Quality concerns with the 2018 corn harvest – Is DON a concern for veal production?

The situation

Ontario is facing a severe outbreak of in DON in corn this fall. Deoxynivalenol (DON) is a vomitoxin which is a type of mycotoxin (toxin produced by mould) produced by fungus that infects grains, including corn. Due to the very wet summer and harvest season, corn in Ontario has been found to have unusually high levels of DON, with corn from some areas of the province more affected than others.
Most years, crops have about three parts per million (ppm) of vomitoxin. This year, routine testing has found levels up to 37 ppm. An October 2018 OMAFRA survey found more than 25% of samples had over 5 ppm.
A. Less than 0.5 ppm
B. 0.5 – 2 ppm
C. Greater than 2 ppm

Mycotoxin research in veal production

In the late 2000’s the legacy association the Ontario Veal Association studied the effects of DON on veal cattle on growth, health, and carcass quality at nine ppm (mg/kg) DON. The study found that calves can handle diets of 10.27 ppm (mg/kg) DON. In fact, veal cattle in the study had the same dry matter intake, and those with DON contaminated diets tended to have a better average daily gain and better feed efficiency. Final body weights and total weight gain were no different between contaminated and uncontaminated diets. No effect on carcass traits was found. The study indicated that veal cattle can handle a moderate amount of DON in their diet. Authors of this study called for follow up research to verify the results, examine potential meat residues, and investigate effects of different levels of DON.
It is important to note that there are few studies on this issue, especially in grain-fed veal production, and that concentrations and combinations of mycotoxins in reality may differ from the concentrations and combinations tested in research settings. For this reason, saying with certainty how a contaminated corn product may impact your veal cattle is impossible, and caution is warranted.
The first sign of a problem will be cattle going off-feed. If your cattle go off-feed, work with both your veterinarian and your nutritionist and consider DON levels a potential cause. Identifying the problem and quickly adjusting the diet is key to minimizing lost growth.
When consulting with James Byrne, Beef Cattle Specialist with Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) stated;
“Beef cattle are very resistant to DON, unlike other species such as pigs. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) sets a maximum DON level in the total diet of five ppm for beef cattle four months and older and that DON infected grains not exceed 50% of the diet. The United States Food and Drug Administration set this level at 10 ppm of the total diet. It’s important to note that these limits are for the total diet. Feeding forages significantly reduces the concentration of DON in the total diet.
The [Beef Cattle Research Council] (BCRC) in their Feed Grains & Feed Efficiency Report 2017 point to research work where “Growing-finishing cattle can tolerate much higher levels of DON in their diet without going off-feed. In a University of Minnesota feeding trial (1993-94) steers were fed rations containing up to 18 ppm DON of the total diet through the finishing phase with no effect on gain, feed intake or feed efficiency. An [North Dakota State University] (NDSU) trial (1993-94) fed up to 9 ppm DON during the growing phase and up to 12 ppm during the finishing phase with no effects on performance.”

How can veal producers make use of contaminated corn?

The research Byrnes refers to substantiates the initial research of the Ontario Veal Association in grain-fed veal cattle. Pay close attention to veal cattle being fed questionable corn as there is always a risk. A back-up plan should be in place in the event the cattle cannot handle corn with high levels of DON and experience a setback.
It is advisable to work closely with a feed nutritionist, especially this year, regardless of if you are feeding homegrown or purchased corn to ensure diets are designed with DON levels in mind.
Byrne also noted that the main strategies used by the feed industry for mitigating the effect of DON are (a) blending contaminated grains with clean grains (diluting the mycotoxin concentration to within acceptable limits) or (b) add approved ingredients, such as anti-caking agents or yeast products (toxin binders).

What about unweaned calves?

Calves less than four months are unlikely to be affected by this DON issue as their grain intake as a percentage of total diet is typically small.
Are there human health effects?
Feeding mouldy feed can have negative human health effects by creating respiratory disease when spores are breathed in from harvesting, handling, feeding, or working around mouldy feed. Symptoms of exposure can include burning eyes, throat, and chest as well as irritating cough and fever. Be aware of changes in health of yourself and others in your operation and seek medical advice if needed. Inform your doctor that you have worked with potentially contaminated feed.

