Friday, 30 December 2011

Agriculture Top 10 Lists of 2011

In my last post, I complied a few of my top 10 favourite things from 2011. After awhile, I began to reflect on this post, realizing most of it had nothing to do with agriculture!

This post's purpose is to correct my oversight, and give you some of my top 10 AGRICULTURE things of 2011.

Top 10 Agricutlure Related Blogs 
(I dont spend much time blogging myself, as I am usually reading up on what these people have to say).
My Cousin is Vegan- Jodi Oleen
Rural Gone Urban-Brooke Clay
Absolutely Agriculture- Rosie Templeton
Oregon Green- Marie Bowers
Kelly M Rivard-Kelly Rivard
The Adventures of Dairy Carrie- Carrie Mess
Cause Matters- Michele Payn-Knoper
Common Senswe Agriculture  - Jeff Fowle
Crystal Cattle-Crystal Young
Pinke Post- Katie Pinke

Top Ten Agriculture Tweeters
@bowndairyman - Trent Bown
@Al_Winmill  - Alec Winmill
@farmerhaley  - Mike Haley
@JPlovesCOTTON  - Janice Person
@RayProck  - Ray Prock
@cownutritionist  - Robin Rastani
@slycattle  - Stacy Young
@FarmGirl44615 - Nicki Gordon-Coy
@rachstu87- Rachel Stuart
@SlowMoneyFarm- Jan

I could not number these two categories as I believe they are all great bloggers and tweeters, I couldn't handle trying to put them in any order. (And I didn't want to deal with their comments.) Another plug- everyone who is on my blog list Tweets, and vice-versa :)

I also have to give a shout out to AgChat Foundation, as without their Agvocacy Training 2.0, I would have never met my top 20 Agvocates. 
Top Ten Farm Fashion/Supply Stores
1. Wetaskiwin Co-op
2. Lammles
3. UFA
4. Peavey Mart
5. Welsh's
6. Irvines
8.Riley & McCormick
9. Coles
10. Shays

I wish everyone the best in 2012, and hope your resolutions come true. If one of them is to learn more about agriculture, then follow these tweeps and blogs for all the angles of agriculture.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

My Top 10 Lists of 2011

As always with the year ending, out come all of the Top Ten Lists of things over the year. I thought I would compile some of my favorite top 10 lists from 2011. [And to set the record straight, yes I did steal this idea from CISN Country's Taylor Smith.]

I decided I would choose from my favourite things; country music, twitter, food, google,and inventions

Top 10 Country Songs of 2011
1. Crazy Girl -Eli Young Band
2. Barefoot Blue Jean Night-Jake Owen
3.  Take a Back Road- Rodney Atkins
4. Tomorrow-Chris Young
5. You Lie- The Band Perry
6. Am I the Only One-Dierks Bentley
7. You and Tequila- Kenny Chesney Ft. Grace Pottter
8. Honey Bee- Blake Shelton
9. Just Fishin' -Trace Adkins
10. Let Me Down Easy- Bill Currington

Top Ten Twitter Trends

1. Justin Beiber
2. Soccer/Football
3. Lady Gaga
4. NBA
5. Jonas Brothers
6. Christmas
7. Super Junior
8. Brittney Spears
9. Japan Earthquake
10. One Direction

I would just like to comment that it scares me that the number one twitter trender was J Beibs.

Top Ten Internet Searches

1. Canadian Dollar
2. Research in Motion
3. Canada Post
4. William & Kate
5. American Idol
6. Kim Kardashian
7. Census 2011
9. Pippa Middleton
10. Scarlett Johansson

Top 10 Inventions
1. The Stark Hand- Mark Stark

Image: A prosthetic hand protoype is cheap, and helps the wearer catch balls and grip wine glasses.

 2. The BodyGuard- David Brown

Image: This crime-fighting armored glove has a wrist-mounted stunner and a video camera built in.

3. The PrintBrush

Image: This lightweight PaintBrush fits in a laptop bag and prints on any flat surface.

4. The Katal Landing Pad- Aaron Coret

Image: This giant cushion gives snowboarders a soft landing.
5. Dynamic Eye Sunglasses- Chris Mullin

6. The Bed Bug Detective- Chris Goggin

7. A Prenatal Marker to Screen for Pregnancy Complications

8. The Zero Liquid Discharge

Image: The Zero Liquid Discharge vaporizes sewage from boats, airplanes and RVs. 
9. Kymera Motorized Body Board- Jason Woods

Image: The Kymera Body Board — a light, motorized body board.
10. The Medical Mirror 

Image: The Medical Mirror can tell you your heart when you look at it. A webcam behind the mirror captures variations in reflected light on your face, and an algorithm translates that into heartbeats. 

My Top 10 Favourite Recipes
1. Puppy Chow (Except we use butterscotch Chipits)

These are just a few of my favorite things that have a top 10 list :)  Hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Scrapie Resistance in Sheep

I was assigned a genetics assignment that allowed me to pick  a topic realted to livestock genetics. I could go anywhere with this, some of my classmates choose teacup pigs, minaure Herefords, and sexed semen. I decided to go with something that our Sheep Student Managed Farm team had to test for this year, Scrapie Resistance in sheep.

Scrapie is a nervous system disease that affects sheep. It is one of several transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), which are related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and chronic wasting disease of deer. Like other spongiform encephalopathies, scrapie is caused by a prion. Scrapie has been known since the 18th century and does not appear to be transmissible to humans.

Clinical Signs

The name scrapie is derived from one of the clinical signs of the condition, where an affected animal will compulsively scrape off their fleece against rocks, trees or fences. The disease apparently causes an itching sensation in the animals. Other clinical signs include excessive lip-smacking, altered gaits, and convulsive collapse.

This sheep has Scrapies

Testing for scrapies resistance in sheep is done through DNA testing the blood of the sheep. The cost of testing is approximately $40 per animal, and is done in Saskatchewan and Ontario. 

Why Test?
Our biggest international trade partners in the sheep industry, United States and Britain, are trying to eradicate scrapie from their flocks. In order to do so, they must ensure anything they buy has the resistant genotype.   However, you must get the DNA tested at a certified testing facility. To find one in Canada, visit the Scrapie Canada website.
Many people believe that if your sheep have the resistant genotype, they can and do not have the disease. This is false, they only way you can truly test to see if the sheep has the disease is to test their brain tissue. This test is simply to see if it is genetically resistant to the disease.

The plan aims to reduce and eventually erase small ruminant-TSEs (transmissible spongiform encephalopathies) from the national sheep flock by selecting on PrP genotypes. However, a focus on scrapie genotype alone is risky due to the chance that it leads to losses in genetic variablility.

 The SFCP [Scrapies Farm certification Program] National Standards were developed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), in collaboration with the sheep industry, as the basis for Canada’s on-farm, voluntary scrapie control program. Its goal is to be an internationally recognized flock/herd scrapie control program for the sheep and goat industries. This program is unique as a CFIA approved disease control strategy. The CFIA's involvement is merely to guide the program to maintain international stnadards.

Scrapie may go undectected in a flock for serval years. . As well, with no reliable live animal test for detecting the disease in individual animals. Working with these restrictions, the SFCP is designed to gradually assess whether flocks are currently infected and to minimize the risk of contracting scrapie in the future. Flocks advance through the various levels of the program as the risk of scrapie infection decreases. Producers have the option of following one of three pathways under the program. In Pathway 1, the assessment of risk (level the flock has achieved on the program) is determined by the number of years that the producer has followed program requirements and scrapie has not been detected. In this pathway, flocks/herds advance one level for every year that the requirements are met. In Pathways 2&3, other technologies, such as genotyping for resistance to scrapie, are used in combination with disease surveillance to reach certification in a fewer number of years.

Requirements include:
  • Surveillance for the disease is made by submitting brain samples from all adult sheep and goats that die on-farm. If no animals die on farm during a 12-month period, a sample from at least one cull animal over 24 months must be submitted.
  • Producers must work with a veterinarian accredited with CFIA to deliver the SFCP.
  • Producers must make an annual, vet supervised inventory their flocks/herds and maintain documentation throughout the year on animals entering and leaving the premises.
  • The flock/herd must be closed to additions of female animals, except from flocks/herds on the same or higher program level. The source of rams, bucks and/or semen is not as restricted, although some conditions do apply in Pathways 2 & 3.

PrP is the genotype a breeder is looking for when try to eradicate scrapie from their herd. If you animals DNA test comes back with this geneotype, it means it is scrapie resistant. This DOES NOT mean that your animal is scrapie free, simply that they are resistant to this nervous system disease.

In conclustion, why not test for this disease in your breeding stock? It may cost a little bit of money to do so, but it will save you in the long run. If you ram has the genotype of non-resistance, it could pass this on to all of his offspring, forcing you to cull these animals. As well, it will help you to broden your market, and be able to sell international sheep meat.



Sunday, 20 November 2011

COOL Final Descision

Some of you may remember my previous blog post about the COOL [Country of Origin Labeling]. In that post i referred to a final decision being made in the fall, well they finally made the decision.

