let's talk farm animals

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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Start-up farms featured in To Make A Farm

 

By Lisa McLean, Agricultural communicator

What happens when you take a handful of city dwellers, drop them on rural land and leave them to make money farming? A new feature documentary about food and farming has done just that.

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Posted by FFC on March 26th, 2012 :: Filed under Farm life,Organics,Uncategorized
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Meet farming’s face of February – Cathy McKay

by Patricia Grotenhuis

A summer job for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food during university led to a life-long love and a diverse business for Cathy McKay. McKay is featured in the 2012 Faces of Farming calendar published by the Farm Care Foundation.

Cathy McKay

McKay’s page is sponsored by the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association. She’s the first apple grower to ever appear in the annual calendar that features the faces and stories of some of Ontario’s farmers.

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on February 22nd, 2012 :: Filed under Canada,Consumers,Education and public awareness,Faces of Farming,Farm life,Innovation and technology,Uncategorized
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Meet the farmers of January from the 2012 Faces of Farming calendar

by Patricia Grotenhuis

Three Ontario turkey farmers, the father/sons team of Heiko, Wayne and Mike Oegema, are featured in the 2012 Faces of Farming Calendar published by the Farm Care Foundation. Their page was sponsored by Turkey Farmers of Ontario.

These turkey farmers are the faces of January in the 2012 Faces of Farming calendar

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Heiko Oegema’s family established a turkey farm in 1959, shortly after emigrating from Holland.  He said that it was the opportunities available to Canadian farm families that brought his family to their chosen country.

As Heiko’s own family grew, so did their farm business. A retail store was added when his son Mike returned to the farm.  Heiko recently retired and the farm and store are now being run by his twin sons, Mike and Wayne.

“The transition has gone smoothly.  I used to farm with my brother, and then we phased the boys in,” says Heiko.

The store, called “The Turkey Shoppe”, opened to diversify the farm in December of 1992, after Mike graduated with his business degree.  It started out small, expanded in 1996 when Wayne returned, and has been growing ever since.

“We’ve had to expand over the years, and we’re raising more birds annually to meet seasonal needs,” says Mike.

The farm has changed its production schedules slightly since opening the store to make sure it will have enough fresh birds for Thanksgiving and Christmas to meet their customers’ needs.  The Oegemas have also built a licensed free-standing meat processing plant to process their turkey meat into products such as pies, sausages, burgers, and schnitzel.

Although the store is important to the farm, the family’s main focus is on ensuring the birds’ welfare.  Heiko was on the committee that originally developed the Recommended Codes of Practice for turkey producers.  The Codes are national guidelines for the care and handling of the different species of farm animals. They promote sound management and welfare practices through recommendations and requirements for housing, care, transportation, processing and other animal husbandry practices.  The farm implemented the codes immediately, and has been following them and making improvements ever since.

Currently, the farm is undergoing barn renovations.  Work includes making the barns more energy efficient, more comfortable for the birds and improving the ventilation system.

Even with so much work to do on the farm and in the store, the Oegemas are active in their community.

Heiko is the church organist, sits on church council, and enjoys time at the family cottage with his wife, Helen.  He is also a member of the local Chamber of Commerce.  In the past, Heiko was on the Soil and Crop Improvement Association, served as chair of the Turkey Farmers of Ontario, the organization that represents Ontario’s 190 turkey farm families. He was also an executive committee member on Turkey Farmers of Canada.

Mike and his wife, Annie, have three sons.  Mike served on the local fire department for eight years, and is on church council.  In what free time he has, he enjoys golf, soccer and hockey.

Wayne is chair of the local church council and likes to hunt, fish and bicycle.  He and his wife Jeanna have a five-year-old son.  Before returning to the farm, Wayne worked as a licensed diesel mechanic for 10 years (a skill that comes in handy on the farm). Today, though, he is happy to be home farming again.

 “It’s more peaceful than the garage.  You’re tied to it but there’s a freedom and an independent lifestyle.  That’s what I love,” says Wayne.
To view the rest of the 2012 calendar, visit http://www.farmfoodcare.org/index.php/news/calendar-2012
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Posted by FFC on January 23rd, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,Canada,Codes of Practice,Faces of Farming,Farm life,Housing,Turkeys,Uncategorized
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Temperature fluctuations a worry for livestock farmers

By Patricia Grotenhuis, Lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

This winter we are experiencing unseasonal temperatures and large temperature fluctuations in our area.  People often comment on how variable temperatures can affect their health.  Did you know the same is true for animals?

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Posted by FFC on January 20th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,Canada,Uncategorized,Weather,winter
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Animals in the news: 2011 top ten

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

New Years always brings with it retrospect’s of the past year and predictions for the year ahead. As a result we get “top ten” lists, “most” lists, trends lists and all types of year in reviews.  So in the spirit of year-end lists, here is my top ten “quirky” animal news items for 2011.

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Posted by FFC on December 28th, 2011 :: Filed under Media,Uncategorized
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Oranges for cattle?

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and Food Commentator

We’re often advised to drink our orange juice to help stave off infections. It turns out oranges are a good choice for cows too.  And may be just one more tool in the tool box to reduce antibiotic resistance.

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Posted by FFC on December 8th, 2011 :: Filed under Uncategorized

Guest blog: Ballot measures scuttled

Dan Murphy  

(Dan Murphy is a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator in the United States)

Updated: July 11, 2011 -  Both sides are carefully calling the agreement between the nation’s egg producers and HSUS leadership a “victory.” For industry, that means that two ballot measures set for November that would have asked Oregon and Washington voters to ban the use of cages in egg production will now be withdrawn.

Why? Mostly because the odds of victory were looking less certain for HSUS.

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Posted by FFC on July 13th, 2011 :: Filed under Activism,Animal care,Chickens,eggs,HSUS,Regulations,Uncategorized
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Bambi and the cows

by Patricia Grotenhuis, Lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

Farmers see some strange things on their farms.  Sometimes things will happen that are completely unexpected – yet absolutely beautiful reminding us,  first-hand, what nature can do.

One day, while I was at university studying agricultural science, I got a call from my mom at home on our farm.  The call wasn’t unusual -  but the story she was about to tell me certainly was. 

One day, while out checking the beef cattle, they noticed a young fawn in the same pasture as the cattle.  Over the next few days, my family noticed the fawn was always within sight of the cattle – but never too close.  They never saw a doe, and were wondering who was caring for this little fawn.

Bambi in the field with the cows.

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Posted by FFC on May 19th, 2011 :: Filed under Animal care,Beef cattle,Family vs factory farming,Farm life,Uncategorized,Wildlife,winter
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Power’s out!

 by Patricia Grotenhuis, Lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

Storms have always filled me with awe.  I love sitting, safe and secure, in my house or in the barn while the wind howls around us,  snow or rain coming down with no end in sight.  There is always one big fear with storms, though:  what if the power goes out?

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Posted by FFC on May 10th, 2011 :: Filed under Animal care,Farm life,Farm Safety,Innovation and technology,Uncategorized,Weather,winter
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