YOUNG PRODUCER ISSUE
SHAPING DAIRY FARMING FOR THE FUTURE
Plus, moving back to the farm. Are you ready? Pg 30
THE VOICE OF ONTARIO DAIRY PRODUCERS • LATE SUMMER 2022
MEE T ONTARIO’S YOUNG PRODUCERS
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progressive herd management ― we can guide you through that
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Late Summer 2022 | Vol. 98 No. 5
PUBLISHED BY DAIRY FARMERS OF ONTARIO 6780 Campobello Road Mississauga, ON L5N 2L8 EDITOR Theresa Rogers firstname.lastname@example.org
ON T HE C OV E R
ADVERTISING Pat Logan email@example.com 519-788-1559
GRAPHIC DESIGN Katrina Teimo
Meet the future of dairy in Ontario. These 12 young producers share the same passion and vision for a vibrant industry as previous generations but they are achieving it in new ways.
CONTRIBUTORS Dairy Farmers of Canada, Hanne Goetz, Treena Hein, Jana Manolakos, Matt McIntosh, Robert Price Canada Post Publications Mail Sales Product Agreement No.40063866. Return postage guaranteed. Circulation: 8,000. ISSN 0030-3038. Printed in Canada. SUBSCRIPTIONS For subscription changes or to unsubscribe, contact: MILK PRODUCER 6780 Campobello Road Mississauga, ON L5N 2L8 Phone: (905) 821-8970 Fax: (905) 821-3160 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and/or editor and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of Dairy Farmers of Ontario. Publication of advertisements does not constitute endorsement or approval by Milk Producer or Dairy Farmers of Ontario of products or services advertised. Milk Producer welcomes letters to the editor about magazine content. WEBSITES & SOCIAL MEDIA www.milkproducer.ca www.milk.org Facebook: /OntarioDairy Twitter: @OntarioDairy Instagram: @OntarioDairy LinkedIn: dairy-farmers-of-ontario
Y OUNG PR ODUCE R S
DE PA R T ME N T S
30 33 35 39
Your Dollars at Work – DFO Dairy Educators Moving Back to the Farm University DFO Scholarship Winners Veterinary Medicine
42 44 46
Board Editorial The Explainer – A Portrait of Canadian Farms Canadian Dairy Ad Index Back40
E DI T O R I A L
SUPPORTING YOUTH AND YOUNG FARMERS By Vicky Morrison • BOARD MEMBER FOR REGION 9 – ELGIN, ESSEX, KENT, LAMBTON, AND MIDDLESEX, DAIRY FARMERS OF ONTARIO My parents were great believers in supporting youth organizations. In Northern Ireland, we didn’t have 4-H, but we had Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, where agricultural, homemaking and public speaking skills could be developed. My Dad, who was a founder of our local club, always gave of his time and our farm facilities willingly. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that I, too, have always supported growth and skills development in our young farmers. From teaching a hands-on, student-led dairy husbandry course in Northern Ireland, to hosting students from that college when we moved to Canada, to my small part in the 4-H program as a leader of our local dairy club, it brings me great joy to see young people learn new skills and come forward with new perspectives on our everevolving industry. The need to develop young leaders has been recognized by dairy’s many stakeholders. Leadership development has long been a priority for Gay Lea Foods, which has a variety of youth education programs available to members and their families. Dairy Farmers of Canada provides opportunities for young producers to attend its AGM and policy conference to network and to gain insight into our industry. These are two examples of vital opportunities provided to our youth to ensure that our next generation of leaders has the best chance to thrive and grow as stewards of our land and to be an integral part of Canada’s food supply chain. In light of this, it is vital that producers in Ontario lobby for the practical, skills-based training
Vicky Morrison our industry needs. I have seen first-hand the value in a student-learning-centred, industry-led program that allowed students to excel in the many facets of the dairy industry and was a driving force in transferring new knowledge and technology to farm level incorporation. Given the opportunity and environment where they have the support to try different approaches, we can encourage students to think outside the box. Our industry is changing. Let’s give our young farmers and industry advisers the tools they need to forge a path to a sustainable and vibrant dairy industry.
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YOU N G P RODUC E R S : T H E E X P L A I N E R
CANADIAN FARMS: PORTRAIT OF AN AGEING POPULATION A LOOK AT DEMOGRAPHICS AND SUCCESSION PLANNING ACROSS ALL AGRICULTURAL SECTORS
Our population in Canada is changing and so are Canadian farms. Not just in dairy, but across all sectors in agriculture. Early Baby Boomers are pushing 80 and their children and
Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) now make up less than one-quarter of Canada’s population. They represent 24.9% of Canadians.
grandchildren are now running the family farm. Immigration has become critical to boosting younger
Millennials (born 1981-1996) are the fastest-growing generation. Their cohort grew 8.6% from 2016 to 2021. They’re also the biggest part of our workforce, representing 33.2%.
demographics with significant consequences in the labour market and in the consumption of goods and services. Here’s a look at some of the numbers
Data suggests Millennials will become the largest generation in Canada by 2029.
that are driving change today.
TODAY’S CANADIAN FARMER
In 2021, the average age
Canada’s share of
of a Canadian farmer was
dropped 0.5% over the past five years while the
56 years old.
number of older farmers
CANADIAN FARMERS BY AGE 2016
35 to 54 years
55 years and older
All data, Statistics Canada. Census of Agriculture, 2016 and 2021.
60.5% of farmers
were aged 55 and older.
FARM SUCCESSION PLANNING IN CANADA
Under 35 years
More Canadian farm families are thinking about the future and putting it down on paper. Normal trends around retirement and aging, as well as learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic, have prioritized succession planning. The proof? In 2021, 6,673 more Canadian farms reported having a succession plan than five years earlier.
22,873 Canadian farms have a
41,502 Canadian farms
22,196 Canadian farms have
891 Canadian farms have plans that
written succession plan
plans that include one or more family members
have only a verbal succession plan
farms have no succession plan
include one or more non-family members
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YOU N G P RO DUC E R S : R E G IO N O N E
RONY ODERMATT GLENGARRY The Efficiency Expert By Treena Hein EFFICIENCY, ESPECIALLY IN TERMS OF GENETICS, IS RONY ODERMATT’S SPECIALTY. Breeding has been his responsibility since he began farming fulltime with his parents, Joseph and Karen, in 2015. Odermatt has used breeding to increase milk production efficiency of his 190 Holsteins, lowering the age of first insemination from 15 months to 13 months, and moving the voluntary waiting period to generally between 80 days and 100 days based on milk production. He also chooses sires for functional traits. “You have a lot more control versus having someone else come in,” he says, of doing breeding himself. “You can look at the data for each cow and understand the herd at the genetic and performance level a lot better when choosing sires. I also use an activity monitor which saves me time. It sends me a text whenever cows are in heat and I can plan out my day better. It also monitors their rumination and their location in the barn so I can find the right cow quickly.” To gain further breeding efficiencies, Odermatt is hoping to conduct genomic testing of the heifers this year. “I need to be more accurate in which cows I should have in the herd and which to breed to beef,” he says. “Right now, a breeding program like ours is almost like a guessing game. You try to pick the right sires to put in the right cows but you need the testing to bring it to the next level. I think it will improve not only production but the genetics of the herd as a whole, because we are raising the right ones up into the herd for the right traits such as longevity, health and DPR, along with so many other things.” A spirit of continual improvement and higher efficiency is one of the things Odermatt inherited from his parents. “We had rocky ground and when my Dad started cropping here 29 years ago. He wanted to do no-till as they didn’t have extra help to till the ground and pick stones,” Odermatt says. “But he wasn’t afraid and 23 years ago he modified a conventional planter to make it no-till and bought a used no-till planter six years later. It saves us time in the field and we gain more time with the cows.” Odermatt adds that Joseph built an extension to the tie stall barn to double the herd to 60 cows in 1995, built a free-stall barn and parlour in 2004, and expanded it in 2008. “We added another milk cow barn in 2018, with fans, great lighting and deep beds, so cow 6 • L A T E S U M M E R 2 0 2 2 • W W W. M I L K P R O D U C E R . C A
comfort is a lot higher because they are not overcrowded,” he says. “Now, cows can calve in quieter conditions as well.” The Odermatts also have a self-propelled feed mixer which saves a lot of time. The family bought the first one used in 2015 and then upgraded it in 2018 with a bedding slinger. The machine can finish 100 stalls in 10 minutes or less, says Odermatt, while using a SkidSteer would take three times that. Influential author and management consultant Peter Drucker once said that “efficiency is doing better what is already being done,” and Odermatt has it down to a science.
of 25 to 34-year-olds
buy their cheese in the dairy section of a grocery store. Mintel, Cheese – Canada – 2022
YOU N G P RODUC E R S : R E G ION T WO
DAVE McDIARMID CARLETON The Cow Comfort Specialist By Treena Hein BROTHERS DAVE AND TREVOR MCDIARMID are farming with the aim of expansion which means doing things a little differently than their parents Jim and Connie did when the boys were growing up. “We’re about 50-50 dairy/cash crop, with me focusing on the dairy farming and Trevor the crops, but we can both step in for each other at any time,” says Dave. “We’re focussed on growth in a profitable manner so the farm can comfortably support two families. We want to grow in quota and also land.” Dave says the way he and Trevor are working together to build the farm likely wouldn’t have happened if they had been born a generation ago. “One of us would have taken over the family dairy farm and the other would have had to find another farm to buy. Working together, we can both have a living and be a sounding board for each other, and with our parents, look at all the angles. It’s not always easy but we’re a lot better for it.” To build the farm from 80 to 120 milking cows and about 800 more crop acres since about 2009 – and to allow Dave and
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W W W. M I L K P R O D U C E R . C A • L A T E S U M M E R 2 0 2 2 • 7
Trevor to harvest and plant as needed – employees help out in the barn.
