Livestock Production

March 9, 2016 - 
The Ontario Animal Health Network (OAHN) is a collaborative way of looking at disease in animals in Ontario.  Please take a moment to learn about the benefits to you and your farm, and consider signing up for this free, Ontario centered program. 

How does it work?

  • Veterinarians are asked via quarterly online survey about infectious disease and welfare concerns in their species of interest.  OAHN puts this together with laboratory data, condemnation data and other data sources.  The OAHN group meets to interpret this information.
  • A report summarizing the important disease trends and health/welfare information is created.  The information is about one page in length, and consists of practical information for producers to make note of and discuss with their vet. Veterinarians receive a vet specific report.

The value to you

  • Report: Species specific, Ontario based information on infectious disease is summarized from reputable sources.  You know what diseases are on the minds of your fellow producers, and have been diagnosed.  The reports are meant to help you make better decisions on your farm.
  • Communication during outbreaks: Pertinent disease alerts, and crucial information will be sent to you directly and immediately if an outbreak occurs.
  • Projects/subsidized testing: The OAHN information helps prioritize follow up funds for disease issues in your sector.  This year, each OAHN network submitted proposals to address disease issues for their sector, up to $50,000 per species.
  • Resources for producers and vets: OAHN offers free podcasts (audio recorded interviews) featuring infectious disease topics.  We also have Facebook and Twitter accounts for quick info for producers, which you can share easily.

Our desired outcome

The desired outcome is veterinarians and producers being able to make more informed decisions, based on current information on disease in Ontario.

To view OAHN resources, reports, news, and more, go to Your veterinarian can also sign up for a free account for access to the vet reports.

Published in Farm Business

August 31, 2015 – A sold-out crowd of 250 gathered at War Memorial Hall at the University of Guelph on August 27 to hear world-renowned animal behaviourist Dr. Temple Grandin give a keynote presentation.

Dr. Grandin addressed the audience for an hour, talking on the subject of how different minds solve problems. She then met with attendees at a reception following her presentation.

Dr. Grandin is an inspiration to people with autism for her work as an animal behaviorist. Dr. Grandin has developed humane livestock handling systems, and has worked as a consultant to the livestock handling industry on animal care standards. She has, in addition, designed processing facilities in which half the cattle in the United States are handled while working for Burger King, McDonalds, Swift and others.

Dr. Grandin was in Ontario assisting with the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization training (PAACO). The organization’s mission is to promote the humane treatment of animals through education and certification of animal auditors.

Dr. Grandin was named by Time Magazine as one of 2010’s “100 most influential People in the World”. HBO also produced the award-winning biographical film on her life entitled Temple Grandin. She currently speaks around the world on both autism and animal behaviour.

The event was organized as a fundraiser for Farm & Food Care Canada. The charitable organization, based out of Guelph, cultivates appreciation for food and farming by connecting Canadian farm gates to our dinner plates. Farm & Food Care is a coalition of farmers and associated businesses proactively working together with a commitment to provide credible information and strengthen sustainable food and farming for the future.

For more information on the initiatives of Farm & Food Care Canada, please visit

Published in Welfare


The realization that the food and farming sectors need to better communicate with the public has been growing for some time, and a lot of discussion has taken place on how best to achieve this. Some very creative and effective campaigns to engage consumers have been emerging — the Chicken Squad campaign by the B.C. Chicken Growers Association and the B.C. Chicken Marketing Board, plus the “Our Food, Your Questions,®” are good examples.

Individual farmers and farm groups have taken on the task directly on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, where they engage directly with potential customers and suppliers while dispelling myths, sharing facts, finding market information and sharing the ups and downs of farming life.  Social media has become a powerful and highly valuable tool for sharing information in real-time.  And it’s also brought farmers from across the country together on common issues. If you don’t already, follow the hashtag #plant15 this spring and you’ll get a good idea of the camaraderie that exists.

But I have yet to see a hashtag related to farming cause such a firestorm right out of the gate as #farm365 has.

Created by southwestern Ontario dairy and cash crop farmer Andrew Campbell (@FreshAirFarmer), the hashtag has certainly achieved the goal of bridging the gap between consumers and agriculture, albeit with some unintended consequences.

The hashtag accompanies a photo taken on Campbell’s farm that he posts on Twitter each day, beginning on New Year’s Day.  Inspired by other photo-a-day challenges on Twitter, Campbell wanted to show what goes on a typical farm, and hopefully start some conversations.  His seemingly innocent attempt has done just that — and then some.  

Writing in his blog “The Highs and Lows of Week One on #farm365” for, Campbell said he knew animal rights activism was powerful, but “this has been a new lesson in experiencing it.”  He says media attention about the hashtag made a few activists very angry and they banded together to “hijack” #farm365 to show people their views on animal agriculture. Advocates for veganism have been posting disturbing photos and anti-animal agriculture messages with the hashtag right from the start, and are still going strong more than a month since Campbell launched it.

But Campbell and other farmers from around the globe are rallying back.  As Campbell writes: “It’s turned into a great force of farmers sticking up for themselves and consumers getting a better idea of what it takes to send food out of the driveway.” It’s also creating conversations with a curious public, who don’t understand what takes place on farms, and have a healthy bout of skepticism not to be easily swayed by activists and need to get reassurances right from the perceived villains.  

In his blog, Campbell tells a great story of how answering questions about veal from a woman in Toronto put her at ease.  The woman, who had heard negative things about veal production, wanted to hear from a farmer, to search “for information with substance and fact.”

Campbell tweeted this message February 9: “I’ve got to thank my fellow farmers again. They continue to open their barn doors and farm gates to the public through #farm365. Thank you!”




Published in Emerging Trends

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