Bringing better beef to local buyers

By Matt McIntosh 

Brian Hyland (2)With the welfare of his animals and customer demands in mind, Brian Hyland, a beef farmer from Essex Ontario, has built a business around selling quality, home-grown beef directly to the consumer.

Brian owns and operates Father Wants Beef, a farm and marketing business where he raises 40 beef cattle and red veal (slightly younger beef cattle that go to market at 700 to 800 pounds, or about 300 pounds below regular market weight). Though not a large farm, Brian has found that there is a demand for meat straight from the farm, and he prides himself on filing that demand from his on-site shop and cold storage facility.

“The majority of our meat is sold by pre-order and custom cut, but we do have some people that stop in for individual steaks,” says Brian. “Most are appointment sales; I can get phone calls at all times of the day.” Continue reading

Sweat like a pig – Fact or Fiction?

FactFictonpigletFICTION: Forget what you’ve heard about that expression. Pigs like to keep clean and they can’t sweat to cool off. So, barns provide a clean environment and have ventilation systems, like fans, to maintain an optimum temperature. Some barns even have sprinklers to keep the animals cool in the summer.

Did you know…the expression “sweat like a pig” actually comes from the smelting process of iron? After the iron has cooled off, it resembles piglets and a sow, and as it cools, beads of moisture – like sweat – form on its surface. This means it has cooled enough to be moved safely.

So, sweat like a pig? It’s not likely, since pigs can’t sweat!

Now you know!

For more interesting farm and food tidbits, check out www.realdirtonfarming.ca

Local pickled bean makers snap up Premier’s Award

Product shot Extreme BeanBy Lilian Schaer

The new pickle is a bean, says pickled bean aficionado Steve McVicker.

He’s one half of Matt & Steve’s, a Mississauga-based company that just won a Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation for their popular “Extreme Bean” Caesar garnish.

McVicker and business partner Matt Larochelle used to tend bar together and felt that the many Caesars they were mixing needed a better garnish than the traditional, bland celery stick that everyone was using.

Their search for a vegetable long enough to stick out the top of a 12-inch glass led them to the Kentucky Flat Bean, which is longer, sweeter, and crunchier than the average green bean. The two were also roommates at the time, and they cooked up their first batches of pickled beans in their 600 sq. ft. rented Mississauga condo using instructions provided by Larochelle’s mother.

“We were a bit like mad scientists with hand me down pots and adding various spices to jars,” laughs McVicker. “We weren’t very good at it in the beginning, but when we took some to work to try, they were pretty good so we scraped together some money to get started.” Continue reading

Methodical motions make moving dairy cattle easier

By Matt McIntosh

3K6A6122If you’ve ever had a large dog as a pet, you know how frustrating it can be to move it somewhere it doesn’t want to go, or do something it doesn’t particularly want to do. Indeed, getting it to stand still for even a moment when other dogs are afoot, just as an example, can be downright strenuous.

Now imagine if that dog weighed about 1,300 pounds. That’s the size of an average dairy cow, and as any dairy farmer knows, cows don’t always want to cooperate either. But just like dogs, dairy cows will go where you want and when you want if the right methods are applied.

“Animals learn the same way, and dairy cattle are no different,” says Dr. Don Hoglund, an expert on dairy stockmanship the facilitator of a recent workshop series for Ontario’s dairy farmers.

“Successfully controlling their movements starts with understanding their behaviour.” Continue reading

What about hormones and food?

What about hormones and food-The very word ‘hormones’ conjures up a lot of concern for many people. Hormones occur naturally in people, plants and animals. Here are some important facts and examples for you to consider.

1. Are there hormones in poultry?

One of the biggest myths we hear in agriculture is that of the use of hormones in poultry. No chickens, turkeys or egg-laying hens are ever fed hormones. Today’s farm animals grow faster because we’ve learned how to feed them exactly what they need and through choosing animals for their good genetics over many generations.

2. Are there growth hormones used in milk production?

Continue reading

The Real Dirt on the Codes of Practice

The Real Dirt on the Codes of PracticeBy Kristen Kelderman, Farm & Food Care’s Farm Animal Care Coordinator

As Canadians, we are very fortunate to have many privileges that others do not. Our great nation boasts the luxuries of real maple syrup, moose sightings, caffeinated beverages from Tim Hortons and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to name a few.

But did you know that Canada also stands out on the world stage when it comes to farm animal care? In Canada, we have Codes of Practice for 14 different farm animal species. They are often referred to in the farming community as the Codes.

So what are these Codes? They act as our standards for farm animal care and handling across Canada.

The first Code was developed in 1980. All are now the responsibility of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).

Each Code has requirements and recommendations within each document and contains other useful information on caring for farm animals.

I like to say that if you wanted to become a farmer tomorrow, the Code could serve as your guide book for what you needed to know for animal care. The Code won’t teach you how to milk a cow or how to formulate a diet for your pigs, but it explains what is expected for the health and welfare of the farm animals.

Many countries have standards and rules around animal care, so what makes the Codes so special? It’s actually the unique development process and group of people involved.

Each Code is updated by a Code Development committee of industry stakeholders. They include veterinarians, scientists and academics, transporters, the food and restaurant industries, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, government and farmers. It’s quite a diverse group of industry experts and professionals that has yet to be replicated in other parts of the world.

But before the Code development committee even meets, a scientific committee is organized to compile a collection of all the research and academic information available globally on farm animal care related to that species. This information is used as the basis for developing content for the Code.

