Immerse Yourself in Canadian Farm and Food Tours
- Beef cattle are ruminant animals (meaning they have four compartments in their stomach). That allows them to digest materials that cannot be used by people and converting it into wholesome, high-protein food suitable for human consumption. About 30 percent of Canada’s agricultural land is too hilly, rocky, cold or wet to grow crops, but it can support grazing livestock like cattle. Grazing cattle are great for the environment and play a very important role in the ecosystem by supporting biodiversity and soil health.
- There are two main streams of beef farming in Canada, cow calf and feedlot. Beef cows and their calves typically live on pasture during spring, summer and fall with a diet composed mostly of grasses. When they reach a weight of about 400 to 460 kg (about 900 to 1,000 pounds), they are usually moved from fields and ranges to penned yards or barns called feedlots. You’ll tour both types of farms through these videos taken on farms in Ontario.
- Once in the feedlot, cattle are gradually transitioned from a diet of mainly forages (like grasses and other plants) to a higher-energy diet of grains (like corn), hay silage (chopped and naturally fermented plants), minerals and hay.
- The average beef cattle herd size in Canada is 69. There are about 13 million cattle in Canada.
- There are many different breeds of beef cattle living on Canadian farms. The most common breeds include Aberdeen Angus, Charolais, Hereford, Simmental, Limousin and Shorthorn.
- All cattle in Canada have to have a Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) approved ear tag in their ear before they leave the farm they were born on. This radio-frequency identification tag has a unique number that helps farmers and meat processors maintain and promote food safety and traceability.
- There are over 2, 800 chicken farmers across Canada. Farms can be bigger or smaller but the average farm in Canada has about 36,000 birds. The farm you are touring here is in Ontario.
- Chickens raised for meat are called “broiler” chickens or “roasters” when grown to a larger size.
- They always roam freely within the barn. Most are housed in modern barns where temperature, humidity, light and ventilation are carefully monitored to ensure that the birds stay healthy. This also protects the birds from predators like foxes, weasels and skunks and also reduces the chances of the birds being exposed to disease. The barn floor is covered with a soft bedding material of straw or wood shavings.
- While they can roam through a barn as they please, most chickens like to stay near each other. That’s where the saying “Birds of a feather flock together” comes from.
- Chicks are delivered to the farms from hatcheries when they are one day old, and the birds have unlimited access to a healthy feed mix consisting of corn and soybeans and clean water throughout their five to eight week growing cycle. This feeding system is called “free choice”.
- Most poultry farmers put all their new birds into the barn at the same time and then ship the entire flock to market on one day. The barns are then cleaned out and all the bedding and manure are removed to get ready for the next flock, helping to keep the birds healthy.
- Chicken farms are operated under a risk management system called supply management. This system allows farmers across the country to match their production to Canadian demand. After determining how much chicken Canada needs, farmers are able to produce that amount.
- No chickens, turkeys or egg laying hens in Canada are ever fed hormones. They’ve actually been banned here for over 50 years.
- In Canada, there are mandatory Animal Care and Food Safety Programs that ensure all chicken raised by chicken farmers receive the best care and are produced to the highest food safety standards.
- On most farms, “broiler” chickens are ready to be marketed at about 35 to 36 days or age, when they weigh about two kilograms. These will be available in supermarkets or used for food service in restaurants. While on other farms, larger “roasters” are ready to market between 45 and 55 days and will weigh between three to five kilograms.
- Turkeys are grown year round in Canada. In total, there are about 520 turkey farmers across the country.
- Turkeys raised for meat always roam freely around the barn. They’re housed in modern barns where temperature, humidity, light, and ventilation are carefully monitored to ensure that the birds stay healthy.
- Turkey barns are designed to provide birds with ample room to move about with easy access to water and feed. Most barns are insulated to help maintain a constant temperature.
- Turkeys are not kept in cages and are free to roam on floors covered with soft bedding materials.
- No growth hormones are used in turkey production in Canada. In fact, they are illegal and have been for many years.
- Water and pelleted feeds made of grains such as wheat, corn and soybeans (similar in appearance to hamster food) are always available, so the birds can help themselves any time they want.
