Veal Workshop to Focus on Antibiotic Use

Education is key to helping veal producers prepare for proposed changes in antibiotic availability

Concern over antimicrobial resistance and human health is changing the way livestock producers use antibiotics. Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) will be hosting a workshop for producers on antibiotic use in veal cattle. The workshop is scheduled for Thursday November 26th and will be held in Woodstock.  Producers are encouraged to attend this educational event to learn more about managing antibiotic use on their own operations.

The workshops will be of benefit to all veal producers. “Access to effective livestock pharmaceuticals to help maintain animal health on our farms is very important” stated VFO Chair Brian Keunen. Proposed changes to the regulations will directly impact veal production.  It is important for veal producers to learn about these proposed changes and what they can do to adapt their production systems.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a major public health and animal health issue” stated Dr. Maureen Anderson, Lead Vet, Animal Health & Welfare (Vet Science & Policy Unit Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)).   She added that “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.”  Dr. Anderson is a workshop speaker and will introduce antimicrobial resistance, some actions being taken to combat it, and how veal producers can help their industry by using antibiotics wisely.

Knowing which drug to use and when to use it is critical to making wise treatment choices, Dr. David Renaud from the University of Guelph will give an overview of antibiotics and explain the differences between a first line drug and a last resort drug and how the two work completely differently.

In addition to the education portion of the workshop, Jennifer Bullock, VFO Projects Manager, will introduce the new Veal Market Report App and welcome producer feedback. The app was developed in partnership with and is a great tool to help producers utilize technology for on-the-go business management.

The workshop is being held at OMAFRA’s Woodstock Office 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

VFO and Partner in Developing a Veal Market Report App

VFO’s market report evolves to address challenges to profitability in the veal sector

Guelph, ON, October 16, 2015 – As part of a larger project to improve the financial sustainability of the veal sector, Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) and have developed and just released a new Veal Market Report app, now available to download for Apple and Android users.  A version of the app has also been optimized for the BlackBerry Z30, available directly from VFO.

The co-sponsored mobile application will allow Ontario veal producers to monitor current Ontario market prices and trends by providing up-to-date weekly market information.

“Veal Farmers of Ontario understands the importance of timely access to market information,” said Kendra Keels, VFO’s Director, Producer and Industry Development.  “Producers have been using the Veal Market Report to make business decisions since 1996. This new app is a tool to help producers utilize technology for on-the-go business management, allowing for critical decisions to be made with the most current information.”

The app’s market reports, compiled by VFO, are based on live sales from auction market data electronically submitted to Beef Farmers of Ontario and direct sales reported by packers to Veal Farmers of Ontario. Users will also be provided with the newsfeed, so they can be well-informed of industry news wherever they are.

A second phase of the application, to be launched this winter, will include graphs to allow producers to visualize current market data and see trends over time.   The market report will continue to be available in its current format via e-mail, fax and the VFO website.  

About Veal Farmers of Ontario

Veal Farmers of Ontario is a producer-run organization representing both grain-fed and milk-fed veal farmers dedicated to promoting and enhancing a viable and competitive Ontario veal industry through innovation, marketing, advocacy and education.

About Professional Services Professional Services is a leading provider of innovative information products and services for the global agriculture and food industries. Technology is driving many exciting possibilities in agriculture. The increase in use of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices is changing the way people consume information and interact with each other. The focus of Professional Services is to provide cost-effective mobile marketing tools making it easier for clients to connect with their online audience.

The Ontario Farm Innovation Program is funded through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.

Click here to download the app for Apple or Android. For the BlackBerry Z30 version of the app please contact VFO directly.

Click here for a downloadable PDF of this press release.

Bluetongue Found in Ontario

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed a positive case of Bluetongue virus in Ontario as part of routine surveillance testing. 

Bluetongue is not contagious, but is spread by biting midges and can infect cattle, bison, deer, goats and sheep.  There is no human health or food safety risk and the virus cannot survive outside the biting midge or animal host.  The virus also cannot be spread through contact with animal carcasses or other animal products (meat, fibre).

Cattle and goats show very few clinical signs of infection.  Cattle may exhibit a mild to moderate fever, and swelling of the coronary band above the hoof, so they walk stiffly and are reluctant to get up.  Other symptoms include: nasal discharge, swelling of the head and neck, runny eyes, swelling and sores in the mouth, and drooling.  Goats tend to exhibit mild to moderate fever, runny eyes and drooling.  The disease can only be confirmed by a lab test and there is no treatment. 

