as part of her Master's research project.

We wish Stacey and all the 2014 Young Leaders well in their journeys. You can learn more about the CYL program at the program's website here.




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Buzzworthy: Three main "take home" messages

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The fallout from California's 'Prop 2'

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A&W marches ahead with new chicken focus

Global view: The politics of hidden videos

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Banff Pork Seminar digs deeper on welfare issue

Trust factor rises as lynchpin to swine industry future

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