Once the scientific committee has completed its review, the code development committee presents a first round draft. This first draft is then open to a public comment period. During this allotted time period anyone can submit comments for review on the content of the Code. The number of comment submissions has ranged from 120 to over 4,700.

The Code development committee then meets to discuss the comments they’ve received and how to move forward with the collected comments. Based on this information, they work to produce a finalized document.

According to NFACC, the end result “is a Code that is scientifically informed, practical, and reflects societal expectations for responsible farm animal care.”

The whole process takes about two years. It’s not a quick process, but it’s a thorough one.

Final decisions are consensus-based meaning that every member of the development committee must agree. You can imagine that it could take some time for everyone to agree on each requirement and recommendation within the Code.

Because of this process, our Canadian Codes of Practice are recognized around the world.

To find more information or to see the full version of each Code visit www.nfacc.ca and look under the Codes of Practice tab.

Bringing the Codes into the 21st century.

If you’ve ever picked up a copy of any Code of Practice or scrolled through the pdf version online, you’ll quickly see that that they are large and extremely detailed.

In an effort to help present information in the Code in a unique and novel way, Farm & Food Care’s IMPACT program (Innovative Management and Practical Animal Care Training) is currently developing interactive modules for each updated Code. Each module covers the requirements in each section of the Code and has supplemental questions and activities that users must complete related to the recommendations outlined in the Code.

Users must complete all the questions and activities to receive their certificate indicating that they are competent and understand the content of the Code. It takes about an hour or two to complete the full module.

If a farmer hires a new employee or needs a refresher on the Code content, they can log in and navigate through the module at their own speed. The intent of these modules is to increase the reach of the Codes and provide alternative ways for people to understand them and their content.

To learn more about IMPACT visit www.farmIMPACT.ca.

Farmers continue to invest in the best practices for their animals and do the right thing on their farms every day. The Codes are a great example of that.

More Than Farming: Ian Mathers, Bovine Hoof Trimmer

MorethanFarming

Ian Mathers alongside his hoof trimming chute.

Ian Mathers alongside his hoof trimming chute.

Often when I first tell people what my job is, they are confused.

“You’re a hoof trimmer? What is that?” they ask. While it’s not a common job, it’s an important one. As a hoof trimmer, I am responsible for the health and care of cattle’s hooves, and I mostly work with dairy cattle. It’s my job to do regular maintenance on cows’ feet by trimming their hooves.

Just like humans need to trim their growing finger and toe nails, so do cows. For cows, it’s even more important to trim to ensure the animal is able to properly walk on its hooves. It’s my job to ensure cows have healthy hooves and sometimes that means giving extra care and attention to sore feet.

My job is definitely not glamorous. In fact, it was featured on an episode of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” television show. Despite how dirty the job can be some days, the work is highly rewarding. Every day I get to do what I love – work with animals to make them healthier and happier.

Continue reading

Veterinarians play an important role in farm biosecurity

Each summer veterinary students from the Ontario Veterinary College delve into that practical experience at veterinary clinics across Ontario and additional locales. These blog posts are an opportunity to tag along with nine of them this summer.

By Ed Metzger

Ed Metzger, Ontario Veterinary College class of 2016

Ed Metzger, Ontario Veterinary College class of 2016

Veterinarians play important role in upholding high biosecurity standards.

Basically, biosecurity encompasses everything we do to keep the existing “bugs” on a farm contained, and keep other bad bugs out; it’s a way of confining avenues of disease such as viruses and bacteria to one place and limiting their spread. Biosecurity is an issue swine veterinarians deal with on a daily basis, and has been a cornerstone of practice during my time at South West.

So how do you reduce or stop the spread of disease from farm to farm? This can sometimes be a very tricky task. Some of the main ways that viruses spread from farm to farm are on animals themselves when a producer brings new animals to his farm, and on people: their boots, clothes, and the vehicles they are driving. Some common viruses such as PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome) can even become aerosolized and spread through the air – this presents a major challenge! Because of this, there has been an overwhelming response and acceptance, from producers and industry personnel, to adopt practices to reduce the spread of disease. Continue reading

Girl-next-door turned beef cattle farmer and calendar model

Shelia Sheard’s Faces of Farming calendar page

Shelia Sheard’s Faces of Farming calendar page

By Resi Walt

(Brampton) – Sheila Sheard can’t imagine herself living anywhere other than home on her family’s beef farm just north of the city limits of Brampton.

In 2015, she appears in the tenth anniversary edition of the Faces of Farming calendar, published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. Her page is sponsored by Beef Farmers of Ontario and the Ontario Corn Fed Beef Program. She is featured for the month of August.

Sheila was literally the girl-next-door when she met her husband Bill in 1984. Sheila had studied business cosmetics at Seneca College and then went to work for in Florida for a year. While she was gone, her parents had moved into a home beside Bill’s family. Continue reading

Would the real factory farm owner, please stand up

Would the real factory farm owners please stand up 2By Kim Waalderbos

I must confess: I’m a word and math nerd. I’ve been intrigued by how letters and numbers puzzle together for as long as I can remember. Yet, one puzzle has me stumped.

Factory farming.

You see, in my three decades (and counting) in agriculture, I’ve never heard anyone in farming actually use this term to describe themselves, or a fellow farmer. In fact, I’ve only heard the term used in media and by anti-farming activists.

So, I consulted my word books and found these dictionary definitions: Continue reading