The WTO [World Trade Organization] has ruled the United States' laws requiring mandatory country-of-origin labels on beef, pork and produce violate its commitments to global trade rules.

Canadian producers have been worried that the system of requiring all meat and perishable items be labeled form the country they originated from would become a trade stopper. Both Canada and Mexico have long contended that COOL violates international trade laws, restricts market access and is a technical trade barrier. Canada in late 2008 formally challenged COOL at the WTO.

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association noted in a release that Washington, in theory, could also just ignore the DSB panel's decision. Doing so, however, could eventually put Canada in a position to apply "retaliatory options," such as new or higher tariffs on imports from the U.S.

"This decision recognizes the integrated nature of the North American supply chain in this vitally important industry," Canada's International Trade Minister Ed Fast noted. "Removing onerous labeling measures and unfair, unnecessary costs will improve competitiveness, boost growth and help strengthen the prosperity of Canadian and American producers alike." 

This legislation is being a labelled a win for Canadian producers.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

GMO. Huh?

Some of you maybe asking: what is GMO, and what does it stand for? It is an acronym for Genetically Modified. There are a merit of different things that are genetically modified, from seed, to food to sheep.

Many people are very afraid of the word GMO for some reason, and I am not sure why. Just because it is genetically  modified does not mean it is automatically harmful. As well, may people are against it, and do not really understand why it can be beneficial. I am going to help those of you who are on the fence, become a little more clear in the advantages to genetically modified farming. 

Great example of how people are mis-informed.

1)Environmentally friendly! There is a lesser need for chemicals, as the seeds can be genetically altered to be resistant to pests; therefore, no more need for pesticides. 

2) It could make healthier food! Certain foods can be modified to contain more Vitamins and minerals that are important to the human diet. 

3) SOLVE WORLD HUNGER! Okay, that might not acutally be as true as it sounds, but i thought it would catch your eye. There is that little black cloud that reminds us that with the increasing world population, one day there will not be enough food to feed the world.  As genetically modified foods increase the yields of crops, more food is produced by farmers.

4) We can expand what foods can grow where, also helping reason # 3. We could genetically modify saskatoon berries to tolerate frosts, or for canola to require less moisture.

I am sure you could find ALOT of literature about the disadvantages of GMO food, but I wanted to give you a bit of insight as to why it could be beneficial to embrace the ever changing genetic technology world.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Rewards for Good Animal Handling

As I was reading this weeks Alberta Farmer Express newpaper, I came across an interesting article, titled "Second annual Feedlot Challenge awards buckles for good handling".

I was pleased to read this article. Many people believe that animals are not handled properly and that the agriculture industry is not doing enough about this problem. This is a great example of how they are rewarding producers for good handling.

The buckles were sponsored by Pfizer and included eight teams, including one from Ontario! The scoring of this competition was spilt into three categories; pen checking, chute processing and a written component. The main weighing of scores being on how low stress the teams handled their animals.

The competition was held near Picture Butte, AB at the Shooten and Sons Farms. One aspect of the competition had the handlers separate calves into groups to be treated. For a further challenge, they marked specific animals to cut out of the herd that needed further treatment.

The winners posing with their buckles.
(L-R) Shane Broeders, Travis Klassen, Sandy Debruin and Trevor Burks.


The winners were Acme Highway 21 Feeders Inc who won belt buckles for their low stress cattle handling.

I think this is a prime example of what the Agriculture industry is doing to promote low stress handling to their producers. It also demonstrates how far this competition is spreading, that a team from Ontario made the trek down to Alberta to compete.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

NashVegas Pt 2

Sorry I have not tending to my blog in a longggggg time- everything with school and extra-cirricular stuff is just hectic!

I have not forgotten about you! I just needed some breathing time!

So here is my second part to my Nashville adventures!

The theme of the conference with my fellow AgNerds was an interesting one. Beyond the Choir- we are trying to educate the people who have never been on a farm to learn about agriculture!

We were asked to think of our A-Ha! moment- the time that we realized that we wanted to become Agvocates. Some of you may have already read my A-Ha! moment in a previous post that I did. 

We had so many differnet and amazing speakers fit into the two day conference, it was so much to take in- but well  wortht it!

Jennifer Dahm came and spoke to us regarding what consumer research has told us about agriculture. Consumers individually think farmers are great, research shows they have concerns how we do our business, how we raise the food. Which really got us thinking about how we need to market ourselves. 

We then had a pannel of Mommy bloggers come in and share with us what they feel consumers are fearing in the processing of their food.  Rachel came and spoke to us regarding feeding a family with food allergies. Shanna gave us a great opinion from a mothers perspective, and was joined by Lindsay.

