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da Ma te rke on ts pa ge

TURNING DISASTER into opportunity Ontario dairy farmer shares lessons learned from family barn fire


Understand your farm’s electrical system to prevent future issues

Publications Mail Sales Agreement No. 40063866


Protection. Prospérité. Paix d’esprit.

Protection. Prosperity. Peace of Mind. Visit


Set-up an account and get started.

Ouvrez un compte et commencez votre visite.

Déclaration en ligne

On-line Reporting

Effectuez votre déclaration à partir du portail TracéLaitier ou de votre appareil mobile.

Report from the DairyTrace portal or your mobile device.

Tag Options

Options d’identification

DairyTrace offers three styles of dual tag sets for double tagging requirements. Also, find the option to use the new DairyTrace WHITE single button RFID tag.

TracéLaitier offre trois différents jeux d’identifiants pour répondre aux exigences de double identification. De plus, découvrez l’option vous permettant d’utiliser le nouvel identifiant BLANC à boucle unique de TracéLaitier.

1er septembre 2021

La consignation et la déclaration à TracéLaitier des activités suivantes à la ferme sont obligatoires : ▶ activation des identifiants/naissances ▶ arrivées et départs ▶ importations et exportations ▶ décès sur la ferme

September 1, 2021

On-farm recording and reporting


Nous sommes là pour vous aider

TracéLaitier vous appuie en répondant aux exigences de proAction® en matière d’identification et de traçabilité des animaux.


to DairyTrace is mandatory: ▶ tag activation / births ▶ move-ins & move-outs ▶ imports & exports ▶ on-farm disposal

We’re Here to Help

DairyTrace supports you in meeting proAction® livestock identification and traceability requirements. / | 1-866-55-TRACE (1-866-558-7223) |

Vol. 97 No. 9

CONTENTS PUBLISHED BY DAIRY FARMERS OF ONTARIO 6780 Campobello Rd., Mississauga, Ont., L5N 2L8 EDITOR Jennifer Nevans

Editorial Editor’s column


Board column


Producer op-ed



Co-ordinated by Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s communications division, Sharon Laidlaw, Manager, Corporate Communications. 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, Ontario L5N 2L8 Phone: (905) 821-8970 Fax: (905) 821-3160 Email: 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.

Dairy Research Dairy News DFC election strategy


OMAFRA research


U of G research


LRIC research


Milk silos on-farm


New N Noted

Traceability reminder


Featured products

Mental health funding


Producer profile


Pasture barn design




Markets Market demand


Websites: Facebook: /OntarioDairy Twitter: @OntarioDairy Instagram: @ontariodairy

Farm Management Calf care


Farm finance


Farm safety


Feed management


Photo courtesy of Caitlin MacLeod MILKPRODUCER | SEPTEMBER 2021






or many, the arrival of September marks the end of summer and the start of cooler weather. For farmers, it’s often an indication of the end of growing season and the start of fall harvest. If you have school-aged children, September might also mean a quieter house with the kids back to school—albeit with precautions in place. At Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO), our dairy educators are also preparing for back to school after a long hiatus due to the pandemic. “Educators are eager to get back to in-person visits,” says Audrie Bouwmeester, DFO’s manager of school programs. “There’s nothing like the energy from a room of engaged students.” But even though educators were physical-

ly absent from classrooms this past year, it was still an incredibly busy year for them. Thanks to the versatility of the program and the team’s ability to quickly adapt and pivot, the team has checked off an impressive number of projects. This included an extensive digital Learning Management System and the development of the Dairycraft game for Minecraft, which has been downloaded more than 2.8 million times. Earlier this year, educators returned to the classrooms through virtual presentations—to date, conducting more than 1,300 presentations at 290 schools for more than 24,700 students. In January, the dairy education team also launched the Growing Up Dairy initiative, where students were able to virtually follow the day-to-day activities of a dairy farmer and watch a dairy calf grow until the end of the school year. About 9,000 students at 219 schools were enrolled in Growing Up Dairy. This fall, virtual presentations and the Growing Up Dairy program will resume, which will

help fill the gaps where live presentations aren’t possible. To learn more about DFO’s school programs, visit or follow the team on Twitter @eduONdairy.

REMINDER TO RENEW YOUR MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS As you may remember, this past spring, Milk Producer embarked on a subscription renewal drive for producers across Canada. If you’re an Ontario producer or existing industry subscriber, you do not need to renew your subscription. However, if you are a producer who lives outside of Ontario and would like to continue receiving the magazine, please fill out the renewal postcard you received with the April magazine and return it to DFO. You can also visit to fill out our online subscription form, and if you need help with your subscription, email Feel free to share the link with others who you think will enjoy reading the magazine.




ur chief economics and policy development officer, Patrice Dubé, occasionally says what we need is a “one-handed economist.” All too often, when trying to forecast trends, economists say something like “on the one hand, if X happens then we will get outcome Y, but on the other hand, if X does not happen, then expect a different result.” I was reminded of this again this summer. Last spring, P5 boards reviewed the supply-demand outlook, and after considering all the market trends, data and forecasts provided by the Canadian Dairy Commission, we determined the industry risked being short of milk to fill all markets in the late summer and fall and made the decision to issue additional incentive days. That was in May. 4


By mid-July, it was becoming evident demand wasn’t materializing as expected. Although butter stocks were not high, cheese stocks were on the burdensome side, retail demand for dairy products was waning a bit as restaurants opened and some plants had milk receiving issues. Meanwhile, milk production itself was quite strong. Daily production in Ontario was 8.6 to 8.7 million litres per day for most of June and July and there was very little drop in production because of the hot weather. A year ago, we were shipping 8.3 to 8.5 million litres per day for most of the summer. As well, producers have been gaining on the credit day position. As of the end of July, if you look at the entire province as a single producer, we were at -1.9 days. A year ago, that number was -8 days. What that means is more than 48 million additional litres came forward within quota over the past year. Predicting how many credits producers will use is a challenge but suffice it to say that in my time on the board (9.5 years), we have never been above -1 day, so the likelihood of getting

much higher is slim. As stated in many communications, we continue to monitor the market closely and are committed to sharing timely information, but there continues to be much uncertainty. The pandemic is still with us. We continually hear of delays in shipping container goods and shortages of certain parts and supplies in many sectors. There is political unrest internationally, and there is uncertainty about exactly what dairy products will be imported and to what extent. It was former United States president Harry Truman who is widely credited with saying, “Give me a one-handed economist. All my economists say, ‘on the one hand… (and then) on the other.’” With all that’s going on, forecasting will continue to be murky, and we will be challenged with giving you the production signals that turn out to be correct all the time. That said, we are committed to continuous improvement in all areas of the business, including forecasting and communicating the information you need to make timely decisions on your farm. WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA

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ost mornings when I’m mixing feed, I throw in a pair of earbuds and listen to a podcast. And while some mornings I need something light and entertaining, there was a particular episode in the stream for the show called Day 6 that I couldn’t resist. A group known as the Disinformation Dozen are spewing the majority of anti-vaccination rhetoric on social media. Twelve celebrities with big followings make up 65 per cent of the content that then gets shared, liked, retweeted and shared some more, all against the idea of a COVID vaccine. And with reasons from microchips to 5G tracking conspiracies, it can lead to millions spitting mad about the idea of getting a needle. While the conversation was an interesting one, I couldn’t help but wonder why people suddenly seem surprised names with big followings are making things up on social media. This is the wild west of the information high-

way, where it doesn’t matter what you say or believe, you get equal footing to everyone else. We, in agriculture, have been dealing with it for more than a decade. For that period, mainstream media seemed to ignore the disinformation. Ideas like genetically modified organisms causing cancer, farm animals being mistreated on every farm and milk causing autism are the messages I’ve seen online get shared, liked, retweeted and shared some more. Sounds familiar to where we are today. Over that decade, no media giant seemed interested in wading in on the war of disinformation. The good news is that it gives all of us in agriculture a new opportunity today. The story of COVID disinformation is going to pass over time, but the need for strong communicators and solid information on every other subject is going to be critically important. Think of the issues we, as farmers, are going to have to tackle in the coming years to keep consumers on our side: climate impact of cattle, food safety, animal care or human nutrition. Guess what dairy is great at: improving all those things. But the disinformation campaign is going to continue against us, and we

need to be ready. Clearly, people are impacted by what they read online and what they talk to their friends about. What if all they see is the idea dairy cows in a barn versus on a pasture is bad? Or that cows’ farts are bad for the planet? They are going to believe that. But when we come to the table with our perspectives and our stories, we can pull them back to a place of scientific fact—about what cow comfort means, or the improvements we’ve already made in reducing our environmental impact or how we plan to go much, much further. Our story may not be as flashy as how to bring back in-class learning or live audiences at sporting events. But the story of the care and concern that goes into every glass of milk can be just as compelling to every Canadian if we’re willing to share it.

Andrew Campbell is a farmer in southern Ontario who specializes in helping farmers learn about social media and advocacy.

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From balanced breeding and a focus on longevity came the legacy of Toystory. Today, a goal is high component milk, shipping at least 3.4 kgs combined fat and protein. The 450-cow freestall herd has an RHA over 14,773 kgs with over 591 kgs of fat and over 456 kgs of protein with records to 25,000 kgs and 60 cows past 68,200 kgs M lifetime. MYSTIC VALLEY DAIRY LLC, SAUK CITY, WI, 450 Registered Holsteins Mitch, Jacquie, Allie, Lauren, and Brayden Breunig, BAA 105.8 RHA 14,885kgs M 4.02F 599kgs F 3.17P 472kgs P Cheese yield 1600 kgs, SCC 98-113,000




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ADVOCATING ON BEHALF OF DAIRY FARMERS Dairy Farmers of Canada’s election strategy includes securing commitments on key issues By Dairy Farmers of Canada



s Canadians get ready to head to the polls on Sept. 20, 2021, for the 44th general election, Dairy Farmers of Canada’s (DFC) election strategy centres on educating the candidates and parties on dairy and securing commitments on key issues facing dairy farmers. Ultimately, DFC’s goal is to ensure the value of the Canadian dairy industry is well understood, and the industry’s priorities are recognized in the form of commitments from candidates or in the major parties’ platforms. For this election, DFC’s asks focus on international trade, sustainability and the long-term viability of the industry. DFC is calling on the parties to reiterate their support for supply management, and is expecting the next government will: • Follow through on the promise to provide full and fair direct compensation to dairy farmers for the impacts of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA); • Actively engage in the defence of Canada’s sovereign right to determine and administer its own domestic policies, such as those impacting supply management, including tariff rate quota allocation under CUSMA; • Not grant any additional access to the domestic dairy market in a permanent free trade agreement with the United Kingdom, and ensure trading partners are not granted access to Canada’s domestic market through multiple trade agreements; • Provide additional funding for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Canada 8


Border Services Agency (CBSA) for improved border enforcement; • Provide better enforcement of dairy regulations and compliance for imported products, including audits of foreign farms and processing plants, to ensure reciprocal production standards; • Ensure Health Canada will provide exemptions for nutritious dairy products from the Healthy Eating Strategy, such as front-of-package labelling and marketing to kids; • Provide programs with sufficient funding to support farm environmental efficiency and the introduction of clean energy and green technologies in order to accelerate the adoption of new and innovative technologies to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint; • Undertake and complete the vision exercise for the dairy sector with all supply chain actors as promised by the government following the recent trade agreements; • Adopt a Grocery Code of Conduct.

CALLING ALL GRASSROOTS DAIRY AMBASSADORS There are no better ambassadors for DFC than dairy farmers themselves. Farmers play a key role in meeting with and informing candidates and political parties of the contributions of dairy farmers and the sector to the national and local economy, and reiterating the importance of DFC’s asks. DFC has prepared an election toolkit with key messages and other resources to assist grassroots farmers in reaching out to their local candidates and is willing to provide any support farmers may require. Those who would like to receive the toolkit or any additional support can email

NATIONAL ADVOCACY EFFORTS At the national level, DFC has prepared a series of questionnaires for distribution to each party to help the industry confirm where the parties stand on its priority asks. DFC will further supplement farmer efforts by reaching out to all candidates with a series of educational newsletters on topics, including: • The dairy industry and its positive contributions to rural communities and the national economy; • Sustainability efforts through proAction; • The nutritional value of dairy; • The importance of locally sourced food production and consumption. A similar newsletter series was received positively by candidates during the 2019 election and will arm candidates with information to address questions from the public or media, as well as hit the ground running on dairy issues should they win their election. Win or lose, many of these candidates are leaders in their communities who will emerge from this election well-equipped to advocate on behalf of dairy farmers in the future. To hear more about what the parties have to say in DFC’s election questionnaire, watch for a summary of the questionnaire responses in September.

Stay informed with DFC’s Dairy Express Sign up for the Dairy Express e-newsletter. Email to have your name added to the mailing list.


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airy Farmers of Ontario’s (DFO) school programs team is excited to announce DFO has teamed up with the International Dairy Federation (IDF) to help highlight the benefits of school milk programs around the world. IDF represents the global dairy sector and ensures the best scientific expertise is used to support high-quality milk and nutritious, safe and sustainable dairy products. Known as the IDF School Milk Knowledge Hub, the new online project aims to bring together important information on the role of milk and dairy products in healthy diets produced by sustainable food systems and the UN sustainable development goals. The hub provides case study examples and data to assist those wishing to implement school milk programs in their country and who want to learn more about school milk programs around the world. Both the Elementary School Milk Program (ESMP) and DFO’s partnership with Student Nutrition Ontario (SNO) are now featured prominently on the hub. DFO believes this is a good opportunity to showcase its school-based programs on a wider scale and bring attention to the success of the programs in Ontario schools and benefits to parents and educators. Visit the hub at and scroll down to Case Studies at the bottom of the landing page to view DFO’s ESMP and SNO pages.

