New animal care program to keep producers informed

There’s no shortage of information and misinformation about livestock production and welfare. 


Alberta Farm Animal Care wants to ensure transmission of the former rather than the latter.


AFAC launched a farm animal care leadership initiative called 
NewStream Farm Animal Care last month that is designed to provide livestock producers with verified information about animal welfare and care.


Using electronic delivery and social media, the program aims to be a source of accurate information for anyone with an interest in livestock welfare issues.


“Because farm animal care is so high profile in Canada and around the world, we wanted to produce an initiative to get credible, useful information into the hands of people making decisions on livestock care,” said AFAC executive director Lorna Baird.


Among the program elements are a digital news service providing the latest developments in farm animal care, reports verified by farm animal experts and wider distribution of information presented at the annual AFAC conference.


AFAC chair Heini Hehli, a dairy farmer from Rimbey, Alta., said she is pleased with initial sign-ups .


“We’ve had a lot of interest in it. We are very pleased,” Hehli said Nov. 26. 


“It’s really going to benefit all the livestock in Alberta.… It’s for the whole livestock industry.”


Cow comfort, lameness and mastitis are the primary issues in the dairy industry, and Hehli said producers can use electronic media to learn about research into those issues.


He also noted the importance of informing producers about emerging retailer and consumer demands, such as elimination of swine gestation stalls.


He said economic conditions in the pork industry makes it impossible for some producers to change their barns to comply with those demands because of the expense involved.


“The demands are real, but they have to be handled in a very practical way,” said Hehli.


The communications company Meristem will design and deliver material for the initiative. The Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency provided $340,000 for the project, which Baird said will be supplemented by other industry support.


Producers can sign up for the news service at www.meristem.com.