“Our results show how beneficial consistently pre-processed straw is in obtaining good dry cow intakes, even over straw that is mixed well in a wagon” John James
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“Our results show how beneficial consistently pre-processed straw is in obtaining good dry cow intakes, even over straw that is mixed well in a wagon” John James
Nutritionist Nutritionistapproved approved “Our results show how beneficial &&recommended recommended
"One of us is in the barn to fetch cows while a hired hand milks,” Nutritionist approved says Dave. “It allows us each to have a rolling nightNutritionist off except in approved & recommended the busy seasons when it’s all hands on deck." & recommended Production has increased with the improvement in cow comfort and health from building a new freestall barn in 2011, a doubleten parlour milking system with sand bedding. The previous barn was a tie-stall with rubber mats.
Nutritionist approved Nutritionist approved “Sand is inorganic so bacteria doesn’t proliferate the same; Nutritionist approved Nutritionist approved & recommended & recommended cases of mastitis are virtually non-existent and our somatic cell recommended consistently pre-processed & recommended PLEASE CALL straw JAKE OR&WES: 519-338-2923 www.harcoag.ca
PLEASE JAKE OR 519-338-2923 countCALL is consistently low,” saysWES: Dave. “The sand doesn’t wear www.ha on
is in obtaining good dry cow intakes, even over straw that is mixed well in a wagon” John James
THE ULTIMATE BALE PROCESSOR THE ULTIMATE BALE PROCESSOR THE ULTIMATE BALE PROCESS their hocks the way the rubber mats and straw did and they have better footing. The cost of the sand is greater to buy and to pump out of the manure pit, but cow comfort is very important to us. We’re getting extra lactations out of older cows, which allows us to sell more fresh heifers.”
& recommended WES: 519-338-2923 www.harcoag.ca WES: 519-338-2923 www.harcoag.ca PLEASE CALL JAKE OR WES: 519-338-2923 www.harcoag.ca about half the calves are beef-crosses, Dave aims to PLEASE CALL JAKE OR WES: 519-338-2923 www.harcoag.ca PLEASE CALL JAKE OR WES: 519-338-2923 www.harcoag.ca PLEASE CALL JAKE While OR WES: 519-338-2923 www.harcoag.ca Nutritionist approved increase milk production as well as protein and fat through
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not tall,” he says. “I breed 60 replacements a year with sexed semen and some embryo implantation for the betterment of our herd, but we also still get some calls from brokers looking to buy Contact us for dealer names and locations. 923 www.harcoag.ca embryos every year.” Dave does the breeding himself for the CALL JAKE OR WES: 519-338-2923 HARRISTONwww.harcoag.ca SALES TERRITORY MANAGER Wes | firstname.lastname@example.org Shannon Little modest savings, but 8150 moredual importantly, to conduct breeding tasks Telehawk Drum 5050XLM 7150 dual chop chop C12 calibrator Jake | email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org 8555 dual 9500 / 1010 8555 dualchop chopwith with 9500 / 1010 mill Telehawk Drum 5050XLM 7150 dual chop C12 calibrator Fits all telehandlers Booster Fan High Capacity on his schedule. um 519-323-7614 7100 8100 8555 dual chop with 9500 / 1010 7100 8100 8555 dual chop with 9500 / 1010 7100 8100 8555 dual chop with 9500 / 1010 Tomahawk Drum on Twin capacity 8100 8555 dualFan chop with 9500 / 1010 ionasasstd std removable removablescreen screen Twinrotor, rotor,high high capacity 7100 Fits all telehandlers Booster High Capacity mill
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YOU N G P RO DUC E R S : R E G IO N T H R E E
“The automation has also obviously really freed us up to spend more time and energy looking at how we manage the crops. Our overall farm revenue has doubled by increasing milk and crop production off the same land base.” —Kirk Young “I think compared to my grandparents, I am not as concerned about borrowing,” Young says. “That generation generally viewed debt as bad and thought that you should save up first for a major expense. I’m good with borrowing for things that will increase profitability and that happened with our new barn, even with the loan.” The consistency of automated milking and feeding has increased cow comfort and health so that production per cow has gone up 25 per cent and total production, 50 per cent. The farm’s vet and nutritionist have also helped improve cow performance, allowing the farm to get better without needing to be bigger. “The automation has also obviously really freed us up to spend more time and energy looking at how we manage the crops,” says Young. “Our overall farm revenue has doubled by increasing milk and crop production off the same land base. We can really focus in the spring on planting and haying. I’m doing a lot of soil testing and we’ve changed manure application from one spread in the fall to after each cut of hay.”
KIRK YOUNG RENFREW The Analyzer By Treena Hein INTEGRATING NEW IDEAS – and not being afraid to invest in the farm – are some of the hallmarks of how Kirk Young farms near Arnprior, ON. In 2011, Young returned to the farm after earning a diploma at University of Guelph-Kemptville campus, continuing with his Dad, Blair, to milk their 65 purebred Holsteins daily, as well as grow cash crops. “During university, I saw a lot of free-stall and robotic systems and it really opened my eyes,” says Young. “I spoke to Dad a lot about a robot and we also talked to a lot of other farmers and went to open houses.” By 2017, they had a new barn with a fully automated robot milking and feeding system, a big change from the five generations before who had milked with tie-stall.
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In the winter, Young analyzes farm expenses for things like feed costs and the cost of production per acre. He looked at the setup of the Ontario Dairy Farm Accounting Project and aligned the categories in his own accounting software in order to compare costs with other farms. The Youngs continue to invest in new equipment and new technology. Last year they added a sprinkler at the feed bunk to wet the cows when it’s hot, and also began giving a mastitis vaccine. “Four months ago, we started using a bolus feed additive which helps the cow’s rumen transition to digesting lactating cow TMR when milking starts, and reduces risk of ketosis,” says Young. “I think you have to stay open to new ideas. In farming you can be isolated and think what you are doing is best. I also joined the Renfrew Dairy Producer Committee as Secretary-Treasurer because I feel it’s important to meet other producers and learn about the inner workings of the industry.” Balance is another concept that really separates this father and son from the generations that came before them. “We take turns covering for each other every weekend in terms of being on call for the barn, so that we each get every second weekend off except some parts of the growing season,” says Kirk. “It’s important to have that relaxation time and we get a chance to go and visit my wife Megan’s family.”
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YOU N G P RO DUC E R S : R E G IO N F OU R
older brother Chris, worked together on the farm, but since Chris died four years ago, Jake and Jesse have found it difficult to keep up with everything. Ashley helps and also works at Farm Credit Canada. The couple also has two very young sons. The Miedemas tried to hire local people but got no response to ads.
The Steer Experts JESSE AND ASHLEY MIEDEMA MILK 165 HOLSTEINS TWICE DAILY in a double-12 parallel parlour but it’s the beef steers, along with their on-farm feed, HR strategy and succession plan, that sets them apart from other dairy farms in the Cobourg area. Understanding their lucrative steer sales means going back to 2009. Jesse’s parents, Jake and Tammy, were building a new barn where they could milk 320 cows, but quota was capped that year. They first used the extra space for heifers and Holstein steers to better feed bunk management, but about six years ago, they started experimenting with beef crosses and used the barn space to raise the steers. “We breed the lower-producing half of the cows with beef semen,” says Jesse. “We were using British Blues but switched to Angus because there’s better conception and easier calving. The young steers are raised with the heifers for eight to 12 months and then separated.” At 17 months, the Angus-Holstein steers weigh about 1,700 pounds, due to a rich diet of corn silage, high-moisture corn and soybeans that are roasted and pressed on the farm. They also get TMR spillage from the milking cows. “It’s good money for not much work,” says Jesse. “Beef prices have been good since Covid hit and we’re glad we stuck with it.”
