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2013 Livestock Care Conference Special Meeting Report

2013 Livestock Care Conference Special Meeting Report:
Table of Contents

Sign-up today for the NewStream Farm Animal Care e-newsletter. Upcoming special editions capture highlights of LCC 2013.

Innovative assessment models, new global standards and what producers need to know are three of the big focus topics of the March 21-22, 2013, Livestock Care Conference featuring a cross-section of industry and leading international experts.

This LCC News Blog is designed to bring you all the latest on LCC leading up to and around the conference. Click on the headlines below to view new blog posts and check back regularly for updates.

Inside LCC Blog

News from the Meristem editors covering the 2013 Livestock Care Conference. LCC News Blog items are available for reprint. Please credit "Meristem Land and Science" and include an active link to www.meristem.com.

Inside the 'bear pit'

Date posted: March 23, 2013

Dr. Clover Bench

Strong viewpoints. Frank talk. Calls to action. Reminders of the strength in working together and thinking bold about future potential.

All of this was part of the mix as the LCC rounded up with an open-format "bear pit" session on the tough issues and buzz topics in farm animal care today.

Dr. Clover Bench of the University of Alberta moderated the lively and engaging session, which touched on everything from what's driving the global agenda to what's needed to help producers and industry grapple with change and capture new opportunities.

The variety of perspectives and topics addressed painted a picture not only where the pressure points are, but just how dramatically farm animal care is playing a role in the big picture of farm management innovation, product value, branding and sustainability.

Snapshots of industry progress

Date posted: March 23, 2013

Assessments. Certification. New ideas and fresh approaches. In today's fast-evolving livestock business, perhaps the best indication of the latest trends in farm animal care is the progress of the producer organizations at the leading edge.

Three examples were highlighted at LCC in a session that provided case studies of how major livestock producer organizations are meeting the new challenges and expectations.

Here's a quick sampling of key thoughts from the session.

Mike Slomp

Alberta Milk. "Codes serve as an insurance policy for making sure all farm animal care stakeholders know the expectations," says Mike Slomp, Industry and Member Services Manager of Alberta Milk.

At a national level, a key part of the approach of Canadian dairy farmers is a new 'ProAction Initiative,' he says. This initiative has been developed for potential approval at dairy meetings this summer. Under ProAction, farmers would implement a single, national, credible, practical on-farm program that pulls together everything sustainability related, from food safety and quality to environment and animal welfare. Learn more on this here.

Trevor Prout

Chicken farmers of Alberta. "Say what you do. Do what you say. That's the key," says Trevor Prout, Producer Programs Manager of Alberta Chicken Producers. Chicken Farmers of Canada has worked with the provincial organizations to design and implement an innovative animal welfare program that includes an asessment-based certification component. Alberta was the first province to implement mandatory compliance.

Catherine Scovil

Canadian Pork Council. "We have a long history with Codes, but we determined Codes alone were not enough. We needed a way to demonstrate on-farm practices. We wanted producers to be part of the process," says Catherine Scovil, Executive Director of the Canadian Pork Council. "There was concern that if industry didn't take the lead, others would. So that's what we did."

That led to the industry's Animal Care Assessment program - one of the first implemented among livestock sectors in Canada. Over 90 percent of Canadian hog production complies with the model, which became part of the CQA program in 2012.

Codes, trust and tackling challenges head-on

Date posted: March 23, 2013

Jackie Wepruk

Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals are one of the hot topics at LCC. What's the approach, in a nutshell?

It's about teamwork and keeping Canada competitive, says Jackie Wepruk, Manager of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).

"The Codes" are guidelines designed to support responsible livestock welfare practices and keep everyone involved in livestock care and handling on the same page. They also provide a clear reference livestock industries can point to in addressing questions and rising expectations from consumers, the marketplace and society in general, both domestically and internationally.

Four keys to success

1. Round-table process fosters collaboration. "We're trying to ensure there's a more collaborative approach where all of the relevant stakeholders are involved in the decision making," says Wepruk. "We want to work to breakdown this cognitive dissonance on all sides. Everyone has their own view on animal welfare and. Our ultimate goal is yes we're making progress on animal welfare but we're also maintaining the viability of Canadian agriculture.

2. Anchoring Canada's success. The Codes are really the foundation of our Canadian animal welfare system.," says Wepruk. "They really do serve as our national understanding of what animal care requirements are and what recommended practices should be.