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ntario dairy producers may have more options to store their milk on-farm if the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission approves proposed regulatory amendments to allow for milk silos on-farm. At the request of Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO), the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission proposed amendments to Regulation 761: Milk and Milk Products under the Milk Act to allow for the storage of milk in silos. Ontario dairy producers are currently not permitted to use milk silos to store milk partly because the milk grading and sampling procedures required in the regulations under the Milk Act only consider milk being stored in bulk tanks. For Ontario to adopt this storage method, the province would need to amend its regulations related to milk pickup and other procedures—most notably, how a bulk tank milk grader (BTMG) can grade the milk and obtain samples to test for quality and milk components.

SILO VERSUS HORIZONTAL BULK TANK In a horizontal bulk tank, BTMGs would climb

to the top of the bulk tank, open the hatch and grade the milk by sight and smell before taking samples using a dipstick. In a silo, BTMGs can’t access the hatch at the top, so they would need to obtain samples through an aseptic sampling port using a sterile needle. In addition, while horizontal bulk tanks can store up to 32,000 litres of milk and must be housed in a milkhouse, a vertical tank can store up to 150,000 litres and stands outside the milkhouse with an alcove that sticks through the wall of the milkhouse. As a result, silos, which are widely used in other countries and also used in Quebec, can provide producers with greater flexibility in storing larger amounts of milk on-farm without having to increase their building footprint. “This type of milk storage would be suitable for farms with a large herd or for farms that have severely limited space for expanding the milkhouse,” says Phillip Wilman, raw milk quality program co-ordinator at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). “These are large capacity bulk tanks.”

ONTARIO PILOT PROJECT Last year, DFO and OMAFRA conducted a

THE ONTARIO government is considering regulatory amendments to allow for milk silos on-farm. Photo courtesy of Mueller

pilot project to determine whether samples obtained from a silo would provide results that are comparable to samples obtained from a bulk tank. The pilot took place at Grootendorst Farms in Maryhill, Ont., where the farmer ran a silo and a bulk tank side by side. Wilman says the pilot project worked out well and they were able to obtain representative samples from the silo and accurately test them for quality and milk components.


A VERTICAL tank can store up to 150,000 litres and stands outside the milkhouse with an alcove that sticks through the wall of the milkhouse. Photo courtesy of Mueller 12


The proposed regulatory changes were posted on the Ontario Regulatory Registry on May 28 for a 45-day consultation period until July 12. Comments received during the consultation period will be reviewed and taken into consideration before the proposal goes to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission for approval. If approved, the amendments would likely proceed in the coming months, Wilman says. W W W.MILK PRODUCER.CA


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tarting Sept. 1, 2021, reporting traceability events to DairyTrace, the national traceability database, will become mandatory as part of Dairy Farmers of Canada’s proAction program. As the responsible administrator of DairyTrace, Lactanet Canada will assist dairy producers and other affiliates that are part of the dairy cattle traceability chain with all their traceability needs. Dairy producers who reside outside of Quebec must activate their DairyTrace account to begin reporting traceability events.

REPORTING EVENTS IS EASY The DairyTrace portal is a convenient online platform that lets producers report dairy cattle traceability events and more. Reporting can also be done via the DairyTrace mobile app, telephone, mail or directly from specific onfarm software. To prepare dairy producers for their proAction validation, DairyTrace has developed

the proAction report for easy proof of conformance. The report generates the right information that must be presented to the validator at the time of validation.

HOW TO ACCESS THE REPORT To access the proAction report, follow the steps outlined below. Producers who cannot log in to your DairyTrace account must contact DairyTrace customer service in advance to receive the report ahead of validation. Step 1: Sign into your DairyTrace account (; Step 2: From the welcome page, select DairyTrace proAction Report; Step 3: Generate a report: • The Reference date will generate as of the current date; • To open the report, click Print and a PDF will be generated; • Save onto a computer and-or print. The DairyTrace proAction report includes all

traceability events reported under the account within the past year, from the reference date. This information provides the proAction validator with a list of traceability events between the reporting date and the event date. Producers who are missing certain animals on their proAction Report, the Inventory Report, found under the Account tab, can be used to view which animals are linked to the account based on the premises identification numbers. This can help determine if a traceability event was missed and-or needs to be reported on the animal. Keep in mind, if an animal has not had a traceability event occur in the last 12 months (e.g. no tag activation, no movement from premises, etc.), then the animal will not appear on their proAction report since the producer did not have to report traceability events on it. For further assistance, contact DairyTrace Customer Service at 1-866-558-7223 or info@

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he governments of Canada and Ontario are investing in new initiatives to support and promote mental health in Ontario’s farming and rural communities. These initiatives will improve the mental health services available to Ontario’s agricultural sector and help ensure farmers, their families and their employees have additional places to turn to when help is needed. Three initiatives will receive more than $430,000 in funding as the governments continue to focus on ensuring farmers, agri-food workers and rural communities have access to the mental health support they need. These projects will provide more data on farmer and rural mental health in Ontario to ensure available support meets unique community needs. “Many farmers and employees have faced great challenges through the pandemic, which only add to the stresses they may face every day,” says Minister of Agriculture and AgriFood Marie-Claude Bibeau. “Agricultural mental health programs will give Ontario farmers and employees more tools to help them address their challenges. It’s important farmers and workers know they should never hesitate to reach out if they’re struggling with their mental health.”

FUNDING INITIATIVES INCLUDE: • Survey on farmer mental health and agri-

cultural literacy of mental health professionals: Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph will conduct a targeted survey to better understand the current state of farmers’ mental health in Ontario. In addition, Dr. Briana Hagan will consult with agricultural and mental health professionals to develop an agriculture literacy program and information for a mental health care audience. This project will help mental health care providers improve the delivery of mental health services to the farming community and tailor these services to the unique needs of the community; • Community and workplace support for the mental health of international agricultural workers in Ontario: Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) will research existing mental health services and support that are tailored to the needs of international agricultural workers employed on Ontario farms and recommend strategies to improve mental health and well-being services and psychosocial support available to agri-food workers; • Survey on mental health impacts of disruptive events in rural Ontario: Dr. Leith Deacon from the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph will collect community data on challenges and experiences faced by vulnerable

populations and highlight successful initiatives in rural communities to make recommendations on ways to support the development of appropriate response plans for COVID-19 and future disruptive events. In spring 2021, the Ministers of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Mental Health and Addictions held a roundtable to discuss key challenges to farmers’ access to mental health services. Participants cited the main challenges faced by farmers and rural communities include lack of access to mental health services in their communities, lack of understanding of agricultural literacy by mental health providers, ongoing stigma around mental health issues, significant costs for existing resources and the need for more emphasis on prevention. The government funding will support initiatives that help address concerns raised at the roundtable and build on Ontario’s existing investments in mental health supports for the agri-food sector. “Owning and operating a farm can be very stressful,” says Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Lisa Thompson. “Our government is investing in the well-being of farmers, farm families, farm workers and everyone living in rural communities, and we’re building on current knowledge, supports and resources to help them address mental health challenges.”

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heryl Smith, Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s (DFO) chief executive officer, has been inducted into the inaugural Grocery Business Hall of Fame, launched by Grocery Business magazine. Smith was recognized for her leadership in the dairy industry throughout her 30-year career. “It’s such an honour to be recognized among some of the most influential and impactful business leaders in the country,” Smith says. “Being part of the Canadian dairy industry for more than 25 years has brought me enormous satisfaction and given me a true appreciation for what our producers and processors do every day to nourish Canadians. I’m proud of what we do and excited about our future.” In 2012, Smith was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women. More recently, in 2019, she received The Golden Pencil Award—the grocery industry’s highest honour. Smith now joins an impressive list of other well-known contributors to the grocery retail and food manufacturing industry, including Galen G. Weston of Loblaw Companies Limit-

ed, Eric La Flèche of Metro Inc., David Sobey of Sobeys and Anthony Longo of Longo Brothers Fruit Markets. To celebrate the launch of the Hall of Fame, Grocery Business magazine used the July/August issue to feature all 56 inductees who represent current and past retailers and suppliers. To see the complete list in the digital edition of Grocery Business magazine, visit

CHERYL SMITH is the chief executive officer of Dairy Farmers of Ontario.

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airy farming is a way of life for Stefan Gubelmann. “We’re cow people,” says the Walton, Ont., farmer. “My dad had cows and my grandpa was a dairy farmer. There were probably generations before that, too. It’s in our blood and it’s what we do. We love working with cattle.” In particular, he loves working with Brown Swiss cows—“the best ones there are,” Gubelmann says. “(The breed has) many advantages. An excellent temperament on the cows. They’re very docile and trouble free. They’ve got great longevity,” he says. “I think they have the best feet and legs of any dairy breed, and they have a low susceptibility to diseases. They’re extremely easy to calve and have high components.” Gubelmann isn’t alone in his admiration of the breed—many more farmers are becoming aware of the breed’s advantages. “We sell a lot of breeding stock. Every year, we sell 30 to 40 cows and heifers to other farmers to get them into some high-end Brown Swiss genetics,” Gubelmann says. His cows have gone to new

homes as far west as British Columbia and as far east as the Maritimes. “With the Brown Swiss, we have a bit of a niche market that’s been staying fairly strong even when Holstein cattle prices collapsed, because of all the advantages our breed has,” he says. “Our breeding goal is to have a good commercial cow. We breed for fat kilogram and percentage, protein kilogram and percentage, udders, feet, legs and somatic cell count.” For many years, they’ve had the highest producing and indexing Brown Swiss herd in Canada, and in 2018, they were awarded Master Breeder designation from the Canadian Brown Swiss Association. “In 2018, we ranked seventh among all breeds for milk value per cow. As of last classification, we had 9ME 10EX 40VG 18GP—none classified lower. Last year, we had three cows reach 100,000 kg milk production, including Gubelmann Special Danish EX95-6E at 134,735 kg, and we had one more cow reach the magic 100,000 kg mark this year already.” Of course, the breeding side of the farm is only part of the overall operation. For the cows in the milking herd, they must produce well each day to help pay the bills.

STEFAN AND RITA Gubelmann are passionate about sharing their love of dairy farming and Brown Swiss cows with the next generation. That’s why they’ve been long-time leaders with 4-H. In 2019, their group included (from left) Courtney Gubelmann, Katrina Gubelmann, Rachel Gras, Madison Holman, Simon Gubelmann, Sam Kramers, Caleb Kramers, Max Partridge and Simon Kramers, who attended the 4-H Achievement Day at the Seaforth Fair to show their calves. 18


Currently, Gubelmann Brown Swiss Farm milks around 70 cows in their tiestall barn. “We’re pretty labour intensive around here still. We don’t have too much automization yet,” Gubelmann says. “The whole family pitches in.” Gubelmann’s father, Ernst, “still comes to the barn every morning and takes care of most of the field work.” Meanwhile, his two youngest kids, Simon, 14, and Courtney, 16, trade off getting up at 5 a.m. for the morning milking, and both usually help with the 5 p.m. milking. Katrina, 17, helps when she can around school and her part-time job. “Courtney and Simon are very keen on farming, so we’ll have to see where we go into the future,” Gubelmann says, adding Katrina is likely looking at a different career path. Gubelmann and his wife, Rita, are happy to share their knowledge and passion for farming with the next generation, as parents and as leaders with 4-H. “We usually have about eight to 10 4-H kids,” he says, adding not only will the kids come out to learn about training their calves, but oftentimes, they’ll get hands-on experience with milking and other chores, too. There are plenty of chores to go around on the farm. Besides looking after the herd, they also grow all their own feed on about 300 acres. Their crops include alfalfa, corn, soybeans, oats and barley, as well as a bit of wheat, which they sell. “We’re putting in full time-plus hours on the farm every day,” Gubelmann says. While it’s a lot of work, the family is committed to taking good care of the herd and the land “because that’s what farmers do. We live off the land, from the land. It’s going to be hopefully in our family for generations.”

Tamara Botting is an author and award-winning journalist.