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To keep purchased feed costs down, the family roasts and presses their soybeans, which greatly improves digestibility. “It costs us $2.13 per cow, per day for our purchased feed costs on our lactating cow ration, which is really low for this area,” says Jesse. “We grow 1,000 acres and make all our own feed and sell the rest.” About nine years ago, Jake, Jesse, and his
Jesse and Ashley completed their succession planning at the early age of 28. “It took us about 18 months to complete the process,” says Jesse. “It was tough to work through everything, to make sure all would be in order in terms of what happens if I die for example, and making sure my parents will have enough to live on. But it’s in our name now and it’s all settled.”
JESSE AND ASHLEY MIEDEMA NORTHUMBERLAND
“Three years ago, we hired our first employee, a man from India, who had experience on New Zealand farms and it’s been really great,” says Jesse. “He’s moved on now and this fall, we’ll be hiring two Sri Lankans who have experience on large dairy farms there. We’re hoping this allows me more family time and for my Dad to ease into retirement. We were the first in the area to hire foreign workers but all the big dairies in southern Ontario and many in the Ottawa area do it. Having good help is really valuable to us and we’re not afraid to pay them a good wage.”
DAIRY MOMENT “I am what I wanted to be when I grew up.” Jenny Butcher, Dairy Producer, Brant County
Jenny Butcher and Wes Kuntz were named Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2021 by Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program. Little Brown Cow Dairy Farm & Store, operated by Jenny and Wes, is a dairy and beef farm that pasteurizes and processes its milk into cheese products sold in the on-farm store. The announcement was made last fall. After leaving the family dairy operation, Jenny and Wes set out to start their own farm and create a unique and innovative farm experience. It began by acquiring the license to process the milk from their 20 jersey cows, into cheese. That has developed into a onestop shop for food items that are produced by them or within 100 km of Brantford, ON. Now, 13 years later, Jenny and Wes are redefining local food by providing artisan cheese, milk, and beef direct from their farm as well as homemade meals made in their commercial kitchen.
YOU N G P RODUC E R S : R E G IO N F I V E
MELYSSA AND BRUCE SARGENT DURHAM The Entrepreneurs MELYSSA SARGENT ALWAYS KNEW SHE WANTED TO BE INVOLVED WITH THE FAMILY FARM, though she didn’t always know in what capacity. After attending college for physiotherapy/ occupational therapy assistant, and interning at Rivendale farms in Pennsylvania, she knew she wanted to be more hands-on. “I like working with cows and watching them develop,” she says. “I loved watching the cow families grow and put all the hard work in to get them ready for shows, and I always loved training them.” Melyssa, and brothers Bruce, Benjamin and Daniel, are the fourth generation to run Enniskillen Jerseys, a farm set on 320 acres, near Enniskillen, ON. They produce milk, artisanal cheeses, curds, and cream from a pedigree Jersey herd – 150 purebred and 60 milking cows. Last year they opened the Sargent Family Dairy, an on-farm processing facility, one of only 17 in the province, and are currently experimenting with making Camembert. Melyssa is the dairy’s Operations Manager. As the licensed cream grader for the plant, she has a lot of responsibilities. She orders the milk each week, runs the high temperature short time pasteurization (HTST) process, develops recipes, ensures all items needed for production are well stocked, and makes cheese. Running social media accounts, liaising with OMAFRA and records upkeep fill the rest of her time. It’s a lot of work. Luckily, more than one sibling is involved and interested in furthering the family farm legacy. “We work well together; we have our strengths and we play off them to be a stronger whole,” Melyssa says. “We all have a common goal and work together to
achieve it. Chore times often turn into family meetings as it’s about the only time we’re all in the same place.” Bruce is the founder of Farm Boy Productions, a video and photography company he started in 2010. He serves a niche agricultural market, drawing on his background in Ontario’s dairy industry and his Marketing Manager role on the family farm. When he’s home, Bruce can be found slinging hay or driving tractors around the farm and through his photography and videos, is on a mission to tell the stories of the dairy industry. “If you can be authentic and show your operation in a transparent way, that helps build consumer trust. It’s like an inoculation against false content.”
had a first aid kit we would copy the vet. At chore time, we would take turns ripping around on the pedal tractor while mom and dad milked. I grew up watching my mom and dad having a passion and love for the cows and dairy farming and it later grew onto me.” She and Bruce agree their generation of young farmers are ready to lead. “It’s important for our generation to have a say, not only at our own kitchen tables, but at the bigger board tables,” Bruce says. “The industry needs to pivot to accept the smart, talented and capable young people out there because they have a vested interest in its success. They shouldn’t be left out of those conversations.”
The siblings grew up learning the cows came first and the value of hard work. “Being involved with the farm at a young age is extremely important,” Melyssa says. “We grew up having to make sure chores were done and the cows were taken care of before we did homework or went inside to relax in the house and the same rules apply now.” Being younger and being involved with the farm grew a love and compassion for the cows. “Benjamin was probably two and I was five when mom let us milk an old cow by hand and we thought it was the coolest thing,” Melyssa recalls. “For vet visits we
Millennials, those who are between 25 and 40 years old, are the fastest-growing generation. (StatsCan)
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YOU N G P RODUC E R S : R E G ION S I X
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KATRINA AND JOSH FELETTO TOOK A DARING LEAP OF FAITH into dairy farming just one month after their wedding day. “My husband and I took over a 30-cow tie stall operation in September of 2020. With the support of my family, we were able to get our feet on the ground,” recalls Feletto. She’s a second-generation dairy farmer who met her husband, an agricultural equipment technician, eight years ago at a church youth group. They were married in August 2020 and unlike most newlyweds heading on their honeymoon, the couple instead purchased a 100-acre dairy farm, Marletto Holsteins, near Grand Valley, ON. “We definitely have a lot of the same values and motives. If we put our mind to something we’re going to chase it. That’s how we got here,” Feletto says.
Although her husband did not grow up on a farm, he plays a significant role, she says. “Josh is very handy on the farm, able to fix things and problem-solve.” Feletto spent her childhood on her parents’ Holstein operation near Fergus, ON. Like many young farmers, she was involved in her local 4-H dairy club and worked on neighbouring dairy farms. She later received an associate diploma in agriculture from Ridgetown College and served on the Wellington County Dairy Producer Committee for two years. “I will never take for granted the time I spent with my mom in the parlour and the conversations I had with my dad in the vet room or leaning over a stall scraper, discussing cow signals and best management practices,” Feletto says. “I also
“It’s a very rewarding experience, bringing life into the world, knowing that someday the calf will be able to produce milk.” —Katrina Feletto
They’re now milking 40 cows and the 100-acre farm has approximately 86 workable acres where the couple grows their own forage and corn to feed the herd. “We currently rely on my family to help us with seeding, harvesting and work closely with our agronomist and crop inputs company to mange our land efficiently and productively.” Feletto recalls assisting with the birth of their first calf. “It’s a very rewarding experience, bringing life into the world, knowing that someday the calf will be able to produce milk,” she says.
wouldn’t be where I am today without my grandfather, Orvie Martin’s encouraging, hard-working, faith-driven influence in my life,” she says. The young couple spends long days and evenings in the barn living out their passions and working toward their dreams. “Over the past year-and-a-half, we have made some significant improvements to our herd,” Feletto explains. “With cow comfort, genetics and production in mind we feel our herd has lots of potential.”
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To help support the operation, Feletto’s husband continues his agricultural technician work while she runs an agricultural photography and graphic design business launched last spring called Katrina Joy Photography. Feletto believes supportive government programs and funding can go a long way in helping young dairy producers face the financial burdens of running a farm today – and so can a little help from your friends and family.
66% of Millennials have bought cheese in the past week. (Ontario Dairy Category & Consumer Insights Tracker, Northstar Research Partners, Spring 2022)
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YOU N G P RO DUC E R S : R E G IO N S E V E N
MARK AND MANDY BANKS HALDIMAND The Resource Maximizers By Treena Hein MAXIMIZING RESOURCES – THAT’S THE HALLMARK OF HOW MARK AND MANDY BANKS FARM. This couple took over the dairy part of Mandy’s family farm in Dunnville from her parents, Wilhelmina (Willie, who has passed on) and Ad (who still crops), in 2013. By using the resources around them to the fullest, they’ve been able to increase their quota holdings by 70 per cent while milking the same number of cows, about 140 Holsteins. Farming had been a dream for both of them. Mark grew up with farm kids and pursued a diploma in agriculture at University of Guelph, but at that point, he realized a farm of his own was out of reach. He worked a bit at the research farm and as a licensed millwright for 12 years. Meanwhile, he’d met Mandy, who’d trained and was working as a primary school teacher. Their chance at farming came when Ad and Willie wanted to step away from dairying. “It’s tough at the start when you take over anything, so we focused first on things that would provide the most return on investment,” says Mark. “We’re still doing that and we finish something before we move on to anything else.” First, they started by building a new double 11 parlour which helped to decrease time for cows in the parlour/holding area and increase airflow.
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With the help of funding, they were able to install fans in the barn, waterbeds and rubber stall dividers and a water treatment system, all of which improved cow comfort and production. They also accessed funding to implement a herd management system with RFID necklaces and sensors in the barn that tracks milk production, activity levels and eating periods. “The system informs you when activity and eating deviates from the norm and a lot of farmers don’t have it or don’t use the information to its full potential,” says Mark, “but I can’t stress enough it has helped us with animal health. We’ve also added a cow sorting system that ties in with the system. It really saves on labour and maximizes the investment we already had in place.” They also made management changes in creating and enforcing standard procedures related to feeding, bunk management, milking, calf health and dry cow management. With each change, milk volumes rose and
somatic cell count dropped (now under 100). They also do a lot of proactive health care. “Prior to calving we provide our cows with a rumen bolus, selenium, and vaccinations,” Mandy says. “We are very strict with our procedures which makes it easier for us and for our employees. We have a very structured schedule where we do certain things like bedding and footbaths on certain days. That way, everything gets done to maintain cow health.” Mark and Mandy also maximize the resources of the experts around them – their feed rep, veterinarian, agronomist and more. “We like to work with them and get the actual numbers to back up the decisions we make,” says Mark. “We measured for fan air flow and looked at different fan locations. We put cameras up to see how cow activity changes with the implementation of change in the barn. Our employees have also helped a lot in making changes. You need to make sure you are using everything around you to be as successful as possible.”
of Millennials are consuming more milk now than they were a few months ago. (Ontario Dairy Category & Consumer Insights Tracker, Northstar Research Partners, Spring 2022)
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YOU N G P RO DUC E R S : R E G IO N E I G H T
KYLE MacLEOD OXFORD The Eternal Optimist
“YOU HAVE TO BE AN ETERNAL OPTIMIST AS A FARMER,” says Kyle MacLeod, a dairy farmer in Oxford County. Something on the farm will always go wrong and when things don’t go as planned, knowing the future will be better gets the farmer through the hard times. “You have to really love what you do. You need to get up and try again or learn from the mistakes you made and be better.” MacLeod, 36, has been farming full-time for 15 years and operates Darcoft Farms with his brother and parents. Darcroft milks 105 cows on a 387-acre farm in Embro, a town between Woodstock and St. Marys. With the exception of a bit of cash cropping, most of the farm’s income comes from dairy and for good reason. Three times Darcroft Farms has won the “Master Breeder” certification from Holstein Canada in recognition of the health and productivity of its cattle. “The Master Breeder Award is the most prolific accolade awarded by our association,” says Holstein Canada. “Each year, since 1929, Holstein Canada has recognized breeders among our membership for their cumulative breeding efforts. This award is the pinnacle of success for any Holstein Canada member.” This recognition speaks to MacLeod’s relentless focus on quality farming. Rather than driving hard to implement the latest tools, MacLeod delivers on the fundamentals. “Our goal is to do the best job taking care of animals at the highest level that we can,” he says. “If the cows do well, we do well.” Darcroft Farms was founded in Stevensville near Niagara Falls by MacLeod’s father and uncle in 1978. They relocated the farm to Woodstock, and when the farm outgrew its Woodstock operation, the MacLeod family pulled stakes again in 2016 and set up in Embro.
loves the people who make up the industry. “I know that if I wasn’t a dairy farmer, I would still be heavily involved in the industry in some way, shape, or fashion. The people are one of the biggest things I love about it.” As for the future of the dairy industry in Canada, the Eternal Optimist sees good news. Milk prices are excellent, and milk producers in the U.S. are doing really well which bodes well for Canadian farmers. “As much as it’s sometimes Canada versus U.S. milk, we’re all the same,” says MacLeod.
The Embro facility has a milking parlour, high roofs, good airflow, lots of light, and lots of room for the cows to move around. “We try to do things as simple as we can,” says MacLeod. The farm hasn’t invested in robotic milkers or feeders, but the cows do wear tracking transponders that monitor their health and reproductive state. The bovine “Fitbits” give the farmers a chance to step out of their long working days. “I do like to go home and eat and sleep and spend some time with my family,” MacLeod jokes. “You can’t be around all the time. You have to have a life as well.” MacLeod, who serves on the Holstein Ontario Board of Directors, says he got into farming because he grew up around cows and land. He learned to love the financial and business side but he especially 1 8 • L A T E S U M M E R 2 0 2 2 • W W W. M I L K P R O D U C E R . C A
of Millennials are consuming more cheese than they were a few months ago. (Ontario Dairy Category & Consumer Insights Tracker, Northstar Research Partners, Spring 2022)
YOU N G P RODUC E R S : R E G ION N I N E
STEPH TOWERS MIDDLESEX The Family Farmer By Robert Price FARMING IS FAMILY FOR THE TOWERS. Early mornings and late nights keep Steph and Cameron Towers busy. So do their four young children. Whatever time is left they spend on community work and staying current in the business. The family farm, founded in 1924, was passed down to Stan and Dawna Towers and now rests in the capable hands of Cameron and Steph. The lifestyle can exhaust even the most energetic farmer, but as Steph explains, the returns far outweigh the investment. The daily labour teaches responsibility, a work ethic, and determination, and the children learn patience in ways they couldn’t in a downtown condominium. “Our kids learn patience really easily. They learn that there’s more to this life than just them and sometimes they have to wait,” she says. “It’s a great life; it’s a great lifestyle.”
Photo Credit: Days Like This Photos
The other motivation that keeps Steph and Cameron waking before the sun: their desire to see the family’s farming legacy continue. Old aerial photos from the 1930s show the farm and house Cameron’s
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ancestors built and other photos across the decades show the marks others have made on the land. “It’s pretty cool to look back and see the subtle improvements that each generation has taken to make the farm their own and to improve for the next generation,” says Steph. “And I know both my husband and I don’t want to be the ones that this ends with. We don’t want to be the generation where this farm doesn’t continue.” Innovation plays a big role in how the Towers try to preserve the family’s legacy. A year ago, they automated parts of the farm to economize the labour. Steph calls the technology available now to farms “really exciting” and sees enormous potential for farmers who exploit technological opportunities. “Our industry has great opportunity to invest in new products and new technologies that make us more efficient but allow us to still show customers where food comes from
and what the supply chain looks like,” she says. Diversity in the business also helps keep the farm strong. To better use the farm’s capital and facilities and to diversify the farm’s products, Steph and Cameron custom-raise heifers for other farms from the time the heifers are calves until they’re 13 to 14 months old. They also crop about 1,800 acres and cross breed their bottom end dairy cows with beef cows. This breed “grows a little bit better and has better feed conversion to finish out.”
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Technological advancements and the hustle of the business keep this farm going for another day. So do the children, the couple’s biggest reason for being.
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“The history is the reason that you get up in the morning and continue to do your best and hope that your kids have the same opportunity to impart their mark on the farm.”
the quality of dairyMintel, July 2022
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YOU N G P RO DUC E R S : R E G IO N T E N
ELIZABETH DOTZERT AND LUKE WILHELM PERTH The Cross Breeders By Treena Hein YOU DON’T NEED TO LOOK CLOSELY at the herd of Liz Dotzert and Luke Wilhelm to see that it’s quite out of the ordinary. And more than anything else on the farm, its genetics best represent how this couple stands apart from other young dairy farmers. “My father, Walter Dotzert, always had a mixture of breeds and I love the variety,” says Dotzert. “But having these breeds is critical to make our farm work. We get good milk production, butterfat and protein and so many health benefits in cows that perform well on pasture. We use rotational grazing as much as we can.” Dotzert was accepted into the new entrant program before she married Luke and started running her family farm northeast of
Stratford with him in 2012, the sixth generation to do so. They do chores together and manage about 100 acres of pasture, hay and corn so that very little purchased feed is needed. Luke, being a millwright and welder, keeps everything running smoothly and Elizabeth loves to focus on cow management. “We milk about 30 cows in a 4X4 herringbone parlour that Dad constructed in a historic bank barn about 40 years ago,” says Dotzert. “He also lifted the barn so the air quality and movement is better, and added a space in 2009 for dry cows and heifers that also has good airflow.” Using pasture is good economics but Dotzert says getting the cows outside and walking around is just as important for their health and well-being.
