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Courtesy of the Ontario Veterinary College
A veterinarian checking on a dairy cow.
Dehorning involves removing horns from beef and dairy calves, for
the safety of both the animals and the people working with them. Research has shown that calves suffer less pain and stress if dehorning is performed when they’re young, and the horns haven’t yet developed. The Code of Practice requires that pain control methods be used when dehorning. Through breeding, many cattle types do not grow horns in the  rst place. These are called “polled” cattle.
Beak trimming is done to prevent laying hens from hurting each other. The proper procedure is to remove just the tip of the beak with an infra-red beam when the birds are very young. Picture the hook on the end of an eagle’s beak, and imagine the damage that it could do. Research into behaviour, nutrition and genetics continues to look for ways to eliminate the need for this procedure.
Sheep tail docking is done to prevent manure from collecting on the tails and hindquarters of sheep, which can lead to  ystrike, a condition in which  ies lay eggs that hatch and attack the sheep’s  esh;  ystrike is a risk in most parts of Canada. Reducing the amount of manure buildup on an animal also helps address food safety concerns – there will be less chance of contact between meat and bacteria when an animal is being processed.
Pros and cons of animal
practices
You may wonder why certain procedures are performed on farm animals. In most cases, it’s to enhance animal welfare, or prevent farm worker safety problems down the road. Here are a few examples:
Are controls in place to deal with farm animal
Absolutely. Neglectandabuse
of animals of any kind is against the law. Farmers and ranchers, like all animal owners, are responsible for caring for their animals properly and humanely, and for following laws and regulations, including the federal Criminal Code and provincial animal care legislation.
Most farmers and ranchers do a great job caring for animals, but sometimes, bad situationsdohappen.Farmorganizations in some provinces have recognized this issue, and have developed their own peer services to help improve farm animal care. Farmers, veterinarians, and others who work in the  eld, are encouraged to call for help or report problems immediately.
Whenever there is a problem with farm animal care, Canada’s farmers are actively partofthesolution.Infact,the rstfarm animal council dedicated to responsible farm animal care was formed by farmers in Ontario 30 years ago. Similar organizations now exist at the national level, as well as
in Alberta and Saskatchewan, along with several jurisdictions in the United States.
abuse?
Many farmers today are active on Twitter and other social media sites, so it’s easier than ever to have your questions answered by someone who works with farm animals or grows crops every day. Try searching popular farming hashtags
like #OntAg (for stories about Ontario agriculture) and #WestCdnAg (for stories about agriculture in Western Canada), or following @FarmFoodCare.
56 The Real Dirt on Farming
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