3. Strong science, but practical too. "It's really important the Codes are scientifically informed and that we have a strong scientific basis for what we're saying," says Wepruk. "But science can't tell us the whole picture. Science can tell us what is but it can't tell us what ought to be. At the same time we need to ensure that our Codes and what we're doing on farm animal welfare is practical. Because ultimately if farmers and those involved in animal agriculture can't implement the Codes, then there's not much point in doing them."

4. Meeting society expectations. The Code also need to reflect societal expectations for responsible animal care, says Wepruk. "Societal views change and we are seeing that change. Views are not homogenous on farm animal welfare so this can be a tough one to get at. We're not talking about the single interest group that is picketing a company. We need to focus on the general consumer and keeping a strong relationship."

Driving industry progress: Award of Distinction

Date posted: March 22, 2013

Dr. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein receives her award from Greg Bowie of Alberta Beef Producers.


It's one word. It's also the key to success for livestock industries navigating the fast-shifting waters of farm animal care.

LCC participants honored someone who exemplifies the drive to progress by handing out one of the annual Alberta Farm Animal Care Awards of Distinction.

The recipient of the Award of Distinction for Innovation was Dr. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein, a research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Lethbridge.

"There's no better compliment than to get an award from the industry you work for," says Schwartzkopf-Genswein.

The award honours those who have developed a new process, product or source of knowledge that has made a significant impact on improving the welfare of livestock and the industry. Nominees must demonstrate a strong commitment to others through contributions to community and society and be recognized by peers as having reached a high level of accomplishment or expertise in their field.

Alberta Beef Producers nominated her for the awar, noting her many contributions. "Dr. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein is a world-class beef cattle behaviour and welfare Researcher. Her research has directly aided the beef industry by providing measurable scientific evidence. These results have been used to inform the beef industry of practices impacting beef cattle welfare as well as providing recommendations, both having a significant impact on improving the welfare of livestock in Alberta."

Congratulations Karen.

Ratcheting-up on assessments

Date posted: March 22, 2013

Everyone in the room at LCC knows the expectations and pressure to not only "show" but "prove" livestock welfare standards is going in one direction – up, up, up. Understanding what's needed to deal with that trend is a big focus of the conference.

"In a market system, the real driver of change is through the consumer," says Dr. James Reynolds of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Western University, in Ponoma, California. "Livestock industries have a license to produce. Society gives the license and it comes with conditions. The challenge is to continually foster understanding and strengthen that relationship."

Livestock producers and their industries represent the front line of responsible livestock welfare and animal husbandry practices. They've seen the pressure building over many years. In Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere there has been a whirlwind of activity to prepare that is now reaching a high point.

Dr. Lily Edwards-Callaway offered a processors perspective. She oversees the animal welfare programs for cattle, pigs and lambs at JBS USA. JBS is the world's largest animal protein company and largest processor of beef. Each of the company's processing plants now has a certified animal handling auditor and runs three different types of auditing systems.

"Animal welfare is absolutely a top priority," says Edwards-Callaway. "We strongly believe we are stewards of our animals. It's our responsibility and we take it seriously."

Dr. James Reynolds

Dr. Lily Edwards-Callaway

'Talking posters' highlight student achievement

Date posted: March 22, 2013

Julie Reimer

The future of farm animal care is in good hands. That's true if the students pursuing education and careers related to livestock welfare are any indication.

The work a number of these students are involved with was showcased in a "talking posters" session at the Livestock Care Conference. In all, over 20 students were in attendance from University of Alberta, Olds College, Lakeland College and University of Calgary. In addition to the talking posters session, these students participated in a Meet the Experts networking and mentoring event and stayed to take in the rest of LCC.

"The student involvement and participation is a very positive and adds a lot to the perspective and discussion at the Livestock Care Conference," says Dr. Clover Bench of the University of Alberta, who helped to coordinate the student-oriented sessions. "The students here are an indication that animal welfare and animal care is becoming a big focus of interest among our post-secondary students in Alberta."

Two posters and presentations singled out as winners focused on analysis of big picture developments as well as practical issues for farmers.

Louisa Henry

Louisa Henry, student at the University of Alberta, presented a scientific analysis of global animal welfare rating standards and how this compares to Canada's approach through Codes of Practice. Specific focus was standards for beef cattle and the new Beef Code anticipated for implementation later this year.

