Best farming practices – Sustainability

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organic farming

The Eight Features of Nutrilites Sustainable Farming Systems:

  1. Considering the farm as an organism – including the interaction and diversity of the people, animals, plants and elements of the earth working together in perfect balance.
  2. The integration and diversity of the plants that are cultivated, and the people and animals living on the farm.
  3. The preservation of habitats – natural ecological areas within the farm boundaries to sustain the diversity of both native plant and animal species.
  4. Wide based soil nutrition – protecting the soil as a living organism, with the goal of maintaining 45 to 50 elements in the soil by feeding the soil natural materials.
  5. No contamination allowed – creating a healthy and thriving base so that the need for curative measures is limited.
  6. Preservation and cultivation of a wide variety of seeds.
  7. Traceability of every action performed on each piece of land, so that we may truly work as one with nature and respect the farm as a living organism.
  8. Social life – ensuring that the farm is a viable operation that will provide economic security and sustainability for the families who depend on it.

 

 

Article from: http://www.troutlakefarm.com/how-we-do-it/our-farming-practices

How Farms Are Started

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Three hundred sixty-five days, more or less — that’s the time it took. When Mitchell Morse and Chris Margetts told their friends they planned to start a farm, no one expected to see it in a year’s time. Because back then Mitchell and Chris were living in the city, in Vancouver, with no land or tools — just an idea, a picture in their heads of how they would start a farm.

Of course, there was also that longing to return to their roots. For Chris, who grew up in the small town of Sidney, not far from Victoria on Vancouver Island, and lived for six years on a llama ranch on the Sunshine Coast, a city allotment garden in Vancouver was never going to cut it.

Farm to Plate

And so they began by thinking about what they wanted on the plate. Mitchell, a pastry chef who’d worked “in all the really good restaurants in Vancouver” could picture the beautiful foods they’d grow and how they would look prepared and served up fresh. They named their venture The Fickle Fig.

"A beautiful, colourful salad of greens, berries, vegetables and flowers fresh from the farm."“For me the endgame is to have a restaurant in Sidney,” said Mitchell, whose eclectic background includes growing up on a dairy farm, a degree in chemistry and ceramics, time spent travelling the world, and training as a pastry chef. “It’s all about, ‘What do we have? What kind of dish can we make?’ versus ‘We have a dish in mind and let’s go find all the ingredients for it.’ I want to do it all: cheese-making, winemaking, bees, quail, rabbits….”

So, first the farm, then the restaurant. This first year would be all about making something out of nothing.

Finding Land

They began their search for farmland with certain ideas. They wanted a diversified farm, with many kinds of vegetables, herbs, fruit and animals. And they planned to follow permaculture and organic farming methods. They didn’t want to be dependent on tractors or other large farm equipment, and they hoped to minimize the need for outside inputs.

Spinach seedlings grow along the furrowed soil at The Fickle Fig Farm.Since they weren’t in a position to own, they looked for a situation that would provide a long-term lease on land. Through an ad on Craigslist, they found a beautiful acre on Salt Spring Island. “This is it,” they said, and prepared to move to the island. But the situation fell through and they were back to searching. Then an ad came up for 5 acres of hay field on the Saanich Peninsula, Chris’ old stomping ground. “Even better,” said Chris. It was near Sidney where they wanted to be.

They took possession of the land — a field of green grass, a lot of rocks and an old shed — in October when it was pouring rain. It didn’t take long to discover (in a repent-in-leisure kind of way) that this former hay field with tractor ruts and deep-rooted weeds would take some intensive labour to restore to healthy, productive soil.

“We had all these great ideas of a no-till system, and eventually just keep composting on top,” said Mitchell. “…We did it by shovel every single row.” But the soil was just so hard and filled with weeds that the roots of the new seedlings couldn’t penetrate the compacted soil. “We learned the hard way, you need a tiller.”

Financing

Starting out, Mitchell and Chris both still had jobs which took them through the winter months until they could start farming full-time. They secured a loan for $30,000 with the plan for three initial income streams: a CSA weekly farm box program, a booth at the Sidney Street Market, and a farm stand on the nearby Lochside Trail.

A sign board at The Fickle Fig Farm.The first year would require investments for plants, animals, feed and tools. They needed to build sheds for goats, pigs and chickens, establish an orchard, and procure seeds and livestock. Many of the crops, like asparagus and fruit trees, would not yield until later years.

To make their investment monies stretch, they thought constantly about how to do things inexpensively. They scrounged whenever possible: salvaged bricks for an outdoor oven, glass doors to make cold frames, food scraps from the grocery store to feed the pigs.

And they designed the farm to require minimal outside inputs. Aside from outside grains for animal feed, they planned a working farm model that used its own manure and compost as fertilizer, and its pasture for animal forage with rotational grazing to maintain the health of the land and the livestock.

Choosing the Name

The name for the farm and the restaurant came after much thought. “We had a big board … and we would just write down ideas every time we got them,” said Chris, “and [Mitchell] popped up with ‘The Fickle Fig’ one day, and I’m like ‘That’s totally it!’” “Fickle” to reflect a willingness to figure out different ways of doing things, to go back to the old methods some of the time, and to not just be “swimming with everyone.” And “Fig” because the cuisine will be west coast with Italian influence.

Vision and Decisions

Chris Margetts holds a baby goat at The Fickle Fig Farm.Now began the creative and daunting task of making decisions: where to put the orchard, the animals, the crops, and where to source the special livestock and cultivars that would make a great restaurant. They envisioned a farm that included temperate as well as subtropical fruits like olives, limes and lemons. Maybe coffee or dragon fruit. And figs. Of course, figs.

“Everything we plant I have a use for in some way; I’ve seen it on a plate in my head,” Mitchell said. Herbs for garnish, vegetables, fruits of all kinds.

For each specialized heritage seed, plant or animal for the farm—heirloom tomatoes, persimmons, medlars, Olive Egger chickens to produce the perfect Italian olive-coloured eggs, Nigerian dwarf goats to produce creamier cheese because their milk is higher in butterfat, golden raspberries for colourful desserts—they spent hours researching breeds, seed sources and suppliers that met their price range, vision and quality.

baskets of fresh green figsA carton of brown, olive and cream-colored eggs.A large heirloom tomato

Fickle Fig produce: Fresh figs, olive, brown and cream-coloured eggs, and an heirloom tomato.

Deer Fencing and Missteps

Coming into farming, even with some family background on each side, has been an incredible learning curve. Could it have been easier with an established older generation farmer to point the way? The early onions, so proudly planted as one of their first crops, were devoured by slugs. But now they know not to group onions in what turned out to be the wettest part of the field. The corn-based biodegradable weed cloth (such a find!) biodegraded too soon and left weeds choking the strawberries.

“Everything we do — when we hit our head — something good has come out of it and we’ve learned a lesson.”

At times their desire to save money cost them a lot in effort and experience. Everyone told them they’d need a good deer fence. Deer posed a huge problem. But with fencing priced at about $1,000 for land they didn’t own, they looked for an inexpensive solution and soon erected a fence with a low-cost conduit pipe and deer block netting. The next day, the deer walked right through it.

“…We had this ‘we were trying to outsmart everybody…. we’re not going to spend $1,000 on deer fence. We’re going to try to do it cheap and easy’,” said Mitchell. After the deer toppled the fence twice, they rebuilt the enclosure with sturdy wire fencing. But all wasn’t lost, because the deer netting company refunded their money on warranty, and they were still able to use the low cost pipes as stakes. “It’s like everything we do, when we hit our head — something good has come out of it and we’ve learned a lesson,” said Mitchell.

Jars of canned garlic scapesOne of the most fundamental lessons they learned about farming is that it requires hours of hard work. A typical day might include 12 hours at the farm, and then for Mitchell, several hours spent canning produce afterwards to take advantage of fresh cucumbers for pickles or berries for jam. For Chris, who handles much of the marketing and business end of The Fickle Fig, the evening might include time on the farm’s website or Facebook page to get the word out. Farmers have to be good on the land and good at business too.

Video >

ficklefig-thumbnail-150Starting the Fickle Fig Farm
Farm to Plate from the Ground Up

Mitchell Morse and Chris Margetts talk about the planning, hard work and adventures that went into starting The Fickle Fig Farm.

A Growing Farm

Apples, onions, squash and other fall vegetables at the Fickle Fig market booth.Looking back now after their second year of farming, they marvel at what they accomplished in the first 12 months — a growing orchard with some 200 fruit and nut trees, two active beehives producing honey, a thriving farm stand, two market booths (at the Sidney Street Market and the North Saanich Farm Market) and an active CSA box program, plus pigs, chickens, ducks, rabbits and goats, and a palette of vegetables. In a year’s time, they took a hay field and began to produce meat, cheese, eggs, fruit, vegetables, herbs and even a few grains. It’s the vision they both saw when they imagined their farming endeavour.

Looking out at their mist-covered farm on a morning in January, Mitchell noted on his Facebook page: “Every morning I’m reminded why we chose this adventure. …It’s moments like this when I feel most connected to everything.”

Since they started the farm in October 2013, The Fickle Fig has expanded to almost eight acres. Mitchell works seven days a week on the farm to maintain the crops and animals, while Chris handles the behind-the-scenes farm business, and works an outside job. Plans are underway to find restaurant space and open their farm-to-plate restaurant in Sidney, the next phase of their food/culinary adventure.

Month by Month – First Year at The Fickle Fig Farm

October

Empty Field

Broke ground in the rainy hayfield; planned the crop rows; tilled the soil, hauled leaves, shovelled, tilled soil, tilled more soil.

December

Seed packets

Tilled the soil; purchased seeds; built the tool shed; dug holes for fence posts.

February

Seedlings

First seeds sprouted; finished the goat shed and 4-paddock fence; five Nigerian dwarf dairy goats arrived, two large black pigs arrived, first batch of chicks; submitted application for booth at the street market.

April

apple blossoms

Planted vegetables; orchard began to bloom; deer fencing went up (and down and up again!); built a movable chicken run; prepared strawberry beds; got two beehives.

June

Twin goats

Baby twin goats arrived; CSA program began; harvested peas, radishes, herbs, spinach, lettuce, spring onions, broccoli and more; set up the farm stand on the Lochside Trail.

August

Vegetables for Sale

August – farm stand officially opened; harvested tomatoes, goji berries and a full line of produce; planted for fall; canned fruit and vegetables; last Sidney Street Market.

October

newborn piglets

First year at the farm nearly over; continued at the North Saanich Farm Market; picked late berries; made quince jam; two new rabbits; waited for new

The Dangers of Farmer’s Lung

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Farmer’s lung is an allergy caused by dust from moldy hay, straw and grain. In early stages of the disease, it can seem like nothing worse than a nagging winter cold. If ignored, the allergic reaction can cause permanent lung damage. The victim may be forced to give up farming and — in some cases — may suffer from permanent disability or even death.

Early diagnosis is crucial if lasting damage is to be prevented. Because farmer’s lung is characterized by cold or flu-like symptoms, early detection is difficult. Many victims won’t even bother to visit a doctor despite persistent symptoms. When they do, the exposure to moldy crop material is rarely mentioned to the physician. This can be disastrous, because each exposure increases the damage. Farmers who don’t seek medical help could saddle their families with an invalid.

Molds the cause

When crops are stored without sufficient drying, they begin to heat. Many kinds of mold grow in such environments. When a farmer works with such material — for example, when a bale of hay is broken open — the mold is released as part of a very fine dust. A farmer who is working indoors can inhale a large amount of this dust in a very short time.

Because the dust is so fine, it gets past defense systems in the nose and throat. When the dust reaches the inner parts of the lungs (called the alveoli), the lungs’ internal defense system takes over. In most cases, the dust is removed without damage. However, an allergy to the material develops in a few individuals. In other words, the body ‘assumes’ that the mold is more dangerous than is really the case, and prepares to combat the intruders.

The first exposure in sensitive individuals only creates the allergy. Every subsequent exposure triggers an allergic reaction. The body’s immune system goes to work against the mold, producing symptoms which may resemble anything from a cold to pneumonia. Scar tissue (fibrosis) forms within the lungs. While cold-like symptoms may clear up, the fibrosis is permanent.

Lung damage may be too slight to notice in the early stages of farmer’s lung. However, each subsequent exposure increases tissue damage. A victim will soon begin to notice that they are short of breath. At first, this makes strenuous work more difficult. Even routine tasks become too much after frequent, repeated exposure. Eventually, the victim may find it a struggle to even get out of a chair.

Acute attacks most obvious

The allergic reactions of farmer’s lung are usually divided into either acute or chronic attacks. Acute reactions are most noticeable but, by being ignored, the chronic form can do more long-term damage.

Acute reactions occur when a farmer is especially sensitive and/or when there is very heavy exposure to moldy dust. Symptoms of an acute attack develop four to eight hours after exposure. They resemble flu or even pneumonia — in extreme cases, the victim may go into shock and die!

Symptoms of acute farmer’s lung include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • A dripping nose
  • An irritating and harassing cough
  • Blood-streaked sputum
  • Laboured or difficult breathing, with a feeling of tightness in the chest.
  • Crackling breathing
  • Muscular pain
  • Depression

It is easy to see why these symptoms could be mistaken for a case of the flu. That’s why milder attacks are often left to “run their course”, without a visit to a doctor. In the more extreme cases, the need for hospital care becomes obvious.

Symptoms of an acute farmer’s lung attack usually decrease after 12 hours, but may linger for up to two weeks. Severe attacks can last as long as 12 weeks.

‘TODS’ resembles acute farmer’s lung

Working with dusty feed can produce another respiratory affliction, called Toxic Organic Dust Syndrome (TODS). It, too, is caused by exposure to very large amounts of dust. TODS symptoms are identical to those resulting from an acute farmer’s lung attack. However, TODS is not and allergic reaction. While anyone can get TODS (and can become very sick from this condition), most people recover completely. Having TODS does not damage your lungs, and does not increase the risk of getting ODS again.

Chronic farmer’s lung more dangerous

While acute attacks are most noticeable, the chronic form of farmer’s lung is more common. Gradual development often leads victims to dismiss the chronic form as something minor, like a nagging chest cold. This makes chronic farmer’s lung especially dangerous. By the time an affected farmer goes to the doctor and the disease is diagnosed, there can already be serious damage.

Chronic farmer’s lung results from repeated exposure to moldy dust. The quantities of dust may be so small that the farmer is hardly aware of them.

Chronic farmer’s lung has several symptoms:

  • Occasional fever and sweating at night
  • Progressively increasing shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough
  • Generalized aches and pains
  • Appetite depression and weight loss
  • Weakness, loss of energy
  • Depression

Because the shortness of breath develops gradually, a victim may not even be aware of the change. Also, the last three symptoms — weight loss, lack of energy and depression — tend to push the other symptoms into the background.

 

What are the chances of getting farmer’s lung?

The risks of becoming a victim of farmer’s lung are fairly small. Studies suggest that fewer than 10 percent of farmers — perhaps less than five percent — are at risk of developing this condition. However, there is no way of finding out in advance whether or not you are immune.

Risks increase when crops have been stored in damp or ‘tough’ conditions. Working with such material outdoors poses minimal danger, because the moldy dust is quickly dispersed. The greatest danger occurs during the months when moldy crops are being handled indoors. Dairy farmers are the most common victims.

While farmer’s lung is usually associated with the handling of hay, any moldy plant material can be responsible. The list includes grain, straw, silage, and even tobacco. Uncapping a silo or cleaning out a grain bin usually releases large quantities of moldy dust.

How to tell if you have farmer’s lung

Victims often try to ignore the symptoms of farmer’s lung. They find it easier to dismiss their condition as just a cold or flu that “won’t go away”. This is dangerous — any delay in prevention and treatment will increase lung damage!

If you experience any of the following, contact your doctor immediately:

  • A sudden illness that develops a few hours after you have handled moldy crop materials
  • A chronic cough
  • A general feeling of tiredness or depression

To help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis, emphasize that you have been exposed to dust from moldy crops. A series of procedures — which might include a blood test, a chest x-ray, and a breathing capacity test may be used to confirm or disprove a tentative diagnosis.

Treatment of farmer’s lung

Farmer’s lung can be controlled, but it can not be cured. In acute cases, the symptoms can be treated with bed rest and oxygen therapy. Medication can be used to control symptoms in chronic cases. However, this can be dangerous, because damage to the lungs may continue without the victim’s awareness.

The only proven treatment for chronic farmer’s lung victims is the avoidance of contact with moldy crop materials. Just as there is no way of curing the allergy once it has developed, lung damage can not be repaired.

In milder cases that are detected early, avoiding contact with the molds will prevent further lung damage. In severe cases, the victim will have to quit farming.

Don’t take chances with farmer’s lung

There is no way of knowing in advance whether or not you are immune to the molds that cause farmer’s lung. The only way to prevent this condition is to avoid contact with dust from moldy plant material and/or call the special team of mold removal edmonton experts in your local area. While it is difficult to completely eliminate contact, there are several measures that will minimize exposure to the moldy dust.

  1. Make sure that crops are adequately dried prior to store. This is the key to stopping mold growth. Artificial drying systems and preservatives can play a role in preventing mold development.
  2. If possible, wet hay should be ensiled.
  3. Always use a plastic sheet to cap open silos — don’t use plant material. Hold the edges of the sheet down with heavy weights, such as tires.
  4. Wet down the top of a silo before uncapping the ensiled material. This prevents moldy dust from becoming airborne. This should be done even if the silage was covered with a plastic sheet, because the top layers still tend to mold.
  5. Use the same wetting techniques when cleaning out grain bins or other areas that are likely to be dusty.
  6. Provide as much ventilation as possible when working in dusty areas. For example, make sure doors and windows are open. If practical, construct new openings to provide more ventilation.
  7. Move the work outdoors whenever possible. While this is usually not practical in the case of feeding operations, be sure to open bales that you know are moldy outdoors.
  8. Avoid dusty work in confined areas. When constructing new farm buildings or modifying older structures, keep facilities as open as possible.
  9. When you have to work with moldy material, try to keep your distance. If you have to break open a moldy bale, do so with a fork, instead of bending over and using your hands.
  10. Mechanize feeding operations if economically feasible. For example, handling large round bales with a tractor keeps an operator away from the moldy dust.
  11. In some cases, it is best to wear a respirator. Make sure that it is an approved toxic dust respirator. You must familiarize yourself with correct procedures for using and maintaining the respirator. A respirator should never be used as an excuse for skipping other precautions!

Keeping the disease from getting worse

Once a person has farmer’s lung, the only way to control it is to avoid all contact with moldy dust. This means doubling the precautions listed above. If possible, any dusty work should be handled by someone other than the victim. Ignoring these precautions will lead to progressively more serious lung damage.

If necessary, a farmer’s lung victim should quit farming, rather than becoming permanently disabled.

A risk is not worth taking

Most farmers enjoy their occupation. When they take a chance with farmer’s lung, they are gambling on being forced out of a way of life they love. Even worse, they risk being too weak to do work of any kind!

The simple precautions that minimize your chances of developing farmer’s lung are mostly common sense. Clearly, the risks of ignoring these preventive measures are not worth taking. If Farmer’s lung is something that effects you or a loved one then you can use the Canada wide directory to find the best mould remediation company in your area!

Publication #: F-014


The information and recommendations contained in this publication are believed to be reliable and representative of contemporary expert opinion on the subject material. The Farm Safety Association does not guarantee absolute accuracy or sufficiency of subject material, nor can it accept responsibility for health and safety recommendations that may have been omitted due to particular and exceptional conditions and circumstances.
COPYRIGHT© 1990

Breeds of Beef Cattle in Ontario

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Breed Comparisons

The environments and resources available to raise beef cattle are as varied as the breeds themselves. Table 1 groups breeds into biological types for four criteria. The table is based on extensive research performed over the past 25 years at the Meat Animal Research Centre in Clay Centre, Nebraska. Notice the tremendous variability in the available breeds.

The table will help you compare breeds and rank them according to criteria important to your herd and market, whether it is reproduction, growth, carcass traits or a combination of them all. More information is available on a breed-average basis for individual traits than is presented here, but a large degree of variability can exist within a breed. Breeding decisions involve individual animals, not breed averages, so selection of the right individuals within a breed is critical. Use the information presented here to familiarize yourself with available breeds and narrow down your choices. Selection of individual animals for a breeding program will require analysis of the individual’s genetic merit for the traits of interest. Breed differences can be blamed for product inconsistency, but they can also be exploited to produce adapted animals and a consistent product.

Table 1. Breeds Grouped into Biological Types for Four Criteria* **

Breed Growth Rate and Mature Size Lean to Fat Ratio Age at Puberty Milk Production
Jersey
X
X
X
X X X X X
Longhorn
X
X X X
X X X
X X
Herf-Angus
X X X
X X
X X X
X X
Red Poll
X X
X X
X X
X X X
Devon
X X
X X
X X X
X X
Shorthorn
X X X
X X
X X X
X X X
Galloway
X X
X X X
X X X
X X
South Devon
X X X
X X X
X X
X X X
Tarentaise
X X X
X X X
X X
X X X
Pinzgauer
X X X
X X X
X X
X X X
Brangus
X X X
X X
X X X X
X X
Santa Gert.
X X X
X X
X X X X
X X
Sahiwal
X X
X X X
X X X X X
X X X
Brahman
X X X X
X X X
X X X X X
X X X
Nellore
X X X X
X X X
X X X X X
X X X
Braunvieh
X X X X
X X X X
X X
X X X X
Gelbvieh
X X X X
X X X X
X X
X X X X
Holstein
X X X X
X X X X
X X
X X X X X
Simmental
X X X X X
X X X X
X X X
X X X X
Maine Anjou
X X X X X
X X X X
X X X
X X X
Salers
X X X X X
X X X X
X X X
X X X
Piedmontese
X X X
X X X X X X
X X
X X
Limousin
X X X
X X X X X
X X X X
X
Charolais
X X X X
X X X X X
X X X X
X
Chianina
X X X X
X X X X X
X X X X
X

*From Cundiff et al., 1993 BIF Proceeding

**Increasing number of X’s indicate relatively higher values.

Factors in Selection

A number of factors must be considered when selecting breeds for either a seedstock or a commercial program. Among these are:

  • individual breeding goals
  • environment
  • quantity and quality of feeds available
  • cost and availability of good seedstock
  • how breeds will complement each other in a crossing program; and
  • market-specific breed combinations may command market premiums.

If selecting breeds for a crossbreeding program note that scientists involved in breed evaluation research generally recommend a 50/50 mix of British and Continental breeding for the cow herd for most of North America, excluding subtropical areas. Limited feed resources indicates a higher percentage of British breeding. Where abundant feed resources are available and/or maximum lean yield is desired, a higher percentage of Continental breeding is recommended. For more information on crossbreeding see OMAFRA Factsheet Crossbreeding Systems for Beef Production, Order No. 01-011.

Common Breeds Of Beef Cattle In Ontario

A brief overview of the history, physical characteristics and dominant traits of the beef cattle breeds common to Ontario follows. The breeds in this section have substantial numbers in both purebred and commercial operations and have undergone substantial selection programs over the years. The breeds listed offer the genetics and selection required to develop a breeding program suitable for the available market.

Angus

The Aberdeen Angus breed existed in Scotland 400 years ago and evolved during the 19th century in northeast Scotland in the counties of Angus and Aberdeen. The first Aberdeen Angus was imported into Canada in 1860.

Angus cattle are solid black or red and are polled. Both colours are registered in the Canadian Angus Association herd book. Angus are noted for good maternal qualities and a high carcass quality. Angus cattle are also recognized for their ability to forage under rugged conditions.

Image of Angus bull: solid black colour

Figure 1. An Angus bull.

Blonde d’Aquitaine

Blonde d’Aquitaine originated in the southwest of France, where they developed as a dual-purpose breed. Animals are cream to fawn coloured. The breed is horned and recognized primarily for its beef characteristics and high yielding carcasses. The first Blondes were introduced into Canada in 1971.

Image of Blonde d'Aquitaine cow and calf

Figure 2. The Blonde d’Aquitaine.

Charolais

Charolais, one of the oldest French breeds and the earliest European import into Canada, arrived from the U.S. in 1955 and from France in 1967. Originally, Charolais were used for meat, draft and milk, but have since become specialized as a beef breed. Cattle of the Charolais breed are large and heavy, white to cream-coloured and either horned or polled. Through sire evaluation and breed improvement, they offer the beef industry hardy cattle with rapid growth and good muscling.

Image of Charolais bull

Figure 3. A Charlolais bull.

Gelbvieh

Gelbvieh or German Yellow Cattle evolved in the early 19th century through the crossing of various breeds in northern Bavaria. This produced a growthy dual-purpose animal that also served as a draft animal. Gelbvieh have been in Canada since 1972. Emphasis in North America in recent years has been on meat production.

The Gelbvieh is solid-coloured, reddish gold to russet, with fine dense hair. They have good size, heavy muscling and are known for their desirable carcass and strong maternal characteristics.

Image of Gelbvieh bull

Figure 4. A Gelbvieh bull.

Hereford

The Hereford, one of the oldest cattle breeds, was developed in Herefordshire, England. First importations into Canada were in 1860.

The Hereford is a reddish-brown colour with white on the head, brisket, chest, underpart of the body, lower legs and tassel. The white face is a dominant characteristic. Herefords can be either horned or polled.

Hereford cattle are extremely hardy and show excellent foraging ability. Among beef breeds, they are not high milk producers but have good growth potential and calve relatively easily. Their popularity is shown by their continued use as a beef-producing animal that crosses well with other breeds. Bulls are usually docile and easy to handle.

Image of Hereford bull

Figure 5. A Hereford bull.

Limousin

The Limousin originated in the hill country of south-central France. The cattle range from a golden wheat colour in the females to a deep red-gold in the males, darkening somewhat with maturity and age. The Limousin has always been selected for its meat qualities. Referred to as the “carcass breed,” Limousins do well in carcass competitions with their large rib eyes and high yielding, quality, lean carcass.

Cows are also noted for their calving ease and mothering ability. Limousins were introduced into Canada from France in late 1968.

Image of Limousin bull: dark red

Figure 6. A Limousin bull.

Maine-Anjou

The Maine-Anjou is one of the largest breeds of cattle in France. They were developed in Brittany when stock that existed in the area before 1850 were crossed with imported Shorthorns to produce a superior animal. The breed is large, horned, and is dark red, usually with a white underline and often with small white patches on the body. The appeal of this breed to cattle producers is their high growth rate, milking ability and good disposition. Lean carcass quality and high cutability also put them in demand.

The breed was first imported into Canada in 1968.

Image of Maine-Anjou bull

Figure 7. A Maine-Anjou bull.

Shorthorn

The Shorthorn originated in the counties of Durham, Northumberland and York, England. First importations into Canada took place in 1825. The Shorthorn has been called the Foundation breed since it has been used in the development of 30 or more exotic breeds throughout the world.

Shorthorns may be red, white, roan or any combination of red and white. Cattle are either horned or polled. The breed acquired a reputation for hardiness, mothering ability, and good temperament. The major development of the breed has been for beef production, although dual- purpose herds for milk production are being maintained.

Image of Shorthorn bull:  red with white speckling on haunches

Figure 8. A Shorthorn bull.

Simmental

The Simmental originated in Switzerland during the Middle Ages. Although developed as a triple purpose meat/draft/milk animal, they are now considered a dual purpose milk and meat producer. Simmentals range in colour from light tan to dark red with white markings on the head, behind the shoulders, belly, legs and flank. They can be horned or polled.

Simmentals are noted for their muscling, high growth rate and high milk production. Simmental cows usually wean heavy calves due to their high milk production and the breed’s high growth potential. First imports into North America were in 1967.

Image of Simmental bull: dark red with white

Figure 9. A Simmental bull.

Other Breeds Of Beef Cattle In Ontario

There is limited availability of purebred seed stock from the breeds listed in this section due to the small number of breeders and purebred stock in Ontario. Several of the breeds are used in crossbreeding programs for specific traits. The double-muscled breeds are often bred to the low end of dairy herds to increase meat yield and marketability of veal calves. Breeds known for their calving ease can be used on heifers, and include Salers, Murray Grey and Galloway. If considering one of the following breeds it is important to understand where they fit in the Ontario market, what market opportunities are available and whether or not seed stock can be located and purchased.

Belgian Blue

Belgian Blues are the third largest and perhaps fastest growing beef breed in Great Britain. First introduced to Canada in 1976, it is one of the highest yielding beef breeds. The breed’s attributes include double-muscling, fine bones and quiet temperament. Dairy producers are making use of Belgian Blue semen to raise beef-type calves from the bottom end of their dairy herds.

Chianina

The Chianina breed of cattle is of ancient origin, going back to the Roman era when they were used as draft animals. These cattle derive their name from the Chiana Valley in Italy. It is one of the largest breeds of cattle in the world with weights up to 4,000 lbs. The animals are tall, long-legged, long bodied and heavy. Mature bulls are 6 feet tall and are higher at the back. They have white hair and black skin, and adapt well to hot climates.

Chianina are noted for rapid growth rate, leanness, high dressing percent and calving ease. First importation into Canada occurred in 1971.

