Stray voltage – a problem that just won’t go away

Oxford County’s Allan Innes is convinced that it is still a headache for a number of Ontario farmers and is trying to build a list of those affected Is undocumented stray voltage still an issue on Ontario dairy farms?


Oxford’s Allan Innes thinks so, even though the province brought in new regulations and tougher standards for power distributors nearly two years ago. So the Embro dairy farmer launched a campaign of his own last fall to try to suss out stray voltage across the province, starting in his own Oxford County.

Study suggests time-of-use billing will bring farmers modest savings

But, says one farmer, overall increases in electricity costs may eat up the savings


Time-of-use billing isn’t going to increase hydro costs in dairy barns. Indeed, some small savings will result, according to a study conducted by Hydro One, the largest distributor of power in rural Ontario, and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).

The study was conducted on 50 Ontario dairy farms in 2009, explains OFA policy researcher Ted Cowan.

Is the controversial cap to blame for a shortage of quota offered for sale?

Yes, say some dairy farmers, who feel it is limiting their ability to expand. Not so, say others, who feel that there are different reasons for the lack of quota coming on the market


Simcoe County farmer Robert Wright started planning a new dairy in 2008 and began milking in the new barn on March 30. His business plan called for the purchase 
of 10 kilograms of quota at a time to bring his herd up to the new barn’s 140-cow capacity.   

But eight months later, a frustrated Robert Wright is still milking only 60 cows. The reason? He can’t buy the quota to fill up his barn and he blames the milk marketing board’s cap on quota prices, introduced Feb. 24 of this year. He says it discourages farmers from selling.

One farmer’s battle to get ‘ground current’ out of his barn

‘It’s worse than a barn fire,’ says dairy farmer Allan Erb. ‘With a barn fire, you get to start over. This, you can’t start over. It’s 24/7. It never quits.’


Waterloo Region dairy farmer Allan Erb has gone to extraordinary lengths to get what local electrical consultant Lorne Lantz calls “ground current” out of his barn.

With somatic cell count (SCC) averages exceeding 500,000 in milk from Erb’s 36 cows, Dairy Farmers of Ontario threatened to cut off his milk pickups. There were bleeding sores on cows’ legs, blood samples with cortisol that indicated stress, and no explanation from a veterinarian that the cause was water or feed. Erb held the marketing board at bay by prematurely culling the highest SCC cows.

Dairy - DFO clashes with the Dairy Council over ‘milk beverage’ labeling

The Ontario Dairy Council, representing processors, wants to add modified milk ingredients, but Dairy Farmers of Ontario opposes this, saying that it will create consumer confusion


The Ontario Dairy Council wants its processor members to be able to sell “milk” beverages containing modified milk ingredients to consumers.

“We are asking to be allowed to put other ingredients into a milk beverage to allow processors to be innovative and to increase the market,” says Christina Lewis, vice-president, Ontario Dairy Council.

Dairy 3: Stiffer testing regime set for Ontario milk

Starting this month, samples will be tested more frequently for composition, SCC count and freezing point estimate, to help producers manage their rations better and maximize returns


At the request of producers, Dairy Farmers of Ontario is stepping up its milk bulk tank testing starting June 1.

George MacNaughton, director of production at the milk marketing board, says herd managers want to be able to see their milk composition, butterfat and protein content more often, so that they can change their rations and maximize returns.

Dairy: Provinces struggle to agree on renewal of dairy innovation program

For 20 years, this national program has helped producers develop new products. But Alberta and other provinces are balking at some of its provisions and agreement is proving elusive


Ontario dairy officials are concerned a highly successful program that has boosted milk demand here by 23 million litres a year may be in jeopardy because provinces can’t agree where the milk for it should be produced.

The Domestic Dairy Product Innovation program is up for its five-year renewal this year.

Ontario, with 52 active program projects and another 14 awaiting approval, has been particularly successful in using the program.

Dairy: Barn fires – an increasing cause for concern

When their barn burned down in April, the Howes of Vankleek Hill lost half their dairy herd and much of their equipment. Once started, fires are difficult to control, says the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office, and prevention is the key


With the help of neighbours and passersby, the Howes family of Vankleek Hill saved half of their 175 animal dairy herd when their barn burned down in April.

Just after Leonard Howes’ son, Mark, called 911 on the afternoon of April 10, people started arriving to help get cows out of the 13-year-old, tie-stall barn. The team of helpers rescued 95 animals, but 80 died in the fire. Afterwards, 10 of the rescued animals had to be shipped because of injuries.

Dairy: The Schmidt raw milk case – a ‘crack’ in supply management

That’s one conclusion from a court decision dismissing charges against raw milk producer Michael Schmidt. But others believe it won’t stand up on appeal


If an Ontario Court of Justice decision to dismiss charges against Grey County raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt stands, it would hold grave implications for supply management, warns one of Ontario’s largest dairy producers.

“It could end our marketing system’s supply management,” says Tommy Faulkner, who owns London Dairy Farm, which milks about 900 cows, and who is also a lawyer.

The Jan. 21 decision follows the 2006 Ministry of Natural Resources raid on Schmidt’s biodynamic farm north of the town of Durham.

Dairy: The Milking Shorthorn makes a comeback

They’re smaller than Holsteins and, while they don’t produce as much milk, they eat less, rarely require a vet and involve less labour


As their Holstein cows outgrew their stalls over generations, many dairy operators opted for remodelling their barns. Fenelon Falls area dairy farmer John Knox decided to replace the cows instead.

Knox, whose 400-acre farm is in Kawartha Lakes cottage country on the edge of the Canadian Shield, began switching to Milking Shorthorns almost 10 years ago because his barn wasn’t big enough for the Holsteins. Now less than 10 per cent of his 45 milking cow herd is Holsteins, while the rest is Milking Shorthorns.