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“Generally, farmers don’t do it because it’s a lot of extra work, but we don’t have a big barn with sand beds and I want to make sure they have the best life they can have,” Dotzert says. “To us, each of our cows is like a pet. We do direct to slaughter when we can, we do more deadstock than the average, and take other steps to ensure a great life for them.” To collectively perform well on pasture – and to fit in the stalls – the herd is a mix of Jerseys, Jersey-Holsteins, Brown Swiss-Holsteins, Milking Shorthorns-Holsteins and a few Montbéliarde (Monties). Dotzert had heard Monties were excellent milkers and indeed, Liz describes their milk production (after their addition to the herd about five years ago) as “amazing.” At the same time, because her Monties are not always the most easy-going, she may try replacing them with Norweigian Reds or Ayrshires, but she has some concern they won’t milk as well. Liz doesn’t cross many Jerseys or Shorthorns because milk volume can be hit-and-miss. With cross breeding, Liz and Luke generally keep the milk production from the Holsteins and get the salvage bull calves, “and from the other breeds, great feet and legs, the right size and great body condition on pasture grazing,” says Liz. “For our farm, the crossing works really well. We’re also always diversifying our pasture species and plant seven to 15 other species with the hay. We want those that retain moisture to conserve the rain we happen to get. My father felt passionately about animal health and well-being while protecting our soils for future generations, and we are continuing that legacy.”
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YOU N G P RO DUC E R S : R E G IO N E L E V E N
GARY SCHOTMAN BRUCE
The Believer in Risk for Reward GARY SCHOTMAN DOESN’T MIND TAKING RISKS BECAUSE, as he notes, reward doesn’t usually come without it. He began farming with his parents full-time in 2006, focusing on the dairy side, but also helping with cropping. The family took early risks related to quota. “We bought a lot from 2006 to 2010 before the cap was in place, and if we hadn’t, it would have taken us a lot longer to get where we are now,” Schotman says. “We’re still bidding every month.” They also took some measured risk to replace the old free-stall parlour barn, which was at capacity, with a new one with five robots. Operation started in June 2022, milking 230 Holstein cows daily. “They are being milked on their own schedule and the barn is crossventilated, so that’s all really good for them,” says Schotman. “We also decided on an automated foot bath that the cows go in every time they leave the robots. It will keep the feet in good condition.” Schotman also
wanted water mattresses and a water brisket, liking the idea of contours that fit with the cows’ bodies and no pressure points. The measured risk of this barn mostly relates to the type and scale of the manure management system. The barn has a slatted floor and a manure pit below with a cuttingedge aeration system that keeps the manure liquid. “Air is intermittently blown into the 20 different sections so no mixing is needed at pumping out,” Schotman explains. “It’s new to Canada but it’s been working in Europe for a long time in smaller barns. There’s a lot of excitement about having this system in a barn so large.” Schotman aims for high versus super-high production while aiming to keep costs of purchased feed down. “I’d say our forage is above average. We cut at the optimal time and wrap it up really quickly and that also gives as much consistency as possible.”
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“I think older generations felt they couldn’t take time off, but dairy farming has really changed and you need a break as much as ever,” he says. “There’s a lot more mental work and less physical work, and previous generations didn’t have something always connected to them like the robot app on your cell phone. But even though I’m always going to be connected, the robots will allow me to adjust my schedule to spend time with my family. My oldest child is starting to do activities, so my wife Miriam and I will both be able to go watch and cheer this summer. She will also be able to be more involved with the flexibility of the new facility.”
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YOU N G P RODUC E R S : R E G IO N T W E LV E
ALEX ANSTICE MANITOULIN WEST SUDBURY The Science Enthusiast By Treena Hein ONE OF THREE DAIRY FARMS ON BREATHTAKING MANITOULIN ISLAND is owned by Alex Anstice and his parents. Though Alex places more focus on expansion than in the past, he’s generally farming with his Dad’s progressive attitude. “My Dad took over from my Grandpa Ron, who’s 94 and still visits the farm regularly, and he’s always kept up with new ideas,” says Alex. “Dad had the cream quota converted to milk quota in the 70s and in 2002, put a parlour addition on our free-stall barn.” Since Anstice returned from the University of Guelph in 2006, he’s been focused on buying quota and has been bidding monthly for several years. To accommodate the increase, the family completed another free-stall barn addition last year, with room to increase from the current 50 to 55 milking cows, to about 80 with extra space in the addition. “The goal is to be more efficient as we get bigger, and I’ve buckled
down on reproduction and feeding,” Anstice says. “We’ve milked the same number of cows for about the last five years but our production keeps going up. A little of it is due to genetics but mostly to feed management. Around 2018, we switched to a new nutritionist Tristan Emiry who only graduated a few years ago. We thought we were
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feeding high quality feed before, but he’s worked with us to get amazing results, better than I thought possible.”
Gen Z/Millennials are more likely to purchase and consume chocolate or strawberry milk. (Ontario Dairy Category & Consumer Insights Tracker, Northstar Research Partners, Spring 2022)
For example, Emiry has advised a different approach to hay cutting, providing a quickreference tool for timing the cuts to get the best nutritional results. “Basically we look at the proportions of alfalfa and grass in a field, and use that along with grass length to harvest when the grass is mature and not overmature, weather-permitting,” Anstice says. “We’re also testing feed moisture levels. Nothing revolutionary but it’s made a huge difference.” He adds, “You have to have good genetics too – I use the best semen I can for production and longevity – but it’s about feeding your animals well and looking after them. I’ve tried to apply all Emiry’s advice. Our breed composite average BCA has improved to exceed 305, and one cow is approaching 125,000 litres’ lifetime production.”
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With sand bedding in the barn since the addition, Anstice is seeing the benefits of higher cow comfort and better traction. Production is higher and somatic cell counts are going down. “I really like the science of dairy farming and using all the knowledge and applying it,” says Alex. “It’s very satisfying to make changes and see the cows respond.” While farming in Northern Ontario comes with challenges such as being far away from service providers, Anstice wouldn’t have it any other way. The family keeps lots of spare parts and fixes things themselves if they can. Anstice also says he’s following in his parents’ footsteps by enjoying the opportunities around him. “I love this area; the beauty is stunning. I’m an avid cyclist and have raced since 2010. We have a part-time employee, and we try to make sure we have enough labour so we can regularly get away for a short period of time. We love the farm but also value taking time away.”
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YOU N G P RO DUC E R S : YOU R D O L L A R S AT WOR K
DAIRY LEARNING • Almost 55,000 students interacted with our dairy educators between Nov. 1, 2021 and May 1, 2022.
DAIRY EDUCATORS HELP STUDENTS GROW WITH MILK THE SCHOOL PROGRAMS TEAM AT DAIRY FARMERS OF ONTARIO (DFO) supports students and schools through curriculum-rooted resources, nutritional opportunities and shared giving. Dairy’s local, versatile and nutritious story strengthens food literacy and brings the origins of food back to agriculture. There are many ways DFO and its dairy educators work with students and teachers: • Working with Student Nutrition Ontario,
the team created a system to support access to nutritious milk throughout the school year in free breakfast and snack programs. Through rebates, meal programs have access to funding throughout the school year and more children receive nutrient-packed assistance. • Ordering milk through the elementary school milk program was made easier by partnering with Lunchbox by School Cash Online. By offering a digital solution
“Virtual presentations are hard to do, especially for Kinders. Our presentation was fairly interactive which kept them engaged. Thank you to our local educator for being our knowledgeable presenter!” —York County teacher in a post-presentation survey 2 8 • L A T E S U M M E R 2 0 2 2 • W W W. M I L K P R O D U C E R . C A
• We’ve distributed 922,734 servings of milk in breakfast programs across Ontario between Nov. 1, 2021 and May 1, 2022. • Dairycraft has been downloaded more than 4.8 million times since its launch March 30, 2021. • 347 teachers have accessed the LMS and shared the lessons with nearly 8,000 students. • 72% of presentations are still virtual. • Dairy educators have connected with 502 unique schools this school year. • ESMP has been active in 488 schools in our new platform and 1,680 on our legacy program. The program is connected to 55% of all elementary schools in Ontario.
that modernized the ordering process, less time and commitment are required from volunteers. • Nutritional interest is fostered by providing a fun, digital environment for kids. Milk Club reinforces opportunities for milk in school and provides a bridge to continue the learning journey by engaging students at home with recipes and independent lessons. • Using virtual and live presentations, dairy educators engage students with the dairy industry in support of the Ontario Ministry of Education curriculum. Growing Up Dairy extends classroom learning by tracking the growth and development of a calf and life on a dairy farm through biweekly email communications. • One of the team’s most successful educational initiatives, Dairycraft, has reached millions of people around the world. Built on the Minecraft platform, Dairycraft allows learners to explore
“The presenter was high energy and a professional when working with students. The fast pace kept students engaged and dairy farming in Ontario was presented with a very positive image. Students came away smiling and with more knowledge than before attending the engaging and hands-on presentation. We look forward to attending a presentation on a different dairy farming topic next year.” —York County teacher in a post-presentation survey life on a dairy farm using the power of gamification. • DFO’s learning management system, edu.milk.org, offers a catalogue of 35 modules designed for all grade levels from kindergarten to grade 12. The interactive lessons reach thousands of students and educators across Ontario monthly. Try them in your class.
easy-to-implement knowledge and nutrition programs designed to support curriculum delivery and the development of critical thinking skills. Through these programs, our team works to engage students, and promote lifelong healthy behaviours that support the nutritional health and well-being of all Canadians.
DFO has been supporting students and schools for decades with easy-to-use and
Get in touch with the school programs team at email@example.com.
WHERE THE GLOBAL DAIRY INDUSTRY MEETS NETWORKING
DAIRY CATTLE SHOW
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Happy Hours Evening Receptions Exhibitor Appreciation Parties Dairy Cattle Sales
2,300 Cattle 1,600 Exhibitors Seven Major Dairy Breeds Parade of Champions
700 Companies Product Launches Knowledge Nook Sessions Online Listings & Maps
Virtual Farm Tours Expo Seminars Expo en Español Tanbark Talks
For the first time ever, admission passes – both daily and season – to World Dairy Expo can be purchased before arriving at the Scan gate! Tickets can be scanned from your phone or printed at home giving you a fast pass when you enter the Alliant Energy for more Center for World Dairy Expo 2022. Admission will be charged Tuesday – Friday for those 12-years-old and older. Daily WDE details! admission is $15, or a season pass can be purchased for $40, at www.worlddairyexpo.com.
WORLD DAIRY EXPO® | OCT. 2-7, 2022 | MADISON, WI, USA
YOU N G P RO DUC E R S : S UC C E S S IO N P L A N N I N G
MOVING BACK TO THE FARM? 4 big questions to answer first By Matt McIntosh
THE ADULT KIDS ARE MOVING BACK TO THE FARM, but has everyone taken time to understand what it means – personally and for the farm business? According to Annessa Good, a Farm Credit Canada Business Advisor and transition specialist, addressing details of the change of dynamics before the younger generation comes back to the farm is critical to the farm business’s viability and familial relations. The move home means having direct — and potentially uncomfortable — conversations about money, lifestyle expectations and retirement.
T R A NS I T ION I N G F ROM E S TA B L I S H E D C A R E E R S In Good’s experience, the “kids” coming back to the farm are often in their 30s or 40s and return to their roots after working in established careers with structured work hours, meeting times, vacation allotments, and scheduled lunch breaks. That means they tend to look at the farm through this lens.
sure we understood what each line meant. This helped us understand how our income needs would be met and how they compared to what we were used to,” Hamilton says. “It was also very important to us to know that we were stepping into a viable business and what the financial implications would be by either continuing with existing operations or modifying operations to meet our vision for the farm.”
2 . W H E R E W I L L E V E RYON E L I V E ?
Good says both generations should keep the following in mind:
Establishing who will live where is critical. Before selling or moving from an urban home, Good says the incoming party needs to know:
• Younger generation may bring more formal business practices to the farm, which could improve the farm’s operation efficiency.
• If there’s a spare lot to live on. That is, is there any room on which to build another residence?
• Older generation may be resistant to more formality.
• If there’s only one residence like the family homestead, will investments in the business mean future ownership of the house?
• Both generations should work to consider each other as business partners. • Younger generation should be aware of the risks and sacrifices of moving away from an established, steady career. • Both generations should establish what’s viable before the younger generation moves back to the farm or gives up an off-farm job. “The farm is a lot different than a job in an urban centre. Are they aware of the debt and sacrifices which might be required, or that they might have less disposable income or time off?”
1. D O I H AV E T H E B AC KG ROU N D DE TA I L S ? For Bayden Hamilton and his fiance Tara Katamay Smith of Olds, AB, reviewing multiple years of financial statements was a critical early step before deciding to return to the family farm. Doing so painted an accurate picture of the business’s success, as well as what he could expect financially. “My mom sent us any information that we wanted to see and made
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Good says establishing a long-term lifestyle and residential goals is a necessity. That means addressing: • Where people want to live • Whether new constructions or upgrades are viable • Actual costs of living on the farm • What everyone wants for the next part of their lives • Older generation’s retirement requirements “Residences are one of the most emotionally fueled topics because we are talking about memories, the future, security,” says Good. “We have to remember it’s still a huge component of capital purchases and fiscal realities.”
3 . I S T H E R E E NOUG H T I M E T O T R A I N ? There also needs to be enough time for knowledge transfer. Expectations around initial working roles within the business and how those roles could evolve as the younger generation learns should be discussed.
Leaving an urban job to move back to work on the farm can be an exciting prospect.
• General Welding • Tank Manufacturing • Repairs “If you only drove the combine a couple of times a year, do you truly understand the agronomy? If you’re coming home at 35, and Mom and Dad are 55, is there enough time to transfer skills?” asks Good, reiterating learning periods also provide opportunity to explore new business ideas.
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4 . W H AT I F I T D OE S N ’ T WOR K OU T ? Even the best transition plans don’t always work in the end, but Good believes farm families can still take steps to ensure they and the business can emerge in a positive place: • Access outside help via advisors who can help resolve issues and clarify whether the business can meet personal expectations.
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• Set a timeline where the younger generation participates in the farm before making the final go-or-stay decision. • Track all monetary contributions and payouts. Good says the incoming party must understand they may take a financial hit if the farm relationship doesn’t work out. “Business governance will help protect the farm and ease anxiety,” Good says.
B O T T OM L I N E Leaving an urban job to move back to work on the farm can be an exciting prospect. Still, important considerations about money, lifestyle expectations and retirement should be addressed before handing in a resignation letter at the office. Matt McIntosh is a freelance journalist and communications professional specializing in science and agriculture. He works with his family on their southwestern Ontario grain farm. This article is reprinted by permission of the author and Farm Credit Canada.
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YOU N G P RO DUC E R S : U N I V E R S I T Y
AG STUDENTS TACKLE INDUSTRY RESEARCH PROJECTS
Kiley Dekraker KILEY DEKRAKER grew up in the agricultural community, gaining work experience on a variety of farms. She developed a passion for working with animals at a young age, leading her to the University of Guelph where she recently graduated from the Animal Science program. “I chose the University of Guelph for the community that I found in the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) and for the variety of class options that allow for hands-on learning opportunities,” she says. “Various past experiences have helped me to get to where I am as a summer student with OMAFRA in the Agriculture Development Branch.” In Dekraker’s final undergrad year, she was co-president of the OAC Sheep and Goat Club, responsible for organizing meetings and speakers. Meeting industry professionals and learning and networking outside of the classroom, proved invaluable.
Avalon Phillips with animals, “ she says. “The one career that piqued my interest was a nutritionist as it requires problem solving and working with livestock and people.” Two classes in particular, Beef Nutrition and Experiments in Animal Biology, clinched the deal. Dekraker says both courses had a large hands-on component where she could apply learnings from other courses. “My advice for anyone considering a career in the dairy or farming industry is to be prepared for continuous learning and being open minded to all possibilities.” Dekraker is currently working with OMAFRA on two projects, one of which is assessing the body condition scores of dry cows.
Dekraker plans to pursue a master’s degree in nutrition and one day become a ruminant nutritionist, a departure from when she first arrived in Guelph with goals of becoming a large animal veterinarian.
“The new Dairy Code of Practice may be coming out with new recommendations for body condition scores of cows,” she says. “This project is focusing on the body condition of dry cows as they are at the highest risk of developing health and fertility issues if they are over- or under-conditioned prior to calving. We are interested to see what scores dry cows in Ontario dairy herds are currently averaging.”
