Barn Fire Resources

Strategies to reduce the risk of barn fires:

  • Having a plan ready to deal with any emergency.
  • Having buildings inspected and maintained regularly by a licensed electrical contractor.
  • Monitoring the electrical components in the barn (e.g. using infrared and robotic technologies).
  • Working with local fire departments and insurance companies to identify problem areas on the farm, including blocked laneway access to buildings and electrical hotspots, and to fix any issues found.
  • Developing a preventative maintenance and housekeeping schedule.
  • Training family and employees on what to do if there is a barn fire: plan what to do with livestock, who to call and establish a safe meeting point.

Barn Fire Resources

There are many resources that can help farmers inspect and monitor their operations to reduce the risk of a fire. Visit to find helpful resources, including:

Visit our partners’ web pages for barn fire prevention information and resources:

Barn fires can create unique challenges for farmers, including the disposal of large volumes of deadstock. We encourage you to inform your members and clients about their responsibilities around deadstock disposal.

The Disposal of Dead Farm Animals Regulation under the Nutrient Management Act was developed by OMAFRA to manage on-farm livestock deaths. The regulation provides deadstock management options for farmers to minimize environmental impacts and biosecurity hazards. While burial was historically the chosen option for barn debris and deadstock, the increase in the number of animals per facility and changes in the building materials increase the risks of doing so. Collection of deadstock by a licensed collector is recognized as the most effective and sustainable disposal method.

Visit for other resources and tips for keeping farms safe. At, you can find information on contingency deadstock planning and the regulation.

Together, we can reduce the risk of barn fires.

Draft Veal Cattle Code of Practice Released for Public Comment

To comment go to:

Focus on the requirements – these are considered the minimum standard of care that all Canadian veal cattle must receive.

Instead of writing “No comment” on sections where you don’t have any feedback, consider a comment like:

  • “These requirements are achievable on my farm”,
  • “These are practical changes”,
  • “My farm already follows these requirements”,
  • “Most veal farmers can meet these requirements,”
  • “This is a practical approach to raising veal cattle.”

This type of comment tells the Committee that you approve with the section and do not want changes to be made. You can use comments like this under each section, or leave a final comment on the last page indicating you accept the code “as is.”

The Canadian Veal Association and the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) are pleased to announce the launch of the public comment period on the draft Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Veal Cattle. The public comment period allows stakeholders – producers, consumers and others with an interest in the welfare of veal cattle – to view the draft Code and provide input to the final Code.

The draft Code and the public comment system are now accessible at: All comments must be submitted through the online system. The public comment period closes February 14, 2017. The Code Development Committee will consider the submitted comments after the close of the comment period and the plan is that the final veal cattle Code of Practice will be released by fall 2017.

Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals are the result of a unique consensus-based, multistakeholder approach used across various agricultural sectors, which brings together all relevant stakeholders with responsibility for animal care standards.

A Scientific Committee report summarizing research conclusions on priority welfare topics can be found online alongside the draft Code. This peer-reviewed report aided the discussions of the Code Development Committee as it prepared the draft Code of Practice. The report, developed by scientists familiar with cattle welfare, should be reviewed prior to making a submission.

“The Canadian Veal Association is committed to continual improvement and a high standard of care for veal cattle in a manner that is attainable, practical and manageable by all producers in Canada,” said Robert Wynands, veal producer, President of CVA, and Chair of the Code Development Committee. “The Code Development Committee has worked hard since 2014 developing the draft Code. The public comment period will provide an opportunity for interested parties to review the draft code to ensure it meets reasonable requirements for all,” he added.

Once finalized, the revised Code will promote sound management and welfare practices through recommendations and requirements for housing, care, transportation, and other animal husbandry practices. The Canadian Veal Association initiated the Code review process in December 2014, utilizing NFACC’s Code development process.

“The Code development process helps diverse communities work together to improve the lives of farmed animals,” said Dr. Jeffrey Rushen, who represents the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies on the Code Committee. “We hope to receive broad input from the general public, industry and other stakeholders to ensure this Code improves animal welfare and reflects the values of Canadians.”

The Code’s revision is led by a 17-person Code Development Committee that includes participants from across Canada including producers, animal welfare and enforcement representatives, researchers, veterinarians and government representatives. More information on the Code development process is available at

The veal cattle Code is one of five Codes of Practice being developed as part of a multi-year NFACC project. Codes of Practice serve as our national understanding of animal care requirements and recommended practices. It is important that Codes be scientifically informed, implementable by producers, and reflect societal expectations for responsible farm animal care. The Codes cover housing, feed and water, handling, euthanasia, transport and other important management practices.

Funding for this project has been provided through the AgriMarketing Program under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

About the National Farm Animal Care Council NFACC is a collaborative partnership of diverse stakeholders that work together on farm animal care and welfare. It supports robust processes to draft or renew Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals. NFACC would like to acknowledge the Canadian Animal Health Coalition (CAHC) for their role in securing funding for this project. For more information on NFACC visit

About the Canadian Veal Association
The Canadian Veal Association (CVA) was formed in 2009 as a partnership between Ontario and Quebec. This joint effort has been established to advance the Canadian veal sector through proactive communication and collaboration. The CVA represents over 95 per cent of Canada’s grain-fed and milk-fed veal production. The Canadian veal industry produces approximately 400,000 veal annually with over 1,000 veal farmers operating in both Ontario and Quebec.

For more information contact:

Looking for farms to host animal welfare video

Dear Producer,
Animal welfare has become an important pillar in the sustainability of Canadian agriculture. With more media involvement than ever, it has heightened both the need and producer demand for the proper training, skills and tools for farmers to assess and improve the way their animals are cared for.
Animal welfare is a top priority for Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO). As part of the training offered to help producers continually enhance their husbandry practices, VFO is developing a video series addressing the three main areas of an on-farm animal care assessment: housing, management and animal indicators. The videos will be based on an assessment tailored for veal production by Jennifer Woods, a livestock handling specialist based out of Blackie, Alberta. Woods has been involved in the agriculture industry for over 25 years, and has been part of numerous animal welfare assessment development committees. The assessment is intended to help veal farmers identify possible areas of improvement in order to continue providing veal cattle in Ontario with the highest standard of care.
VFO will be bringing Woods to Ontario in early fall 2016. We are looking for two volunteers to host tours for Woods and allow her to perform the animal care assessment on their farm. The walk through will be filmed and edited into the video series that producers can watch to learn more about the assessment process. The intent is not to go into a barn to criticize, but rather to identify strengths and areas of improvement. Every effort will be made to remove all identifying information about each farm from the videos.
Participating producers will receive a complete assessment report from Woods, and a small honorarium. A welfare assessment completed by a veterinarian or qualified auditor is a prerequisite for accessing Growing Forward 2 funding under “Assurance Systems – Animal Welfare”. This funding can be used to modify existing structures, implement new technology, or purchase equipment to improve animal handling or husbandry procedures in order to make changes to align your farm with the Code of Practice for the care and handling of veal cattle.
by August 15, 2016. All farms interested in participating will need to return their completed application form and have a pre-screening visit by VFO staff.
On behalf of Veal Farmers of Ontario, thank you for your consideration and we look forward to hearing from you.
Yours Truly,
Jennifer Bullock,
Projects Manager

Surveillance and Biosecurity – Announcing the Bovine Surveillance Calf Project

Ann Godkin Lead Veterinarian Disease Prevention (Cattle), OMAFRA, Elora, Ontario.


To date, in 2015 and 2016, there have been over 40 isolations of Salmonella Dublin from Ontario herds at the Animal Health Laboratory (AHL) in Guelph. Until 2012 the infection had never been identified in Ontario cattle. The positive samples have come from calf mortalities in 10 veal and three dairy operations. This doesn’t sound like a lot but judging by what has happened in New York State and Quebec over the last 10 years, this could be the beginning of a larger invasion.

