July 16th, 2024

Alberta Livestock Expo opens the door on innovation

By Lethbridge Herald on October 13, 2023.

Livestock farmers gather to learn about the latest in farming technology at the Alberta Livestock Expo this week at the Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre. Herald photo by Theodora MacLeod

Theodora MacLeod – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

There wasn’t an animal in sight at the Agri-food Hub and Trade Centre on Wednesday and Thursday. Nary a moo, oink, nor cluck to be heard as farmers from across southern Alberta gathered to talk shop and learn about the latest in livestock care.

The Alberta Livestock Expo began in 2017, but for the first time this year it was accompanied by the Innovation in Dairy Conference. With technology front and centre, the vendors and presenters at the conference were a demonstration on just how much goes into raising livestock beyond the barn. 

“Happy, healthy, well-fed cows make more milk and get pregnant easier,” said Haim Fleminger in his presentation on a piece of tech that aims to improve milk production in dairy cows. 

By monitoring various behaviours and health indicators, Fleminger explains that the ear tag or collar monitor allows farmers to detect illness before clinical symptoms develop in the cow. With data being downloaded from the devices in 20-minute intervals, this technology further catapults dairy farming into the digital age, innovation indeed. 

According to the expo’s organizer Chris Tokaruk, in the last decade animal welfare and sustainability have been the most important areas of evolution for farmers. He says most farmers have a sustainability plan, both to reduce costs and limit the lasting environmental impacts of the work they are doing. 

Among the many vendors at the expo was Crystal Spring Hog Equipment from Manitoba. 

Leaders in feeding, watering, and housing pigs, the company began with two brothers from the Crystal Spring Hutterite Colony hoping to streamline the way their pigs ate and drank. From that they’ve evolved into an international company revolutionizing wet/dry feeding systems with spouts – or nipples – that can be activated by the pigs themselves. 

According to a representative from the company, these nipples and feeding systems can reduce water use by 40-60 per cent. According to Alberta Pork, some pigs can consume up to 20 litres of water a day meaning any savings have an impact on large scale operations. 

Also in attendance was Farm Credit Canada who provide loans to agricultural businesses of all kinds, from livestock farms to local retail producers of fruits and vegetables. A crown corporation, they have been helping farmers for over 50 years and have begun encouraging self-care and maintaining mental health to their clients.

As the world evolves so too must the most necessary industries and the Livestock Expo proved the perfect example of the ingenuity and adaptability needed to work in agriculture. 

 “Farming is really the management of so many variables,” says Fleminger. 

The statement was echoed by Tokaruk who says “adapting is just part of the culture.” He adds “People who grew up working with animals and caring for animals in different ways, are always excited to find new and better ways.”

New and better was in no short supply at the livestock expo, and with companies from all over the world showing off their cutting edge technology and state of the art advancements in animal care, it made up for the lack of four legged and feathered guests.

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