Julie Reimer, another University of Alberta student, presented a review of the effectiveness of commercially available 'swine enrichment' options. This included an assessment of the value of different options available to producers.

Both presentations were impressive in the quality of delivery, the depth and accuracy of analysis, as well as in the fresh energy and viewpoints they provided. Congratulations to the winners.

Supporting the next generation

Date posted: March 21, 2013

That's what the "Meet the Experts" session is all about. The student-oriented session kicked off day one of the Livestock Care Conference, providing a unique, education-focused forum for students to learn from people in the livestock industry.

The session was led by Dr. Clover Bench, Professor of Applied Ethology and Animal Behaviour at the University of Alberta, and Dr. Angela Greter, Program Manager with Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC).

An ice-breaker exercise paired groups of students and the industry experts in an improvisation slide presentation exercise that sparked equal measures of humour and excellent discussion farm animal welfare topics.

This was followed by a rotating, interactive format that allowed more one-on-interaction.

Veterinarians. Industry representatives. Producers. Leading speakers for the Friday LCC agenda. These people and more added to the mix. The students in particular, with their enthusiasm and inquisitiveness, really energized the talks. All in all a great learning and sharing experience that resulted in lots of smiles all around.

Six great reasons to attend

Date posted: March 14, 2013

If you haven't registered yet for LCC 2013, there's still time. Here are just a few of many great reasons you won't want to miss this year's conference.

1. Farm animal care is in the spotlight – big time. It's making today's headlines and driving decisions among all levels of the food industry. It's a big part of the future of how Canada's livestock industries will succeed.

2. Driving progress. The conference is designed as a leading forum for the exchange of knowledge and ideas that fuel innovation. In Alberta. In Canada. And beyond. It's about learning and working together as farm animal care stakeholders to find the best solutions and pathways to the future.

3. Top event on farm animal care. The LCC has run annually for over 10 years and is one of the top forums of its kind. Its success is due to the industry that supports it, the leading experts who speak at it and the wide variety of attendees who ensure every event is an excellent forum for discussion and debate, both in and around the meeting.

4. Get the bottom line of what you need to know. It's a sophisticated and fast-changing world. At times it is hard even for those directly involved in the livestock industry to fully appreciate what the trends and developments in farm animal care mean for Canadian livestock producers and their industry. That's why LCC organizers have worked to make this conference one place where the many of the best of these developments are showcased. Codes of Practice. Assessment Models. "Bear pit" discussion on the hot issues of the day. All of this and more will be tackled at LCC 2013.

5. Get a front-row seat to the future. Innovation and progress in farm animal care has never been more important. The conference offers a front row seat to learn about where we are today, where we are headed, and how producers can take advantage of some of the latest knowledge and approaches.

6. Everyone is welcome. The Livestock Care Conference is open to anyone with an interest in farm animal care, including producers, industry, researchers, students, government and others, from across the province and across the country. The conference is coming up quick. Hope to see you there!

Online registration closes on Monday, March 18. Participants may also register at the door on the conference dates, March 21-22. Get details at www.afac.ab.ca.

Learning from leaders

Date posted: March 13, 2013

Helping livestock producers and their industries stay at the leading edge of farm animal care.

In a nutshell, that's what LCC is all about. One of the best ways to meet that goal is to learn from and share ideas with the many farm animal care leaders who attend the conference.

Here are a few examples of the many topics and insights that make up the conversation around LCC.

Commitment to progress. "As livestock producers, we share the values of making sure farm animals are well cared for throughout their lifetimes and that industry follows best practices based on the latest knowledge," says Heini Hehli, a Rimbey area dairy producer and Chair of AFAC. "The many areas of progress we see today are examples of how we are building on that commitment for the future."

Digging in to meet challenges. "There's going to be more talk. More focus. More questions and expectations for our industry to deal with," says Doug Sawyer, chair of Alberta Beef Producers. "But there are also opportunities for us to manage this issue well and come out ahead."

Strong producer voice on Codes of Practice. "There are a lot of good questions around the Codes," says Jackie Wepruk, manager of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). "For producers, the most important thing is be informed and be engaged in the discussion. The Code development process is set up to provide producers with a clear voice at the table, to have a strong say in an issue that will have a major impact on their future."

