Category Archives: news

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

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.

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

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: