Room for organic milk production to expand

With 100,000 litres a month coming in from Quebec, there is an opportunity for Ontario producers to fill the gap. But the organic market operates in fits and starts and matching demand to supply is tricky


Brothers Josh and Rudy Biemond of Iroquois took over their father’s farm on April 1, 2011. They are milking 35 cows and producing organic milk for the Guelph-based Organic Meadow Coop, and raising two young families doing it.

On line with the new generation of robotic milkers

Jan and Chris Kappers of Olspank Dairy were the first to adopt the new A4 milkers and they appreciate the new features that come with them


Olspank Dairy, east of Sweaburg, is notable for two reasons. Operators, father and son Jan and Chris Kappers, are the longest running farms with robotic milkers in Ontario. They are also the first in the country to upgrade to the newest generation of robotic milkers.

A year ago, the Kappers replaced their original A2 machines, installed in 1999, with three A4 machines, and were milking 175 cows with them as of the beginning of March. Jan Kappers says the machines have the capacity to milk more cows – 63 to 65 cows each – and he wants to buy more quota.

The media assault on supply management

Maclean’s national editor Andrew Coyne has led the charge against supply management. But University of Waterloo history professor Bruce Muirhead has emerged as a defender, with George Morris Centre economist Larry Martin taking the middle ground


University of Waterloo history professor Bruce Muirhead points to an article published last year in New Zealand’s Waikato Times and wonders why the critics of Canada’s dairy supply management system look to that country as an example of how dairy trade ought to work.

Do birds pose a health problem in your dairy barn?

There’s little documentation on the overall risks birds present to farms. Experts tend to discount the risk of salmonella, but some are concerned that E. coli can be passed between cattle and starlings


From a bird’s eye view, a barn is just a big nest or a giant feed dish. But too many birds in the barn can pose health risks to a dairy herd and indirectly affect the quality of the milk they produce. 

In search of cows that fight off mastitis better than others

Scientists are using molecular research to find animals that show a superior immune response to disease challenges – and perhaps in the long-term to reduce the need for antibiotics


Mastitis control isn’t just about udder management. Some cows simply fight off disease better than others.

Now, using molecular research, veterinarians and animals scientists are trying to develop screens to find the animals that mount a superior immune response to disease challenges.

Somatic cell count penalty level due to drop

But, say industry insiders, with average levels in Ontario well below 400,000, the change shouldn’t be onerous


The last time Ontario lowered its somatic cell count (SCC) penalty level, in the early 1990s, some farmers had difficulty adjusting, particularly ones not using any best management practices, says Alex Hamilton, field services manager for Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO). Now the level is about to drop again.

Risk assessment and testing a key element in avoiding Johne’s disease

In 2010, 70 per cent of Ontario dairy producers participated in a voluntary four-year prevention program and organizers are hoping to raise the tally to 100 per cent


Enniskillen-area dairy farmer Jim Millson always thought he did a great job with calf management. But now he knows for sure thanks to the Johne’s Education and Management Assistance program.

Last November, Millson, the Dairy Farmers of Ontario board member representative on the program’s working group, completed the on-farm risk assessment by his veterinarian and testing as part of the program. Millson’s results revealed his herd was clean and he didn’t have any high titre cows. He had 50 cows tested.

Building a $2.5 million dairy barn the local way

For the Howes of Vankleek Hill, using local contractors was the key to a successful barn construction project. And the many visitors that came to see it were also impressed


When the Howes family of Vankleek Hill began rebuilding their dairy barn in July after a fire destroyed their old one, equipment and more than half their herd last spring, Leonard says he was expecting some glitches along the way.

But there weren’t any. Construction of the new 327-foot-long by 98-foot-wide free stall barn went “really smoothly,” he says, noting he’s pleased with the end result and how well the contractors and equipment dealers all worked together.

Who drinks the most milk – Canadians or Americans?

Depending on how economists do the math, fluid milk consumption may be higher or lower on either side of the border. But on each side, consumption is declining


Milk consumption per capita is declining in Canada. Critics often blame the supply management system, charging that high milk prices are responsible.

A look at consumption levels on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, however, points to declining consumption on both sides. Depending on who, and how it is counted, fluid milk consumption may actually be higher on the Canadian side.

Time for the dairy industry to get tough with processors

So says Canada’s number one ice cream maker, arguing that processors who use vegetable oil for frozen desserts shouldn’t benefit from program rebates, incentives and the use of blue cow logo


If dairy farmers want stronger markets, they should encourage their organizations to get tough with processors using non-milk ingredients for substitute products.