let's talk farm animals

Do goats really eat tin cans?

 By Patricia Grotenhuis

Many storybooks show goats eating everything around them, including tin cans.  It’s a common myth.

When I was 9, I bought my first goat, and had my own herd for 14 years.  I did see the goats eat a number of things over those years, but they had a very definite eating pattern – which didn’t include tin cans.

If they did come across a tin can, they would probably get much more enjoyment out of stepping on it and listening to the sound of the tin crinkling than anything else.

In this barn, goats are eating from a fresh bale of hay

Goats are browsing animals, not grazers like cattle and sheep, so goats like treats of leaves, cedar branches, and weeds in their pasture, much like a deer. They take a lot of time to search out the best snacks. They will often stand on their hind legs to reach the best part of foliage that may be out of reach to other types of livestock like sheep.

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on May 16th, 2012 :: Filed under animal handling,Farm life,Goat,Misconceptions
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Battle of the sexes

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

Just when I thought I had heard it all, the Globe and Mail recently carried a feature on “gendered meat”. What you ask (as did I) is such a thing? Well apparently there is a demand by some Canadian consumers for selecting their meat based on whether the animal is male or female.

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Posted by FFC on April 23rd, 2012 :: Filed under Chickens,Consumers,Food,Misconceptions,Pork,Retailers
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Are grass-fed cows better for the earth?

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

It’s no wonder there’s a growing perception that farms which feed cattle on grass for their entire lives, are better for the environment than farms that finish their pasture-raised cattle in feedlots with grain. The image is that the grass is always lush and plentiful and the cattle self feed themselves with little dependence on machinery or other energy consuming equipment. Whether or not science has confirmed this perception is another story.

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Posted by FFC on March 13th, 2012 :: Filed under Beef cattle,Environment,Food,Misconceptions,Retailers,Sustainability
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The Ick Factor

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

A Toronto hospital is asking for donations of human placenta to repair and reconstruct damaged eyes.  I’m sure most non-doctors would consider this disgusting and give it high marks for the Ick Factor. Superficial communications can often create the Ick Factor and the Ick Factor often influences our opinions. Agriculture and food production can be subject to the Ick Factor too.

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Posted by FFC on January 31st, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,Beef cattle,Food,Misconceptions,Urban Myths
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Farmers don’t marry their animals

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

I know that a dog is a man’s best friend, but sometimes people get ridiculous when it comes to animals. Now I don’t know of any farmer who has married their cow or chicken but I have read about several cases of people marrying their pets. Some do it as a lark, some to make a kind of political statement about “animal rights”.

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Posted by FFC on January 9th, 2012 :: Filed under Farm life,Misconceptions,Urban Myths
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Things you should know before criticizing food production

By Leslie Ballentine, farming and food commentator

This past year, a University of Manitoba student was inspired by a campus talk she heard by the Ontario Farm Animal Council.  So inspired, in fact, that she wrote a thought-provoking article in the student newspaper. Titled: Things you should know before criticizing food production, the article is directed to the students on campus. But I think it should be directed to everyone. And it is food for thought to start the year.

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Posted by FFC on January 3rd, 2012 :: Filed under Environment,Family vs factory farming,Food safety,Housing,Innovation and technology,Misconceptions
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Sometimes I just can’t take it any more

Guest blog by:  Gene Gregory, President United Egg Producers

I know that many in agriculture have similar thoughts on the attacks upon our businesses and modern agriculture but sometimes I just can’t take anymore of it.  Here are some of my thoughts:

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Posted by FFC on November 1st, 2011 :: Filed under Consumers,Economics,Education and public awareness,Food safety,Misconceptions,Speaking out
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There is no reasoning with the unreasonable

By: Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

One of the great things about our country is the freedom to express and defend our personal opinions.  We have more venues to do so than ever before.  Not so long ago I was pulled into an on-line discussion on food animal production. The discussion was prompted by a CBC radio commentary on egg production but quickly moved into animal farming and food practices in general and the need to eat animal products in the first place. Illustrating how agriculture crosses into so many issues.

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Posted by FFC on October 24th, 2011 :: Filed under Activism,Housing,Misconceptions,Speaking out,Vegetarian
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Why hormone-free labels and other claims don’t really tell the story

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

I just read a news feature by a Vancouver Sun reporter who, for personal reasons, has looked into the food labels that appear on our grocery shelves.

His story arose after seeing a milk carton labeled “hormone free” and purchasing local organic chickens, “worth the premium, my wife said, because, among other things, they were hormone free.” He wanted to check it out for himself and so went onto Google and into stores to do some research of his own. By his own admission his research confirmed both his suspicion and his “ignorance”.

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Posted by FFC on October 10th, 2011 :: Filed under Chickens,Consumers,Dairy cattle,Food,Misconceptions,Organics,Turkeys
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The Myth of Meatless Mondays – Alleviating the consumer’s conscience without affecting climate change

The following is reprinted with permission from the Animal Agriculture Alliance in the United States (www.animalalliance.org). For its full collection of Meatless Monday resources, visit  http://animalagalliance.org/current/home.cfm?Section=Meatless_Monday&Category=Current_Issues.

The Myth of Meatless Mondays – Alleviating the Consumer’s Conscience Without Affecting Climate Change
Judith L. Capper, PhD, Washington State University

In July, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a report claiming that everybody should eat less meatand dairy products in order to mitigate climate change. It was an interesting report, not least because it recommended that if consumers were going to eat meat, they should choose “meat, eggs and dairy products that are certified organic, humane and/or grass-fed as they are generally the least environmentally damaging”. Working within the sustainability arena, I firmly believe that any production system has a role within agriculture provided that it is environmentally conscientious, economically viable and socially acceptable. However, the EWG’s promotion of organic or grass-fed systems as having a low environmental impact is ironic given that such systems actually have a greater carbon footprint per unit of meat or milk produced compared to their conventional counterparts.

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Posted by FFC on October 6th, 2011 :: Filed under Activism,Beef cattle,Feeding the world,Global Warming,Meatless Monday,Misconceptions,Organics,Sheep,Vegetarian
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