Heini Hehli

Doug Sawyer

Jackie Wepruk

Students highlight next generation

Date posted: March 13, 2013

'Meet the Experts' offers a unique student learning experience

Students represent the future of farm animal care progress. They are well represented at LCC 2013, including prominently in two special sessions on the opening day of the conference.

A "Meet the Experts" session on Thursday afternoon, March 21, is designed for post-secondary students pursuing careers related to farm animal care. The session offers unique one-on-one learning and networking, with students joined by producers and other industry representatives. One of the session facilitators is Dr. Clover Bench of the University of Alberta.

Bench wears many hats. She runs a busy research program, teaches and mentors students and is heavily involved in industry and public outreach. Bench also has a lifetime of experience with youth 4-H Clubs and has worked to build a strong connection between university students in her faculty and youth 4-Hers in the province. What binds all of her professional activities is a focus on farm animal behaviour and welfare. Bench is also a board member of AFAC and is widely recognized in the province for her role as a strong and active communicator on farm animal welfare.

Another session later in the day on March 21 is "talking posters" which in part features work a number of the participating post-secondary students have been involved with. Talking posters is an opportunity for those attending the evening reception to view and discuss the results of some of the latest research relevant to farm animal care. View the complete LCC 2013 agenda here.

A major focus of LCC 2013 are presentations and an interactive session looking into the progress in developing an animal care assessment model for Canada and weighing the pros and cons of various options. A leading example of a sector that is evaluating the options through a pilot animal care assessment model is the dairy industry – a spokesperson for Alberta Milk will highlight the progress during a session on assessments and strategies.

What are the benefits of having a consistent framework for assessments across all livestock species? How can the assessment model work in a practical sense to support implementation of the Codes? How does Canada's approach compare to what other countries are doing? What's the expected timeframe and what's the bottom line for livestock producers? These questions and others will be dissected and debated in what promises to be a lively and engaging discussion.

Don't miss it. If you haven't registered yet for LCC, click here for information to do that.

Diversity drives solutions

Date posted: March 12, 2013

Larry Delver

A real plus of the LCC is the diverse range of livestock industry stakeholders represented.

"The conference provides an opportunity for producers, researchers, industry, students, government and the public to address animal welfare issues from all sectors of the livestock industry," says Larry Delver, producer vice-chair of Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC). It typically draws both speakers and attendance from across Canada, along with representation from the U.S. and internationally.

"LCC has built an anchor role in helping our livestock sectors get a window on what's coming in livestock welfare and how we can work together to meet the challenges and opportunities," says Delver. "The discussion around livestock welfare has never been more important to how we manage, both at the on-farm level and the industry level, to meet today's consumer expectations and stay at the leading edge. We encourage everyone from individual producers to livestock industry leaders to participate as we seek out the best approaches and innovative solutions."

The first day of the conference, on Thursday, March 21, is focused on student activities and the AFAC AGM, which is followed by an evening research posters presentation and welcome reception for the LCC which begins at 8:00 p.m. The main LCC agenda is Friday, March 22, beginning with registration and continental breakfast at 7:15 a.m., with speakers and discussion running from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Sponsors are catalyst to great event

Date posted: March 12, 2013

Teamwork is critical to progress in farm animal care. It's also essential to making the Livestock Care Conference a premier event.

Excellent sponsorship support has been a hallmark of the success of LCC and that continues this year.

Core sponsors include the following companies and organizations:

  • Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA)
  • Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA)
  • Wild Rose Agricultural Producers
  • Gateway Carriers
  • UFA
  • Sunterra Farms / Sunterra Meats
  • Alberta Milk
  • National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC)
  • Alberta Silikal Hygenic Floors
  • Farm Credit Canada
  • Lucerne
  • AgriFoods Group of Companies
  • Olymel
  • Alberta Chicken Producers
  • Feedlot Health Management Services

It's not too late to become a sponsor. For details email or call the AFAC office at 403-662-8050.

Assessment models take centre stage

Date posted: March 7, 2013

As Canadian livestock industries take a major step forward with updated Codes of Practice, the next question many anticipate is how these industries can provide assurance the Codes are followed.

A major focus of LCC 2013 are presentations and an interactive session looking into the progress in developing an animal care assessment model for Canada and weighing the pros and cons of various options. A leading example of a sector that is evaluating the options through a pilot animal care assessment model is the dairy industry - a spokesperson for Alberta Milk will highlight the progress during a session on assessments and strategies.