The strain detected in Ontario is native to North America and immediately notifiable to the CFIA and Chief Veterinarian of Ontario (CVO) under the Ontario Animal Health Act.  Because this strain is not federally reportable, control measures will not be put in place, and producers with positive cases are not eligible for compensation from the CFIA.  Export certificates for live cattle and small ruminants, along with semen and embryos, will be also impacted.

To protect your herd, eliminate standing water, keep animals away from wet, low-lying areas and move them into barns overnight, when midges are most active.  We are entering the high-risk period for infection, as the midge population peaks in late summer and early autumn and has been known to travel long distances on wind.  

If you have any questions or suspect your animals have may contracted Bluetongue, contact your herd veterinarian.

For more information on Bluetongue, visit the CFIA website.

OMAFRA – Bluetongue Advisory

OIE – Bluetongue Information Sheet

CFSPH Fast Facts – Bluetongue

NADIS Bluetongue in Cattle and Sheep

On-Farm Security Basics for Farmers

By Farm & Food Care Ontario

Think fast: You walk outside in the early evening and find three people you don’t know standing outside your barn. When they see you approach, they say they were out for a walk in the country, and they didn’t realize they were on private property. They apologize and leave quickly. After they leave, you notice a tool is missing, but you can’t be certain when you last saw it. What do you do?

Many farmers are no strangers to best practices for farm safety and biosecurity, but they fall down when it comes to security on the farm. New this summer, Farm & Food Care Ontario partnered with The Ontario Federation of Agriculture to create an online resource, The Practical Guide to On-Farm Security.  The resource, written with Ontario farmers in mind, speaks to everyday best practices Ontario farmers can use on the farm to keep the farm and assets safer.

In the case of the three unannounced visitors found near the barn, ask yourself, do you have no trespassing signs visible at every entry to your property? Have you investigated free services through your local police department such as programs that offer etchers on loan so you can etch your identification onto important tools? Do you have working locks on your buildings and equipment to keep unwanted visitors out? Do you have the phone numbers of your neighbours, and do you know them well enough to let them know you encountered some individuals on your property you may classify as “suspicious?”

The Practical Guide to On-Farm Security is divided into three main sections to make it easy to use: “Securing your assets,” “Visitors on the farm,” and “When to call police.” Sample forms such as a visitor log and incident report are also available for download, and offer suggestions of key pieces of information police will ask when responding to a security incident on a farm.

Both the OFA and Farm & Food Care Ontario will promote the resource to members at upcoming events, and they invite feedback and additional security questions from farmers. To access A practical guide to on-farm security visit

This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of Growing Forward 2 in Ontario.

110 veal calves killed in barn fire near Listowel

Our thoughts and prayers are with the farmer near Listowel who lost 110 calves in a barn fire on August 11th.

From the CBC:

A deadly barn fire near Dorking, Ont. east of Listowel killed 110 veal calves on Tuesday afternoon, in a scene one firefighter described as a “ball of flames.”

Rick Richardson, the fire chief of Mapleton Fire Rescue, said the firefighters were called around 1:15 p.m to respond to the fire, which had fully engulfed the barn on Wellington Road 10 just north of Wellington Road 86.

“It was a ball of flames when we got there,” said Richardson. There were four departments on the scene, including firefighters from Drayton and Moorefield which are part of Mapleton Fire Rescue, as well as Palmerston and Milverton. Over all 45 firefighters and 12 vehicles were on site.

“There were 110 head of veal calves inside, they were all lost,” said Richardson. “We concentrated on cooling down the exposures, the gas tank, the propane tank and outer building to contain it and we monitored that until the smoke calmed down last night about nine o’clock.”

Click here to read the full article.

In an effort to provide our producers with as many resources as possible we have posted several barn fire resources to our website, including a Producer Factsheet, Dealing with the Aftermath of a Livestock or Poultry Barn Fire and Reducing the Risk of Fire on Your Farm. All of these resources can be found on our Resources page under Producer Info.

Local Food Week is June 1st – 7th




Local Food Week starts today and runs until June 7th. Farmers, farm organizations, agribusinesses and government partners are hosting events across the province. To see what’s going on, or to post your own event, go to   Local Food Week gives Ontarians a chance to put a spotlight on the wide variety of local foods and beverages available year-round. Join in the celebration!

Show Your Love for Local with the #loveONTfood Photo Contest

Local Food Week is June 1-7 in Ontario and Farm & Food Care and Foodland Ontario is inviting you to celebrate. Capture your support for local food in a picture, and share it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #loveONTfood. If you host a barbecue featuring local food, decorate your work space or create a roadside display, we want to know about it.  The more creative the better! There will be Ontario product prizes awarded daily.