Outbreaks of disease with S. Dublin can be very severe. Typically calves between the ages of two weeks and four months are most affected. In some reports 40 to 50 per cent of exposed calves die. In most Ontario situations the visible signs have been pneumonia. Diarrhea is far less prominent than one would expect. In young calves the S. Dublin bacteria enter the blood stream and circulate to a variety of organs such as the lungs, liver, spleen, joints and stomach lining. A very poor response to antibiotic treatment and an increase in calf deaths is what prompts herd owners and their vets to submit samples to the lab.

A concerning aspect of the current S. Dublin isolates is the multi-drug resistance (MDR) of the current strain. So far the Ontario isolates, like the ones in New York and in Quebec, are resistant to most antibiotics available for calf treatment. Few calves that become sick during a S. Dublin outbreak are successfully treated.

Cattle movement is how S. Dublin enters a dairy, beef or veal operation. Typically the infection moves from farm to farm via carriers, infected yearling or mature cattle that show no signs, or in young calves that are already infected but not yet showing signs. As over 70 per cent of Ontario dairy producers reported introducing cattle into their herds over a recent five year period we suspect that more dairy herds are infected than those who have had disease detected in laboratory submissions so far.

S. Dublin can infect people as well as cattle. And in people as in cattle, S. Dublin infection is both invasive and multi-drug resistant. On farms where S. Dublin could be present everyone working with cattle should take basic biosecurity precautions to avoid infection. Biosecurity practices should be reviewed. Frequent hand cleaning or gloves, protective clothing that stays in the barn, sanitation of feeding and handling equipment and so on will help to protect people and calves. Young, immunocompromised and older people are more vulnerable to infection. People access to the calf area should be restricted, especially if calves have been sick.

Veal producers will want to know if S. Dublin is present in barns, groups, pens or rooms of calves so they can modify treatment plans and upgrade biosecurity practices on the farm. Intensifying biosecurity, in response to a diagnosis of S. Dublin, can protect uninfected calves from infection. A diagnosis of S. Dublin should lead to a careful and comprehensive review of biosecurity practices around calf and people movement, hygiene at feeding and manure management. A biosecurity review and recommendations specific to each farm is the best way to respond to S. Dublin.

Project Details:

As part of the provincial disease surveillance strategy, a bovine health network group has been formed to communicate with industry, government, researchers and laboratory services regarding important cattle disease issues. The group has recently initiated a project to investigate calf health and, in particular, S. Dublin.

The project has two parts. In Part One a dairy producer can sign up to have a bulk tank milk sample tested for antibody to S. Dublin to check for carrier cows. Testing bulk tank milk is a first step to evaluate how prevalent S. Dublin is within Ontario’s dairy herd population. Eventually this background information will have implications for veal producers.

In Part Two, project funding offsets the charges for veterinarians to do, or submit, calves from dairy, veal or cow-calf farms for post-mortem (PM) examination. PMs can be done by the herd vet at the farm, with samples submitted to the lab, or the entire calf can be submitted to the Animal Health Laboratories in Guelph or Kemptville. A questionnaire about cattle health and management will be completed at the time of the first post-mortem. PM diagnostics are not limited to S. Dublin.

To date the PM findings have been very interesting and instructive. It can be difficult to tell what diseases and conditions calves are affected by especially young calves. While diarrhea and pneumonia are often the terminal disease issues for veal calves, other problems, warranting other therapies and preventives, are also being found. PMs on calves that die can be very useful for improving farm-specific calf health programs.

or 519 846 3409), as is more information about S. Dublin in general. This project is funded by the OMAFRA-University of Guelph Strategic Partnership, under the Disease Surveillance Plan, which is a joint federal-provincial Growing Forward 2 project

The Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management estimates that barn fires cost Ontario farmers more than $25 million per year (2012-2014 average)

Barn fires, natural disasters, equipment failures and diseases are devastating events for farmers, their families and workers, and the neighbouring community. Planning ahead to reduce risks, and preventing accidents with a safe operation will help to protect employees, family members and animals.

Emergency events can cause substantial loss to a farm operation, creating unique challenges for farmers, including the disposal of large volumes of deadstock.