What are the benefits of having a consistent framework for assessments across all livestock species? How can the assessment model work in a practical sense to support implementation of the Codes? How does Canada's approach compare to what other countries are doing? What's the expected timeframe and what's the bottom line for livestock producers? These questions and others will be dissected and debated in what promises to be a lively and engaging discussion.

Don't miss it. If you haven't registered yet for LCC, click here for information to do that.

Roadmap to world progress

Date posted: March 7, 2013

Canada is working on its revised Codes of Practice. But new expectations around livestock welfare standards are also taking shape at the global level.

One of the big drivers is the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The OIE is the major intergovernmental global organization responsible for improving animal health worldwide, with a total of 178 member countries including Canada. While OIE has traditionally focused on animal health, in recent years it has expanded the definition of this mandate to include a stronger focus on livestock welfare. This has included leading the development of consensus-based international standards for livestock welfare approaches.

If you want a window on the latest developments with OIE where the world is headed, make sure to take in the LCC session led by Jackie Wepruk of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).

As a bit of a preview, one of the keys to the OIE involvement in livestock production standards has been its cooperation with ISO, a nongovernmental organization with a membership comprising the national standards bodies of more than 160 countries. ISO is the world's largest developer of voluntary international standards.

This past November OIE convened a Global Conference on Animal Welfare that featured a range of new developments and activity, with implications for Canadian livestock industries. LCC 2013 will download what's happening with OIE-ISO standards and what the latest moves mean for Canada. Check out the complete LCC agenda here.

Sign-up for NewStream Farm Animal Care

Date posted: February 20, 2013

The Livestock Care Conference is a great place to a get a one-stop download on all the buzz, debate and development in farm animal care.

Another way to get regular updates on what matters to producers and their industry on this important topics is a new e-newsletter produced by Meristem Land and Science and sponsored by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) and the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA).

The name of this e-newsletter is NewStream Farm Animal Care. It's targeted for livestock producers and those who work with producers and industry, to bring you what you need to know in the world of farm animal care today. You can sign-up free of charge and unsubscribe at any time.

Farm animal care has never been higher profile or more important to success in today's livestock industry. NewStream Farm Animal Care is there to help you make sense of what's coming, along with unique insights on the latest thinking, ideas and developments. Watch for two special editions coming soon that will capture highlights of LCC 2013.

Try it out today. Click here for sign-up information.

Register for LCC 2013

Date posted: February 20, 2013

New global standards in animal care, innovative assessment models for the livestock industry and round table discussions to help producers and industry stakeholders frame up key issues. That's the agenda for the Livestock Care Conference.

Make sure you don't miss it. Register today to reserve your spot. Click here to get all the information on the Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) website. You can register online or call AFAC at 403-662-8050.

LCC is hosted annually by AFAC in partnership with the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association. The conference has built a reputation of consistently delivering knowledge to help producers and other stakeholders manage their role in the new world of farm animal welfare.

One key point is that people should be aware of is that the two day program begins with a special session for students. Those attending the general conference are welcome at an opening reception on Thursday evening, March 21, with the main program running all day Friday, March 22.


Welcome to the LCC News Blog

Date posted: February 20, 2013

Whether you are a livestock producers or someone who works with producers and the industry, one of the best opportunities to get an overview of what's happening in the world of farm animal care is the Livestock Care Conference (LCC).

This year's conference is slated for March 21-22 in Calgary. This LCC News Blog is designed to provide you with unique perspectives and links to all the action leading up to and around the conference. Check here regularly for new updates.

As Meristem Land and Science editors, we have enjoyed being part of the communications effort for LCC for many years. The 2013 event promises to be one of the best yet, with a focus on assessment models, new standards in farm animal care, along with a range of other topics spanning what producers need to know and what's happening in the big picture.

If you want to keep up on the latest in farm animal care, this is one conference you don't want to miss. We look forward to helping bring you information and insights on all the proceedings, and hope to see at LCC 2013.

For background on some of the hot topics in farm animal care, including a preview of some of the key subjects that will be discussed at LCC, check out a range of stories on our Meristem Land and Science Farm Animal Care page.



LCC 2013 is hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC), in partnership with the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association. Learn more about the conference here.

LCC News Blog is sponsored by AFAC and the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA).