NS Cattle Producers
Beef strategy being implemented
by Larry Weatherby
We are now into November with the leaves full of colour and the temperatures beginning to cool off, but from the results of the first two feeder sales, it looks like calf prices are warmer than expected. This is good news as many of the prices took their traditional dip through the summer months.
The past few months have been very productive for the Nova Scotia Cattle Producers as we have wrapped up some of our summer projects and have started to work on fall and winter projects as well as plan for the winter zone and annual meetings.
July and August were very busy for the cattle industry in the region. On July 11-12, the Maritime Beef Council (MBC) hosted the first ever Atlantic Beef Summit with participants from industry, all levels of government, as well as local and national researchers, and representatives from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. The summit was our opportunity to bring all stakeholders into one room to present the Maritime Cattle Growth and Development Strategy. We came away from that meeting with a strong sense of support for the strategy, and within the past few weeks have participated in multiple meetings to discuss its implementation. If you haven’t had a chance to read the strategy, please visit www.nsacattle.ca/mbc.
We have already started working on several initiatives outlined in the strategy, including the beef school and risk management tools. In mid-September, the MBC held the first module entitled Feedlot School at the Nappan Pavilion. It featured sessions on ration balancing, feed management, carcass grading, and marketing and was attended by close to 30 participants from across the region.
MBC is also working with a consultant to evaluate the possibilities of a price insurance program for the region based on the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program. For more information on this program visit www.wlpip.ca.
In August, we also hosted the third annual NS Elite Beef Expo, which featured more than 120 animals from 20 exhibitors from across the region. This proves to still be a very popular event and we have committed to making this part of our annual events.
As we made our way into September, the NSCP once again partnered with the Nova Scotia Young Farmers Forum to participate in their annual summer tour, social, and tour. I was fortunate to be joined by Jonathan Wort for the day and we barbecued burgers donated by Oulton’s for the group. This year we are continuing our support for youth in agriculture by making a contribution to the Nova Scotia Royal Beef Team, which participated at the Royal Winter Fair in November.
The 2018 Maritime Beef Conference will be held on March 16 and 17 at the Delta Beausejour in Moncton, N.B. This will definitely be the biggest and best conference to date with special keynote speaker, Dr. Temple Grandin, making an appearance on both Friday evening and Saturday morning. As part of the conference there will also be a workshop on farm financial management with a focus on financing from traditional and non-traditional farm lenders. We will have more information on both these events in the December newsletter.
(Larry Weatherby is the chair of NSCP. For any questions, comments or concerns, please contact the NSCP office at 902-893-7455 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
NB Cattle Producers
The benefits of humane cattle handling
by Allison Finnamore
Humane cattle handling reduces animal stress, increases handler safety, and boosts public trust in agriculture, according to an expert in humane handling systems.
Jane Morrigan of Integrity Livestock Services, based in Scotsburn, Nova Scotia, said humane handling of cattle also has economic benefits. It improves weight gain, fertility, and longevity, provides superior quality meat and breeding stock, reduces sickness, improves immunity, and lowers vet bills. Fewer bruises result in less trim off carcasses and less shrinkage during transport.
Speaking at the Maritime Beef Conference earlier this year, Morrigan said most cattle handling is done in confined spaces and causes pain for animals. For calves, activities like putting in ID tags, castration, disbudding, and weighing are stressful. Feeder calves are handled for castration, dehorning, vet treatments, vaccinations, and weighing. Cows are handled for vet treatments, artificial insemination, and separation from calves at weaning. Transportation for all cattle can also create pain for the animal – with loading, travel itself, and unloading.
Morrigan pointed out that stressed animals are fearful, and that sets off instinctive defensive behaviours, especially in herd animals where they could flee, fight, or bawl. Cattle take 20 to 30 minutes to calm down after a stressful situation and during that time handlers are in danger.
“Walk through, handle animals as much as you can,” she said. “It’s a good idea to get them used to people. The most common emotion is fear, and stress triggers fear.”
Behaviours to watch for
For optimum safety, handlers should use their knowledge of cattle behaviour. Morrigan pointed to four specific behaviours they should pay attention to: predator avoidance; how cattle see; following a leader; and circling around a perceived predator.
For maximizing handler safety and decreasing animal stress during predator avoidance behaviour, she explained that the cattle flight zone is the circle of safety or personal space around the animal, with the point of balance at the shoulder. Handler movement should be calm and slow, not aggressive or loud, especially when applying pressure to the flight zone.
Morrigan pointed out that balking can happen because the animal can’t see the handler or gets distracted. Cows can see almost 360 degrees but do have blind spots in the front and rear. They also don’t see well in contrasts of dark and light, as dark spots are perceived as holes to fall into. Shadow-free lighting in the handling system – bright enough to read a newspaper – is ideal. Light that is too bright also stresses the animals. She said producers should design a handling and chute system with light from an open door to attract cattle, and solid sides to avoid distractions from outside the pen, which should ideally be painted in the cattle-calming colour of golden-tan.
Cattle follow a hierarchical social structure to ensure survival, meaning they follow the animal that takes the lead. Morrigan said handlers should move cattle in small bunches of four to 10 animals, so the leader is obvious. Filling pens half full, so animals have room to turn, is ideal. When pens are overfull, the leader is pushed to the middle and movement is stalled.
Circling behaviour is also instinctive to cattle as a predator avoidance behaviour, and they will balk if they have a dead end. Curved handling systems work better than straight ones, Morrigan explained, because cattle will turn back to the same direction from which they came, seeking safety.
Morrigan said overall, handlers should take advantage of natural cattle behaviour instead of trying to change or work against it, as it will ease handling, increase handler safety, and reduce animal stress.
The 2018 Maritime Beef Conference will be held March 16 and 17 in Moncton, N.B.
(Allison Finnamore, based in Moncton, N.B., is the editor of FCC Express, a publication of Farm Credit Canada. She is also a partner in Cultivating Communications, an agricultural communications company, and she is an executive member of local, national, and international farm journalist organizations.)
(For more information on the N.B. Cattle Producers please contact Brenda MacLoon at 506-458-8534.)
PEI Cattle Producers
David Francis Farm wins TESA!
by Rinnie Bradley
The Prince Edward Island Cattle Producers were super excited to hear the David Francis Farm named the recipient of this year’s Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA). This nomination was submitted by the PEICP on behalf of the Maritime Beef Council. The announcement was made during the Canadian Beef Industry Conference’s awards dinner in August.
Since 1996, TESA has recognized producers who go above and beyond standard industry conservation practices and set positive examples for other cattle producers and the general public. We are very proud of the work that the Francis family has done that earned them this award. Their achievements demonstrate that producers in the Maritimes are very capable of being environmentally sustainable and can compete with their peers across Canada.
David and Brett Francis credit much of their environmental achievements to organizations such as the PEI Federation of Agriculture, which administers the P.E.I. Environmental Farm Plans, the Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS), which encourages and supports producers to make sustainable changes to their farms and subsidizes some of the costs, and the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture, which offered assistance in achieving the changes that were made. The Francis’ hope to continue to ensure that the farming practices they follow will meet or exceed environmental sustainability practices in years to come.
Congratulations David and Vicki Francis, and Brett and Kesha Francis!
The Maritime Beef Council would like to make an annual nomination to the TESA. If you would like to recommend someone for next year’s TESA nomination, please pass your suggestion on to any of the three Maritime cattle associations.
The PEI Cattle Producers will be holding their fall district meetings on Dec. 6 at the Potato Services Building in Kensington, and on Dec. 7 at the Farm Centre in Charlottetown. Lesley Yakobchuk, client service coordinator with the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency, will be our guest. She will provide an update on the anticipated expectations of the new traceability regulations that are being developed for the beef industry.
The Certified Island Beef (CIB) brand is growing consistently. As the brand continues to grow, we discover new ways to improve our processes. Changes have been made to the CIB Manifests that will better enable us to predict supply in advance of processing. If you are not familiar with these changes, please review the CIB Cow/Calf Manifest form on the PEICP website. If you have any questions regarding this form or the CIB brand, please contact Jena Nicholson at 902-368-2229.
Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) is the on-farm food safety program for beef. There is growing interest in the VBP+ program since a pilot project was introduced in Alberta. This pilot project, the Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration Pilot (CBSA), which involves VBP+, Cargill, and BIXS, was launched at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference in August. The CBSA pilot aims to build industry momentum for beef sustainability in Canada. The pilot will set up the infrastructure needed by Cargill and along the entire supply chain to implement a commercially viable, sustainable beef supply chain. Three Cargill customers, including McDonald’s Canada, Loblaw Companies Limited, and Cara Foods are participating in the pilot.
In the CBSA pilot, Cargill will track cattle through a fully-audited sustainable supply chain (via BIXS). Financial credits will be awarded quarterly to all operations (ranches, backgrounders, feedlots, and the packer) that deliver cattle from a fully-audited sustainable supply chain. This means that in order for cattle from an operation to be eligible, not only does that operation have to be verified, but so does every other operation the cattle move through (including the packing plant). Currently, Cargill’s High River plant is the only verified plant but that may change based on demand.
Once the pilot is complete, we will look at the results and determine if this is something we want to pursue for our region. Regardless of the pilot, we continue to promote the VBP+ program to all producers. If you want to participate, please contact Jena Nicholson, P.E.I.’s VBP+ coordinator.
Producers are reminded that if they wish to participate in the Agriculture Livestock Enhancement Program Beef Project 2017-18, the deadline for programs to be completed is Feb.15. If you plan on applying, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible. Details of the program can be found on the “Programs” tab of the PEICP website.
All producers are reminded that levies are payable on every sale of cattle at the rate of $6 plus HST. Remittance forms can be found on the “Levies” tab on the PEICP website. Just as a reminder, the seller bears the cost of the levy, which is deducted from the payment of cattle by the buyer. It is the buyer who remits the levy to the PEICP. If you have any questions on levy remittance, please contact the PEICP office or refer to our “Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Levies” document on our website.
(Rinnie Bradley is the executive director of the PEI Cattle Producers. She can be reached at 902-368-2229 or by email at email@example.com.)
Sheep Producers Association of Nova Scotia
by Fred Hamilton
As the days shorten and the leaves continue to change colour, it is a good time to reflect on the activities of the Sheep Producers’ Association of Nova Scotia during the summer as well as preview what we can look forward to in the coming months. The summer was very busy within the industry with research projects, our first annual shepherd’s social, preparing for the upcoming meeting season, and lots of activity on the national scene.
To start, I would like to thank all producers who have agreed to participate in our research initiatives, whether it was the carcass ultra-sounding with CDPQ, the maedi-visna research being coordinated by Cathy Vallis, or the ongoing Haemonchus research that Gwyneth Jones is working on. We are very fortunate to have these dedicated project leaders working on our behalf.
As you may or may not be aware, during the past year there has been a lot of activity at the national level related to the Canadian Sheep Federation (CSF). Three provinces have withdrawn their membership from CSF and established the National Sheep Network (NSN). SPANS has been monitoring the progress of these two organizations very closely and participated in a joint meeting in early September. To help get a better understanding of both organizations for our members and the SPANS board, we had planned to have presentations and a question and answer period by both organizations at the AGM (See story on page 22).
On July 22, we were pleased to host the first annual Shepherd’s Social at Joseph Leck’s, just outside of Truro. The day was very well attended with more than 30 participants who had the opportunity to tour the farm. Other highlights included a discussion on several of Leck’s management principles, and Gwyneth Jones provided an update on the research projects she is leading. The day also included a lamb burger barbecue. This event was very popular and we look forward to hosting it again in 2018.
For those who may have not received the notification, it is important to know that as of October 31, the pink metal Ketchum Kurl-Lock #3 tag has been revoked from the Canadian Sheep Identification Program. Sheep leaving the farm will be required to have one of the remaining approved tags in their ear. If you plan on shipping sheep that have a pink metal Ketchum tag in them after the revocation date, you will need to add an approved tag and report that new tag number to the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) along with the number of the pink tag already on the animal. You may not remove a pink metal Ketchum tag from a sheep or lamb even after the tag has been revoked. It is illegal. If you have any questions related to sheep tags please visit www.nssheep.ca/sheep-tags.
(Fred Hamilton is the president of the SPANS. For any questions, comments or concerns, please contact the SPANS office at 902-893-7455.)