Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 1, Edition 22

Egg farmers lead hen housing innovations

November 28, 2013

Ben Waldner
Photo credit: Egg Farmers of Alberta

A substantial portion of the industry has already transitioned to newer systems

The shift is on toward new welfare-friendly 'furnished' housing systems for laying hens, with egg farmers themselves leading the charge.

At their AGM earlier this year, Egg Farmers of Alberta voted to pursue a new policy to support this transition, which following further consultations was officially passed this October. It states that no new conventional or enrichable cage systems will be allowed to be installed in Alberta after December 31, 2014.

"There was a lot of support for this from our producers," says Ben Waldner, chair of Egg Farmers of Alberta, which along with other major provincial livestock producer organizations is a long-time member of Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC). "It's something we've discussed for several years and producers making new installations are going this direction. We realize it is the way of the future and it makes sense. But we also wanted to do it in a coordinated way with some time to adjust. It's about enhancing the welfare of the animal. It's also about making sure it works for the producers."

Egg Farmers of Canada has since pursued similar action through its own motion at meetings this summer. Egg Farmers of Alberta then selected the end of 2014 date to align with the same date targeted by Egg Farmers of Canada. Egg Farmers of Manitoba, which was the first provincial organization to adopt a policy to shift from conventional cages has also since adjusted its timeframe to the same target.

Click here to read the complete feature article.

Mindset of 'embracing change'

November 28, 2013

New furnished housing system features nest box, scratch pad and perch. The birds have both more floor space and taller cages to roam around in.
Photo credit: Egg Farmers of Alberta

Alberta egg farmers have welcomed the new policy and are moving toward next steps, says David Webb

There wasn't a crossroads moment in the process toward a policy of new hen housing systems for Alberta. It was about evolving and taking the steps that made sense for the evolution of the industry. David Webb, Marketing & Communications Manager with Egg Farmers of Alberta, offers some insights:

Q: What has the discussion been like at the producer level?

David Webb: Very positive and supportive. This has been an ongoing communicative process with our producers particularly over the past two to three years. Egg Farmers of Alberta has monitored and kept them apprised of a number of factors indicating where things are headed. For example, the developments in Europe and the U.S., what our expectations were for Canada, what the science was starting to show, the new innovations taking shape, etc.

At the same time, our producers have already been moving in this direction toward alternative systems. For example, even without having the new policy in place, over the last two years, 2012 / 2013, to our knowledge there has not been a single conventional cage system installed in the province. All of the new installations are already going to the new systems and egg farmers have really embraced the shift.

Click here to read the full story.

LCC 2014 Speaker Spotlight

November 28, 2013

Jackie Northey

Cultivating Connections: Social Media and Agriculture

The social media juggernaut continues to gather steam with implications for agriculture including the issue of farm animal care.

What opportunities does this present for producers and their industry?

One of the best places to get insights on this and other social media questions of the day is the 2014 Annual Livestock Care Conference (LCC), held March 26th and 27th in Edmonton, Alberta. (See agenda and registration information here). The conference is hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC).

Jackie Northey and Sarah Wray of FarmOn will speak on "Cultivating Connections: Social Media and Agriculture," drawing on their experience with this innovative Alberta-based nonprofit group that has championed empowering young farmers and telling the story of agriculture.

Click here to read the full story.

Drivers of Care: Geoff Urton

November 28, 2013

Geoff Urton

Manager of Stakeholder Relations with BC SPCA talks challenges, progress and keys to Canada's success

Q: What is the focus of BSPCA as it relates to Farm Animal Care?

Geoff Urton: The BC SPCA's approach to improving the welfare of animals is focused on direct dialogue with industry and other stakeholders to advance standards of care based on scientific evidence and other professional opinion.

The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) has provided an incredible venue for this conversation to happen through its new Code of Practice Development Process, and I've had a great opportunity to be involved as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) representative for the past few years.

The old Recommended Codes really had no credibility with animal welfare organizations, academics or consumers with an interest in animal welfare, so it's been encouraging to be part of this process that allows the issues to be more legitimately addressed.

Click here to read the complete feature article.


November 28, 2013

Quick takes on key activity and what's coming, from NewStream editors

New animal care video from Alberta Pork

Photo credit: Alberta Pork

Alberta Pork has produced a new video for use with its consumer relations efforts.

"There is a lot of discussion in the general public about how pork is produced and we wanted to give people a sense of what really happens on a pork farm," says Geoff Geddes, communications coordinator with the organization.

"We intend to produce a series of these on a range of topics," he says. The first video focuses on farm animal care and it will be used as part of the ongoing educational effort by Alberta Pork across the province. It will also be made available soon on the association's website www.albertapork.com.

Funding for the video was provided by Growing Forward.

Pork producers feel the pressure

Rick Bergmann

Pork producers have been put under tremendous pressure from the sow stall issue.

"Mandatory changes to group housing in existing operations would put many hog producers out of business and that includes me," Manitoba hog producer and vice-chair of the Canadian Pork Council Rick Bergmann told the Alberta Pork AGM in Calgary recently.

"We went to stalls in our operation because we believed they were the right way to go," he says.

"You have to tell your story, tell what you do and why you do it," he told the meeting. "If we don't tell our story, who will?"

Europe's dilemma

Europe's hog industry has been dramatically affected by issues such as animal care, Bruce Ginn of the agricultural consulting company BMI Ag Services LLC told the Alberta Pork AGM.

Europe used to be a major factor in pork production but they are not nearly as big as they once were, he says. Why? Because they have essentially regulated themselves out of business or at least to a different business level.

Ginn says the places to watch are Brazil and Chile and their big markets are Japan and China, the same ones as North America is after.




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