- Most turkey farmers put all their new birds into the barn at the same time. This makes sense from both a logistics and disease prevention perspective, as typically the entire flock will be shipped to market on one day.
Quick Canadian Pig Facts
- All pigs in Canada are raised without the use of added hormones.
- Nearly all Canadian pigs are raised indoors to protect them from the elements and disease. Farmers are always looking for better ways to care for their pigs, including social housing and enrichments.
- Sweating like a pig is to not sweat at all! Pigs have no sweat glands so they rely on shade and water to keep cool. Barns have sophisticated ventilation systems and some even have sprinkler systems to keep the pigs cool and comfortable.
Quick Canadian dairy processing facts
- Milk is picked up at Canadian dairy farms every two days and taken to a processing plant where it is pasteurized and packaged as milk or processed into cheese, yogurt, sour cream or any of the other dairy products consumed in Canada.
- It only takes 2-3 days for milk to get from the farm to the processing plant to the grocery store.
- In these 360 tours, you’ll see how milk is processed and how mozzarella cheese is made.
Quick Canadian dairy cow facts
- In Canada, most farms use one of three main kinds of milking systems –milking parlour, voluntary milking system or tie stall.
- On each farm, cows are milked two or three times each day.
- It takes about 5-7 minutes to milk one cow.
- Over 98 percent of Canadian dairy farms are family owned and family run.
- There are about 11,280 dairy farms in Canada with an average of 85 milking cows each (about 959,100 cows in total).
- Dairy cows give an average of 29 litres of milk per day.
- Milk has 16 nutrients in it.
Quick Canadian Grain Farm Facts
- 97% of Canadian farms are owned and operated by families.
- Saskatchewan makes up six percent of Canada’s land mass but is home to over 40% of its land that is suitable for growing crops.
- Farmers on the prairies grown a variety of crops include: cereal grains like wheat, durum, barley, oats, rye and triticale; pulse crops which include peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas; and oil seeds such as canola, flax, mustard and soybeans.
- Canola is a widely grown genetically modified crop (or GMO) in Canada. Some of the first varieties were invented at the University of Manitoba in the 1970s through traditional plant breeding techniques.
- Today, the most modern technologies allow farmers to plant thousands of acres in the space of a few weeks with extreme precision and minimal waste.
- When it comes to controlling pests like weeds, bugs and diseases, farmers follow a system of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which helps them apply the right pesticide tool for the right pest.
Quick Canadian Sheep Facts
- Some shepherds prefer to keep their flock in the barn year round where nutrition, lighting and lambing can be closely monitored and to offer protection from predators. Others prefer to leave the sheep in the field all year. Even though sheep have wool, they still need barns or windbreaks for shelter.
- In Canada there are 1,042,500 sheep and lambs and 11,000 sheep farmers.
- Ontario has the most sheep out of the Canadian provinces with 321,000.
- Sheep normally have between one and three lambs per lambing, but can have up to five.
In this tour, you’ll visit a sheep farm where the sheep have access to both a barn and fields.
Quick Canadian Mink Farm Facts
- Mink farming is environmentally sustainable. Mink eat nutritious left-overs from human food production, such as food waste and parts of animals that we do not eat. Manure, bedding and carcasses are composted to produce organic fertilizers to replenish the soil. Carcasses are also used to produce bio-fuel and mink fat produces oil used to condition leather, in cosmetics, and as a fine lubricant.
- Farmed animals like mink have constant access to nutritious food and clean water, protection from predators and extreme weather, and veterinary care when needed.
- Canadian mink farmers provide excellent nutrition and care to their animals. This is assured by the Code of Practice (animal welfare standards) which is based on years of scientific research.
- Canadian mink pelts are sold through auction houses to fur buyers/manufacturers from all over the world - particularly China, Russia, Korea and Greece.
- Fur farming provides important employment for rural communities across Canada, employing hundreds of families and thousands of people, directly and indirectly.
- Wild mink spend up to 80% of their time in small, underground dens. Farmed mink spend a similar time in their nest boxes, entering their larger pens to eat, drink and exercise.
