let's talk farm animals

When environmentalism and science face off

By Lisa McLean, Agricultural writer

Destruction of GMO crops (also called genetically modified organisms) is a common form of protest, particularly in the EU where public acceptance of biotechnology is low. Activists dress in their best white garb and face masks to make the most of a photo opportunity while they wade into fields and haul out healthy plants by their roots.

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Posted by FFC on May 14th, 2012 :: Filed under Activism,Crops,Environment,Innovation and technology,Research
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Trimming to Perfection

By Kristen Kelderman, Farm Animal Care Coordinator

As the spring breeze starts to warm and winter wheat fields showcase a lavish bright green hue across the countryside, I begin to notice myself missing the farm more and more. Summer is my absolute favourite time of the year to work and visit my home farm; it’s a whole different world… with an endless to do list. While it is not every day that I get to enjoy this anymore, I had the pleasure of accompanying hoof trimmer Vic Daniel to a family dairy farm in Ontario, recently. 

Hoof trimmer Vic gives a dairy cow's feet some close attention and care

Vic invited me to tag along to a farm with him, after we met at Eastern Ontario Dairy Days, where he presented a wealth of knowledge on dairy cow lameness.  On average, a dairy farmer will ensure their cows” hooves are trimmed twice a year. Proper foot care is an important component of a farmer’s herd health program.

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on April 12th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,careers,Dairy cattle,Farm life,Research,Uncategorized
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The Power of Words

Guest Blog by: Sarah Hubbart, Communications Director, Animal Agriculture Alliance

Last week, I came across interesting new research on effective communication strategy that was conducted on behalf of the Humane Research Council (HRC), VegFund, and the Farm Animal Rights Movement, three organizations that work to promote a vegan diet.

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Posted by FFC on February 20th, 2012 :: Filed under Activism,Education and public awareness,Research,Speaking out,Vegan
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Eco-friendly plastic: a new use for chicken feathers

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

Turning chicken feathers into ‘green’ plastic is not a new idea. Government and university scientists in the U.S. first began serious research into the possibility years ago. The goal for researchers and plastic manufacturers has been to develop a substitute for petroleum in some plastic products. This year, some technical hurdles have been over-come and this bio-degradable plastic is now being produced commercially.

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Posted by FFC on November 7th, 2011 :: Filed under animal by-products,Chickens,Environment,Innovation and technology,PETA,Research
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Bill Gates gets it right on biotechnology

By Leslie Ballentine, Farm and food commentator

Genomics is a touchy subject, whether we are talking human or plant and animal. That is why the biotechnology debate can get so heated. In my opinion, and in the opinion of most in the farm and food sector, biotechnology gets a bad rap in these debates.

To use an old cliché, biotechnology is just one tool in the tool box whether it is used for food production, medical advances or to help the planet. It isn’t perfect all of the time but in my experience, the end results are rarely dangerous and usually beneficial.

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Posted by FFC on August 2nd, 2011 :: Filed under Animal health,Chickens,Feeding the world,Innovation and technology,Research
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Farm animals save lives

By Leslie Ballentine,  Farm and food commentator

When we think of cattle, pigs or poultry we may think of our next meal. But what many don’t know is that farm animals provide more than just sustenance.  They also save lives in other ways too.

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Posted by FFC on July 4th, 2011 :: Filed under animal by-products,Beef cattle,eggs,Innovation and technology,Pigs,Research
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Laying hen housing not all it’s cracked up to be

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

I just finished reading some more animal science studies out of Europe (a sure cure for insomnia) on what “free range” and “free run” laying hens are up against. And it’s a bit of a buyer-beware scenario too. Although it is a small niche market here in North America, so-called “cage-free” egg production in the UK has steadily grown in the last 20 years. That is where egg laying hens can move around within the confines of a pasture or barn. But the health and animal welfare news isn’t all good.

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Posted by FFC on May 12th, 2011 :: Filed under Chickens,eggs,Housing,Poultry,Research
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Farm animals don’t wait on government

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

I am often asked what, if any, laws govern the treatment of farm animals in Canada.  On that score there’s plenty to report.

Since 2005, there have been changes to most provincial animal welfare laws.  You can see for yourself at: http://www.afac.ab.ca/lawsregs/awlcanada.pdf

Mainly, these have been penalty increases but have also included a few other common changes. 

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Posted by FFC on January 26th, 2011 :: Filed under Animal cruelty,Regulations,Research
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Which is worse– wasted food or food animals?

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

A November 2010 study by the George Morris Centre, a non-profit agri-food think tank, has found some alarming news about food.  Their unpublished study titled Food Waste in Canada, estimates that $27 billion (yes billion) worth of food finds its way into landfill and composting each year. I’ve read elsewhere that 30-40% of our food goes to waste. The blame, according to the research, is split evenly between consumers who throw out food at home and the food supply chain; from farms through to stores and restaurants.

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Posted by FFC on January 17th, 2011 :: Filed under Activism,Beef cattle,Feeding the world,Global Warming,Research,Vegetarian

Caring for the Land

 By Patricia Grotenhuis, lifelong farmer and agricultural enthusiast

January 4, 2011 – It is common for consumers to have questions about farming practices and a farmer’s care for the environment.  With an industry as diverse as agriculture, no one (not even those who work in it) can be expected to understand all aspects of it completely.  In addition, there are so many different ways to farm that no two farms are ever alike.

The vast majority of farms do have some commonalities.  Aside from managing large amounts of work with limited resources and always being expected to produce more from less, the most noticeable similarity is a farmer’s genuine care for his or her animals and for the environment.

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Posted by FFC on January 4th, 2011 :: Filed under Environmental Farm Plan,Farm life,Regulations,Research,Sustainability of the family farm