Agricorp

Any farmer who discovers DON in their crop is encouraged to call Agricorp as soon as possible at 1-888-247-4999. Agricorp can discuss the best practices for handling, sorting, and if necessary, destroying high DON corn, and review the coverage available to farmers experiencing losses due to DON.
For those who have been impacted by this issue, this is an especially stressful time. If you need to talk to someone, please call 211 (Canadian Mental Health Line), or 1-866-531-2600 (Ontario Mental Health Helpline) to speak to someone. Do More Ag also provides resources for mental health and well-being.

Further reading

License Fee reminder

In order to assist those who have not yet remitted their dairy bob calves purchases from private treaty or dealer sales VFO mailed out a Monthly License Fee Remittance Worksheet to assist in calculating remittances from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.
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Please take the time to fill that worksheet out if you are not currently remitting on a regular basis. As a reminder, Regulation 58/15 (i) requires any person who receives veal cattle to deduct the money payable for the veal cattle any license fees payable to the local board by the person from whom the veal cattle is received and to forward the license fees to the local board. (“Bob calves” are considered veal cattle).
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If you have not already sent in your Form 1 identifying you as a veal producer please do so. They can be emailed, faxed or sent by regular mail to the office. If you require additional assistance with remittance, please contact the office.

Fields to Forks connects farmers and consumers

The VFO had the opportunity to work with CTV London as part of their Fields to Forks program, which is designed to provide consumers with insight on how our food gets from Fields to Forks, while focusing on the men and women who make this happen. The 60-second vignette was filmed onsite at a veal farm in August 2018 and in October 2018, alongside a series of radio spots. See a local veal farmer talk about family farming, caring for animals, and the pride we have in doing what we do.
Check out the video and two teaser videos below, and tune in to CTV London.

Our vignette is scheduled to be on CTV London at the following times (approximately):

Ontario Livestock Farmers Encouraged by Premier Ford’s Strong Words of Support: Livestock Farmers Already Hard Hit by Trump Trade Wars

Together, Veal Farmers of Ontario, Beef Farmers of Ontario and Ontario Pork, are calling on government to take action to ensure Ontario’s livestock sector is not collateral damage in the ongoing trade disputes. Representatives from the sectors spoke with Premier Ford at the International Plowing Match last week.

Ontario Livestock Farmers Encouraged by Premier Ford’s Strong Words of Support: Livestock Farmers Already Hard Hit by Trump Trade Wars

Ontario’s livestock farm leaders expressed hope that help is on the way as their members across the province face a growing financial crisis spawned by American President Donald Trump’s global trade wars.
Our optimism comes from comments made by Premier Ford in a government news release that was issued on Tuesday of this week following a roundtable discussion with the Premier, which included representatives from Ontario Pork, Veal Farmers of Ontario and the Beef Farmers of Ontario. His statement read:
“We will continue to do our part to protect Ontario farmers and farm workers, and we expect our federal counterparts to do the same. I will use every tool at my disposal to help the agri-food sector grow and protect the thousands of jobs it represents. Ontario is open for business, and I will not leave our farmers behind.” – Premier Doug Ford, September 18, 2018
The Premier’s words at the International Plowing Match & Rural Expo were particularly timely as they came the day before he headed to Washington for a NAFTA briefing, and days after Ontario’s livestock farmers publicly sounded the alarm that they have become collateral damage in President Trump’s trade wars.
President Trump’s trade wars threaten the livelihood of our livestock farmers, particularly:
  • the disruption of U.S. beef and pork exports to China and Mexico caused by escalating tariffs;
  • the enormous drop in North American livestock prices caused by that disruption; and
  • President Trump’s decision to grant American farmers a massive US$12 billion aid package, which puts our farmers at a substantial disadvantage as they try to compete on both sides of the border.
Financial losses are adding up for local farmers. Over the past six weeks, Ontario’s pork farmers alone have suffered weekly losses in the millions of dollars. The numbers for Ontario’s beef farmers are equally staggering and Ontario’s veal farmers are not far behind.
Simple math tells you that Ontario’s livestock farmers will be hard-pressed to continue to supply locally grown food to Ontarians, when they are losing over $40 per hog and more than $300 per head of cattle sold.
We are calling on both the provincial and the federal governments to work with us on an urgent basis to help Ontario’s livestock farmers survive this growing financial crisis.

We are thankful that Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister, Ernie Hardeman, and his office have been quick to reach out following our expression of concern late last week. Meetings with senior officials in the Minister’s office have been set to begin early next week.