We also had alot of great speakers helping us on specific needs for our posts- like pictures and how to format links. As well as a few roundtable discussions about what we feel is an issue in our area and how we can all call on each other to help when we have someone fighting the ag community.

The AgChat Foundation put on an excellent conference on how to effectively use social media for agricultural advocacy- or Agvocacy.

If you have a chance to attend- I would highly recommend it, as you learn alot of invaluable skills. 

Saturday, 27 August 2011

NashVegas Adventures, Pt. 1

I have decided to break my Nashville blogs into serveral parts, one for the tourism, one for the conference, and one for my goals after the conference. Here is part 1:

After 12 hours of traveling, I finally made it to Nashville.

After claiming my luggage, I decided to wait outside for the hotel shuttle bus. I walk out the doors, and I was struck by the intense heat and humidity! It was a lot different type of heat then this Alberta girl is used to. I then saw that there was a little room outside that was air conditioned to wait for the bus, a heaven sent.

When I arrived at the hotel, I could not wait for the rest of Team Alberta to get there and the tourism could begin!

We decided to head down Broadway to find a bite to eat. Well when we got down there, I finally figured out why they call it NashVegas, it looks like Vegas, with a cowboy influence.

Broadway at night.

When we went down Broadway, it was amazing! Every single bar and restaurant had a live band playing, all day and night!  There is also approximately 7-10 boot shops, that we had to into. Every boot was stunning, but with a $700 price tag, I opted not to buy any. I am sure my parents appreciate me not using my student loan money on that.

After going into EVERY single boot shop, as well as mulitple other shops, we finally realized why we went, to eat!

We came across a little bar, BBKings, that had a live band. They were incredible.

BBKings Band

After doing more shopping, it was time to go to the Grand Ole Opry. Some of the names we were able to take in included, Vince Gill, Little Jimmie Dickens, Jimmy Wayne, among many others.

The amazing Grand Ole Opry

Ohh, and for your information, They have commercials in real life too.

This brings us to Sunday, holy, we fit alot of tourism into one day.  Our first stop, the Ryman Auditorium.

The Ryman is probably one of the coolest places I have been to. It is the original Opry house, that started as a church. This has some cool history behind it. I don't want to waste too much of your time with it, but if you are interested please visit the Ryman Auditiorium's history page.

We "played" on the same stage as some of Country's biggest stars!

We then headed down the street to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. There was sooooooo much to take in, it was incredible. I chose my favorite three items in the Museum to share with you.

Minnie Pearl's Hat With the Original Price Tag

Wall of Gold & Platinum Records

Elvis' car with a diamond paint job.

After the Meusem, we were able to take in the best of the best in country music. I could not choose just one of the inductees to share with you, so here is a picture of the round room. They decided to make the room round, so now one person was in a better position then another, as everyone has achieved so much.

The steak in the midde is a replica of the WSM radio tower. 
Finally, Sunday night, where we got to meet the rest of our Agvocates. I will be continuing this blog in the days to come stay tuned!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Well, its here!

I write this blog sitting in a hotel room surrounded by fellow agvocates learning how to use social media!

Many of you are probably thinking, "Farmers use social media?" Well you are not alone in that thought.

When one of my fellow AgNerds took a cab, he had a very interesting conversation with his southern cab driver. She was asking what brought him to Nashville. He told her he was attending a Farmers conference on how to use social media, explaining he has Twitter. "Farmers tweet??" she replied, "You don't need to learn anything more if you already have Twitter." He then told her that he was also a presenter of our sessions. "Now you don't go teachin' them too much. They still need to do their work!" She instructed him. He then told her that he tweets the most when he is in the tractor using autosteer. "Autosteer? Whats that!" It was explained that it was like the GPS system, but it steers for you. Her reaction, "Your a pimp farmer!"

Technology is truly taking over the world, if farmers are tweeting in the tractor. I am surrounded by over 100 like minded AgNerds to learn how to Agvocate better through social media, and I am ohh so excited!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Hell Bent, and Nashville Bound!

The Roadhammers said it best, "I ain't got no money, I ain't got no sense, Headed down to Nashville, just to say I went." well its only half true.

The truth; I have no money, some say I have no sense, I am headed down to Nashville, to help improve my agvocacy skills. 

I am not one for the lights of a big city, but is Nashville really a big city?

When I heard about the 2011 Agvocacy 2.0 Training, I was intrigued. Then I found out it was in Nashville, so I made it my goal to attend. The AgChat Foundation is hosting this fantastic confrerence for us to improve and tweak our Agvocacy skills. 

