This summer we met Dylan Biggs, the owner and operator of TK Ranch, at a low-stress cattle handling workshop. Upon meeting Dylan, the opportunity to visit his ranch for a day came up and without hesitation we took it!
TK Ranch has been operating since 1956, and today three generations live and work on the ranch. For over 50 years TK Ranch has been committed to producing sustainable, quality beef for Albertans. The ranch was started by Thomas Koehler Biggs and is located in the endangered Northern Fescue Grasslands of east-central Alberta.
The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pullets and Laying Hens requires that:
“All hens must be housed in enriched cage or non-cage housing systems that meet this Code’s requirements by July 1, 2036.”
Faced with this upcoming requirement, producers have many questions to consider:
Enriched cages or non-cage housing?
Renovate an old barn or build new?
How will my management practices change?
Will my feed costs go up or down?
How will my lighting change?
And on and on and on…
On November 15th, 2017 the Canadian Poultry Magazine hosted the webinar “Phasing Out Conventional – What to Consider and How to Prepare,” presented by Bill Snow and Ron Wardrop with Big Dutchman. This presentation offered information for producers to consider when making the transition away from conventional cages.
In addition to housing for layers, the talk touched on rearing pullets in preparation for enriched cages or non-cage housing. This is an important time for the birds to learn how to navigate an open system, especially in a non-cage system. The birds will then be ready to jump from tier to tier in their layer facility comfortably and with less stress.
Enriched cages and non-cage housing systems each have their pros and cons. Producers need to consider all the information available to them and decide on what works best for their operation and their management styles. The image below is a comparison of just some of the things producers need to consider in either system.
One thing you’ll notice is that the aisle width in the non-cage housing systems is over twice the width of the enriched caged. This is because in an enriched caged system the birds are still in cages, but the cages are larger and are enriched with perches, nest boxes, dust bathes, etc. In the cage-free systems, the birds are allowed to roam the aisle and jump from tier to tier. The aisles need to be wide to accommodate the birds, the litter, and to allow personnel to walk up and down the aisles and check on the birds without disturbing them.
We can’t possibly cover everything touched on in the webinar in this blog post, but we hope we’ve sparked your interest and we encourage you to watch the full webinar at the link below!
What is the future of farm animal care in Alberta?
A lot of progress has taken place over 25 years. Continual improvement is the key to the future.
The next generation has a strong role to play in defining the path forward. That is why it was so important to have strong student participation at the 2018 Livestock Care Conference. In all, 49 students participated in the Meet the Experts session and attended the conference.
“We are very pleased with the strong student involvement in this year’s conference,” says Annemarie Pedersen, AFAC Executive Director. “Students represent the future. We have a bright future to look forward to. A big thank-you to our conference student sponsors who helped make this possible.”
Left: UFA sponsored students
Right: Alberta Beef sponsored students
(Photos from #LCC2018 used on this blog page, as well as some additional photo options, are available on request for use by media and industry. Please email email@example.com to request photos.)
Working together. Breaking down silos. Pushing the pace of innovation. Telling our story.
These are just a few among many areas of advancement discussed and showcased at the 2018 Livestock Care Conference, which was attended by over 200 people representing many key sectors and stakeholders of the Alberta livestock industry and farm animal care community.
The conference featured a number of top speakers and addressed many hot topics shaping the future of farm animal care in the province.
The number one take home message: Don’t stop here . . . take the information, messages and momentum from this conference and keep pushing the pace of progress.
This was reinforced in many talks, including a wrap-up session on Engaging the Public – How to Tell YOUR story, led by Annemarie Pedersen AFAC Executive Director and followed by a case study example from by Kristen Hall, AFAC Marketing and Membership Coordinator (who is also B-E-O of a bee operation, Bee My Honey, who is a big
BEE-liever in social media and other tools to tell your story).
AFAC has come a long way over 25 years. So has its signature event – the Livestock Care Conference. Just as important as the organization and the conference are the people who make up the industry that drives both.
Many speakers at #LCC2018 touched on the theme of celebrating the past while embracing the future. The work that the livestock industry in Alberta embraces to promote animal welfare and collaborative approaches plays significant a role in the future of animal agriculture in the province. It’s a role that has never been more important as AFAC looks ahead to the next 25 years.
The 2018 Livestock Care Conference marks a milestone as AFAC celebrates 25 years.
Welcome messages for the conference provided perspective on 25 years of progress, touching on the evolution of AFAC and farm animal care as well as the importance of continued collaboration and progress moving ahead.
Perspectives on progress
“AFAC is such an integral part of our livestock industry in Alberta today,” says Dianne Finstad, agriculture and rodeo reporter and longtime friend to agriculture in Alberta, who served as MC for the conference. “When we think about AFAC being formed 25 years ago, there is quite a legacy of progress to reflect upon. A quarter century is something to be proud of. It shows AFAC has staying power as an organization. It has a strong past. It has an important future.”
“Conferences like this are so important,” says Jamie Curran, Assistant Deputy Minister of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “They are an opportunity for people and organizations with common goals and challenges to collaborate and discuss solutions. This year is especially significant as AFAC’s 25th anniversary. This milestone is an impressive achievement for any organization especially the first farm animal care group in all of Canada. It’s a perfect occasion to honor the past, learn together and to look to the future. In Alberta we’re fortunate to have an organization like AFAC dedicated to bringing the livestock industry together to advance and promote responsible animal care.”
“This year’s Livestock Care Conference is about celebrating the last 25 years and looking forward,” says Annemarie Pedersen, AFAC Executive Director. “It’s a great time to take stock of where we are today and where we want to go in the future. It’s an exciting time to be in the livestock sector. As a group we have a real opportunity to do something important and special together.”
“I’m so happy to be here today,” says Susan Church, founding Manager of AFAC. “Wow . . . 25 years . . . imagine. I am so proud to have been a part of this progressive and action-based organization. There have been so many pivotal moments and so many people who have played a role in supporting this organization and driving it forward. The people in this room are an example of that continued support today. The future is bright and we look forward to another 25 years and beyond for AFAC.”