Beyond the Barn

Now that’s what you call diversification

A Chinese Internet company is investing in an unexpected direction – pork production.

Zhejiang Province, long known for its entrepreneurship, will be the home for an investment of about C$5.5 million in pork production by the Internet Portal Netease, according to articles  reported on the website

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork, and it must import to meet demand. Nevertheless, the industry has been in recession and pig farms have been going out of business. According to the article,  the Internet company plans to set up standardized breeding lines and “eco-friendly feeds.” BP

Wyatt Earp and General Patton protect contractor’s barn

In a strange turn of events, an industrial painting contractor from Illinois has constructed a “hog containment facility” to protect his well water.

When the town annexed three acres of land to construct a well and an elevated water tower – both within 225 feet of his house – Bob Wargaski, from Island Lake, Ill., became concerned about the proposed 600 gallon- per-minute demand. “It would have drained my well, but the law in Illinois says ‘too bad, so sad,’” says Wargaski.

Ottawa’s Royal Swans cost a king’s ransom

Royal birds, it appears, come with a royal price tag. It costs just under $500 a month to keep one of Ottawa’s Mute Swans, descended from birds that were a gift in 1967 from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, in good health. Compare that to the $32 a month the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) estimates was needed to keep a sow in October.

Not only are the birds expensive to maintain, but it seems that the structure used to house them in winter needs replacing. Six designs have been suggested with costs ranging from $239,020 to $545,250, which works out to between $18,386 and $41,942 per bird. The price per sow place? A mere $1,491, suggests OMAFRA

A year of feed scares

Forget about 2008 being the Year of the Rat in Chinese astrology. Last year had so many food scares it’s a wonder how any rat, human or other animal emerged unscathed.

During 2008, melamine, a chemical linked to the death of several cats, was turning up in everything from baby food to chocolate. Then, late last year, some Irish hog producers learned their feed mixes contained dioxin, a proven cancer risk. A rendering plant that produced one of the feed’s ingredients was to blame.
Ireland recalled all pork products.

It is doling out $235 US million, and the European Union $20 US million, to bolster the industry.

Why not sausages instead of Timbits?

Farm meetings just don’t seem complete without their Tim Hortons coffee break fare. But perhaps next year’s organizers of the annual November swine seminar in Shake-speare might consider serving the snacks that tempt their German counterparts’ taste buds.

As speaker Dr. Friedrich Osterhoff pointed out, Germans consumed 55.4 kilograms of pork per person in 2007, compared to Canadian’s meagre 10.2 kilograms. One difference he noticed between the countries while touring Canada was the absence of pork products available for easy eating.

 “In Germany, on every corner you can get pork”, he lamented. Not so in Canada. While people noshed on Timbits and crullers, Osterhoff pointed out that perhaps some sausage on the table would help Canadians catch up to German diners.