The Disposal of Dead Farm Animals Regulation under the Nutrient Management Act was developed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) to manage on-farm livestock deaths. The regulation provides deadstock management options for farmers to minimize environmental impacts and biosecurity hazards. While burial was historically the chosen option for barn debris and deadstock, the increase in the number of animals per facility and changes in the building materials increase the risks of doing so. Collection of deadstock by a licensed collector is recognized as the most effective and sustainable disposal method.

Farmers can apply to OMAFRA for an Emergency Authorization for the storage, disposal or transportation of deadstock when emergency conditions exist that make it difficult to dispose of deadstock according to the regulation.

OMAFRA works with farmers, commodity groups, insurance companies, municipalities and trucking companies to ensure that deadstock is disposed of as soon as possible. In granting an exemption, OMAFRA considers the various factors of the situation, such as:

  • the urgency of the situation
  • the number and size of animals to be disposed
  • biosecurity risks
  • time of year
  • the condition of the deadstock and building debris
  • site conditions, including proximity to tile drains, location of surface water and wells, and depth to groundwater

Planning ahead can help alleviate some of the stress during an emergency. We encourage farmers to develop a contingency plan for emergency situations. Visit for information on contingency deadstock planning and the regulation. Visit for useful resources, including information on preventative maintenance for farm buildings and our book, “Reducing the Risk of Fire on Your Farm.”

Click here for a poster that can be used to record emergency contact information. It is recommended that it be displayed along with other emergency information.


VFO hosts its Inaugural AGM on March 9th

Exciting first year of operation for VFO to be celebrated at AGM

Veal Farmers of Ontario’s (VFO) inaugural Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Producer Education Day will be held Wednesday, March 9th at Tavistock Memorial Hall and is an opportunity for the veal industry to reflect on its year as Ontario’s newest regulated marketing board.

“I am pleased to invite all veal cattle producers- from the dairy calf to finished veal- to attend our inaugural AGM and Producer Education Day. This is the one day of the year that we can all come together to discuss our industry” stated VFO Chair Brian Keunen.

One of the highlights of the AGM portion of the day will be the presentation of the VFO’s new strategic plan and vision for the Ontario veal industry.  In addition, the Producer Education speaker line up will provide something for everyone with topics focusing on animal health, research, and consumer demand.

As consumers take a greater interest in where their food comes from, it is important that all partners in the supply chain understand their role in supplying quality products. Jorge Correa, Technical Director with the Canadian Meat Council (CMC), will present an overview on the questions consumers are asking around food safety, antibiotic use and animal welfare and what his members expect from their supply chains. Following Correa’s presentation, he will be joined by Bob Wyanands, Fédération des producteurs de bovins du Québec, and Brian Keunen, VFO Chair, for a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities with the adoption of the Verified Veal Program (VVP), the Canadian on-farm food safety program for veal, in both Quebec and Ontario. “As producers, we must understand the expectations of our customers and consumers so that we can plan ahead, adapt our operations where needed, stay competitive and protect our marketplace” stated Keunen.

Aaron Hibma, Director of Food Safety and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Services with Mallot Creek Consulting, will present an update on the Veal Carcass Benchmarking Study comparing the results from the initial 2002 study to 2015. Hibma will discuss what has changed since the 2002 study and what has remained the same with regards to carcass size, conformation, colour and production.  “The valuable information learned from this important study will help producers respond to changing demands of the marketplace and understand developing trends to be able to make more informed business decisions to improve profitability”, stated Kendra Keels, Director, Producer & Industry Development.


Click here for a PDF of this press release.

Presentations on Consumer Marketing and Early Calf Management will be a feature of VFO’s Inaugural AGM

AGM and Producer Education Day has topics to interest all

This past year certainly was an eventful one for the Ontario veal industry! The Ontario Veal Association dissolved in April after realizing its long sought after goal – to become a recognized marketing board of its own – and Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) was established!

We have a lot of new business to share with producers at our inaugural Annual General Meeting.  And our Producer Education Day boasts a wealth of industry experts speaking to a wide variety of subjects that will appeal to both dairy calf and veal producers.

As consumers take a greater interest in where their food comes from, marketing veal becomes more involved. Jorge Correa of the Canadian Meat Council will present an overview on the questions being asked by consumers. We need to take increased consumer interest as an opportunity to share key information about our industry. Jorge manages the Technical Program that contributes to the quality and safety of the meat produced in Canada, and its competitiveness in the local and international markets. He represents the meat packers and processors in the Board of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) and he participates in CODEX international meetings representing the interest of the Canadian meat industry.  Come out March 9th and learn what consumers are asking for and get tips on how to better answer safety, antibiotic use and animal welfare questions in a way that makes sense to consumers.

Veal cattle health and welfare can be vastly improved be implementing a few simple changes in key calf management areas. Dr. Dave Renaud, a practicing bovine veterinarian who is also pursuing a PhD in Epidemiology at OVC, will be sharing ways producers can improve early disease detection in calves. Learning and adopting some of his strategies could help you increase production and profits.

VFO’s Annual General Meeting and Producer Education Day is Wednesday, March 9th at the Tavistock Memorial Hall. Come out and meet fellow producers and learn where the Ontario veal industry is heading. Presentations will focus on animal health, meeting consumer demand, marketing strategies, and more. The event runs from 10:00am to 3:45pm and includes a trade show and buffet luncheon. The day is $45 and pre-registration is required.

This is an event you don’t want to miss. For more information or to register, please click here or contact us.

Learn Strategies to Use Antibiotics More Effectively

Registration is still open for VFO’s Antibiotic Workshop

As a veal producer are you confident you understand how antibiotics work? Have you ever questioned is this the right drug for the problem?  Have you wondered why the drug is not working? If you have ever asked these questions then the Antibiotic Use in Veal Production workshop is for you!

Now, more than ever, a public spotlight is being directed at antibiotic use in livestock. Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is inviting producers to attend its November 26th workshop on antibiotic use in veal cattle. A fantastic panel of experts will speak on ways the veal industry can improve how antibiotics are used.  It all starts with understanding how they work. This educational event is fast approaching; sign-up today.

“Antibiotics are becoming more challenging and complicated. Learn some background and strategies on how to use antibiotics more effectively” states Dr. David Renaud from the University of Guelph. Dr. Renaud will give an overview of responsible antibiotic use. As a producer, it is your responsibility to know if you are using the right product for the disease.

Attendees will also hear Dr. Maureen Anderson, Lead Vet; Animal Health & Welfare (Vet Science & Policy Unit Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs) speak on antimicrobial resistance, what the government is doing to combat it, and how veal producers can help by reducing illness and using antibiotics wisely. “Finding ways to decrease antimicrobial use by improving on-farm practices is key to meeting changing consumer demands and decreasing the risk of antimicrobial resistance” says Dr. Anderson.

The workshop is being held at OMAFRA’s Woodstock Office, Unit 1 – 401 Lakeview Drive, at 6:30pm on Thursday November 26, 2015. The workshop is free to producers, but participants must register in advance. For more information or to register, please call the VFO office at 519-824-2942 or visit the website at

Economic Study Confirms Ontario’s Risk Management Program (RMP) is Growing Ontario’s Economy and Protecting Agriculture Related Jobs

The Ontario Agriculture Sustainability Coalition (OASC) has released an Economic Impact Assessment of the Risk Management Program (RMP) undertaken by Harry Cummings and Associates (HCA) on their behalf.  Conducted this past summer, the study examined the economic value of the RMP to Ontario farmers who partnered with the Government of Ontario to design the cost-shared insurance program in 2011.  The complete report can be found at

The study found that without RMP:

  • 62% of producers indicated they would not have maintained all their employees; 36% might have down-sized or left the industry, while a further 24% reported they would have sacrificed maintenance, expansion and farm improvements.
  • Without RMP, even a modest resulting contraction in economic activity and employment would lead to a loss of approximately 3,250 jobs from the Ontario economy.
  • Over the past four years, every dollar in payments generated $2.24 in positive economic activity.

Please click here to read the full news release.