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asture barn theory is succinctly summed in those two words. “Take the pasture but bring it inside where you can have a controlled environment,” says Donald Russell, founder of Pasture Barn Designs. A voracious reader whose passion for learning may be exceeded only by that for the dairy industry, Russell’s purchase of his first cow on Feb. 28, 1995, initiated a 25-year journey of discovery. Founded on around six years of funding applications, totalling 28 cash flow scenarios, the Russell family’s operation began without the benefits of a new entrant or start-up program. Their rented Tavistock, Ont., barn, an hour from the house he and his wife, Joanne, own in St. George, Ont., has since evolved into five, 10 and 20-year goals, which eventually resulted in the acquisition of their Cobden-area farm in May 1998. The Russells doubled their acreage four years ago, completing construction of a pasture barn, which housed their Holstein milking herd two years later. Its design represented a culmination of 20 years of detailed study from the perspective of a dairy farmer understanding fiscal challenge, dairy nutrition and hoof trimming. The latter disciplines exposed Russell to a wide variety of housing options, inspiring his inquisitive nature and love for a challenge. “I just wanted a new barn—something that wasn’t out there,” he says. Broadly, a pasture barn is an impermeable cement-based structure reducing capital costs through simpler layout and lack of stalls, sus-

DONALD RUSSELL is the founder of Pasture Barn Designs, which is a pasture built indoors under a controlled environment.

tainably using recycled on-farm organic material (pressed and dried manure) as dry and comfortable bedding. “There has been a lot of research to get to this point,” Russell says, adding his pasture barn design has resulted in cow comfort, clean transition points, full-spectrum lighting, which eliminates potentially harmful UV rays, and insect control. Consistent, climate-control and curated feed and water availability contrast a natural pasture’s heat variability and dry matter and water intake, which may affect milk consistency. “We’re getting paid on butterfat, so that is important,” he says. Russell says the design is open to any sized operation or milking approach, including robots, parlour or pipeline. The main change farmers may notice from their current farm management procedure pertains to managing the resting area. “But again, it is very simple,” Russell says,

who has eight years of experience with practical application. Bedding is created by skimming the top inch and a half of surface material either automatically or with a skidsteer, harvesting fresh manure for a pit stop and subsequent pressing and then re-application. “It takes very little energy to recycle product,” he says. With a laugh, Russell admits he views the pasture barn as a “fifth child,” finding it difficult to identify drawbacks. His approach has resulted in low somatic cell counts and excellent bactoscan results, Russell says, adding economic viability, cow comfort and environmental sustainability to his ledger’s positive side. “I don’t know what farmer wouldn’t want these three things,” he says. Canadian, American and pending European patents are for the pasture barn’s interior design and housing. The broad-based approach targets innovation in his home country, tighter margins south of the border and enhanced environmental regulations in Europe. “It kind of does a little bit for everybody,” he says. The Russell family’s focus is continuing to increase dairy quota. Having promised his wife this will be his last project, Russell’s initial business goal is sharing his pasture barn research as widely as possible. “Get it out there and whoever wants to learn, can do so,” he says. Jeff Tribe

FROM LEFT are Donald, Shannon, Meghan, Quinn, Sydney and Joanne Russell. 20


is a lifelong resident of rural Oxford County, balancing his family and agricultural roots with journalism. He lives on a farm with pasture-raised non-certified organic beef cows.


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he Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA) has received more than $2.6 million in federal funding to support three projects that will assess and improve alfalfa growth using artificial intelligence and develop a Canadian grassland carbon offset system.

Funding will be allocated to the following projects: • Up to $998,185 to develop a tool to improve yield and forage nutritive value from alfalfa fields using artificial intelligence. The tool will identify potential agronomic, climatic and soil-related factors affecting alfal-



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fa yield. It will also predict potential yield and nutritive value loss through soil nutrient analysis and health diagnostics; • Up to $996,190 to develop a tool to assess and improve alfalfa’s winter survival rates with artificial intelligence and persistency by combining data and remote imagery with artificial intelligence; • Up to $621,572 to develop an assurance system for farmers to produce and sell carbon offsets, contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and retention of Canada’s grasslands. CFGA expects more than 5,000 hectares of Canadian grasslands will be protected by land conservation agreements, and 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) will be saved through third-party verified carbon offset credits. Alfalfa is a key forage crop producers rely on to capture and fix carbon, return nutrients to the soil and improve soil health. These projects will help farmers better understand alfalfa growth, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “The Canadian Forage and Grassland Association is very excited about this funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agriculture Strategic Priorities Program,” says Cedric MacLeod, CFGA’s executive director. “Alfalfa is an important ingredient that feeds many other agriculture sectors in Canada, and this funding will help provide forage producers with valuable decision-support tools to help alfalfa crops thrive.” Funding for the first two projects comes from the Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP). CASPP supports the Canadian agricultural sector’s participation in the government of Canada’s growth and policy objectives, by investing in the sector’s design, development and implementation of tools and strategies to respond to and seize opportunities created by these objectives. These projects include a network of 40 agronomists and 225 farms for collecting the data. Funding for the third project comes from the AgriAssurance Program, which funds national projects to help industry develop and adopt systems, standards and tools to support health and safety claims about Canadian agricultural and agri-food products. W W W.MILK PRODUCER.CA

You do what it takes to manage their pain. To cattlemen words like obligation and honour are the backbone of a life spent providing for others. To you, things need to feel right. In your head and in your gut. After all, you’re not just raising cattle, you’re rearing the next generation of cattlemen. Boehringer Ingelheim is passionately devoted to the advancement of farm animal well-being.


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$500M IN AGRIRECOVERY FUNDING HELPS FARMERS FACING EXTREME WEATHER AgriRecovery and Livestock Tax Deferral available to producers affected by extreme weather in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario


he government of Canada has increased total AgriRecovery funding to up to $500 million to address extraordinary costs faced by producers due to drought and wildfires. “Our government is doing everything it can to support farm families so they can get through these challenges today and be better positioned for a sustainable future,” says Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau. “(This) commitment of up to half a billion dollars shows we stand ready to contribute our share toward AgriRecovery programs with the provinces. We are united in our goal of ensuring farmers are fully supported through this crisis.” Given the extraordinary circumstances farmers in Western Canada and parts of Ontario are facing, this increased funding ensures the federal government is ready to contribute to eligible

provincial AgriRecovery costs on the 60-40 cost-shared basis outlined under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The government of Canada and the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario continue to work with the utmost urgency to complete joint assessments of the disaster and launch support programs. This will include direct assistance to affected livestock and agricultural producers and help them with added costs of obtaining livestock feed, transportation and water. Producers can also apply for interim payments under AgriStability to help them cope with immediate financial challenges. The government of Canada and the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario have agreed to increase the 2021 AgriStability interim benefit payment percentage

from 50 per cent to 75 per cent, so producers can access a greater portion of their benefit early to meet their urgent needs. British Columbia and Manitoba have also opened late participation in AgriStability to farmers who did not register in 2021 so they can benefit from this income support. In addition to this support, the government of Canada announced designations for Livestock Tax Deferral for prescribed drought regions in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. This will allow beef producers who are forced to


For more information on the AgriRecovery Framework, visit

sell a significant amount of their breeding herd due to drought conditions to offset the resulting revenues with the costs to replace the herd.


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P5 BOARDS CONTINUE TO MONITOR MARKET CONDITIONS INTO THE FALL ed, but the food service industry has not fully reopened, and many have been experiencing labour shortages. Other reasons for the decision include plant shutdowns and-or breakdowns, as well as weaker imports than anticipated, suggesting imports will increase in the fall. All these factors make it difficult to establish an accurate forecast and issue production signals accordingly. “It’s not easy to predict where the market is going in the short, medium and long term and it really depends on the impact of the pandemic and the recovery of the economy,” Dubé says. “In the short term, there is a need to closely monitor market trends and processing capacity.” The Canadian Dairy Commission is still forecasting a two to three per cent increase in P5 demand for the 2021-22 dairy year, and P5 boards are hopeful the situation in July and August was

By Jennifer Nevans



ue to recent market fluctuations, P5 boards have decided there will be no further changes to the number of incentive days at this point in time. However, P5 boards will meet in mid-September to evaluate market conditions and make a decision regarding October’s incentive days. In July, P5 boards decided to reduce the August incentive days by two days, and September incentive days by one day, citing a few main reasons that led to the softening of production signals. “Demand during the economy reopening was not as strong as we anticipated,” says Patrice Dubé, Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s (DFO) chief economics and policy development officer, adding retail sales are beginning to flatten as expect-

% Butterfat


% Solids non-fat

For June 2021 (kg of butterfat/kg of solids non-fat) 11.80%

1a1 1b





0.20% 0.88% 0.94%



23.84% 14.77%

*8.61% *4.71%




*1.75% *1.00%


4.32% 5.63%


*5.26% 15.21% 13.83%



0.86% 1.11% 2.35% 2.70%

3c2 3c4

*0.88% *2.77% 6.35%




0.38% 0.34%


*0.33% 3.27% 4.73%


*3.35% 18.45% 16.18%




1.69% 1.83% 0.62%

5c 0%

*13.21% *0.41%

6.52% 2.42% 2.70%



% Revenue






*1.68% 7.29%

*2.43% *0.72%








temporary and demand will rebound in the fall. In the meantime, the high level of milk in the system resulted in P5 provinces having to skim milk. The Ontario blend price in June declined by $3.99 per hectolitre—a main part of this decline was a result of the increase in skimming. An increase in pooling costs for the province was the other significant factor in the decline in price. A further decline in blend price was seen in July, again with the significant contributor being the increase in skimming. In terms of butter stock levels, in July 2021, butter stocks reached 31,800 tonnes—a slight drop from June 2021 when it was at 32,100 tonnes. Meanwhile, cheese stocks reached 105,200 tonnes in July 2021—a decrease from the month earlier when cheese stocks were at 108,600 tonnes. As for national dairy product sales at the retail level, for the 52-weeks ending July 17, 2021, sales for fluid milk, fluid cream, yogurt, ice Class 1a1 (includes Classes 1a2, 1a3, 1c and 1d for confidentiality reasons) Fluid milk and beverages Class 1b Fluid creams Class 2a Yogurt, yogurt beverages, kefir and lassi Class 2b4 (includes Classes 2b1, 2b2 and 2b3 for confidentiality reasons) Fresh dairy desserts, sour cream, milkshakes and sports nutrition drinks Class 2b5 Ice cream and frozen yogurt Class 3a1 Specialty cheese Class 3a2 Cheese curds and fresh cheeses Class 3b2 (includes Class 3b1 for confidentiality reasons) Cheddar cheese and aged cheddar Class 3c1 Feta Class 3c2 Asiago, Gouda, Havarti, Parmesan and Swiss Class 3c4 (includes Classes 3c3 and 3c5 for confidentiality reasons) Brick, Colby, farmer’s, jack, Monterey jack, muenster, pizza cheese, pizza mozzarella and mozzarella other than what falls within 3d. Class 3c6 Paneer Class 3d Mozzarella used strictly on fresh pizzas by establishments registered with the Canadian Dairy Commission Class 4a Butter and powders Class 4d (includes Classes 4b1, 4b2, 4c and 4m for confidentiality reasons) Concentrated milk for retail, losses and animal feed Class 5a Cheese for further processing Class 5b Non-cheese products for further processing Class 5c Confectionery products WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA


309.90 142.86 114.00 5.00 Exchange cancelled 188.60 250.46


AMOUNT PURCHASED/ kg 115.20 5.00 128.60






Quebec New Brunswick Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island

$24,000 $24,000

20,492.95 423.71 717.20 33.00 Exchange cancelled 393.80 1.00

423.09 33.00



*Newfoundland does not operate a monthly quota exchange. Quota is traded between producers. **Quota cap price of $24,000 in effect in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec.


Within quota



DFO administration DFO research CanWest DHI Transportation Market expansion

$0.625 $0.050 $0.060 $2.730 $1.400

$0.625 $0.050 $0.060 $2.730 $1.400


Total deductions Average total net

$4.865 $69.626

$4.865 -4.865

$75 $74.49

*These figures are based on Ontario’s average composition for July 2021 of 4.03 kg butterfat, 3.12 kg protein and 5.94 kg other solids, rounded to the nearest cent.

July 2021

June 2021

May 2021

Apr. 2021

Mar. 2021

Feb. 2021

Jan. 2021

Dec. 2020

Aug 2020

$70 Nov. 2020

For July 2021


$48,427.50 $42,250

Alberta Saskatchewan British Columbia Manitoba

Oct. 2020



Sept. 2020

cream, cheese and butter increased by 0.5, 6.2, 3.4, 0.6, 3.9 and 0.2 per cent, respectively, compared with the previous 52-weeks. Total national butterfat requirements for the 12-months ending June 2021 reached 1.1 million kilograms compared with 1.06 million kg the year before. Meanwhile, total P10 milk production for the 12-months ending June 2021 reached 1.08 million kg compared with 1.04 million kg the year before. P5 boards’ primary objective is to continuously monitor the milk market situation and meet demand in the most optimal way. Given these uncertain times, P5 boards will continue to adapt production signals to address market changes, as required.



A total 3,333 producers sold milk to DFO in July compared with 3,363 a year earlier.



82 P5 blend price WMP blend price

80 78 76

WMP $79.26

May 2021

June 2021

Apr 2021

Feb 2021

Mar 2021

Jan 2021

Dec 2020

Nov 2020

Oct 2020


Sept 2020

74 Aug 2020

Source: USDA

*There is a three-month lag reporting these figures.

July 2020

The July 2021 Class III Price, US$16.49 per hundredweight, is equivalent to C$46.89 per hectolitre. This equivalent is based on the exchange rate US$1 = C$1.25257 the exchange rate when the USDA announced the Class III Price. The Class III Price is in $ US per hundredweight at 3.5 per cent butterfat. One hundredweight equals 0.44 hectolitres. Canadian Class 5a and Class 5b prices track U.S. prices set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The graph below shows the 12-month blend price for the P5 provinces and Western Milk Pool (WMP).

Blend price in $/hL


P5 $77.62




FARM FAMILY TURNS DISAS INTO OPPORTUNITY Frank Haasen shares lessons learned from his family’s barn fire By Lilian Schaer



barn fire is one of the most devastating disasters that can strike a farm business. That’s what happened to the Haasen family on Nov. 20, 2011—or 20-11-2011 as they like to call it—when a fire broke out in the two-storey heifer barn on their dairy farm near Timmins, Ont. “We discovered the fire at milking time. It was our employee’s Sunday to milk, but we all saw the fire at the same time,” Frank Haasen recalls. “The animals in that barn were tied and although we did start trying to release animals, in no time at all, there were flames coming down the hay chute as bales started to come down. We all decided at the same time to get out.” Haasen Farms was established in 1958 by Haasen’s parents, John and Dina Haasen. Today, Haasen farms with his wife, Ivy, their son, Eddy, and long-time employee, Adam Bussier. About 23-head of young stock were lost in the fire, which also destroyed the heifer and calf barns, milk parlour, milkhouse and more than 8,000 bales of straw. A neighbour used an excavator already on site to rip down a holding area next to the milking parlour, which helped save the Haasens’ newer single-storey dairy barn. A straw chopper used for calf bedding was ultimately found to be the cause of the blaze, with a spark from a rock or a piece of metal in a bale going through the chopper igniting in the dusty environment.



Before the fire was out, the family sprang into action, calling their insurance company, milk transporter and Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s (DFO) field services representative. They rapidly made plans to find temporary housing for their milking cows. That’s not as easy in northern Ontario as it is in other regions of the province, but friends and neighbours helped move about 80 cows to farms in the Earlton area about 200 kilometres away. They also contacted their lender and started talking about what the future might hold for their family business. A transition plan to bring their son into the farm’s ownership structure was already underway, which helped make the decision easier. “We had a 10-year plan to go with the new build that we did and had gone as far as talk to Farm Credit Canada about six months before the fire to figure out how we could get our ducks in a row to do the build,” he says. “After a huge traumatic event like a fire, you have to take all things into consideration. If it had been just Ivy and I as the only principals, the fire would have been our exit strategy.” After extensive research and planning, the Haasens built a new modern barn with a robotic milking system, starting construction in June 2012 and milking their first cow in the new barn about six months later in November 2012. Milk shipped from their cows while they were looked after at other farms generated some needed cash flow under DFO’s shared facilities policy. Looking back, the Haasens remain grateful for the help of family, friends and the community, as well as


STER fair treatment by the insurance provider and adjuster and the support of a co-operative lender. Unfortunately, notes Frank, the herd suffered some losses during that time and in hindsight, he would have sold all cows and bred heifers as soon as possible after the fire. He would also consider a barn design that houses all livestock under one roof—from weaned calves to the milking herd. “We don’t chop straw anymore, and we don’t have two-storey barns anymore. And if you’re building a modern barn, your materials are better and your insurance company will want you not just to meet but exceed the code,” he says. The Haasens have recovered from the devastation of their tragedy, turning their disaster into an opportunity to grow and improve their farm. Haasen has shared his family’s experiences and lessons learned in media interviews and presentations to other farmers, such as at Eastern Ontario Dairy Days in Kemptville and St. Isidore, Ont., in 2020. His top advice to producers is to be prepared and have the right coverage. Producers should know in advance who they are going to call and what they will do with livestock if disaster strikes. DFO’s field services representatives are an excellent resource to lean on, he says. Producers should also make sure they purchase sufficient replacement cost insurance and keep track of rising costs so the level of coverage keeps pace with what it will cost to purchase new. Business interruption insurance will provide for income lost as a result of disaster.

AFTER EXTENSIVE planning, the Haasens bult a new modern barn with a robotic milking system and began milking in November 2012.

FROM LEFT are Adam Bussiere, Ivy Haasen, Eddy Haasen and Frank Haasen.


AUTOMATED ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS MONITORING A ‘NO-BRAINER,’ FARME Five dairy farmers test a real-time alert system


arn fires are a significant issue in livestock farming, affecting animal welfare, farmer mental health and overall public perceptions about agriculture. The increasing size and high-tech nature of modern livestock barns also mean losses are higher when disaster strikes—according to Ontario Fire Marshal statistics, those range between $20 million to $30 million annually. According to the Canadian Farm Builders Association, electrical problems cause more than 40 per cent of farm fires. The best way to avoid such losses is to prevent fires from starting in the first place. Modern technology is making it easier for farmers to monitor the overall health of their electrical systems 24-7 and reduce barn fire risks in realtime. That means signs of equipment malfunction can be detected early, eliminating downtime and preventing more extensive problems. Quebec-based PrevTech Innovation

has brought an electrical monitoring system for farms to market, first in Quebec and now expanding into Ontario and Western Canada. Automation technology solution provider Maximus also offers a fire prevention monitoring system specifically designed for agriculture. In the PrevTech system, a control box is installed next to the barn’s main electrical panel to monitor for fault currents and overheating panels and other electrical components in realtime. If the sensors record anything out of the ordinary, the system sends an automatic text message alert to PrevTech, the farmer and the farm’s designated electrician. Farmers pay for the control box and its installation, along with a yearly monitoring and service fee. It has detected problems, such as a junction box with excessive moisture and worn out connections, a burnt-out motor, water from a pressure washer running down PVC tubing into a junction box, compromised lighting fixtures,

MORE INFORMATION: PrevTech: Maximus: Trillium Mutual Insurance Company: Farm & Food Care Ontario farm fires and livestock emergencies resources: OMAFRA barn fire prevention resources: Canadian Farm Builders Association: Farm fire safety checklist:

The increasing s modern livestock higher when dis Ontario Fire Mar between $20 mil a broken connector and electrical terminals on a cow brush and a severely corroded outlet used for a water pump. Guy Séguin, systems engineer at Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO), first learned about the technology and its potential for the dairy industry as part of his involvement with an industry working group focused on barn fire risk reduction, led by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). That’s when DFO decided to work with five Ontario dairy farms to pilot the system. Interested farmers were invited to submit their names and received some funding toward having the technology installed on their farms. “As an industry, we need to take responsibility for this, which is why we moved on this and why we are part of the OMAFRA committee,” Séguin says. “We are promoting fire prevention and although we have a lot more work to do, I believe we are making headway.” DFO is not the only organization taking note of the concept of 24-hour real-time electrical systems monitoring and the value it offers the farm community. In October 2020, Trillium Mutual Insurance Company launched a new partnership with PrevTech Innovations to provide a control box free of charge to any of their agri-business members,


size and high-tech nature of barns also mean losses are saster strikes—according to rshal statistics, those range llion to $30 million annually. provided the members cover costs related to installation and monitoring. Trillium will also freeze the base premium for any participating members for three years following installation of the system. By early April 2021, 85 monitoring units had already been installed or were under discussion, according to Mike Virley, Trillium’s vice-president of operations. “We’re still early on in this journey, but this is interesting early penetration that has exceeded our expectations,” Virley says. “Other companies are doing their own thing to address the issue, but we’re all in this together with a common goal of finding solutions to mitigate and prevent risk.” The ramifications of farm fires go far beyond just insurance, he adds, with financial and stress impacts on farmers, animal welfare considerations, supply chain disruptions and even environmental challenges related to safe clean-up and disposal after a fire. “With the profile and severity of what we are seeing, you can’t get enough insurance to cover this off. Electrical fires are a huge piece, but not the only source of hazard, so we believe the best strategy is to invest in risk management and do our best to help members prevent and mitigate occurrences,” he says. WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA



To avoid corrosion, hardwire as many electrical connections as possible. Light fixtures, wall fans and receptacles are hard to maintain if they’re in out-of-reach places, and will attract dust and cobwebs. If plugs and receptacles are used, install waterproof NEMA 4X versions that are designed to hold up in dusty, humid livestock barn environments.



Cleanliness is your friend. Keep light bulbs, electrical equipment, panels and motors free of cobwebs and dust. If you’re welding, grinding or using a cutting torch, make sure the floor is clean before starting to work and ideally, shield the area with a spark-proof blanket. Shop vacs are a great option for keeping enclosed spaces clean. In open areas, a leaf blower is a good way to regularly blow off equipment, pipes and light fixtures.



Use commercial, not household gauge extension cords. Store them away from livestock to minimize corrosion and replace them if they are frayed or damaged.



Hay, straw and oil will feed a fire. To reduce risk, store liquid fuels and feed and bedding materials in buildings that don’t house livestock.



Make sure all natural gas or propane-fired heaters are professionally installed to code. Keep a close eye on milkhouse heaters in particular since they are used in a very humid environment. Replace a heater’s plug with a waterproof NEMA 4 and plug it into a NEMA 4 receptacle. Suspend electric heaters, such as heat lamps with chains or other non-combustible material.



A forward looking infrared (FLIR) camera is a handy way to do a thermal scan of equipment and systems in your barn to identify invisible threats. They’re a relatively inexpensive purchase, or can be borrowed from Farm & Food Care Ontario.



Many insurance companies have fire prevention assessment officers or risk management specialists who can assess a barn to identify risk areas and highlight invisible risks. Generally, this is a free service offered by your provider.



Where practical, consider fire separation and suppression in farm building construction. This could include fire separation in confined spaces of large structures and installation of fire rated fire walls and doors in higher risk areas. You may also consider fire suppression systems in areas of higher risk.


In their own wo

Through a pilot project supported by Dairy farmers installed a PrevTech monitoring sy words, are their experiences using the tech in the project, what they’ve learned and wh



e are the fourth generation on our farm, milking 55 cows in a tiestall barn and growing hay, soybeans and corn on about 1,000 acres. I’m a veterinary technician from Boreal College and have been on the farm for 12 years. We have three children and our operation is very family-oriented, with our kids helping out with small chores on the farm. I saw a dairy farmer in Quebec posting on Facebook that the PrevTech system saved his barn from a fire because of the alarm he got one night. The fan motor caught on fire and after getting the alarm on his phone, he went to the barn to put out the fire. I did some research online about the system the farmer was talking about. No one around here had it at the time or really knew how it worked. In 2017, we started with major renovations throughout our barn, adding a new calf barn in 2017, a new heifer and dry cow barn in 2018 and installing new tiestalls with pasture mats for the cows and updating the electrical panel in 2019. With all these updates and renovations, I thought the monitoring system might be a good idea—the final touch, so to speak. Last week, we got a few alarms, and to figure out which exact breaker was causing the problem, the technician connected to our system and figured out it was the hot water tank. The element was defective and caused the overheating and the alarms. If we need assistance with the service or have any questions, there’s always someone there to help us. And if we’re not home and we lose power, we get a text on our phones to let us know about the power outage so we can come and connect the generator with the tractor. We see so many barns going up in flames because of electrical problems, bedding choppers and other equipment with small gas engine motors catching on fire, or dusty electrical panels that aren’t always in order. By having a monitoring system, you can eliminate some worries. A good camera system to always be able to have a look into the barn to see if everything is OK helps, too. Our insurance company recognizes the system as well, so we save around 10 per cent on our barn insurance. With that savings, the yearly maintenance pays for itself.



’m a first-generation dairy farmer with my family in Canada,

and we milk 160 cows on our farm about 50 kilometres west of London. We installed our first robotic milking system in 2013 and completed a barn expansion in 2019. We ran into some building permit issues during our barn expansion that would have required us to install a firewall, which is not an option in a naturally ventilated building. Installing a monitoring system was the most feasible solution—it actually prevents the fire from starting in the first place. At the time, putting the system in was something we had to do, but I’m now convinced anyone who builds a new barn should have one. We have two systems, one on each hydro panel. About six to seven months after installing the system, we started getting alarms. It was not a major concern, but we knew something was going on. The system allowed us to watch and monitor the panel. It took a bit of time, but we found the problem. In a normal situation, you would never find it, so we know the system works. If you are building a new barn, this is a cheap insurance policy. Nobody wants to see the barn burn down, so this is a big step forward. If the insurance company helps with premium reduction and you look at the real cost, it is a no-brainer. With a system like this, you are ahead of the problem and can take action to fix it before it becomes a big problem.

Lilian Schaer is a freelance agricultural journalist, writer and communications professional based in Guelph, Ont. She was born in Switzerland and raised on a dairy farm in Grey County. Follow her on Twitter @foodandfarming.


y Farmers of Ontario, five Ontario dairy ystem on their farms. Here, in their own hnology—why they chose to participate hat advice they have for other farmers.




e are dairy farmers just south of Ottawa. We milk 700 cows and raise all our young stock. We crop about 3,000 acres of feed and forage crops for the dairy herd, as well as cash crop corn, wheat and soybeans. We also have a 500-kilowatt methane digester on the farm. We wanted the technology that can avoid a catastrophe. It seemed like a no-brainer to us. We have so many buildings of all ages, so it only made sense to utilize this type of service and incorporate it in our operation. With a monitoring system, we have been able to detect minor hot spots that we would have never been able to see otherwise. Electrical faults aren’t visible, but sensors gave us the alarms that let us do the proper maintenance to prevent bigger problems. It’s an added insurance feature that actually protects you 24-7. The electrician on the farm is an essential person that you need to be comfortable with bringing on the farm—unless you have the time to be the electrician yourself. Our farm is like an open book with our electrician, and they are here often as we are always building or working on something. We would not go down this road without them.

farm in Durham Region with my family, where we milk 75 cows. I’m a board member at Dairy Farmers of Ontario, representing Region 5. I’ve had two barn fires, so I was keen to be part of this pilot project. It’s nice to see that producer money is being invested wisely into a project such as this. For us, it was relatively easy to adopt the new system. It depends on how current your electrical is, but if it’s up to date, it’s a very easy installation by an electrician. It has helped us identify a few electrical issues already, such as a couple of small wiring issues that I was able to sort out myself. This unit sets the thresholds, and it notifies you immediately if there is an issue. If I was putting up a new barn, I would put this system in immediately. We’ve received an insurance incentive through our insurance provider, which was a pleasant surprise. Our savings in insurance pays for the year’s subscription for maintenance and tech support. Anything you can do to avoid a fire, do it.



t Sunny Country Farm, we milk 85 head of Ayrshires in a freestall barn with a swing parlour. We crop 600 acres with one-third of that going to feed the cattle, primarily corn silage, beanlage and straw. We were one of the lucky winners to have won the shared cost of installing the unit. We had put our name forward in hopes it would show us some electrical issues and prevent major breakdowns. We noticed right away a thermostat had rotted away and was not functional, so we were able to take care of that. Later on, maintenance issues, such as lubricating the vacuum pump or a snagged alley scraper or broken belt, have also been detected by the amperage flux on the unit. It’s a good tool to help prevent electrical overloads. As farmers, we push things to the limit and this is a tool that can show you the cost of overworking electrical equipment.



Your farm’s electrical network is in fact, the heart and blood line of your operation. And if something goes wrong, it can affect your entire farm. From something as small as a faulty fan motor to the worst-case scenario, a farm fire, electrical faults and malfunctions can be the cause of any number of problems and unnecessary downtime on a dairy farm.


That’s why understanding your farm’s electrical network, proper maintenance, working with a licensed electrician and monitoring the health of the entire system is essential. Here’s a look at how your farm’s electrical system operates, including common problem areas and how you can avoid electrical issues on your dairy farm.

COMMON CAUSES Unfortunately, barn conditions provide the perfect conditions for these four common culprits:



As moisture and condensation build, corrosion can occur in any area of the barn, like receptacles, junction boxes and outlets. This often occurs after pressure washing or cleaning an area when water can easily get into critical electrical areas. Closely monitor your farm’s electrical system for at least a week following any extensive cleaning, watching for condensation build up or corrosion.



Extension cords are designed for temporary use only. Prolonged use of extension cords causes wear and tear, creating critical faults and hot points. Common signs of overuse or malfunctioning cords are overheating and melted plugs. Never leave an extension cord plugged in when the piece of equipment is not in use and be sure to use heavy duty, high gauge extension cords for farm needs. Ensure you store extension cords in electrical rooms to avoid wear and tear.

Breakers are your first line of defense against electrical anomalies like a short circuit. When a breaker is tripped, it interrupts the circuit, providing a necessary protection point against serious problems or the threat of a fire. Frequently inspect breakers, cleaning any dust or debris and schedule regular maintenance (at least once per year) with your licensed electrician to ensure your breakers are functioning properly.

Panel boxes and breakers regularly work at above normal working condition temperatures. After many heat-cool cycles, screws can loosen and cause arcing and heating. Panels should be inspected periodically, cleaned to remove debris and screws should be tightened by a licensed electrician on an annual basis. Without suitable ventilation, constant exposure to increased temperatures can cause premature aging and decay of your farm’s electrical system. Properly ventilating electrical rooms and areas where panel boxes and breakers are installed is critical.


ELECTRICAL PHENOMENA/HOT POINTS Short circuits, arcing and ground faults are electrical phenomena that may cause hot points. Any hot point can be an ignition point for fire or equipment malfunction.




Short circuits occur when there is no resistance to electricity travelling through a farm’s electrical system. The increase in electrical current creates heat, causing premature stress on the electrical system and equipment and increases the risk of fire. Properly functioning breakers are the first line of defense against short circuits, providing the necessary protection point that interrupts the electrical circuit.

Arcing happens when an electrical current ‘jumps’ to continue travelling. This often occurs when a circuit is compromised (i.e. decaying insulation, faulty contact point, etc.). The result is arching, and an extremely dangerous hot point.

A ground fault occurs when an electrical current doesn’t follow its designated path and leaks to ground. The leaking current can travel throughout a farm’s electrical network, in a non-designated path creating hot points anywhere in a barn. Ground faults are frequently the result of insulation breakdown.


COMMON HOT POINTS SILO UNLOADER Silo unloaders work hard. They are often overloaded and strained, leading to overheating and a breakdown of insulation and electrical components. This leads to critical electrical faults, increasing the risk of fire and short circuits. Silo unloaders, feed mills and other high load equipment deserve more frequent inspection.


PREVENTION GOES A LONG WAY Prevention is about awareness and the willingness to take the right corrective measures to fix or prevent an electrical problem. Regular electrical maintenance and inspections with a licensed electrician is your best defense against electrical anomalies and faults. Preventative maintenance, working with a licensed electrician and regular inspections are key to reducing the risk of barn fires and unnecessary equipment downtime. Installing electrical monitoring and detection equipment is a secondary step to ‘watch’ what really goes on behind your barn walls. For more information on barn fire prevention or electrical monitoring systems, visit http://www., Farm & Food Care’s Livestock Emergency page at https://www. or Information and images courtesy of PrevTech

Constant wear and tear, moisture and corrosion can also lead to premature equipment stress and an eventual failure. The risk of fire is low, but if a well pump malfunctions, your farm goes without water. And that’s a serious problem.

BALE HANDLING / CHOPPING Combining a motor (electrical or gas) with combustible materials, like bales can be a fire risk. Especially if the equipment hasn’t been maintained or cleaned properly, or ongoing machinery problems are ignored. Thoroughly inspect equipment before operating to ensure it is in proper working condition and never leave equipment operating unattended. Regular equipment inspection should include the motors and electrical systems for wear and tear, corrosion and signs of sparks or overheating.


[ HEALTHIER ANIMALS FOR SAFER FOOD Exploring methods to reduce antibiotic use in calves By Lilian Schaer



ntimicrobial medications are widely used to fight bacterial infections in humans and animals. Resistance happens when bacteria and other microorganisms evolve so they are no longer affected by the medications used to treat them. This makes it harder to protect people and animals against infections—and it’s an issue of growing concern around the world. Currently, antimicrobials are widely used in calf production in Canada. Many calves are given antimicrobials for diarrhea and pneumonia before and after weaning, even if that might not be the most appropriate course of treatment. Canada and other countries around the world have been tightening the rules around the use of antimicrobials in livestock production to ensure products are used responsibly to preserve their value for use in human medicine. And although it’s always important from an animal welfare perspective to treat calves with the proper medications when they are sick, there are many other ways to prevent disease and control infection. Establishing a good veterinarian-client-pa-

TOP ANTIMICROBIAL REDUCTION TIPS FOR PRODUCERS • Develop protocols; • Keep detailed records; • Implement good biosecurity; • Care for animals well; • Use the right drug for the right condition at the right time in the right dose; • Consider vaccines, pre- and probiotics and other alternatives; • Work with your veterinarian. 38


tient relationship is an important part of managing animal health in your herd. Not only is this a requirement to receive prescriptions for medically important antimicrobial drugs, but a veterinarian can help you identify and solve a wide range of calf performance issues. A good place to start is with the five Rs: responsibility, reduction, refinement, replacement and review.

RESPONSIBILITY Work with your veterinarian to develop solid protocols or standard operating procedures that spell out how you will treat or manage specific health conditions in your calves. Not only does this ensure consistent treatment, but it also boosts efficiency and ensures food safety. Maintain accurate and detailed drug treatment records to help manage withdrawal times, avoid residues and track how well treatments are working. These can be simple, handwritten notes in a binder or recorded in a herd management software.

REDUCTION The best way to reduce antimicrobial use is to keep animals healthy—and key to that is focusing on disease prevention through biosecurity. A good biosecurity plan controls who and what comes onto your farm, whether that’s new animals entering the herd, outside visitors or even equipment and supplies, such as feed that could bring disease onto the farm. It also spells out practices for managing everything from keeping sick animals separate from healthy ones, cleaning and disinfecting strategies, dealing with rodents and keeping good records. Good day-to-day care of calves is also important. This includes maintaining stocking densities, good ventilation, balanced nutrition and early disease detection.

REFINEMENT When you do have to use antimicrobials, the goal is to use them so they’re as effective as pos-

sible. This means using the right drug for the right condition at the right time in the right dosage. Your veterinarian is your best resource for success. Try using a treatment flow chart to determine when antimicrobials might be the most effective treatment option.

REPLACEMENT Ultimately, you want to find areas where you can replace antimicrobials with other ways to treat or prevent disease. This includes using vaccines or emerging technologies, such as pre- or probiotics, bacteriophages, engineered peptides or immune stimulants. Building disease resistance through breeding is also becoming easier thanks to improvements in genetic technology.

REVIEW Reviewing your tools and techniques is an important part of continuous improvement. That’s why monitoring and recording items, such as the level of antimicrobial use on your farm, the reason, date and type of treatment and the animal’s response, will help you finetune your animal health management. For more information, visit This project was funded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year federal-provincial-territorial initiative. Lilian Schaer is a freelance agricultural journalist, writer and communications professional based in Guelph, Ont. She was born in Switzerland and raised on a dairy farm in Grey County. Follow her on Twitter @foodandfarming.

Calf Care Corner delivers the latest information and ideas to help you improve the way calves are raised on your farm. If you have any comments or questions about Calf Care Corner, send an email to Follow Calf Care Corner on Facebook and Twitter @CalfCareCorner, and sign up for monthly e-blasts at






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hen getting a clear financial picture for your operation, basic record-keeping often isn’t enough. That’s why it’s essential to know how to calculate your historical cost of production. Getting there isn’t always straightforward, but you should know your variable and fixed costs with certainty. Your accounting software program and financial statements should give you most of the information you need.

VARIABLE VERSUS FIXED COSTS Variable costs can be divided into two types— direct and indirect. On a grain farm, direct variable costs are likely to change for each crop since the cost of seed, fertilizer and crop protection products will be different for each. Indirect variable costs change depending on the level of production, but it may be difficult to assign different amounts to different crops. Examples include fuel, labour and utility costs, and the cost of these per acre will often be assigned to all crops equally. Fixed costs are expenses that stay the same, regardless of your level of production. These include interest on land loans, property taxes and machinery depreciation. They include the expenses you pay, regardless of putting in a crop or calving cows. Some are easy to pin down—you know what they are. Others are open to interpretation, such as the full cost of machinery ownership or a land investment cost. For farms with multiple enterprises, such as grain and livestock, it’s often necessary to allocate fixed costs between enterprises. You could allocate based on the gross margin percentage that an enterprise contributes or use a percentage of total expenses. Determining cost of production is even more challenging if you’re projecting for the future. You must estimate production, related expenses and the prices you expect for commodities.

However, costs and returns from the previous year can help make this easier. Even if you can’t always be precise, calculating cost of production is essential because it helps you: • Know what’s a profitable price for appropriate marketing decisions; • Understand how much cash to withdraw from the business for personal use; • Compare different cropping options for profitability; • Determine your fixed costs and whether they can be reduced; • Make informed decisions about equipment upgrades and repairs; • Evaluate government and private insurance programs, farm expansion, diversification and land rentals; • Set prices for consumer food products sold directly to consumers; • Benchmark with comparable farms.

CONTRIBUTION MARGIN AS A TOOL A cost of production analysis can also be useful without getting into the intricacies of fixed costs. For instance, when comparing cropping options, you can consider the variable costs for seed, fertilizer and crop protection products. These are the expenses that vary from one crop to another. Deducting these variable expenses from the gross income expected for what each crop generates is often called a contribution margin. This can be useful when comparing crops, but to know whether a crop or an enterprise will make a net profit, all costs, including fixed expenses, must be considered.

CALCULATING FIXED COSTS FOR MACHINERY For machinery, the capital cost allowance used for calculating income tax is a starting point for figuring out fixed costs. However, it may not reflect the real depreciation or what it will cost when it’s time to upgrade. If you’ve borrowed money to buy equipment, the loan payments are considered a fixed cost. But you should also include it as an op-

portunity cost. If that money was invested elsewhere, it could be earning a return. A useful exercise for grain farms is to tally the total value of machinery and divide by the number of seeded acres to generate machinery investment per acre. Large differences often exist from one farm to the next, and this has a direct impact on fixed costs. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture’s 2020 Crop Planning Guide assumes an annual machinery depreciation rate of 10.7 per cent. Additionally, a machinery investment cost of 7.5 per cent is assumed for a total of 18.2 per cent. The machinery investment cost accounts for the value of money you’ve invested in equipment, and when you eventually go to upgrade equipment, it’s likely to be more expensive. Based on these assumptions and using a total of 18.2 per cent, a farm with $300 per acre invested in machinery would incur a fixed cost of $54.60 per acre, while a farm with $600 per acre invested in machinery would have a fixed cost of $109.20. The Saskatchewan guide also includes 2.6 per cent of the machinery investment cost as machinery operating costs. Fuel usage is estimated for the various field operations. The Manitoba Agriculture’s 2020 Crop Production cost estimates uses a more involved formula for calculating machinery depreci-

OR BETTER DECISION-MAKING ation and opportunity cost. It includes assumptions about an average farm’s equipment line and how much of the machinery purchases were financed. With an assumed machinery investment of $500 per acre, Manitoba’s fixed machinery cost per acre comes to $67.31. Manitoba allocates machinery maintenance, repairs, licences and insurance to operating costs, and this is pegged at $10 an acre. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMFARA) field crop budgets estimates machinery costs based on agricultural engineering formulas and Ontario average custom rates. However, it’s recommended producers use their own records to derive costs. They also note if there are significant debt commitments for land and equipment, another method of budgeting overhead expenses is using the debt servicing requirements— the actual principal and interest payment commitments.

CALCULATING LAND COSTS If you’re cash renting land, the rental cost (and land loan payments) are obvious expenses to include in your cost of production analysis. But what about your equity in the land? Although it doesn’t come out of your cash flow, there’s an opportunity cost associated with land investment. For that reason, it’s common to ap-

ply a land investment cost compared with what the money could be earning in a low-risk investment. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has an AgriProfits Business Analysis and Research Program that generates financial performance reports based on producer surveys. Their analysis of cow-calf production takes a different approach to land costs. Land costs for pasture are based on prevailing pasture lease costs. Feed and bedding costs are based on the value of the feed and bedding in the marketplace, even if these were produced on the same farm. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry uses the same approach for its annual dairy cost study. In most cases, dairy operators use homegrown feed in conjunction with purchased feed. The study examines only the dairy enterprise. Costs of production for homegrown feed are allocated to the crop enterprise portion of the farm. Analyzing in this way separates the livestock enterprise from the grain farming enterprise that may or may not exist within the same farm.

A farm’s gross income might seem like a large number, but net income might not. Personal expenses need to be factored in since they can have a significant impact on a farm’s viability. On the other hand, farms sometimes use unpaid labour. To generate a true cost of production, unpaid labour should be assigned an appropriate value.



Cost of production is sometimes calculated without any allowance for the owner’s living expenses. That might be reasonable if the owners have other sources of income and don’t need to draw income from the farm, but if withdrawals are going to be made, this should be included in the calculations. Withdrawals for incorporated farms are often delineated, but this may not be the case for sole proprietorships or partnerships. Using the same bank account for farming and personal use makes it difficult to track your cost of living. Separate accounts and a disciplined approach to personal withdrawals are highly recommended. There can be a wide variation in living costs from one family to the next. Education expenses, sporting activities, vacations, recreational equipment, retirement savings and entertainment expenses can be dramatically different.

BENCHMARKING It’s beneficial to monitor how your farm is doing year-to-year and to know how your cost of production compares with other farms in your region. This gets easier as more benchmarking information becomes available. Many provincial departments of agriculture survey producers and publish cost of production studies. Crop planning guides, such as the ones published by provincial governments, are not based on producer surveys but still provide useful information and approaches for your analysis. If your accounting firm has a significant number of farm clients, it may be able to share how your costs and returns stack up against others. Not everyone uses the same method for analyzing cost of production, but there’s a lot to be gained from viewing how others do it. Some of the provincial agriculture departments have cost of production calculators for a wide range of commodities where you can plug your numbers. Cost of production analysis can be useful for both big and small farm management decisions, such as deciding what piece of equipment should be leased or purchased. It all starts with good farm record-keeping and updating your projections regularly as cost and revenue assumptions change.

This article is reprinted with permission of the author and Farm Credit Canada.


TURNING AWARENESS INTO ACTION By Workplace Safety & Preventive Services



hile the basis for many agriculture operations may be perceived by some as simple—plant it and pick it or feed it and sell it—nothing could be further from the truth. The modern agriculture facility, even smaller ones, can have processes as complicated as the most leading-edge manufacturing facilities and have the potential for workplace hazards that are often far more dangerous. It’s crucial agriculture workers understand how to work safely, know their rights and learn how the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act protects them. That’s where mandatory occupational health and safety awareness training (OHSAT) comes in, and it makes all the difference in ensuring the agriculture operation is safe for everyone. It’s also the law—the word “mandatory” is there for a reason. Every worker and supervisor

in the operation must take OHSAT, which includes their duties, rights, hazards, controls, resources and more.

TIMELY TRAINING For supervisors, training needs to be completed within a week of them starting their jobs as supervisors, and workers must take it as early as is reasonably possible. It shouldn’t be put off. Employers must ensure this training is done in a timely manner with records of completion or they could face penalties. There are many benefits in having the team up to speed on OHSAT when done properly. Not only will people do their jobs confidently knowing they are working safely, but if they are faced with any issues, such as faulty equipment or harassment, they will be able to respond effectively. This can only make the operation a better place to work, which will help employers attract quality workers and improve the bottom line.


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The modern agriculture facility, even smaller ones, can have processes as complicated as the most leading-edge manufacturing facilities and have the potential for workplace hazards that are often far more dangerous. A key success in implementing quality OHSAT is ensuring the training is not “cookie cutter.” It should use reference points and examples that are part of the day-to-day business. A landscaping business should incorporate elements from their daily tasks, which will be quite different from a dairy farm. It is also an opportunity to reinforce to new and young workers the importance of workplace safety and get them off to a good start. With fall around the bend, this is a great way to start the season. There are many ways OHSAT can be delivered—certainly a key consideration during COVID-19—and it’s never been easier. If facilitator-led sessions are not a possibility, there are virtual options, including those using eLearning. Workplace Safety & Prevention Services’ (WSPS) sessions take under an hour, and WSPS trainers are agriculture specialists, who can make training relevant to specific agriculture operations. There are also free modules, as well as workbooks, that are available online. To find out more about turning the mandatory OHSAT into action, visit https://wsps. news/AgMAT. This article was prepared by Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS). For more information, visit www. or contact WSPS at

A G R I - C O M F O R T. C O M 40






he rumen is almost one-seventh of the body mass for most ruminant species. It hosts trillions of microbes, including bacteria, protozoa and fungi. It’s considered an “ideal” fermentation site compared with other microbiological ecosystems. The rumen is maintained at a relatively constant temperature (39 degrees Celsius), supplied with plenty of nutrients (feedstuffs), and buffered very well with saliva during cud-chewing. Nutrients required for microbes to flourish include carbohydrates (forages and grains for energy), nitrogen and amino acids (for microbial protein synthesis), minerals and B vitamins. B vitamins are considered essential for microbial functions and growth but are not abundantly supplied by feedstuffs. Ruminal microbes have evolved unique genetic capabilities to synthesize those molecules. The end product of ruminal fermentation provides the animal with energy, protein and B vitamins. It’s important to note humans also cannot synthesize B vitamins and rely on external supplies, such as dairy products—one cup of milk provides 46 per cent of the B12 daily requirements. B vitamins are essential nutrients for ruminants and play a critical role in energy, protein and lipid metabolism as individual vitamins or combined (synergy between folic acid and B12). Early literature suggests ruminal fermentation can supply adequate amounts of B vitamins to the animal, but failed to address the heightened requirements for modern, high-producing lactating dairy cow. This was supported by various studies that showed improved production, health and reproduction responses when B vitamins were supplemented. B vitamins are highly utilized in the rumen, and most studies used either intramuscular injections or fed rumen-protected sources. It’s very important to understand the dietary and environmental conditions that influence the net ruminal output of B vitamins and thus, the need for external supplementation to cover the cows’ requirements. A team from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Sherbrooke, Que., investigated the variation of folic acid and vitamin B12 in the blood plasma as affected by cow characteristics


and dietary composition across Canada and the United States (Duplessis et al., 2020). The study included 46 herds totalling 903 lactating dairy cows. Results showed blood levels for both folic acid and B12 were lower for primiparous compared with multiparous and were lower during early lactation (first 55 days) compared with the rest of the lactation. Lower blood levels can indicate higher utilization of folic acid and B12 to meet the elevated requirements for growth and milk production. In the study, diet composition influenced blood levels of folic acid and B12 likely by manipulating the ruminal synthesis of these vitamins. Furthermore, diet composition had a significant effect on the blood levels of these vitamins. Increasing the non-fibre fraction, including starch, in the diet increased blood folic acid, and increasing dietary fibre level increased blood B12. These findings agreed with Beaudet et al., 2016, who demonstrated that apparent ruminal synthesis of folic acid and B12 were increased by opposing diets. The type of ingredient itself had a low influ-

ence on folic acid and B12 blood levels and trended according to the ingredient’s contribution to total fibre or non-fibre levels in the ration. However, because corn silage is a fibre source that contained starch, it had a reverse effect on B12 blood levels—corn silage increased folic acid as a fibre source but reduced B12 as a starch source. The regional distribution of blood folic acid and B12 followed a pattern consistent with diet compositions/ingredients. Vitamin B12 blood level was relatively low in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia and was the lowest in Quebec and Northeastern United States. Folic acid blood level was relatively low in Ontario and Upper Midwest in the U.S. and was the lowest in California (Figure 1). In addition to the effect of dietary composition on rumen output of B vitamins, a team from the University of Guelph (Brisson et al., 2020) built a mathematical model to predict the amount of B12 generated by the rumen. Continued on page 42





FARM MANAGEMENT Figure 1: Blood plasma folic acid and vitamin B12 concentrations in different regions of Canada and the United States. Adopted from Duplessis et al., 2020.

Are your cows receiving their fair share of B vitamins? cont’d from page 41 Their model showed that both dietary fibre percentage (NDF) and total daily dry matter intake (DMI) were the best predictor of ruminal output of B12. The level of DMI could vary depending on stage of lactation (around calving), health status, stocking density and environmental stress, especially heat stress. Therefore, conditions that lead to depression in DMI can merit B vitamin supplementation, including B12. A study by Gressley et al., 2018, confirmed that supplementing lactating cows with a blend of B vitamins helped cows cope with heat stress. For more details about the impact of B vitamins during heat stress, refer to the May 2021 issue of Milk Producer on page 38. In addition to the mentioned factors, several studies reported fibre degradability, starch degradability, nitrogen level, particle size and ruminal pH could influence B vitamin ruminal output. A recent meta-analysis (Evans et al., 2020) collated data from 50 on-farm trials that evaluated the impact of a rumen-protected blend of B

Folic acid: • Lowest in California • Low in Ontario and Upper Midwest

B12: • Lowest in Quebec and North East United States • Low in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia

vitamins on milk and milk components yields. B vitamins supplementation increased milk

(+0.9 kg/d), fat (+50g/d) and protein (+30g/d) yields. The increase in milk and fat yields—but not protein—increased with lactation number. Interestingly, the results showed it’s not just high-producing cows that can benefit from supplementation. Lower-producing cows had a pronounced improvement in productivity as well. This finding confirms B vitamin supplementation may benefit disadvantaged or stressed cows. B vitamins are essential nutrients synthesized and utilized by the rumen “bugs” and then passed on to the cow, fetus and milk. Many factors affect the ruminal output of these vitamins. Therefore, supplementing cows with a source of a rumen-protected B vitamin blend can ensure cows receive sufficient vitamins under most circumstances. References: Beaudet, V., et al. 2016. Journal of Dairy Science. 99:2730-2739. Brisson, V., et al. 2020. Journal of Dairy Science. 103(Suppl. 1):167. Duplessis, M., et al. 2020. Journal of Dairy Science. 103:2883-2895. Evans, E., et al. 2020. Journal of Dairy Science. 103(Suppl. 1):289. Gressley, T. F., et al. 2018. Journal of Dairy Science. 101(Suppl. 2):306. Dr. Ousama AlZahal is the president and founder of AlZahal Innovation & Nutrition.





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ver the past decade, several research projects have focused on studying the behaviour and comfort of dairy cows, and the outcomes of these studies have enabled producers to revise the dimensions of the stalls in free and tiestall barns. These studies have also demonstrated the importance of comfortable resting areas to allow animals to express their natural behaviours. The space required for a cow to be comfortable to lie and stand has been well documented. Numerous studies have shown cows appreciate being able to lie for a significant part of the day, whether it’s to sleep, ruminate or simply rest. The number of hours per day that a cow spends lying has become a measure of animal welfare in the current Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle (2009). Among the best practices listed, the code stipulates the size of the stalls so cows can lie comfortably for at least 12 hours a day. However, the time a dairy cow spends lying does not represent its well-being. One might think a cow that spends 12 hours a day lying would be more comfortable than one that only lies for 10 hours, but many factors can influence how long a cow will spend lying during a 24-hour period.



On average, it seems dairy cows lie between eight and 13 hours a day. Scientific literature most often reports averages between 10 and 12 hours a day. However, there are big differences between cows within a herd. By combining data from several research projects carried out in Canada and the United States totalling 3,122 cows in free and tiestalls, researchers discovered although the average cow spends 11 hours a day lying, some will lie for less than six hours a day, while others will spend more than 16 hours a day lying. However, it appears the total time spent lying does not tell the whole story. For example, although the average cow will lie nine to 11 times a day for 60 to 99 minutes per episode, large differences are observed in the frequency and length of the lying time. Some authors report a frequency varying from five to 20 resting periods per day, which can last from less than 20 minutes to more than two hours. Older cows tend to lie longer but less frequently than younger cows. There is also a reduction in the total time spent lying when cows rest on a hard surface. A similar effect is observed when the bedding is wet.

TIME IS PRECIOUS Over a 24-hour period, a cow can, among other behaviours, allocate time to feed, lie and engage in social behaviours within the herd. In addition, the time the animal will have at its disposal for these different behaviours will be influenced by external factors linked to the

management of the herd, such as milking, waiting periods before milking, during feeding or when receiving veterinary care. Studies have shown cows will prioritize lying over feeding or drinking when time is limited. Circumstances that keep cows standing for three to four hours in a row can exacerbate the desire to lie at the expense of other activities. Such a situation can result in a decrease in feed intake, which could reduce milk production and potentially body condition of the animal. These studies show it’s imperative to plan the herd’s daily management to minimize waiting periods during which the animals spend a lot of time standing. By doing so, cows will benefit from a maximum amount of time daily to express their natural behaviours, including lying.

LAMENESS AND LYING TIME Several studies suggest the risk of lameness is greater when resting areas are uncomfortable for cows. It’s also suspected the risk of lameness increases when the time cows spend lying is insufficient. Ironically, once a cow suffers from lameness, it will generally spend more time lying. Therefore, it’s essential not to rely exclusively on the total lying time to measure animal comfort since lameness could mask the shortcomings in terms of comfort and wellbeing in the dairy herd. Continued on page 46 W W W.MILK PRODUCER.CA



uch like human fitness trackers, activity monitors have been used for several years to follow the movement of dairy cattle. Now, University of Guelph researchers are looking to better use this technology to improve fertility in dairy cows. Dr. Stephen LeBlanc, professor at the Ontario Veterinary College, Tony Bruinjé, PhD student, and their team have monitored the activity and health status of 1,084 cows from two commercial dairy herds. They sought to identify connections between cow health and spontaneous estrus, or heat—the period of the reproductive cycle when females are ready for breeding. “We’re trying to enhance the use of activity monitors for managing reproduction in dairy cows, specifically by linking the cow’s health experience around calving and in the weeks after calving leading up to the breeding period two months later,” LeBlanc says. Typically, when cows are coming into heat, their activity level more than triples within 24 hours. The activity monitors detect this increase in movement, which indicates the animals are ready for breeding. For unknown reasons, a minority of cows fail to come into heat during the breeding period. That’s where LeBlanc and Bruinjé wanted to help. Researchers sought to pinpoint connections between different health conditions and detection of spontaneous estrus. For 18 months, they collected on-farm data on body condition, clinical disease, reproductive health and blood markers of inflammation. “Our goal is to establish a set of predictor variables producers could use to identify whether a cow can be left alone with a good chance of being detected in estrus or would benefit from a targeted intervention to manage her reproduction,” LeBlanc says. While the team is still analyzing the data, their preliminary findings indicate hypocalcemia, reproductive tract infection, ketosis and a marker of inflammation in the blood called haptoglobin are all associated with a decreased WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA

likelihood of spontaneous estrus. Researchers plan to conduct a follow-up study with more herds to determine the reliability of the predictor variables they have identified. “Once we test these health indicators on a larger scale, we hope to identify the strongest predictors of spontaneous estrus,” LeBlanc says. “That way, producers can be more strategic about identifying cows that might need a helping hand.” This research project is funded by Dairy Farm-

ers of Ontario’s Doctoral Research Scholarship and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance. Dianne Priamo is a student writer for the University of Guelph’s office of research.

This series highlights dairy research at the University of Guelph.


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to various health and production problems.

The truth on lying time, cont’d from page 44

LYING TIME AND SLEEP In cattle, sleep is only a fraction of the lying time. In fact, an adult animal will only sleep an average of four hours per day, which is about 25 to 35 per cent of the lying time. Sleep can be divided into two distinct phases: 1. Paradoxical sleep, often called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, where the electrical activity of the brain and eyes is very active but there’s total muscle paralysis in the rest of the body; 2. Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, or without eye movements as seen in REM, is characterized by stages of sleep varying from very light to very deep. Cows go through short periods of NREM and REM sleep over a 24-hour period. During REM sleep, a cow must be lying and cannot ruminate due to the decrease in muscle tone. As for NREM sleep, a cow may doze standing while ruminating, although she generally prefers to lie during this phase of sleep. Recent studies suggest the stage of lactation influences the amount of daily sleep. Cows at the start of lactation sleep significantly less than those at the end of lactation. Researchers are just beginning to study the impact of sleep on dairy cows’ welfare. Nonetheless, it’s likely deficiencies in the quality and quantity of sleep a cow gets can lead

INFLUENCE OF ENVIRONMENT ON LYING TIME Many factors specific to the housing and environment in which cows are kept can have a negative effect on lying time. Several studies report that on average, cows lie between 10 and 12 hours per day in free or tiestall barns. In the case of barns with composted or accumulated bedding, as well as on pasture, cows spend about nine hours lying. However, there are significant differences between farms using the same type of housing. For example, among farms using freestall barns, the range of average lying time between farms studied was 8.7 to 13.5 hours per day. For farms using a pasture system, the range of lying time was 6.1 to 12.1 hours per day. These large disparities suggest the time cows spend lying depends not only on the type of housing but also on the details specific to each farm and above all, on the general management practices. Feeding, milking and waiting times associated with milking can consume a significant portion of a cow’s time each day, decreasing the time available for lying. In addition, animal density in a barn influences the time cows spend lying. There is a significant reduction in lying time when the number of stalls available in the pen is less than the number of cows present. The current Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle (2009) states stocking density should not exceed



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1.2 cows per stall in a freestall barn. However, some studies published between 2012 and 2018 show an improvement in lying time when the density is equal to or less than one stall per cow. Measuring the average lying time of the whole herd may not give a complete and accurate picture of the effects of increased animal density. The average lying time of subordinate cows could be lower than the herd average because subordinate animals are more likely to be displaced from stalls by dominant cows. In addition, a greater variation in resting time per cow is reported as density increases (≥1.2 stall per cow). The negative effect of warm temperatures coupled with high relative humidity on cows is well documented. As temperatures rise in the summer, there is a reduction in resting time in cows. Studies report that during the day, cows reduce the time spent lying by about 20 minutes for every one-degree Celsius increase in ambient temperature when the temperature is above the comfort zone (an environmental temperature range of five to 25 degrees C). The reasons for this reduction are not entirely clear, but it is suspected cows dissipate heat better when standing. This fact highlights the importance of minimizing heat stress experienced by animals during the summer. Being able to lie for several hours a day is a priority for dairy cows. Their health and wellbeing depend on it. Any steps that can be taken to allow animals to lie comfortably can only be of benefit, including making sure to provide animals with clean resting areas that are accessible, well-sized and covered with a thick layer of dry bedding, as well as minimizing situations that result in long periods of cows standing unnecessarily. During the warm season, use strategies to reduce heat stress. When it comes to dairy cow comfort, every detail counts. Reference: Invited review: Lying time and the welfare of dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science Vol. 104 No. 1, 20–46. 2021 Mario Mongeon

is a livestock specialist at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs – Alfred Resource Centre.

This article is prepared by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs livestock technology specialists to provide information producers can use on their farm.


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BRINGING RESEARCH FACULTY, LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY TOGETHER LRIC’s mentorship program helps Guelph researchers deepen understanding of livestock agriculture By Lilian Schaer CONTRIBUTOR


ost livestock research used to be handled primarily by livestock or agriculture-related university

faculties and departments. Today, that picture is changing as many leading agricultural research topics are multifaceted and complex—think regenerative agriculture, greenhouse gas emissions or One Health— and finding solutions requires expertise beyond traditional animal or plant science.

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Faculty from disciplines as diverse as engineering, computer science and even human health can now be working on agricultural research, and many may have little familiarity with the sector, how it works or the challenges and opportunities it faces. That gap between farm and faculty is what led to an “ah-ha moment” about 18 months ago for Mike McMorris, chief executive officer of Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC). The organization has created a mentorship program to connect early-stage faculty at the University of Guelph with the Ontario livestock industry and, after a successful pilot that wrapped up earlier this year, is launching its second cohort this fall. “Innovation requires many things, including sound research rooted in industry needs, strong working relationships between university faculty and industry and effective technology transfer involving many organizations,” McMorris says. “This initiative gives early-stage faculty a chance to gain some of those insights and connections in our industry that will hopefully help them in their work.” The first nine participants were from the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) and College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS). Although COVID-19 impacted both the program’s length and delivery format, it was deemed a success overall. Rene Van Acker, OAC’s dean, believes it’s important for faculty to understand the goals and aspirations of industry organizations and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), both of whom are significant funders of Ontario livestock research. “We appreciate what LRIC has been doing in terms of providing leadership for newer faculty and building as much alignment as possible between industry partners, OMAFRA and faculty to understand what the posW W W.MILK PRODUCER.CA

sibilities for research and partnerships could be,” he notes. Jeff Wichtel, OVC’s dean, also sees value in the program and its ability to generate new research collaborations between faculty from different departments. “Collaboration is organic as people get to know each other, and institutional attempts to generate collaboration aren’t as successful.

“Innovation requires many things, including sound research rooted in industry needs, strong working relationships between university faculty and industry and effective technology transfer involving many organizations.”

Dave Renaud, a veterinary epidemiologist at OVC, is already familiar with livestock farming, but found the discussions around how commodity boards make research funding decisions and how to structure a funding proposal extremely valuable.

It requires a human touch. We hope to keep this academy of mentees connected moving forward,” he says. Despite pandemic restrictions moving most program activities online, LRIC was able to facilitate connections between faculty and producers that are already showing tangible results. For example, Heather Murphy, associate professor at OVC, changed the approach of one of her research proposals to include on-farm water quality work after getting feedback from producers. Rafael Santos, environmental engineer professor, secured an OMAFRA Highly Qualified Personnel scholarship for a student because the project was addressing a real problem in the livestock sector, thanks to what Santos learned from people in the industry. WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA

Continued on page 50


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Bringing research faculty, livestock industry together, cont’d from page 49 LRIC commissioned Steven Roche of ACER Consulting to conduct in-depth interviews with the mentees and prepare a report of recommendations to help with planning for the next cohort. Overall, the program’s strengths included the small group size, content that provided a broad overview of the livestock industry and the different commodities, insights into how research is funded and the oppor-

tunity to engage both with farmers and the LRIC team. “The program has helped mentees think about how their research programs can fit in the livestock sector—it has resulted in a newly funded project about how to improve knowledge transfer, and several other proposals have now been submitted for funding that were stimulated out of this program,” Roche says. “That’s a positive outcome already.” Recommendations for enhancement included more emphasis on knowledge transfer

We can still be there for each other

Despite pandemic restrictions moving most program activities online, LRIC was able to facilitate connections between faculty and producers that are already showing tangible results. and grant writing, more opportunities for facilitated discussions with presenters, the ability to receive feedback on draft grant proposals and expanding eligibility to other colleges at the university to encourage more cross-collaboration between disciplines. LRIC has now developed a formal guide for the voluntary program to give mentees a better idea of what they are committing themselves to and what they can expect in return. The next program will have a stronger focus on networking with presenters, opportunities for the mentees to get to know each other and a return of the farm visits, McMorris says. “We also had exceptional industry participation,” he adds. “The key advice for researchers was around the importance of building a relationship with industry and a need for much improved technology transfer.”

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Lilian Schaer is a freelance agricultural journalist, writer and communications professional based in Guelph, Ont. She was born in Switzerland and raised on a dairy farm in Grey County. Follow her on Twitter @foodandfarming.

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stimulated of of this Roche says. Corporation out as part its program,” ongoing efforts to drive “That’s a positive outcomesector. already.” innovation in the livestock For more information Recommendations about LRIC, visit for enhancement included more emphasis on knowledge transfer and grant writing, more opportunities for facilitated discussions with presenters, the ability to receive feedback on draft grant proposals and expanding eligibility to other W W W.MILK PRODUCER.CA





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he 2021 edition of the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CGFA) conference will bring insight and inspiration to farmers and other industry experts from across North America. Quebec is hosting the virtual conference and insider knowledge under the theme Forage Landscape Synergies, which will explore topics related to: • The Quebec forage industry – the land of opportunity; • A resilient agri-system pathway; • Domestic and export market opportunities; • Ecological services and grassland ecosystems. Each topic will offer discussions that dive deeper into the subject. For example, the session on a resilient agri-system pathway will explore topics related to soil interface and tools for the modern forage manager to maximize yield and quality. The session on domestic and export market opportunities will look at current and emerging forage market opportunities and pollinator functions in the Canadian forage seed world.


The conference will be held from Dec. 14 to 16, 2021, via Zoom. CFGA opted to continue with another year of virtual meetings considering uncertainties surrounding COVID-19. The event will be held in both French and English. In addition to exploring Forage Landscape Synergies, the 2021 CFGA conference will once again accept student posters on forage and grassland research projects underway at agricultural universities across the country. The CFGA Leadership Award will be presented during the conference, and virtual breakout rooms will be the location of casual conference conversations and meetups.

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es gouvernements du Canada et de l’Ontario investissent dans de nouvelles initiatives visant à soutenir et à promouvoir la santé mentale dans les communautés agricoles et rurales de l’Ontario. Ces initiatives amélioreront les services de santé mentale offerts au secteur agricole de l’Ontario et contribueront à faire en sorte que les agriculteurs, leurs familles et leurs travailleurs aient d’autres endroits où se tourner en cas de besoin. Trois initiatives recevront un financement de plus de 430 000 $, à l’heure où les gouvernements continuent de veiller à ce que les agriculteurs, les travailleurs de l’agroalimentaire et les collectivités rurales aient accès au soutien en santé mentale dont ils ont besoin. Ces projets permettront d’obtenir davantage de données sur la santé mentale des agriculteurs et des collectivités rurales en Ontario afin de s’assurer que les soutiens disponibles répondent à leurs besoins uniques. « De nombreux agriculteurs et employés ont dû faire face à de grands défis pendant la pandémie, ce qui ne fait qu’ajouter au stress qu’ils peuvent vivre au quotidien », déclare la ministre de l’Agriculture et de l’Agroalimentaire, Marie-Claude Bibeau. Les programmes de santé mentale en agriculture don-

neront aux producteurs et aux employés de l’Ontario davantage d’outils pour les aider à relever ces défis. Il est important que les producteurs et les employés sachent qu’ils ne doivent jamais hésiter à tendre la main s’ils sont aux prises avec des problèmes de santé mentale. » Les initiatives de financement comprennent les suivantes : • Enquête sur la santé mentale des agriculteurs et sur la sensibilisation à l’agriculture chez les professionnels en santé mentale : La Dre Andria Jones-Bitton (Collège de médecine vétérinaire de l’Ontario, Université de Guelph) mènera une enquête ciblée pour mieux comprendre l’état actuel de la santé mentale des agriculteurs en Ontario, et la Dre Briana Hagan consultera des professionnels en agriculture et en santé mentale pour élaborer un programme de sensibilisation à l’agriculture et des documents d’information à l’intention de professionnels des soins de santé mentale. Ce projet permettra aux prestataires de soins de santé mentale d’améliorer la prestation de leurs services à la communauté d’agriculteurs et d’adapter ces services à leurs besoins uniques. • Services de soutien aux collectivités et aux

milieux de travail pour répondre aux besoins en santé mentale des travailleurs agricoles internationaux en Ontario : Les Centres de santé des travailleurs(ses) de l’Ontario (OHCOW) mèneront des recherches sur les services et mesures de soutien en santé mentale qui existent déjà et qui sont adaptés aux besoins des travailleurs agricoles internationaux employés dans les fermes de l’Ontario et recommanderont des stratégies pour améliorer les services en santé mentale et en bien-être, ainsi que les mesures de soutien psychosocial accessibles aux travailleurs du secteur agroalimentaire. • Enquête sur les répercussions des événements perturbateurs sur la santé mentale dans les milieux ruraux de l’Ontario : Le Dr Leith Deacon de l’École de design environnemental et de développement rural, Université de Guelph, recueillera des données communautaires sur les difficultés et les expériences que vivent les populations vulnérables, et mettra en évidence les initiatives couronnées de succès dans les collectivités rurales afin de formuler des recommandations sur les moyens d’appuyer l’élaboration de plans d’intervention appropriés concernant la COVID‑19 et les futurs événements perturbateurs.

D’UN CÔTÉ… MAIS D’UN AUTRE… Par Murray Sherk



otre directeur en chef de l’économie et du développement de politiques, Patrice Dubé, dit occasionnellement que ce dont nous avons besoin est un « économiste manchot » (one-handed economist). Lorsqu’ils essaient de prévoir les tendances, les économistes lancent trop souvent des affirmations telles que « d’un côté (on the one hand), si X se produit, nous obtiendrons le résultat Y, mais d’un autre (on the other hand), si X ne se produit pas, alors attendez-vous à un résultat différent ». On m’a rappelé ceci cet été encore. Au printemps dernier, les conseils du P5 ont WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA

examiné les perspectives de l’offre et de la demande et, après avoir pris en compte toutes les tendances du marché, les données et les prévisions fournies par la Commission canadienne du lait, nous avons déterminé que l’industrie risquait d’être à court de lait pour combler les besoins de tous les marchés à la fin de l’été et à l’automne, et nous avons pris la décision d’émettre des journées d’incitatifs supplémentaires. C’était en mai. À la mi-juillet, il est devenu évident que la demande ne se matérialisait pas comme prévu. Bien que les stocks de beurre n’étaient pas élevés et que les stocks de fromage commençaient à être imposants, la demande de produits laitiers au détail était un peu en décroissance avec l’ouverture des restaurants et les problèmes de réception de lait de certaines usines. Pendant ce temps, la production laitière était elle-même assez forte. La production quotidienne en Ontario était de 8,6 à 8,7 millions de litres par jour pendant

la majeure partie des mois de juin et de juillet et il y a eu une très légère baisse de production en raison du temps chaud. Il y a un an, nous expédions 8,3 à 8,5 millions de litres par jour pendant la majorité de l’été. De même, les producteurs ont connu une remontée quant à la position créditrice. À la fin du mois de juillet, en considérant l’ensemble de la province comme un seul producteur, nous étions à moins 1,9 jour. Il y a un an, ce chiffre était de moins huit jours. Cela signifie que plus de 48 millions de litres supplémentaires ont été livrés dans les limites des quotas l’année dernière. Prédire combien de crédits les producteurs utiliseront est un défi, mais il suffit de dire que depuis que je siège au conseil (9,5 ans), nous n’avons jamais dépassé le seuil de moins un jour, donc la probabilité d’aller beaucoup plus haut est mince. Suite à la page F2 MILKPRODUCER | SEPTEMBER 2021



D’un côté… mais d’un autre…, Suite de la page F1 Comme nous l’avons indiqué dans de nombreuses communications, nous continuons à surveiller de près le marché et nous nous engageons à partager des informations en temps opportun, mais l’incertitude reste grande. La pandémie est toujours là. Nous entendons continuellement parler de retards dans l’expédition de marchandises en conteneurs et de pénuries de certaines pièces et fournitures dans de nombreux secteurs. Il y a de l’agitation politique à l’échelle internationale, et l’incertitude règne quant à la nature exacte des produits laitiers qui seront importés et dans quelle mesure ils le seront. C’est l’ancien président des États-Unis, Harry Truman, qui a dit : « Trouvez-moi un économiste manchot (one-handed economist). Tous mes économistes disent : « d’un côté (on the one hand)... et puis de l’autre (on the other) ». Avec tout ce qui se passe, les prévisions continueront d’être troubles, et nous serons mis au défi de vous donner les signaux de production qui s’avèrent toujours corrects. Cela dit, nous nous engageons à améliorer continuellement tous les domaines de l’organisme, y compris la prévision et la communication des informations dont vous avez besoin pour prendre des décisions opportunes sur votre exploitation.




n raison des récentes fluctuations du marché, les conseils d’administration des P5 ont décidé de ne pas modifier le nombre de jours d’incitatifs pour le moment. Toutefois, les conseils d’administration des P5 se réuniront à la mi-septembre pour évaluer les conditions du marché et prendre une décision concernant les jours d’incitatifs d’octobre. En juillet, les conseils d’administration des P5 ont décidé de réduire de deux journées les jours d’incitatifs du mois d’août et d’une journée ceux du mois de septembre, en invoquant quelques raisons principales qui ont conduit à l’atténuation des signaux de production. « La demande pendant la réouverture de l’économie n’a pas été aussi forte que nous

PRIX PONDÉRÉS DU P5 ET DU POOL DE L’OUEST* Le graphique ci-dessous montre le prix pondéré de 12 mois pour les provinces du P5 et le pool de lait de l’Ouest (PLO). *Ces chiffres sont fournis avec un décalage de trois mois

PROPORTION DE MATIÈRE SÈCHE DÉGRAISSÉE À LA MATIÈRE GRASSE (M.S.D.-M.G.) Ce graphique montre la proportion de M.S.D.-M.G. en Ontario pour les 12 derniers mois par rapport à sa proportion ciblée de 2,1722. Proportion de M.S.D.-M.G. en Ontario Proportion ciblée de M.S.D.-M.G. en Ontario

Prix pondéré du P5 Prix pondéré du PLO



juil. 2021

juin 2021

mai 2021

avril 2021

fév. 2021

mars 2021

déc. 2020


janv. 2021

2,2 nov. 2020

juin 2021

mai 2021

avril 2021

fév. 2021


mars 2021

janv. 2021

déc. 2020

oct. 2020

août 2020

sept. 2020


nov. 2020



oct. 2020




sept. 2020

P5 77,62 $


août 2020


juil. 2020

Prix pondéré à l’hectolitre

PLO 79,26 $

Proportion de M.S.D.-M.G.




l’avions prévu », a déclaré Patrice Dubé, agent en chef de l’économie et de l’élaboration des politiques de Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO), ajoutant que les ventes au détail commencent à se stabiliser comme prévu, mais que l’industrie de la restauration n’a pas complètement redémarré et que beaucoup ont connu des pénuries de main-d’œuvre. D’autres raisons expliquent cette décision, notamment les fermetures ou les pannes des installations, ainsi que les importations plus faibles que prévu, ce qui laisse penser que les importations augmenteront à l’automne. Tous ces facteurs font qu’il est difficile d’établir des prévisions précises et d’émettre des signaux de production en conséquence. « Il n’est pas facile de prédire l’évolution du marché à court, moyen et long terme, et cela dépend vraiment des répercussions de la pandémie et de la reprise de l’économie », explique


M. Dubé. « À court terme, il faut surveiller de près les tendances du marché et la capacité de transformation. » La Commission canadienne du lait prévoit toujours une augmentation de deux à trois pour cent de la demande des P5 pour la campagne laitière 2021-2022, et les conseils d’administration des P5 espèrent que la situation observée en juillet et août était temporaire et que la demande reprendra à l’automne. Entre-temps, le niveau élevé de lait dans le système a amené les provinces de P5 à écrémer le lait. En juin, le prix pondéré en Ontario a baissé de 3,99 $ l’hectolitre, une baisse qui s’explique en grande partie par l’augmentation de l’écrémage. Cette baisse de prix est également attribuable à une augmentation des coûts de mise en commun pour la province. Une autre

baisse du prix pondéré a été observée en juillet et, là encore, l’augmentation de l’écrémage en a été le principal facteur. En juillet 2021, les stocks de beurre ont atteint 31 800 tonnes, soit une légère baisse par rapport à juin 2021, lorsque les niveaux atteignaient 32 100 tonnes. Quant aux stocks de fromage, ils ont atteint 105 200 tonnes en juillet 2021, soit une baisse par rapport au mois précédent, où ils s’élevaient à 108 600 tonnes. Pour ce qui est des ventes nationales de produits laitiers au détail, au cours des 52 semaines se terminant le 17 juillet 2021, les ventes de lait de consommation, de crème de consommation, de yogourt, de crème glacée, de fromage et de beurre ont augmenté de 0,5, 6,2, 3,4, 0,6, 3,9 et 0,2 p. 100, respectivement, par rapport aux 52 semaines précédentes.

Les besoins nationaux totaux en matière grasse pour la période de 12 mois se terminant en juin 2021 ont atteint 1,1 million de kilogrammes, comparativement à 1,06 million de kilogrammes l’année précédente. Parallèlement, la production totale de lait des P10 pour la période de 12 mois se terminant en juin 2021 a atteint 1,08 million de kilogrammes, comparativement à 1,04 million de kilogrammes l’année précédente. L’objectif principal des conseils d’administration de P5 est de surveiller de façon continue la situation du marché du lait et de répondre à la demande de la façon la plus optimale possible. En cette période d’incertitude, les conseils des P5 continueront d’adapter les signaux de production pour faire face aux changements du marché, au besoin.



Alberta Saskatchewan


Montant voulait/kg

Quantité à vendre/kg

Quantité achetée/kg

48 427.50 $




42 250 $




Echange annulé

Colombie-Britannique Manitoba Ontario

33 000 $




24 000 $

19 668,51




24 000 $

20 492,95




24 000 $




Echange annulé

Nouvelle-Écosse Île-du-Prince-Édouard

24,000 $




*Terre-Neuve n’utilise pas d’échange mensuel de quotas **Plafond de 24 000 $ en vigueur en Île-du-Prince-Édouard Nouveau-Brunswick Ontario Nouvelle-Écosse et le Québec






Retenues en Ontario

Retenues brutes moyennes par hL, basé sur la composition mensuelle provinciale kg-par-hL.

Pour juillet 2021

*Ces équivalents par hl sont calculés d’après la composition moyenne ontarienne pour juillet 2021 de 4,03 pour la M.G., de 3,12 pour la protéine et de 5,94 pour les A.M.S., et arrondis au centième près. Le prix réel du transport pour juillet 2021 était de 2,730 $ l’hectolitre.

M.G. par kg Prix intérieur-quota Excédent de quota

2,76 %


9,14 $

0,90 $

18,47 $

74,49 $

0,00 $

0,00 $

0,00 $

*8,61 % *4,71 %

5,91 %

*2,53 % *1,75 %

0,20 % 0,88 % 0,94 %


*1,00 % 4,32 % 5,63 %


*5,26 % 15,21 % 13,83 %


*14,97 %

0,86 % 1,11 % 2,35 % 2,70 %

3c2 3c4

*0,88 % *2,77 % 6,35 %


*8,13 %

9,38 %

0,38 % 0,34 %


*0,33 % 3,27 % 4,73 %


*3,35 % 18,45 % 16,18 %


-0,28 %


2,42 % 2,70 %


1,69 % 1,83 % 0,62 %

5c 0%


*27,27 %

23,84 % 14,77 %

3,39 %



*13,21 % *0,41 %

6,52 %

*1,68 % 7,29 %

*2,43 % *0,72 %





REVENU *par hL

0,00 $

% Revenu

4,14 %

0,93 %


REVENU par kg de M.G.

En juillet, 3333 producteurs ont livré du lait au DFO compara­tivement à 3363 l’an dernier.


2,55 %

A.M.S par kg

0,00 $

% Extrait sec degrasse


Protéin par kg

11,00 $

% M.G.


juil. 2021

Pour juillet 2021

Pour juin 2021 (kg de M.G./kg d’extrait sec dégraissé)

11,80 %

juin 2021


*Utilisation par classe dans le P10


mai 2021

4,865 $ -4,865 $

$70 avril 2021

4,865 $ 69,626 $

74,49 $ mars 2021

Total de retenues Total net moyen

$75 fév. 2021

0,625 $ 0,050 $ 0,060 $ 2,730 $ 1,400 $

janv. 2021

0,625 $ 0,050 $ 0,060 $ 2,730 $ 1,400 $

déc. 2020

Administration DFO Recherche DFO CanWest DHI Transport Expansion de marché


nov. 2020

*par hL

oct. 2020

*par hL


sept. 2020

Excédent de quota

août 2020

Intérieur quota




Classe 1a1 (comprend les classes 1a2, 1a3, 1c et 1d pour des raisons de confidentialité) Lait et boissons Classe 1b Crèmes liquides Classe 2a Yogourt, boissons à base de yogourt, kéfir et lassi Classe 2b4 (comprend les classes 2b1, 2b2 et 2b3 pour des raisons de confidentialité) Desserts laitiers frais, crème sure, milk shakes, et boissons nutritionnelles pour sportifs Classe 2b5 Crème glacée et yogourt glacé Classe 3a1 Fromages de spécialité Classe 3a2 Fromages en grains et fromages frais Classe 3b2 (comprend la classe 3b1 pour des raisons de confidentialité) Cheddar et cheddar vieilli Classe 3c1 Feta Classe 3c2 Asiago, gouda, havarti, parmesan et suisse Classe 3c4 (comprend les classes 3c3 et 3c5 pour des raisons de confidentialité) Brick, Colby, fermier, jack, Monterey jack, munster, fromage pour pizza, mozzarella pour pizza, et autres mozzarellas non couvertes dans la classe 3d. Classe 3c6 Panir Classe 3d Mozzarella utilisée strictement sur les pizzas fraîches par les établissements enregistrés auprès de la Commission canadienne du lait Classe 4a Beurre et poudres Classe 4d (comprend les classes 4b1, 4b2, 4c et 4m pour des raisons de confidentialité) Lait concentré pour la vente au détail, les pertes et l’alimentation animale Classe 5a Fromages destinés à la transformation Classe 5b Produits non fromagers destinés à la transformation Classe 5c Produits de confiserie


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