Biosecurity Advisory: Avian Influenza

We have had two cases of Avian influenza (AI) confirmed in Ontario. Migratory wild birds are introducing the virus as they make their spring migration North.  Although these positive AI farms are located in Oxford County, it is reasonable to expect that there are populations of positive AI wild birds moving elsewhere in Ontario.

The attached advisory was sent out to poultry farmers by the Feather Board Command Centre. Please click here to read the full advisory.

The message is just as important for other farmers and for farm suppliers and service providers.  As farmers begin spring field work, it is extremely important that good biosecurity is followed including being conscious of where you are driving and walking.  Water, wet soil, and feces can become contaminated with AI and linger after the migrating flock has moved on.  Soil and wild bird feces can stick to tires and undercarriages of vehicles including ATVs and travel for miles.  As indicated in the FBCC advisory, fieldwork can disturb areas where wild birds have been.  Neighboring farms should advise poultry farmers if they plan to do field work adjacent to their barns.  Field equipment should be kept away from poultry barns and from driveways serving poultry premises.

Below are some additional basic biosecurity protocols to keep in mind for suppliers and service personnel.  This list is not exhaustive and may not include all activities personnel may be engaged in on farm.

  • If you are involved in the farm service sector, washing vehicles between farms is ideal and should be considered essential before visiting a poultry farm during this period of heightened biosecurity.
  • Pay special attention to the vehicle’s tires.
  • For footwear, remove obvious mud and organic matter first and then scrub boots especially the bottom tread with a  brush and hose.  Use disinfectants such as Virkon, Accel, VIROCID®, Biosentry, Biosolve Plus, Biofoam, etc.  Ensure adequate contact time and concentrations – read the label!
  • Also be sure to clean any equipment used on farm that could become contaminated, e.g. soil probes, shovels, scales, etc..
  • Ensure you are wearing clean clothing uncontaminated by soil, manure, organic matter, feathers, etc.
  • Wash your hands or use sanitizer before and after visiting the farm.
  • When on poultry farms, avoid driving near barns that contain live birds if possible.
  • Drive slowly when near barns to minimize dust.
  • Look for designated visitor parking.
  • Avoid parking by exhaust fans and air inlets unless required as part of loading or unloading.
  • Do not enter any building on the property except where you need to deliver service unless you have the express permission of the farmer or farm manager.
  • Sign the visitor log book.
  • Keep your own records identifying where you have been and when.
  • If it is not vital that you go onto a poultry farm, avoid doing so.
  • All unessential travel through or within the two quarantine zones should be avoided.

Some species of wild birds shed the AI virus in the spring and others in the fall.  So also keep these biosecurity measures in mind for fall fieldwork.

For additional information on Avian influenza and good biosecurity practices, see the following websites:

Veal Farmers of Ontario Becomes a Reality

New marketing board created on April 1st, 2015

The Ontario veal industry has realized a long sought after goal with the creation of the Veal Farmers of Ontario as Ontario’s newest marketing board.  The regulations under the Farm Products Marketing Act creating the board came into force on April 1st.

The inaugural Veal Farmers of Ontario (VFO) Board of Directors is comprised of eight producers who have been appointed by the Farm Products Marketing Commission for the first year of the organization’s operations.  At their meeting on April 1st, regulations and by-laws allowing for the start-up of operations and collection of its own licence fees were approved.

Brian Keunen was elected as Chair and Chris Vervoort was elected as Vice Chair.  Brian Keunen and his family have a grain-fed veal operation and milk replacer business near Palmerston.   Chris Vervoort and his family have a mixed operation of grain-fed veal, sheep and beef in addition to a hoof trimming and bedding business near Arthur.

Keunen has previously served as a Director on the Ontario Veal Association (OVA) Board of Directors for ten years as well as represented the veal industry on a number of committees including the Veal Risk Management Program reference committee and, most recently, on the Veal Code of Practice Review Committee.  Vervoort has previously served as a Director with the OVA for two years, and most recently, as its Vice President.

“I am pleased to represent Ontario’s veal farmers as we begin the work of the Veal Farmers of Ontario.  The Ontario Veal Association built a solid foundation during the past twenty five years of service to the veal industry” stated VFO Chair Brian Keunen. “I look forward to strengthening the connections we have in the calf industry, starting with the dairy farm all the way through the production system to processors, retailers and consumers” he added.

