Code of Practice Released Fall 2013, But Learning is Ongoing
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
Cattle producers care for their livestock every day, and that’s why having a guide which outlines best practices serves as an important tool for beef farmers across the country.
After a three year process, a revised Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle was made available to Canadian farmers in fall of 2013. The code replaces its predecessor which was developed in 1991.
The code was drafted by a 15-person committee, which acted on consensus that was made up of industry stakeholders including beef farmers, animal welfare representatives, researchers, transporters, processors, veterinarians and government officials.
While the revised code was rolled out in the fall of 2013, communications about animal welfare remains top of mind for industry groups like Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO).
The industry organization which represents the province’s 19,000 beef farmers has been traveling across the province hosting information sessions and workshops aimed at educating producers about the changes in the new code.
Barry Potter, New Liskeard area beef farmer and Agricultural Development Advisor for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Rural Affairs says he is pleased with BFO’s efforts to reach out to producers.
“They’ve been leading the charge,” he said.
Potter has been working with BFO to target producers in the northern areas of the province. Since last fall, he has attended seven district meetings, with more planned for this spring.
Workshops go through the 68-page code and feature practical demonstrations by a veterinarian. “It gives us a document that we can say that this is what we do as professionals and there’s science behind it,” said Potter.
Some of the most significant changes in the code pertain to pain mitigation, dehorning and castration practices. For example, when castrating bulls older than nine months of age, farmers will be required to use pain control, which comes into effect Jan. 1 2016. In addition, come Jan. 1, 2018, producers will also need to use pain control when castrating bulls older than six months of age. Similar requirements are also outlined for invasive producers such as dehorning.
Dan Ferguson Manager of Producer Relations for BFO said that the workshop format has been successful, adding that producers are more comfortable in a hands on setting. “Halls are too restrictive and too institutional,” he said. “We wanted to get the code into the hands of farmers.”
The first workshop was held in late August at a community pasture in Victoria County, where a veterinarian came in and showed producers how to properly administer pain control, dehorn and castrate.
“They pay a lot more attention to a veterinarian,” explained Ferguson. Each workshop has attracted about 40 to 70 producers. “It gets a good audience that way,” he said.
Ferguson encourages counties and senior 4-H groups to get in touch with him if they are interested in organizing a workshop. Dan can be reached by email at email@example.com.
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