Canadian Poultry Magazine

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Editorial – April 2013

My Kingdom for a Horse!


It wasn’t a huge surprise when the verdict came. Anticipation had been building since September of 2012, so it was just a matter of time until the validation confirmed it.  I found out via text from my Dad: “Did u ere? It was Dick 3 in Leics.”

Relevant to me because I grew up less than 20 miles away from the impromptu gravesite of King Richard III, who perished at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Deformed folly of Shakespearean mockery, he died with a great big hole in his head. I probably tromped all over him at some point on my many trips to Leicester.

Confirmation of the skeleton’s identity was the fruit of technology.  The fact that, five centuries later, two direct descendants were tracked down and asked to provide DNA samples was amazing. The detail that one of them was Canadian-born Michael Ibsen, is  a convenient segue to come back to this side of the Atlantic.

I don’t need to unroll some parchment and make a proclamation that traceability is a buzzword in Canadian agriculture.

Yet not all agree it’s a good thing. Proponents tend to regale the benefits when we’re talking international trade.

Innovators and suppliers of traceability technology love it, and early-adopters are trying to stay ahead of what they see as inevitable legislation – the guillotine of mandate will be dropped someday, so why not start now?  The rest of us need a little more convincing, but usually fall into the categories of early or late majority.  The laggards will have a few choice words and only do it when there is no alternative.

My point is that traceability too, has been brought to us by technology. Five hundred years ago, when Richard III was dealt the final blow, probably by a halberd (an axe blade topped with a spike), he had no clue that his body would be identified centuries later by fancy processes called “genetic fingerprinting” and “radio-carbon dating.”

The fact is, progress doesn’t wait for late-adopters.  Change is the only constant and if progress didn’t happen, this magazine wouldn’t have existed for 100 years, because on-farm practices would be stagnant.

As you read on, and peruse this month’s articles, reflect on their common link of forward-thinking and how it can benefit your farm operation.  And remember, technology can only help you if it’s available to you at your time of need.

Think about what you could be implementing on-farm that may not be needed now, but could be very advantageous when the time, season or legislation comes.

Today, what the Baird purported to be Richard III’s last words are infamous. Shakespeare was illustrating that the value of things can change suddenly if you don’t have them at hand when you need them (in his drastic example, a simple thing such as a horse to ride became more important than having a kingdom to rule). Without his trusty steed, Surrey, Richard III found himself at a terrible disadvantage and lost his life – and the throne – to King Henry VII.

Maybe it’s not exactly life or death, but I’ll lay a gauntlet down that the absence of a particular technology in the right situation could seem as unnerving as Richard III’s comprehension of imminent defeat at Bosworth.


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