By Matt McIntosh for Farm & Food Care
Scott Douglas stands next to his combine.
(Leamington) – It was in the midst of the Great Depression in 1935 that Scott Douglas’ grandparents first purchased 50 acres of farmland on a small concession road just north of Leamington, Ontario. Now, after 80 years, two generations and several major farm changes, the Douglas family farm is going stronger than ever.
The now 1,800 acre farm, known as Cloverview Farms, produces corn, soybeans and wheat, and features a small hobby operation usually containing a couple of beef cows, a few pigs and some chickens. Scott farms alongside Jennifer and parents, Harold and Linda. Scott and Jennifer also have three children – nine year old Graydon, seven year old Shannon and five year old Cameron – who help with the small number of animals. Continue reading
FICTION: 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
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
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
By Lilian Schaer, Farm & Food Care
(Brockville) – An Ontario-based company has developed a leading-edge electronic sow feeding system that it’s now selling across Canada – and it took just a little over a year to get from concept to market.
Curtiss Littlejohn is shown with Canarm’s new electronic sow feeding system
Curtiss Littlejohn, Swine Products Manager with Canarm, a privately owned company headquartered in Brockville, Ontario that produces ventilation and lighting systems, as well as livestock handling and management equipment, says the feeding system was inspired by information gathered from hog farmers across North America as part of a survey conducted last year.
“The survey showed that farmers in North America are looking for sow feeders that are built here, with durable components and integrated software, and by a company that has the depth to service them when something goes wrong,” explains Littlejohn. “Canarm had the ability to start to develop this and a year later, we had a functional unit on the show floor.”
More and more farmers are moving to loose housing for their sows – adult female breeding pigs – as the industry evolves to respond to consumer and food company demands.
This means farmers need new equipment to help them manage their animals in the barn. Continue reading
By Andrew Campbell
(Paisley) – Kendra Leslie grew up in rural Ontario, but didn’t grow up on a farm. Instead, she was an animal lover who was always curious as to what a farm life was like. She was so interested in agriculture, that she took a job with a nearby pig farmer when she was still in high school. What started out as a part-time job on weekends and in the summer months, quickly turned into a passion. Graduating in agriculture from the Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph, Kendra is now a full-time caretaker of a sow herd for an Ontario pig farmer.
Kendra Leslie feels at home in rural Ontario.
A sow is a female pig old enough to give birth to piglets and Kendra spends her days at work caring for those mother pigs and their piglets. “Every day is different, which is something I love about my job, ” says Kendra. “From feeding the sows to checking every animal in the barn to ensure they are eating properly and are healthy, we take the care of each one very seriously.”
But that’s only one of her daily chores. Kendra’s also responsible for weighing piglets to ensure they remain healthy, checking expectant mothers with an ultrasound and ensuring that any sows that have recently given birth are doing well.
By Carolyn MacLaren, General Manager, BC Farm Animal Care Council (BCFACC).
When I became involved in speaking about and explaining farm animal care a few years ago I had some ideas of what the issues were, where good things were happening and improvements were demonstrated, and where there were still gaps. I also had some familiarity of the “urban” issues from my university days in large Canadian centres where both schools I attended during my academic career had their share of “greenies” or “vegan” types as they were known. All of this I could deal with and I could reconcile, it was pretty easy for the most part so either I was good at it or I had the luck to not encounter too many disagreeable or militant types. Probably a combination of both, really.
I regularly meet very nice people who know absolutely nothing about farming and food production but have clearly been influenced by people and groups who aren’t telling our story as it really is, such as the PETAs (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) of the world. I have learned to take time to listen to those questions and understand what they are asking and what the issue or concern really is and then try to answer in the most direct and simplest way possible, citing examples and drawing on analogies, as I have been taught. For the most part this does the trick and people are appreciative that I took the time to discuss the issues and did not laugh at their lack of knowledge.
The computer game Hay Day may be fun but is a poor depiction of how farms really work.
Now that I have children of my own, I make sure their perspective is imbued with a healthy dose of realism – “ … yes, calves do have their horns removed, it’s safer for them and the other calves, yes trimming a chicken’s beak is safer for them and the other chickens …”. We speak openly about what is on our dinner table and where it came from. It’s not unusual to hear my 8-year-old ask “So, Mommy, is this chicken or pig we are eating tonight?” before she happily and heartily digs in. When we drive out to the family dairy farm on a particularly aromatic day (usually when the spreading of manure is allowed again in the spring) our girls will tell their friends, who are loudly protesting the smell, that “that smell is actually very good because without it, there would be no cheese, no milk, no ice cream, no yogurt.” I have brought them to my side and it really wasn’t that hard. Or so I thought. Continue reading
By Jean Clavelle
Well, it’s that time of year. Cattle are coming home from pasture, calves are being weaned and sent to feedlot and horse enthusiasts are enjoying the last few pleasant riding days left of the season. No one plans to have one, but accidents do happen especially when animals are involved. And whether you are the one involved in a motor vehicle accident or an innocent bystander it’s important to know what to do and how you can help when livestock are on the loose.
The top 5 things you need to know about livestock in an emergency:
- Livestock do not understand lights and sirens mean pullover. This will definitely not make them stop.
- When an animal feels cornered, it will fight or try to run.
- Livestock view us as predators and their natural instinct is to flee from predators.
- Prey animals are herd animals and become extremely agitated when isolated or separated from other animals. Single animals are extremely dangerous animals.
- Once livestock are excited or scared it will take at least 20 to 30 minutes to calm them back down. Continue reading
By Jean Clavelle
This year marks another triumph for the “We Care” billboard campaign initiated by the Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan (FACS). The program, which began in 1996, feature beef, bison, horse, chicken, egg and swine producers with their animals and are posted around busy thoroughfares of Saskatoon, Regina and Moose Jaw.
Ron and Sharon Douglas of Clifford are shown with their Ontario Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.
By Jeanine Moyer
One Ontario farm couple is so passionate about farming that several times each year they take their farm on the road. Ron and Sharon Douglas of Whispering Brook Yorkshires, Clifford, ON, spend nearly 100 days travelling to schools, fairs, festivals and exhibitions across Ontario each year, educating the urban public about agriculture.
And with them come their own pigs – in the comfort of the Pig Mobile – a converted livestock trailer with the sides replaced with windows to allow people to see the pigs as they would live on the farm.
The Pig Mobile is as close as you can get to an Ontario hog farm without actually stepping foot in a barn. The animals are carefully chosen to represent hogs at various growth stages including a sow and baby piglets, weaner, grower and finishing hogs. Ron designed the unit himself, modeling the trailer as close to a real pig barn as possible. The unit is complete with ventilation, a farrowing unit, slatted floors and feeders similar to those found in any Ontario hog barn. Continue reading
It may be hard to believe but farmers might ask you to take a shower or wear overalls and plastic boots over your shoes before entering.
In her blog post on the www.dinnerstartshere.ca website, pig farmer Kendra Leslie explains why:
When you walk into a hospital, the first thing you do is wipe your hands down with hand sanitizer, right? Well, essentially, that’s biosecurity.
The reason you use hand sanitizer when you go into a hospital, is so you don’t bring in new bugs into the hospital. As pig farmers, we take the same sort of steps to insure that our pigs stay healthy and no new bugs or illnesses are brought into the barn.
A shower in a Canadian pig barn
Most pig farms require that you shower in before entering the barn. By removing all outside clothing, showering and putting on clothes that do not leave the barn, means that the chance that new bugs or diseases will enter the barn is low. It’s very important that anyone entering the barn shower and change into barn clothes, whether they have been around pigs before or not.
To view the whole blog visit