“There are a number of opportunities, but also challenges, that veal farmers need to address and I know the structure of the VFO will provide a more collective and stronger voice for all us involved in the Ontario veal industry” stated Vice Chair Chris Vervoort.

Also joining the first VFO Board of Directors is Pascal Bouilly- Cambridge, Judy Dirksen- Harriston, Randy Drenth- Clifford, Joyce Feenstra- Belwood, Tom Kroesbergen- Ailsa Craig and Tom Oudshoorn-Auburn.

“On behalf of the entire veal industry, I would like to thank Judy Dirksen for her ten years as President of the OVA and for her leadership and guidance that has brought us to this historical day” stated Keunen. “We would also like to thank our VFO staff for all their tireless work on this initiative and the staff and members of the Commission for all their support and guidance that has helped us realize our goals” added Keunen.

The creation of the VFO comes as a result of the producer expression of opinion vote conducted by the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission in March 2013 where Ontario’s veal producers voted overwhelmingly in favour of a veal marketing board.  While new regulations have been created for the VFO, at the same time, exemptions have been provided from the Beef Cattle Marketing Act for veal cattle.

“The formation of the Veal Farmers of Ontario is a huge milestone for the Ontario veal industry and it is appropriate that it comes almost to the date of the 25th anniversary of the start up of the Ontario Veal Association” stated Executive Director Jennifer Haley.

The Ontario Veal Association was incorporated in 1990 under the Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations Act and has served the grain-fed and milk-fed veal sectors for twenty-five years through collaboration with the Beef Farmers of Ontario.  At the 2014 OVA Annual General Meeting, veal producers voted unanimously to formally dissolve the OVA and transfer all assets to the VFO.

Effective April 1st, the VFO has the regulatory power for the collection of its own licence fees set at $4.00/head, remaining the same amount as what was previously collected by the Beef Farmers of Ontario.  Important to note is that veal farmers will now be exempt from the beef check-off system so there will not be a double collection of fees.

The VFO is collaborating with industry partners to create awareness and understanding about the remittance of license fees.  Industry communications will be ongoing as VFO establishes policies and programs for the industry.

Please click here for a PDF of this news release.

New Canadians prefer taste, quality of Ontario meats; Study result

An extensive new study shows that new Canadians prefer the taste and quality of Ontario meat over imported product.

The study looked at the eating patterns, shopping habits, and taste preferences of new Canadians of African, Middle Eastern, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Caribbean, and European descent as they relate to the consumption of veal, goat, lamb and mutton, and rabbit.

The research was commissioned by the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency and the Ontario Livestock Alliance, which included current members Ontario Veal and Ontario Goat, and past member Ontario Rabbit.

“Although there are many differences between the various ethnic backgrounds, the one thing everyone shares in common is a preference for the taste and quality of Ontario-produced meats over those that are imported,” says Dennis Fischer, Chair of Ontario Sheep. “This means there is a definite opportunity for market expansion for Ontario farmers.”

Study results show similarities in meat preferences related to freshness, quality and price, as well as differences in demand patterns, such as specific holidays, and whether they like to buy their meat from a butcher shop or a supermarket chain. Data indicated that religion, cultural preferences, education levels, household income, and family size also influence eating and shopping choices of new Canadians.

Veal was found to be the most commonly consumed meat by new Canadians, followed by goat, and lamb and mutton. Rabbit was the least consumed, due at least in part to lack of availability and visibility.

By the year 2031, the population of new Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is expected to grow to more than 4.2 million people. This will result in increased demand for Ontario-raised meat and more than half of veal, lamb, goat and rabbit consumption will come from South Asian, South East Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants.

“The changing demographics of the GTA mean that we will have a growing number of potential customers for our products beyond our traditional consumers,” says Judy Dirksen, President of Ontario Veal. “This provides opportunities to develop new marketing relationships with processors and retailers who service the ethnic markets.”

Recommendations from the study encourage producer associations to work with their members to grow their understanding of the demographics and preferences of the different ethnic markets, and to encourage more and better linkages between farmers and processors. The research shows that although farmers are interested in new market opportunities, they’re not sure how to take advantage of them, and feel that better communication is needed throughout the entire value chain.

“There’s a real need for better collaboration between the partners in the value chain so that we can better serve the needs of new Canadians,” says Anton Slingerland, President of Ontario Goat. “The research shows us there is potential for everyone – farmers, processors, and retailers – to grow their business by making more Ontario meats available to serve demand from ethnic markets.”

