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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Don’t Be Fooled. Science Is Always Politicized

This is an interesting perspective on science and politics.  There are lots of parallels between the misconceptions and debates around climate change and those around animal welfare – OFAC.

By Ronald L. Doering

In spite of the media treatment of them, there is nothing that is surprising about the now famous Climategate emails. Surprise could only come from a misunderstanding of the relationship between science, policy and politics. Of course the emails reveal that the climate scientists were affected by policy and political considerations. They had to be. Science, policy and politics are inextricably intertwined. What is surprising is how much our public discourse is still dominated by the quaint utopian view that science and policy can be strictly separated.

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Posted by FFC on January 22nd, 2010 :: Filed under Activism,Regulations,Research
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Why eating like a pig costs big

Steve Buist, Hamilton Spectator, 2008.05.30

It’s 7 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, and it’s one of the coldest mornings of the winter so far. The snow crunches under foot, there’s just a hint of grey light along the eastern horizon and an icy mist rises off the nearby Grand River.

Two gleaming silver tanker trucks from the Wallenstein feed company have already started emptying their loads into the metal silos at Curtiss Littlejohn’s pig farm in the hamlet of Glen Morris.

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Posted by FFC on July 22nd, 2009 :: Filed under Canada,Family vs factory farming,Farm life,Innovation and technology,Pork
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