One Step Further
With all of the enhancements made by the industry regarding biosecurity, an unfortunate casualty has resulted: it’s now more difficult than ever before to show transparency with the public.
Of course, limiting access to barns is extremely important for preventing the entry of pathogens, but with an ever-
growing urban public thirsting for information on where their food comes from and how it is raised, the situation poses a
So, what to do? Well, there have been several initiatives over the past year or so that have been tackling this challenge. For example, marketing boards in Ontario, Quebec, and, most recently, British Columbia, have designed portable “barns” to allow attendees of fairs, consumer shows and the like to see first-hand how chickens on egg and broiler farms are raised.
This is a fabulous idea, one shared with other industries such as hogs, where urbanites can view farrowing crates, or milking machines used for dairy cows and ask questions as to why this equipment is used and why it’s designed the way it is. It goes beyond the typical marketing material put out at these types of shows, which have mostly focused on the end products of farming and don’t answer the lingering questions that many people may have about actual farming practices.
Now, the University of Alberta has taken agricultural education one step further by producing a digital video on the poultry industry, a video that I am certain will prove to be an invaluable tool to students – those new to the industry and working within the industry – and consumers.
The video, entitled “Innovations in the Poultry Industry” was designed to be educational and provides a great overview of the current practices in the Canadian poultry industry. All sectors are covered with the exception of processing. The DVD includes six seven-to-15-minute-long videos on incubation, hatching, broiler production, broiler breeder production, egg production, turkey production, and egg grading.
The brainchild of Professor Frank Robinson, acclaimed for his interest and aptitude in educating children and the public on agriculture, the video “premiered” at the recent Poultry Industry Council health conference in Kitchener, Ont.
The DVD was filmed and written by University of Alberta undergraduate and graduate students and includes a companion booklet with links to further information.
Biosecurity protocols need no longer be a barrier to public education. Producers can now show interested parties this DVD, answer questions, and have an opportunity for one-on-one discussion. Students can now supplement their coursework by touring a barn without actually having to do so. The DVD can also be used to educate schoolchildren in classroom programs, which is particularly beneficial to those schools that are long distances from the location of agricultural fairs and events.
As for concern from the public on what is shown in the DVD, I don’t think there will be much. Of course, those opposing animal agriculture will have something negative to say but then this video isn’t made for them. It’s made for people who want to know, and is does a fantastic job.
The DVD will be available from the Poultry Research Centre at the University of Alberta by the New Year. Canadian Poultry will keep you updated on how you can obtain a copy.
I wish all of you and your families a happy and healthy holiday season and a prosperous 2008. n
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