The study was carried out in the GTA, which is home to seven out of 10 Ontario immigrants, and included 700 consumer surveys, 42 focus group participants, and interviews with value chain participants such as farmers, retailers, and processors.

All three organizations will be reviewing the study results and recommendations carefully as they plan future marketing initiatives. This project was funded in part by Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists with GF2 delivery in Ontario.

The Ontario Veal Association is a producer-run organization representing both grain-fed and milk-fed veal farmers dedicated to promoting and enhancing a viable and competitive Ontario veal industry through innovation, marketing, advocacy and education. Visit

Ontario Goat represents Ontario’s milk, meat and fibre goat farmers with a united voice and is dedicated to enhancing the goat industry through education, collaboration, innovation and strategic alliances. Visit

The Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency is a producer organization representing all aspects of the sheep industry in Ontario. Established in 1985 under the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Act, its mission is to enhance producer returns and provide consumers with premium lamb and sheep products by encouraging Ontario sheep producers to provide quality, year-round product through advocacy, industry capacity, research and development and market development. Visit

Please click here for a downloadable PDF of this press release


About the study:

  • Six ethnic groupings were established for the purposes of the study:
    • African (Eritrea, Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Cameroon)
    • Middle Eastern (Iran, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Armenia, and Afghanistan)
    • South Asian (Bangladeshi, Bengali, East Indian, Guan, Gujarati, Ismailia, Kashmiri, Nepali, Pakistani, Punjabi, Sinhalese, and Sri Lankan)
    • Southeast Asian (China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Philippines)
    • Caribbean (Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Dominican Republic, and Haiti)
    • European (Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, Russia, Ukraine, France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Greece, Poland, and Switzerland)
  • The study was conducted by Integrity Intellectual Property Inc. of Lethbridge, AB.

About Ontario lamb, veal, and goat:

  • Lamb purchases in Ontario account for 57 per cent of total Canadian fresh lamb volume and 53 per cent of frozen lamb volume. However, only 16 per cent of households in the province buy lamb during the year.
  • In 2010, Canada produced approximately 310,000 grain and milk-fed veal calves. Farm gate value was estimated to have exceeded $225 million. Approximately 70 per cent of Canadian veal is produced in Quebec, which has approximately 400 veal farmers. Ontario reports approximately 300 producers.
  • Canada imports about 60 per cent of its national goat meat consumption, with the majority coming from Australia and New Zealand. Ontario’s meat goat herd is growing, with more than 43,000 head being processed in 2014, compared to less than 30,000 in 2008.


Review of Canada’s Code of Practice for Veal Calves has begun

The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) is pleased to announce the review and update of the Code of Practice for Veal Calves. The review, initiated by the Canadian Veal Association (CVA), will be guided by NFACC’s Code development process.

“The Canadian Veal Association is looking forward to partnering with NFACC on the veal Code of Practice review process” stated André Roy, CVA President and Code Committee Chair. “The review and update of the 1998 veal Code will involve stakeholders from a wide cross section of the industry and will be focused on ensuring up-to-date and practical approaches to the care and welfare of calves raised for the veal market,” added Roy.

The Codes of Practice promote sound management and welfare practices through recommendations and requirements for housing, care, transportation and other animal husbandry practices. They serve as our national understanding of animal care requirements and recommended practices. Currently, there are Codes for 14 different farm animal species in Canada. The veal Code will be the tenth Code revised through the NFACC process. Visit for details and a timeline outlining the steps and progress made on the various Codes.

Stakeholder commitment is key to ensuring quality animal care standards are established and implemented. Stakeholders involved in the revision of the Code include farmers/producers, veterinarians, researchers and representatives from animal welfare and enforcement agencies, the retail and food service sector and government.

“Understanding all sides of the issue is very important. Canada’s Code development process enables all parties to be at table, making credible decisions to improve animal welfare,” stated Jeff Rushen PhD who represents the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) on the committee. The CFHS serves as the lead animal welfare organization on NFACC’s Code Development Committees.

The revised veal Code is scheduled for completion in 2017. Revisions to the Codes of Practice have been made possible by funding received from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada under Growing Forward 2, a federal –provincial –territorial initiative.

About NFACC 

NFACC is a collaborative partnership of diverse stakeholders created in 2005 to share information and work together on farm animal care and welfare. It is the national lead for farm animal care in Canada. For more information visit

About the Canadian Veal Association

The Canadian Veal Association (CVA) is a not‐for‐profit national organization dedicated to working on issues impacting the Canadian milk-fed and grain-fed veal industries through collaboration, innovation and strategic alliances.

Please click here for a downloadable PDF of this press release.