Snow Storm in Spring 2016
Snow Storm in Spring 2016
Last April, I visited Canada upon the invitation of the Commercial Attaché of the Canadian Embassy in Manila, Ms. Maria Januszczak, to attend the Canadian Dairy Expo (CDX) in Stratford, Ontario. I was met by Robert ‘Bob” Lang of Rural Routes International, Ltd. And Bob, sometimes I would call him Papa Lang as we learned more about each other, was with me the whole trip, teaching me so many things!
Bob Lang is a 72 year old retiree who is an expert in Genetics. He has been all over the world helping, training and networking for funds from CIDA, FAO and other international organizations. Hes been to the Philippines and has worked with National Dairy Authority and Livestock Development Council.
This trip was really a study tour aimed at show casing best practices on Dairy Operations, from farm machineries and systems, genetics to nutrition and processing. Not to mention the wonderful warm hospitality of my hosts! I was welcomed to the great white north!
Day one saw me meeting head on with a snow storm. And it was supposed to be the beginning of Spring! Over 200 accidents were recorded that night on the highway from Toronto to Guelph (45 minute drive), as people were caught un prepared for this weather, most tires were just freed of their snow chains. I stayed in Guelph for an early meeting with Shannon McCarthy of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. I was introduced to the exports Canada is doing with regard food and agricultural products. That afternoon, I met with Paul Stewart who is the Genetics Program Specialist of EastGen Goat and Cattle Artificial Insemination Cooperative. He represents SEMEX, one of the biggest supplier of genetics in the world. This was an interesting meeting as I got to be reintroduced to the wonderful world of genetics. They promised me that they can come to the Philippines and train technicians on artificial insemination, all I have to do is provide the logistics, technicians, board and lodging, well, I said there and then, DONE!
With Shannon MaCarthy at the Ministry of Agriculture
And then I met Mr. Gerard Townsend, a bear of a man who is the manager of the Goat Milk Program of Gaylea Dairy Cooperative. They just recently purchased into a dairy processing corporation further increasing their influence in the dairy scene in Canada.
I had some tourist time and left Guelph at 8:30 am to go to Lindsay. In between, we passed by the great Niagara Falls, awesome! We drove by some little historic towns around and got to try some local chocolates, cheeses and maple candies.
And then I went inside the 2nd biggest cheese manufacturer in Canada!!! Bruce VanderBerg and his wife own Mariposa Goat Products Dairy/Celebrity International Goat Dairy Products. The started with 75 goats and is now milking 1700 and wants to grow more. His wife used to make cheese until they grew so big, they need to manage the business and get others to do the cheeses. They started with a husband and wife dairy operations not too long ago and they have grown so big so fast they keep building new cheese factories. What an inspiration!
The storm kept following us and when we went to Trent University to meet Dr. Bradley White who is a Professor of Biology and Director of the Natural Resources DNA Profiling and Forensic Center, it was a full blown winter wonderland all over. The good Professor introduced me to the innovations they are doing in goat genomic evaluation and trait identification to come up with superior or elite goats that are not susceptible to known diseases. Amazing! I brought home some vials ready to receive blood from our herd so they can be mapped too. This is another new technology I am excited about.
My meeting with Marty Philippi of JAYLOR was to be the most productive as I have just imported one unit of the Total Mixed Ration mixer for our dairy herd. I got to talk to their animal nutritionist as well so I got a better picture of how to maximize the TMR. The animals are now enjoying fresh mixed salad every day with molasses. We will try different mixes in the next few weeks to make their meal time more exciting.
My 4th day in Toronto started with an early trip to Stratford thanks to Beverly Spriel who accompanied me to the Canadian Dairy Expo. It was a stockman’s dream market. I got to see some gadgets and was able to import a hand held pregnancy diagnostic tool. We use this now 60-90 days post breeding in all our does. Got to see milk quality test kits and animal nutrition packages as well. AND I saw Dr. Pol! He is as cool as the TV persona. Bev also helped me get my bull rings and my husbandry manuals. It was a full day of new information.
But my most exciting times are always the farm visits. And I got so many of those on this trip. The BEST animals I saw at the Grasshill Farms owned by Lloyd and Barbra Wicks. Boy, they have elite herd! Every single one of them is fitted with a computer controlled leg band that tells the feed dispenser how much food to give and what kind. They have CCTV cameras all over the farm and CCTV cameras in the other farms they work with in other parts of the world, AMAZING!!! We enjoyed a relaxed lunch at the farm and saw how the operations from birthing to breeding, and back. And then a trivia, how would you know how many goats a Mennonite farmer has? 10 x the number children they have! I was told that each child can milk 10 so If the farmer have 6 kids, he’d have 60 milking goats. I visited one farm with no electricity but can produce 5-6 liters per goat per day, all hand milked. Truly inspiring.
Elite Herd of Lloyd Wicks, Grasshill Farms
All in all, it was a very productive trip, thanks again to the Canadian government for making this happen. Merci!