Eric Schwindt, Chair, Ontario Pork
Joe Hill, President, Beef Farmers of Ontario
Tom Kroesbergen, Chair, Veal Farmers of Ontario

President Trump’s Trade Wars Take a Heavy Toll on Ontario Livestock Farmers

Together, Veal Farmers of Ontario, Beef Farmers of Ontario and Ontario Pork, are calling on government to take action to ensure Ontario’s livestock sector is not collateral damage in the ongoing trade disputes. The following op-ed has been shared with the Minister’s office and various media outlets. If you are attending the International Plowing Match next week, or you have the opportunity in your local riding, please take the time to speak to your local MP and MPP about the challenges facing the livestock industry.

Urgent Government Action Needed: President Trump’s Trade Wars Take a Heavy Toll on Ontario Livestock Farmers

As politicians on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border shout to either protest or protect the future of supply management, Ontario’s livestock farmers not protected by quotas are sounding the alarm. We are the ones already paying a heavy price for President Trump’s global trade wars.
Lost in the media coverage and political decision-making surrounding NAFTA trade negotiations is the fact that Ontario’s pork, beef and veal farmers are in the midst of a growing crisis. While not a direct target, Ontario’s livestock farmers are collateral damage in President Trump’s trade wars.
President Trump’s trade wars threaten the livelihood of our livestock farmers, particularly:
  • the disruption of U.S. beef and pork exports to China and Mexico caused by escalating tariffs;
  • the enormous drop in North American livestock prices caused by that disruption; and
  • President Trump’s decision to grant American farmers a massive $12 billion (USD) aid package. Which puts our farmers at a substantial disadvantage as they try to compete on both sides of the border.
Financial losses are adding up for local farmers. Over the past six weeks, Ontario pork farmers alone have suffered weekly losses in the millions of dollars. The numbers for Ontario’s beef farmers are equally staggering and Ontario’s veal farmers are not far behind. Simple math tells you that Ontario’s livestock farmers will be hard-pressed to continue to supply locally grown food to Ontarians, when they are losing over $40 per hog and more than $300 per head of cattle sold. Very soon Ontario livestock farmers will be forced to decide whether they are willing to hold out for an end to these political storms or if they will need to walk away from the family farm for good.
Sadly, even if a new NAFTA deal is signed today, the damage has already been done. Weeks of losses have created a fiscal hole so large that many of our famers will not be able to get out of it without huge sacrifice. Our challenges won’t end there. A NAFTA deal also does not solve the turmoil brought on by the U.S.-China trade dispute and the uneven playing field created when President Trump handed our American competitors billions of dollars in aid.
We will be sharing these concerns directly with Premier Ford and Minister Hardeman at the International Plowing Match next week. We will call on both the provincial and the federal governments to work with us on an urgent basis to help Ontario’s livestock farmers. Farmers who are trying to survive this growing crisis.

Eric Schwindt, Chair, Ontario Pork
Joe Hill, President, Beef Farmers of Ontario
Tom Kroesbergen, Chair, Veal Farmers of Ontario

Registration now open for the Healthy Calf Conference

Practical and simple on-farm management changes to improve the health and welfare of dairy and veal calves are the focus of this year’s Healthy Calf Conference.

“We asked calf raisers what some of the biggest issues are that they’re facing and they told us that feeding, health and housing top the list – so we’ve got a great line up  of speakers this year that will address all of those topics,” says Kendra Keels, Director of Industry Development with Veal Farmers of Ontario.

Dr. Michael Ballou, a professor of nutritional immunology at Texas Tech University, headlines the program with a presentation on the art of calf nutrition and how feeding calves a proper diet can help minimize or prevent common problems like respiratory disease and scours.

A new addition to the Healthy Calf Conference is a calf care panel. Ontario calf managers Jayne Dietrich of Character Dairy Genetics, Laura Shuurman with Joe Loewith & Sons Ltd, and Emily De Benetti of Oxford Cattle Company will offer virtual tours of their operations and share their tips for reducing calf mortality and raising high production animals.

The University of Guelph’s Dr. Trevor DeVries will address the why, when and how of group housing calves, and Dr. Dave Renaud, a consultant and University of Guelph assistant professor, will discuss how managing calf health and working with a herd veterinarian can ensure future profitability of a dairy herd.

“Our program is designed to offer relevant, easy to use information that conference participants can take back to implement on-farm right away,” says Keels.