Galloway

Galloway is an older breed, developed in southwestern Scotland. They have not experienced the extreme breeding for type that other breeds have. They were originally imported from Britain into Canada in 1861.

Three separate breeds of Galloway exist; Galloways, Belted Galloways and White Galloways. They are registered in the same herd book but in 3 separate sections. Three colours are registered: black, dun and red. All Galloways are polled and are noted for their hardiness, maternal traits, calving ease and foraging ability. Their double hair coat allows them to thrive year round in the harshest climates, requiring minimal shelter.

Highland

Highland cattle originated in the Highlands and west coastal area of Scotland. They were first imported into Canada in the 1880’s. The breed is horned and can be black, brindle red, yellow, white or dun in colour.

The breed will survive and reproduce under extreme climatic and poor grazing conditions. It is known for its browsing ability. The double coat consisting of a downy undercoat and long outer coat that can reach 13 inches is well oiled to shed rain and snow. They are slow maturing and noted for longevity.

Murray Grey

The Murray Grey cattle originated in Australia and were introduced into Canada in 1969. The breed resulted from the chance mating in 1905 of a light roan, nearly white Shorthorn cow to a purebred black Angus bull, producing a calf that was silver grey in colour. The same cow produced 12 calves, all grey, by various Angus bulls. From 8 females of these naturally polled grey calves the colour remained dominant in their progeny although Angus bulls were used exclusively.

The breed has a reputation for calving ease, mothering ability, hardiness and a docile temperament. They are easy keepers, can finish on grass and have a high carcass cutability.

Parthenais

The Parthenais breed existed in Western Europe for hundreds of years with the official French herdbook being established in 1893. The Canadian herdbook was established in 1993 following the first importations of embryos and semen in 1991. Parthenais are docile, reddish buckskin cattle with black pigmentation. They are highly productive, fertile producers known for their high cutability and heavily-muscled carcass.

Piedmontese

The Piedmontese is considered a double-muscled breed, which is native to only a small section of northwest Italy in the Alps. Importations into Canada were delayed because the national breed association in Italy refused to sell breeding stock until 1980.

Piedmontese are fawn in colour, gradually turning white with black skin pigmentation. The breed is considered to be fully double-muscled, with none of the difficulties traditionally associated with this characteristic, and are noted for their quality, lean carcass, high cutability and calving ease.

Pinzgauer

The Pinzgauer belongs to a group of European cattle breeds that are indigenous to the Alpine regions of Austria. They are considered a dual-purpose breed. The first Pinzgauers arrived into Canada in the early 1970’s.

The hair colour of the Pinzgauer cattle is chestnut brown having a range of light to dark brown with a clearly defined white stripe of varying width along the back and loins. The breed is of medium size, horned, with a gentle temperament. Pinzgauer are known for their longevity, fertility and mothering ability.

Red Poll

Red Polls existed as a prehistoric breed in Europe. The Danes introduced them into England. Two strains, the Norfolk and Suffolk, were crossed in 1808 to combine fleshing qualities and milking qualities, respectively. This was the origin of the Red Poll breed that was introduced into Canada in the early 1880’s.

The breed is red in colour, small to medium in size and polled.

Salers

This breed was developed in south-central France in the rough mountain region of Salers. The cattle are a solid, deep cherry red, varying somewhat in intensity and horned. A small number are black and polled animals are rare. Salers were first brought into Canada in 1972.

Salers were originally bred for milk, meat and draft purposes. The breed now is primarily raised for meat production. They are known for their maternal qualities of easy calving and milk production and their ability to forage and tolerate extremes in climate.

South Devon

The South Devon breed was developed in the southern part of Devonshire, England. Originally a draft type these cattle were selected for both milk production and fleshing quality during the 19th century.

South Devon’s are the largest of the English and Scottish breeds. These cattle are a solid bright yellowish red, varying slightly in shade and often having a somewhat mottled appearance. The cattle are horned and noted for hardiness, good milk yield and their lean carcass quality.

South Devon cattle were introduced into Canada in 1969 direct from England.

Tarentaise

The Tarentaise is one of the old breeds indigenous to the Alpine regions of southeastern France. It is a hardy, well-adapted mountain type that has survived to the present without any particular infusion of other breeds.

Tarentaise are a moderate-sized animal, early maturing and usually reddish tan in colour, with dark pigmented skin. The breed is horned and had been primarily selected for milk production, although they have been selected for beef characteristics since their importation into Canada in 1972.

Welsh Black

The Welsh Black are descendants of cattle raised and domesticated in the rugged Welsh mountains of ancient Britain before the Roman Conquest in 55 B.C.

Welsh Black cattle are medium in size, horned, black in colour and have thick soft and fairly long hair that is shaggy in winter. They are known as a maternal breed with gentleness, hardiness, milking ability and foraging ability.

The first Welsh Black were purchased in the U.S. in 1968 and the first direct importation from Wales was in 1971.

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Ayrshire Cattle

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Ayrshire Cow            

Facts about Ayrshire Cow (dairy breed), The Ayrshire cattle are a horned variety of dairy cattle, which are native to Ayrshire in the southwestern part of Scotland. The “Fear of cattle Bovinophobia”. “Scientific name for cattle Bovine”. Thes “Ayrshire cows” are recognized for their skill to change grass into milk competently and their toughness. The strong points of the Ayrshire cow breeds are the desired attributes of trouble-free calving and long life. “Ayrshire Cattle” were traditionally recognized as Cunningham cattle or Dunlop cattle. They were exported to all countries of the world and wide cattle docks used to subsist at the Cunningham head location for loading and export reasons.
Features
Ayrshire Cow are average-sized cows and the normal grown-up Ayrshire cow has a maximum body weight, ranging from 990 lbs to 1320 lbs (450 kg to 600 kg). Usually, the male Ayrshire cows are heavier than the female ones, with the body weight that ranges from 1,400 lbs to 1,984 lbs (635 kg to 900 kg). The body weight of the female Ayrshire cows ranges from 990 lbs to 1,320 lbs (450 kg to 600 kg). The Ayrshire cow normally contain white and red markings, even though the red color marking can vary from a shade of orange color to a dark tan.
Ayrshire Cow are strong, rough cows that get used to all administration systems, as well as cluster handling on dairy farms with milking parlors and free stalls. The Ayrshire cows do extremely well in udder conformation and are not prone to much of leg and foot problems. These features make the Ayrshire cows the excellent commercial dairy cattle.
Other attributes that make Ayrshire Cow attractive to the marketable dairyman include the energetic Ayrshire calves. The Ayrshire cow are physically powerful and trouble-free to develop. The Ayrshire cow is a reasonable butterfat variety and moderately a high protein cow variety. Ayrshire Cow, particularly the ones that are native to Finland, are also crossed with the Holstein cattle breed with the intention of improving the toughness and fertility of the Holstein breed cattle.
Ayrshire Cow are capable of producing superior quality milk, with the average of 3.9 % butterfat and with a huge quantity of protein. The Ayrshire cows can produce excellent yields, and with good administration, a group can produce approximately 12,000 pounds of milk for each day. The Ayrshire cow are still renowned for offering high quality milk on forage, and hence they are an admired breed, suitable for organic farming.
Ayrshire cattle are largely found in nearly all parts of the world. The Ayrshire cows are used for the Woolworth Company in Southern Africa, which reinstated Simmental Cattle during 1988. The Ayrshire cattle are still recognized as Dunlop Cattle in New Zealand. There are some Ayrshire cow breeds in the Transvaal and the Drakensberg. The Ayrshire cows are also extensively ranched in Australia. There are some Ayrshire cattle in the tropics, like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and some parts of Africa. There are Ayrshire cattle in Finland and Scotland, as well.
Temperament
Ayrshire Cow encompass physically powerful individual temperament. The Ayrshire cows are dynamic and competent grazers, but they are also extremely gentle mannered. Ayrshire cows are a resilient breed, which are capable of thriving and surviving in warm or cold climatic conditions. The Ayrshire cows are renowned for their virtual lack of health setbacks. Their fame as ranch cows is in part because of the effortlessness with which they can be administered.
The average lifespan of an Ayrshire cow is 10 years.

“Some Ayrshire Cow Facts”
The male Ayrshire cow name is called a bull and the young they produce are called calfs. When do Ayrshire cows give milk for the first time, after they have given birth to a calf for the first time. A Ayrshire cow can not climb down stairs but it can climb up stairs. It can not climb down because cows knees do not bend the right way for going down stairs. Ayrshire cows spends about 5 1/2 to 7 hours every day eating cud (food that has been partly digested and returns from the first stomach of ruminants to the mouth for more chewing) and about 8 hours on chewing it, they have one stomach, but for digestion Ayrshire cows have four digestive compartments called reticulum, rumen, abomasum and omasum. The cow on average in the United States can produce about 21,000 lbs (9525 kg) of milk in one year, that’s about 2,500 gallons (9463 liter) a year, and for the time of its life on earth, a cow can produce about 200,000 glasses of milk. A 1000 pound cow in a year can make about 10 tons of manure. Ayrshire cows chew about 50 times per minute. A Cow is considered sacred in the religion Hindu of India. Ayrshire cows can drink a about a bathtub full of water a day, which is equivalent to 40 gallons (151.4 Liters)of water a day. The average cow in the U.S. Can produces 53 pounds (24 kg) of milk per day, or 6.2 gallons (23.4 Liter). It takes about 12 pounds (5.4 kg) of whole milk to make one gallon of ice cream. Ayrshire cows can smell something up to 6 miles (9.65 Kilometer) away, they have superior sense of smell. Cows can hear frequencies higher and lower much better than humans. Beta carotene found in grass that cows graze on, is where butter gets is natural yellow color. To make one pound of butter it takes 21.2 pounds (9.6 kg) of whole milk. Ayrshire cows have 32 teeth and chew 50 times per minute. Ayrshire cows have panoramic vision they can see in every direction. 101.5°F (38.6°C) is the average cows body temperature. Ayrshire cows can sleep while standing.