Sheep and goats are raised on farms and ranches all across the country. In Canada, some sheep live outside on pastures, all year long, with farmers feeding them hay and grain in the winter. Other shepherds prefer to keep their flocks in the barn, but many farms use a mixture of both systems. It is common for sheep farmers to use dogs to help with herding, and to guard and protect animals from predators like coyotes. Donkeys and llamas are also good examples of guardian animals.
Goats can be raised for milk or meat production, just like cattle. And just like dairy cows, dairy goats live in barns and are milked regularly. Meat goats may live on pastures too, but still need protection against cold winter weather and predators.
Goat milk cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and curds are just some of the dairy goat products now widely available.
Did you know...
Sheep have nearly 360-degree vision? That’s because they have rectangular pupils! This allows them to see behind them without moving their heads.
What about fur?
The fur trade has existed in Canada for a very long time. Indigenous people – and later Europeans – have long harvested fur from a wide range of animal species, most famously the beaver. Now, mink is the most common animal raised for fur in Canada, followed by fox and chinchilla. Beaver, muskrat, raccoon, coyote, and marten remain popular wild furs as well. Just as with other farmed animals, farmers have to follow standards (as well regulations) for raising fur-bearing animals, including a recently amended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farmed Mink (and Farmed Fox): www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice. Sustainability is a big part of fur farming. Animals like mink help to reduce food waste by eating leftover eggs, cheese, fish, chicken, and other human food that has been discarded from grocery stores, restaurants, and food processors. Their bedding of straw or wood shavings and even the animal remains themselves are composted and recycled as a natural fertilizer, or used to make biodiesel, an environmentally-friendly fuel.
Honey bees are vital for pollinating fruit, vegetables, and other crops, like canola. Canada produces about 75 million pounds of honey every year. More than 80 per cent of Canada’s honey is produced in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
Did you know...
that Canadian honey bee populations aren’t actually in decline? In 2021, Canadian beekeepers grew the number of honey bee colonies to a record high of over 810,000?