Read the Progressive Dairy Canada digital edition


Read comments from Progressive Dairy editor Karen Lee, ranging from the origin of specific magazine articles to thoughts about industry trends.


Back in 2009 when the U.S. was struggling with low milk prices, a camera crew from a local news station stopped by my family’s farm to talk to a dairy producer to see if times were really as tough as everyone said it was.

When the interview was over my dad walked the camera crew around the farm. He showed them the freestall barn and milking parlour. They went to see the baby calves and the heifer barn, and finally he took them past the dry cow barn.

The news anchor was soaking in this newfound knowledge of the dairy industry and when he saw this pen full of 50 dry cows clearly separated from the rest of the herd, he couldn’t help but ask, “If you need to produce more milk to cover your expenses, why don’t you milk these cows?”

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We all know the welfare of animals is a growing concern for the general public and certainly an interest to producers. I recently heard an interesting philosophy which helped me gain a better understanding of the origin of varying viewpoints of welfare and how today’s farmers might be able to address them.

As David Fraser from the University of British Columbia kicked off the Dairy Cattle Welfare Symposium in Guelph, Ontario, recently, he suggested that in the past half-century the perception of farm animal care has gone through its own industrial revolution.

Similar to society’s shift in the 1700s, the use of advancing technologies converted the agrarian model of emulating nature to an industrialized model of controlling nature.

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As harvest progresses, the visual evidence of this summer’s drought throughout eastern Canada will soon be left only to memory.

However, the effects of 2012’s hot, dry weather will likely be felt for a few years and by more than those who witnessed the withering plants first-hand.

Like those of you in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, I spent most of the summer praying for rain. I had watched as one shower that occurred shortly after planting made my soybeans sprout out of the ground, only to then see them sit there almost stagnant for weeks on end as the sun rose and set with not a rain cloud in sight.

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Like most of the world, I spent most of last month with my eyes on the Olympic games in London. I made a point to watch the sports I love and even spent some time watching those I rarely see or perhaps hadn’t seen before.

What struck me the most were the sports like gymnastic vaulting, diving or short distance track and field events where the athlete has about 30 seconds or less to give it their all.

For some, their one moment to shine was all of 6.2 seconds. The years of training, sacrifices, daily workouts and proper nutrition came down to just one single performance that resulted in victory for some and defeat for others.

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One of my daughter’s favourite cartoons is “Dora the Explorer.” At the end of the show, Dora and her monkey pal, Boots, sing a song.

Proud to have finished their task of the day and traveling to their three locations, the duo repeatedly sing the words: “We did it.”

That portion of the show is really resonating with me at the moment because I have a couple of reasons to stand up and shout, “We did it!”

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It has become a nightly game in my farmhouse to “get the bugs.” My 2-year-old serves as the bug spotter while myself or my husband is the bug squasher.

In the game, my daughter points and exclaims, “Bug! Bug!” until we see the fly and go after it. She then usually lets us know whether or not we were successful – even though she’s not always accurate in her proclamation.

Many of you are probably dealing with a similar situation in your homes and worse yet out in the barnyard. With the mild winter experienced by many, entomologists are stating bug populations are expected to be higher this year than most.

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