“I quickly learned about the numerous other opportunities to work
AVALON PHILLIPS has always been interested in working with
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animals. Like Kiley Dekraker, she discovered the vast opportunities in animal biosciences outside of veterinary school when she began her undergraduate degree at University of Guelph. After taking classes focused on animal welfare and behaviour in the Animal Biology program, her passion for research and academia grew. “Being at the University of Guelph allowed me to foster a desire to continue learning about topics I genuinely enjoy and apply that knowledge in an academic and on-farm setting.” She found her way into dairy science after her first year by volunteering in different labs to gain animal research experience. Coming from a city background, she was excited to join the Resilient Dairy Genome Project team in the summer of 2021. “The project taught me about the dairy industry’s challenges and advancements,” Phillips says. “I also gained practical skills in livestock handling and data collection. My volunteer experience and academic knowledge led to the opportunity to work as a Dairy Specialist Assistant in the Agriculture Development Branch at OMAFRA this summer.” Phillips’ leadership can be seen across the campus. During her third year, she was selected as the undergraduate representative for the
Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare Student Chapter. She connected with graduate students working with livestock and companion animals and shared animal welfare science with the Guelph student community. Phillips plans to apply to a master’s degree in animal biosciences at Guelph focusing on dairy cattle welfare and behaviour. She advised any youth interested in dairy or farming to build connections in the industry that can help support them in the future. “Networking with others in the field can provide learning opportunities and help grow your passion for the industry,” she says. “My interest in dairy science and agriculture didn’t flourish until I started my undergraduate and I’ve been able to grow my skills through connecting with people in academics and the industry.” As a summer student, she is researching the current cost of raising a heifer calf from birth to weaning. “Raising replacements is the third-largest expense on a dairy farm,” Phillips says. Participating farms will be asked to assess the costs and labour needed to raise dairy heifers during the milk feeding period so current numbers on the costs of raising a calf to weaning can be updated.
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Are you passionate about the dairy/ beef industries and want to be part of an engaged and winning team? At EastGen we are advancing the dairy/ beef industries through the best-trained, most knowledgeable staff, leading-edge solutions and a commitment to being accountable to farmers first. As the Director of Sales, and a member of the senior leadership team, you will be driving sales’ results thorough effective strategy, collaboration, and accountability while ensuring the development and growth of your team. To learn more please visit www.eastgen.ca or email your resume to email@example.com. www.eastgen.ca
YOU N G P RODUC E R S : S C HOL A R S H I P P RO G R A M S
DFO SELECTS 2021 SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS DAIRY FARMERS OF ONTARIO (DFO) has an annual scholarship program, which offers up to four $3,000 scholarships to high school students entering a postsecondary degree or diploma program in agriculture. DFO is pleased to announce the recipients of the scholarships for 2021: • Adriana Danen from Perth County – Associate Diploma in Agriculture at University of Guelph Ridgetown •C onnor Velthuis from Carleton County – Farm Management Technology at MacDonald College
• Daniel Haggett from Leeds County – Business Agriculture at Algonquin College •E mily Doan from Oxford County – Food & Agriculture Business at University of Guelph
“We believe in Udder Comfort.” — Ysabel Jacobs “We believe in Udder Comfort™ and are using it over 10 years for our show cows and our fresh cows to bring the quality and texture to the udder,” says Ysabel Jacobs of Ferme Jacobs, Cap-Santé, Quebec. They apply Udder Comfort lotion daily at shows and to all fresh udders after each milking for 3 days after calving.
1.888.773.7153 1.613.652.9086 uddercomfort.com Call to locate a distributor near you. For external application to the udder only, after milking, as an essential component of udder management. Always wash and dry teats thoroughly before milking.
Ysabel’s husband Tyler Doiron led Erbacres Snapple Shakira EX-97-CAN to 2021 World Dairy Expo Supreme Champion in October. Also Grand Champion of the 2021 Canadian National Holstein Show. Shakira is owned by Ferme Jacobs, Ty-D Holsteins, Killian Theraulaz, Ferme Antelimarck and Jacobs family members. Ferme Jacobs was premier breeder for the 9th time! https://wp.me/pb1wH7-gb
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YOU N G P RO DUC E R S : S C HOL A R S H I P P RO G R A M S
DOCTORAL RESEARCH ASSISTANT PROGRAM AWARDS TWO CANDIDATES Dairy Farmers of Ontario and the University of Guelph have selected two recipients for this year’s Dairy Farmers of Ontario Doctoral Research Scholarship for the first time in the scholarship’s 37-year history.
Catalina Andrea Wagemann Fluxa, Animal Biosciences, OAC, and Colin Lynch, Animal Biosciences, OAC, will each receive $35,000 per year for a period of three years.
C ATA L I NA A N DR E A WAG E M A N N F LU X A
Dairy cows may be exposed to several potential sources of stress during the prepartum period and as they transition to lactation upon calving. These stressors may compromise their health, welfare, and performance and therefore affect the profitability and sustainability of the farms. Although previous research has examined the isolated effects of various stressors, they rarely occur in isolation on commercial dairy farms. Wagemann Fluxa says her initial research is focused on assessing how these stressors interact on dairy farms and determining their combined effects. “I am also interested in understanding the association between social behaviour
Scholarships Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) has an annual scholarship program offered to students who will be entering a post-secondary degree or diploma program in agriculture. Effective 2022, we are pleased to announce an increase of two additional scholarships and will now offer up to six $3,000 scholarship awards. To be eligible for these scholarships, an applicant must: • be a son or daughter of a DFO licensed dairy producer (sons or daughters of current board members are not eligible); • be entering semester one of a post-secondary agricultural degree program or a diploma program in agriculture; • have achieved an average of 80 per cent or greater in Grade 12 credits (best six to be averaged).
The applicants were so closely ranked, the organizations will fund both.
Catalina Andrea Wagemann Fluxa is a PhD student in the Department of Animal Biosciences at the University of Guelph studying under the supervision of Dr. Trevor DeVries. Her thesis research will be focused on examining the associations of management practices, nutrition, and cow social behaviour during the dry period with cow health and performance in early lactation.
Dairy Farmers of Ontario
Catalina Andrea Wagemann Fluxa during the prepartum period and metabolic disorders in postpartum cows,” she says, adding competitive feeding environments lead to social stress and affect feeding behaviour patterns and the composition of the diet consumed (e.g., due to sorting), which can have negative consequences on cow health. This is particularly important during the transition period, as increased competition for feed access before calving has been associated with postpartum diseases such as subclinical ketosis and metritis. However, more research is needed to understand the association between competitive feeding environments, social behaviour, and other diseases.
Selection criteria will be based on: • academic achievement; • future career plans; • demonstrated leadership in secondary school and/or community activities. Payment if selected: The scholarships will be payable in two installments, one in semester one and one following semester two, based on satisfactory achievement. Application forms are available on DFO’s website at new.milk.org under Industry Login. On left hand side go to Documents > Forms > Application for DFO Scholarships Complete application forms must be sent to Dairy Farmers of Ontario by Aug. 31, 2022. For more information, please contact Ashley Wannamaker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-817-2140.
“Overall, I hope that my PhD research may lead to the identification of best housing and management practices for transition cows that improve cow health, performance and welfare.”
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adding new phenotypes of calf health traits to the portfolio of genetic evaluations within Canada. He intends to develop standardized protocols for recording calf health events in herd management software, to create a data pipeline for calf health traits for use in genetic evaluations and to calculate phenotypic and genetic correlations to other economically important traits.
C OL I N LY NC H Colin Lynch is a PhD student in the Centre for Genetic Improvement of Livestock (CGIL) under the advisement of Dr. Christine Baes and Dr. Flavio Schenkel. Lynch also manages methane data collection at the Ontario Dairy Research Centre at the Elora Research Station. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, Lynch completed his undergraduate degree in Agricultural Science, majoring in Animal Science, from University College Dublin (UCD). His interest in Animal Breeding and Genetics stemmed from his time at UCD and influenced his decision to travel abroad to gain international experience and further develop his knowledge and understanding Colin Lynch of the dairy sector. Lynch’s masters thesis MAX PACK looked at the effect of synchronized Silage compaction roller As part of the Resilient Dairy Genome breeding on genetic evaluations of Project, Lynch aims to improve the accuracy fertility traits in dairy cattle, which was The MAX PACK has been specially designed selection to of genetic for various health subsequently published in the Journal of increase forage compaction to pack silage tighter, traits and to broaden disease resistance by Dairy Science. increasing storage capacity and silage quality
“Global demand for dairy products is expected to grow by 2.5% per year, thus requiring increased and more efficient production,” Lynch says. “At the same time, recent regulatory changes have restricted personal importation of common veterinary antibiotics. These changes, together with public health concerns, mean the dairy industry must take proactive steps to improve animal health.” Lynch says efforts aimed at breeding for increased disease resilience offers opportunities. His research will address “important knowledge gaps related to dairy calf health and calf genetics in Canada.”
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YOU N G P RODUC E R S : V E T E R I NA RY M E DI C I N E
Dr. Angela Graham is a veterinarian working in a dairy practice in southern Ontario. Photo Credit: Hanne Goetz
NEW PRACTITIONERS SHARE THEIR PATHS TO DAIRY VETERINARY MEDICINE By Hanne Goetz DR. RACHEL BUDD AND DR. ANGELA GRAHAM say they were hooked on dairy medicine the moment they started working with dairy cattle. The recent University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) grads are eager to share their paths to becoming veterinarians working in dairy and mixed practice. The University of Guelph is well known for its academic excellence and agricultural roots. The research-intensive institution remains home to one of its founding
colleges, the OVC, which was recently named the best veterinary school in Canada, and fifth worldwide, for the third year in a row (World University Rankings). In the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program, students receive three years of core instruction before selecting a career emphasis stream for their final year of clinical rotations. With this in mind, both women sought opportunities where they could learn more about the industry and make connections to
determine and pursue their interests. One option during the DVM program is to ride with the OVC Ruminant Field Service, where Budd noted that faculty members shared their passion for food animal health. She says there are things about the agricultural industry that you can’t learn in a classroom: “By putting yourself out there, you meet a lot of people who end up being really good resources, whether it’s specific topics or just soft skills, there are a lot of people to learn from in the agricultural industries.” Although not from a dairy background, producers and mentors created support networks for both Budd and Graham, which proved highly influential in their career decisions. “Everyone wants you to learn and get the best experience out of it,” says Graham. Producers’ willingness to share their operation provides exposure that’s critical for future veterinarians deciding which area of medicine to pursue.
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Graham referred to growing up in an urban area as beneficial for her career, in that she entered dairy medicine with a fresh perspective, observing, “Veterinarians are problem solvers, and the more ways you have to solve problems, the better veterinarian you are going to be.”
problems. As recent graduates, both Graham and Budd shared their excitement to be part of the dairy community and fulfilling the role of being a trusted advisor for the people they work with. “I really just want to be a good resource for my clients,” says Budd. “We can come on
When asked about their current roles, both referred to their positions as their “dream job.” Budd enjoys the diversity in her schedule, specifically noting the blend of data management and decision making at a herd level, as well as individual cow work where she’s tasked with solving specific
farm and pregnancy check cows, but at the end of the day, I want to be part of the team of people I’m working with at each farm.” Hanne Goetz is a PhD candidate in Population Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College who is active in communications in agriculture.
“Veterinarians are problem solvers, and the more ways you have to solve problems, the better veterinarian you are going to be.” —Dr. Angela Graham
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The DairyTrace Story Crisis Affects Everyone Animal traceability helps protect your herd in the event of a crisis. It‘s essential to your livelihood and the economic health of the Canadian dairy industry. DairyTrace strengthens the industries reputation and competitive advantage for quality dairy products at home and around the world.
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Safeguard Your Business Effective traceability includes animal identification and movement reporting. With timely, accurate and relevant traceback information, you can count on DairyTrace to protect your herd and address food safety issues to reduce unfavourable fallout. Beyond Milk By knowing where animals come from and where they reside, consumers and suppliers alike can feel confident in their food supply chain of animal products. Read our full story at dairytrace.ca/ sustainability/advantages/
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CA TH NA EM DIEA 6 N DA I RY
HOW PROACTION IS HELPING THE NEXT GENERATION OF CANADIAN DAIRY FARMERS CONNECT WITH TODAY’S CONSUMERS By Dairy Farmers of Canada
AS THE NEXT GENERATION OF CANADA’S DAIRY FARMERS prepare to take over the family business, they are operating in a vastly different market than generations before them. These young dairy farmers are part of the largest cohort of Canadians – millennials – and being able to connect with the values of today’s consumers will be key to their success. Millennials – and coming up behind them, Generation Z – are values-based decisionmakers. When it comes to their purchase power, social considerations can trump all others: research has shown that they attribute more weight to valuesbased factors, like animal welfare and the environment, than things like price or taste. To stay abreast of this changing consumer landscape and better understand generational mindsets, Dairy Farmers
of Canada (DFC) conducts extensive third-party market research, monitoring market trends, consumption patterns and consumer attitudes toward dairy. What we’ve learned is that today’s consumers want to know where their food comes from, how it’s produced and under what conditions. They want the brands they support to genuinely care about the same things they do. And they demand proof of this.
OPP ORT U N I T I E S T O C ON N E C T W I T H YOU N G C ONS U M E R S When nine out of 10 Canadians recognize DFC’s Blue Cow logo as a signifier of dairy excellence, we have a strong position out in front of young consumers, and this is where proAction comes in.
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As you know, proAction is the Canadian dairy industry’s quality assurance program. It is mandatory on all Canadian dairy farms and provides a framework for high standards of practice and care in dairy farming. Under proAction, Canadian dairy farmers show, in a transparent and demonstrable way, how we adhere to some of the most stringent standards in the world for milk quality, animal care, food safety, biosecurity, traceability, and environmental sustainability.
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It’s the rigorous standards behind the program that make it such a valuable tool for our industry.
by extension – to proAction. “Canada’s dairy farmers produce the highest quality dairy, all while caring for their animals and supporting environmental sustainability,” says Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “Through proAction, dairy farmers have done excellent work in implementing mandatory standards as they strive for continuous improvement and build trust with Canadians, so they know how the milk they love is produced.”
T H E C H A N G I N G FAC E OF T H E FO OD BUS I N E S S It’s the rigorous standards behind the program that make it such a valuable tool for our industry. Take sustainability – at the forefront of current concerns for young people at home and around the world. Canada’s next generation of dairy farmers are no different; they want to pass down the family farm to their children, just as their parents and grandparents did before them. So, how can our young farmers prove to consumers that they care about the planet too? By pointing them in the direction of the Blue Cow, and
Being able to meet the needs of consumers who question where their food comes from is imperative for both producers and processors. Dairy processors and retailers alike are also pivoting their business strategies to meet the needs of Canada’s new landscape. The face of the food business is changing, and brands seek to align with suppliers that represent this forward-thinking, sustainable and conscious mindset. Multinational organization Unilever, for example, has established one of the most ambitious sustainability plans ever
undertaken by a company of its size, and here in Canada, brands like Lactalis – one of the largest in our country – recognize their responsibility for environmental stewardship as a proud supporter of the Canadian dairy industry and our farmers. “Lactalis Canada and the Blue Cow logo go hand-in-hand, as we both stand for highquality dairy,” says Gilles Froment, Senior Vice-President for Government and Industry Relations. “Our brands benefit greatly from leveraging this iconic symbol underpinned by proAction, the industry’s robust quality assurance and continuous improvement program under which Canadian dairy farmers demonstrate the highest standards in areas such as food safety, environmental sustainability and animal care.” As we move deeper into the 21st century, proAction will play an even more essential role for Canadian dairy farmers – of all ages – because not only will consumers demand these high standards in the products they choose to include in their ever-tightening budget, retailers and processors will expect their partners to provide proof of meeting or exceeding their own high standards. ProAction is more than just a quality assurance program; it is proof-positive that the next generation of Canada’s dairy farmers, just like the many generations before them, are and have always been wiling to go above and beyond when it comes to feeding our nation.
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WE ARE INTERESTED IN YOUR THOUGHTS ON BIOSECURITY! What do we want to know?
▶ Your opinions on biosecurity, thoughts on implementing biosecurity practices on your farm, as well as challenges and barriers you may face.
▶ Whenever is convenient for you! We are booking interviews from June 2022.
Participants will receive a $100 cash honorarium following the interview. If you are interested in more information or participating in “Improving biosecurity on Ontario dairy farms: Exploring barriers to current KTT delivery and how to best address these”, please email either gpower@ uogeulph.ca or call/text at 416-605-3736.
▶ Over the phone!
▶ Approximately one hour for a survey and interview This project has been reviewed by the Research Ethics Board for compliance with federal guidelines for research involving human participants (REB # 22-02-025).
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THE FAMILY FARM IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE CANADIAN LANDSCAPE. Compared to a few generations ago though, when most Canadians lived on farms or had close ties to one, the trend to urban living means fewer of us know anything about the industry. Shaping dairy farming for the future means teaching younger generations about agriculture and food production. It means planting seeds in elementary-aged children that may blossom into a passion for animals and a career in veterinary care. It also means educating Canadians about where their food comes from and the pride and work ethic behind it so they grow into proud consumers of it. This look back at 1987 covers a surge of interest in farm visits and classroom education represented by a host of conferences and programs across the country. This is a legacy DFO’s Dairy Educators proudly continue to this day.
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