- Farmed mink are often given toys to play with. This may include golf balls, pieces of pipe, or anything else that the mink can safely chew on or manipulate with its paws!
Quick Canadian Egg Facts
- In Canada, a total of 26 million hens produce more than 600 million dozen eggs per year - or about 7.2 billion eggs.
- The average hen lays about 320 eggs per year.
- Laying hens- the ones who lay the eggs we eat - primarily live in five different types of housing systems in Canada: Enriched Housing, Free Run, Free Range, Aviary and Conventional Housing. You can tour all five through this link.
- In Canada no chickens are ever given hormones, regardless of the type of farm they live on.
- Canadians eat about 19.4 dozen (or 233) eggs per year.
Quick Canadian Egg Facts
- In Canada, a total of 26 million hens produce more than 600 million dozen eggs per year – or about 7.2 billion eggs
- Canadians eat about 19.4 dozen (or 233) eggs per year.
- Before eggs end up in the grocery store, they must be sorted by size, washed and dried, candled, graded and packaged.
- Other eggs are deliberately broken and go for further processing to be made into salad dressings, sauces or baked goods.
- In these two tours, you’ll tour working Canadian egg processing and egg breaking facilities to see for yourself what happens to an egg between the farm and your table or restaurant.
- If you want to know what happens on a Canadian egg farm, click on the “Egg Farm” button at www.FarmFood360.ca to tour several family egg farms, meet the farm families and learn more about their hens and farming practices.
Quick Canadian Feed Mill Facts
- Annually, Canadian feed mills produce over 30 million tonnes of feed for farm animals.
- There are approximately 500 commercial feed mills in Canada, and 70% of feed mills are located in Ontario and Quebec.
- Corn, wheat, and barley are the most widely used “ingredients” in animal feed. Soybean and canola are good sources of protein for farm animals. These crops can be grown all across Canada.
- Safe and nutritious feed for farm animals is important to Canadian farmers, which is why feed costs account for up to 75% of the total cost of raising farm animals.
- Just like Registered Dietitians help Canadians make choices about their food, Animal Nutritionists help farmers make similar decisions about what to feed their farm animals.
Quick Canadian Oats Facts
- Saskatchewan typically grows over 50% of all oats produced in Canada
- Canada is the largest exporter of oats in the world
- About 90% of Canadian oat exports are shipped to the USA
- Approximately 100 days after seeding the oats will be ready to harvest
- Oat yields have been increasing and the result has been higher production while total acreage has been stable in the past decade
- Total acreage is currently approximately 1.25 million hectares (3 million acres)
- Oat yields average near 3.0 tonnes per hectare (77.8 bushels per acre)
- Whole oats need to be processed or milled before they are ready to use in a wide array of healthy food products
- One of the by-products of oat milling are the fibrous oat hulls
- Oat hulls are used as livestock feed and as bedding to increase animal comfort in dairy and poultry barns
- Oats are high in dietary fiber called beta glucan which helps to lower cholesterol and control appetite
- About 19 pounds of oatmeal can be made from one bushel of oats
- Over 20 pounds of oat flour can be produced from one bushel of oats
- 1 pound of oat flour has nearly 30 grams of fiber
- 1 bushel of oats can make over 600 servings or 43 boxes of cheerios
Quick Canadian Apple Farm Facts
- There are enough apples grown in Canada for every Canadian to consume 10 kg per year – that’s nearly 100 apples per person!
- Apples are produced across Canada on over 42,000 acres of land.
- Ontario is Canada’s largest apple producer, followed by British Columbia and Quebec.
- Canadian apple growers produce over 50 varieties of apples, but the most common varieties are McIntosh, Gala, Ambrosia, Honeycrisp, and Empire.
- It takes four apples to make a glass of pure apple juice.
- Apples are Canada’s second most valuable fruit crop, after blueberries.
- When it comes to controlling pests like weeds, bugs and diseases, farmers follow a decision-making process called Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which is focused on prevention, monitoring, and control of pests in an effective, economical and environmentally sound way.
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