The Healthy Calf Conference, which also includes a calf-focused trade show, will be held on November 27 at the Best Western Plus Arden Park Hotel in Stratford, and again on November 29 at the Maxville & District Sports Complex in Maxville, from 8:30 am until 3:00 pm. Cost is $90 per person until November 1 and $100 after that date. A student rate of $40 is also available. A hot buffet lunch, proceedings, and calf care resources are included. The first 90 producers to register also receive a free 3.7L Caf-Tel Bottle – perfectly sized for colostrum feeding!

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Click here to see the speaker lineup

Click here for sponsorship information.

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Ontario Goat departs from Livestock Alliance

VFO and OG partnership wraps up by year-end

GUELPH, ON– Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) and Ontario Goat (OG) jointly announced the departure of OG from the Livestock Alliance partnership, and as a result, the dissolution of the Livestock Alliance, by the end of 2018.

“OG as an organization will still exist but our capacity to function as a member of the Livestock Alliance will wind up and be completed by the end of 2018,” stated Dirk Boogerd, OG President.  “It is important to OG that we are able to meet our responsibilities as part of the partnership that has shown us so much support and value over the years, and at this time, we are unable to do that.”

Despite the best efforts of OG to try and bring the Ontario goat industry together with a united voice, the sector remains divided.  With two failed attempts to become a recognized commodity organization that would see the implementation of stable funding, the volunteer board of OG is left with no other choice but to wind up its partnership with VFO.

“While we still firmly believe in the concept of the Livestock Alliance and what it can do for our members, the reality is that in order for it to work effectively, all partners must have stable funding so that costs are shared equitably on a consistent and ongoing basis,” stated Tom Kroesbergen, VFO Chair.

OG entered into the Livestock Alliance partnership in July 2009 with the goal of building organizational capacity so that Ontario’s goat farmers had a representative voice within the industry and with government.  Through the sharing of office space and staff resources, OG was able to leverage funding for a number of important projects, fund new research and facilitate industry development over the past nine years.  “The impact that OG has had on our industry over the past several years is significant.  The lack of producer representation at all levels and work on behalf of all meat, dairy and fibre producers in Ontario will be felt,” stated Boogerd.

Boogerd explains that after the second failed attempt to become organized, OG went out to its members with a flat rate annual membership fee as a result of member feedback.  However, support for this initiative has been underwhelming and has left OG without the financial resources necessary to continue its partnership with VFO.

“There is no question that Ontario’s goat producers recognize the need for investment in our industry so we can continue to grow, develop, and take advantage of new opportunities, but there is an incompatibility with what we need and how much producers are willing or able to invest to make sure our voice is heard,” explained Boogerd.  “Over the past nine years, OG has become a resource for producers, industry partners, and government.  We have built lasting relationships, but OG does not have the financial resources required to continue responding to their requests for producer input, assistance and support,” he added.

“We have appreciated all of the efforts of the OG Board members and while we are disappointed with the outcome, we respect their decision to depart the partnership on good terms as they assess their current needs and resources.  Moving forward, our dedicated staff will focus solely on a number of key VFO priorities and issues that will benefit the veal industry,” added Kroesbergen.

“The transition will take place over the coming months as we work to resolve some of the joint initiatives and projects between the two organizations,” explained Jennifer Haley, Executive Director.  Haley also explained that some of the Livestock Alliance initiatives will remain as status quo until the end of the year, while other OG specific initiatives have been suspended.  Effective immediately, there are no staff resources being allocated to goat projects or issues.

OG remains a non-profit agricultural organization in good standing recognized under the Agricultural & Horticultural Organizations Act with voluntary  membership and a voluntary board comprised of producers elected by their peers.  “As we work through this transition, we will have a better idea of what the role of OG will be in the future,” stated Boogerd.

Click here to download this news release.

2018 Healthy Calf Conference Sponsorship

Furthering knowledge and education in calf management is a top priority for Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO). VFO’s core focus on calf care promotes viable dairy, veal, and dairy-beef industries. VFO is once again organizing the Building the Foundation: Dairy and Veal Healthy Calf Conference, the eighth biennial event which marks sixteen years in healthy calf promotion. This year’s agenda boasts an impressive program with some of the most respected experts in the field of calf management. As part of this exciting event, we will once again be hosting the popular Vet Night, an educational and networking opportunity designed exclusively for bovine veterinarians.

Healthy Calf Conference (HCC) and Vet Night bring together the dairy, veal, and dairy-beef industries to discuss some of the challenges in calf raising to find solutions for raising strong, healthy calves. The HCC has a strong following among calf raisers in Ontario, with our last conference in 2016 garnering positive reviews from our 350 attendees. With the excitement already building for this year’s event, the 2018 conference is an event you don’t want to miss. Being involved provides the opportunity to ensure that your company reaches the most progressive and engaged dairy, veal, and dairy-beef producers in Ontario.

HCC will once again be hosted in two locations to reach the maximum number of Ontario producers. This year, HCC is on Tuesday, November 27th, 2018 in Stratford, Ontario and Thursday, November 29th, 2018 in Maxville, Ontario. Each event will run from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm. Vet Night is 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm in Stratford on November 26th, 2018. Title, Platinum, and Gold level sponsors are invited to attend this exclusive evening to network with top bovine veterinarians.

To keep costs feasible for producers, the cost of attending the conference has not increased this year. This ensures that our sponsors are able to reach a large audience. Sponsors are key to the success of HCC and help make the conference a top learning and networking opportunity for calf-raisers. HCC is the premier opportunity to share your company’s innovative calf care solutions with this receptive market.

to reserve your spot. Payment can be made by cheque or credit card. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your company’s participation further, please feel free to contact the office.

Click here to see this year’s sponsorship options

Click here to download a sponsorship contract

Click here to see a draft speaker agenda 

Thank you for your continued support.

Veal Farmers of Ontario

449 Laird Road, Guelph, Ontario N1G 4W1
Tel: 519-824-2942
Fax: 519-824-2534

Finalists revealed in the search for Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich 2018

Following months of searching, Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) is one-step closer to choosing Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich 2018. This year’s competition has been so intense that four finalists instead of three will compete in the last round of judging on June 23rd at Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market.

This year’s finalists are:

–       Nostra Cuccina of Kitchener, ON

–       Kantene of Mississauga, ON

–       Paninoteca of Hamilton, ON

–       Mettawas Station Mediterranean Restaurant of Kingsville, ON

The exclusive event will be judged by comedian and host of the Food Network TV show, You Gotta Eat Here, John Catucci, grilling aficionado and cookbook author, Ted Reader, National Post sports writer Steve Simmons, executive director of Veal Farmers of Ontario, Jennifer Haley and “guest-judge” contest winner Tracy Luker of Hamilton, ON, who won her place at the table in an online contest through OntarioVealAppeal.ca!

We wish all the competitors the best of luck!

Nostra Cuccina's entryKantene's submission
Paninoteca's creationMettawas Station's sandwhich

New executive elected for Veal Farmers of Ontario

GUELPH, ON– At a recent meeting of the Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) Board of Directors, Tom Kroesbergen Jr. was elected to the position of Chair while Pascal Bouilly was elected as Vice Chair.

A board member since 2015 when the VFO was formed, Tom and his brothers Bob and Steve, along with their families, operate Sunnydale Acres near Ailsa Craig. The Kroesbergen family have been raising grainfed veal full time for over 25 years. The family also cash crops, finish beef cattle and have a broiler operation.

“As VFO Chair I am looking forward to the coming year as we focus in our core business to address the issues directly impacting dairy calf and veal producers” stated Kroesbergen. “We have a busy agenda in trying to finalize the VFO Regulations review work with the Commission, collaborations with the Canadian Veal Association, research and projects supporting healthy dairy calves and our search for Ontario’s Best Veal Sandwich to name a few”.

Pascal has been a VFO board member since 2015, and prior to that served on the board of the Ontario Veal Association. Pascal is the Dairy Calf Supply Chain Manager with Grober Nutrition based out of Cambridge. In his current role Pascal is responsible for the development of the started dairy calves program at Grober as well as providing technical support for the Grober Sales Team.

“While I am new to a VFO Executive position, I look forward to sharing my experiences and insight working in the industry” stated Bouilly. “I am also looking forward to learning from my colleagues in both the veal and dairy sector, my goal being to further strengthen the relationship between these two sectors” added Bouilly.

Re-elected to the 8 member VFO Board of Directors were Judy Dirksen, Rita Maciukiewicz, Joyce Feenstra and Phillip Kroesbergen. The Veal Farmers of Ontario provides leadership to promote industry growth and viability through collaboration, innovation, marketing and education.

For more information contact:
Jennifer Haley, Executive Director
519-824-2942

Tom Kroesbergen, Chair
519-494-1468

VFO news release 03.04.18