Before I go any further, here is a little information I found on their website to give you little background of this conference.

Their misson

Empower farmers and ranchers to connect communities through social media platforms.

Why Agvocacy? (Well really, why not?)

The AgChat℠ Foundation is designed to help those who produce food, fuel, fiber and feed tell agriculture’s story from their point of view. The Foundation will educate and equip farmers and ranchers with the skill set needed to effectively engage on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, Linkedin and other social media services. It will give them knowledge to unlock new tools to effectively tell their story. Research shows that social media is a growing opportunity for farmers to have a stronger voice in educating people about the business of growing food, fuel, feed and fiber.
The Foundation is built from the highly visible “#AgChat” community on Twitter. This weekly moderated chat has served as an international meeting place where the people of agriculture can discuss difficult issues, tell their farm stories and identify ways to connect with people outside of agriculture. More than 2,000 people from seven countries have participated in #AgChat since it started in April 2009. And that’s only the beginning.
Farmers are leading a grassroots effort to develop the AgChat℠ Foundation. The organization is designed to connect agriculture in communities beyond Twitter. Four program areas have been identified to maximize agriculture’s opportunity with social media – be sure to see what farmers have to say about why this is important.

Don't be shy to visit and find more information. 

The best thing about this website, I find, is it show cases the farmers involved in the foundation. Many of you may notice that it is an American based foundation, and that may turn you off. I find it more intriguing to see the similarities and differences between the agriculture on each side of the border. This is another reason I am very excited to be going to Nashville. 

Let's face it, a trip to Nashville would be a waste if I didn't go see some of the major staples of the town. 

The Country Music Hall of Fame 

How could I go to the Country Capital and not take in the Hall of Fame? This building plays home to millions of country music archives from decades past. This summer they are showcasing the Williams family legacy, and the American Letter Press  (poster shop).

Has anyone gone to Nashville and didnt take in the Grand Ole Opry?

The Grand Ole Opry will be playing host to Vince Gill, Larry Gatlin, Kimmy Wayne, Bradley Gaskin, James Wesley, The Sleepyman Banjo Boys and more.  This many acts for under $50?? Steal of a deal if you ask me. 

And of course, I made sure I packed a light suitcase for tons of country shopping!

As I sit here in the Toronto airport during my 4 hour layover, I just keep getting more and more excited to  be Hell Bent and Nashville Bound!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Why agriculutre??

Many people over the past few weeks have been asking my, why choose agriculture? There is no money, plus its a dying industry? I thought I would share with you why I decided to choose a career in agriculture. This is an essay I used for a scholarship, which I believe answers the question of, Why Agriculture?

Agriculture is an amazing industry that I have only recently discovered.  It was only eight years ago that my family and I ditched the city lights in the search of a farm to call home. I was very pleased that my parents decided to do this, as I was able to meet the love of my life; agriculture. This is a unique industry, as you slave away for months to get a final project. It is not a 9-5, punch the clock type of job. It is a work as it is needed, get up at 3 a.m to check the cows, type of job. It is one of the only careers where you don’t get paid until all the work is done. This is the exact reason why I fell in love. It requires thought and planning, not allowing everyone else make your plans for you, and tell you how to spend your day. It is the most independent industry one can be involved in.  This is one reason why I am so passionate about the industry.
The other reason being, what do we have without agriculture? When you wake up in the morning, you grab a glass of milk. Where did it come from? The dairy farmer. When you get dressed, where did the cotton come from to make you shirt? The cotton farmer. When you get into your car to drive to work, where did you leather seats come from? The beef farmer. Every step you take, and every turn you make, is some way touched by the agriculture industry.  If more people do not become involved in this industry, our world will come crashing down like never before. There will be no meat to eat, no carrots to snack on, and no clothing to wear. This is why I am passionate about the agriculture industry, not only because it is the most challenging industry, but it is also the most important to society.
I believe agriculture in Canada is diverse, as it covers the entire nation, in one form or another. I am confident in the fact that it is the largest and strongest industry in Canada, for a multitude of different reasons. One being that we have a free country, allowing everyone to choose what it is that they wish to do for a living. This allows workers to truly be passionate about what they are doing, paving the way to success. Another reason being that we are geographically aligned to succeed with agriculture; we have one of the largest land masses in the world. This provides various outlets for the production of livestock and crops alike.
The agriculture industry in Canada is very strong, and will continue to be provided people want it that way. I am passionate about agriculture because it affects every single citizen of the world in one form or another. Should the industry fail, our lives will be drastically altered. I want to ensure agriculture continues to be a successful industry for generations to come, to protect our well being.