Caring for Our Cattle
Ensuring our cattle are well cared for is a very important responsibility and one that we take great care pride to provide.
Raising healthy cattle is also a contributor to producing high-quality beef, something that our farm is well known for.
We put much time and effort into producing consistently healthy and well-cared-for cattle. This means our entire team, including our veterinarians, work every day to ensure our cattle are healthy and well cared for.
The facilities at Van Osch Farms are specifically designed to support the natural behaviors of cattle and reduce the risk of injury to animals cattle and ourselves. They provide sufficient space for each animal to roam freely within the herd, have access to shelter and/or outside, fresh water, and nutritious feed at all times.
Our barns feature curtains that close to provide protection from the cold winter elements and to allow for cool breezes to blow through during our hot humid summers, keeping cattle comfortable in all conditions.
We work closely with our veterinarians to develop programs and protocols to prevent and treat disease. Our team is trained to identify and properly diagnose disease and we only use medications approved by Health Canada for use in cattle and prescribed by our veterinarians. Furthermore, all animals are uniquely identified, which allows for accurate records of everything that happens for each individual animal in our care. These records not only ensure that we are managing our cattle in compliance with all regulations, but they also help us to go above and beyond to identify opportunities to continuously improve the care we provide.
Feeding Our Cattle
We work very closely with our nutritionist to ensure the rations for our cattle are nutritionally balanced and provide all the nutrients required to be healthy and productive.
Cattle spend the first 8-12 months of their lives grazing on open pastures, our cattle are then transitioned to diets that are based on locally grown corn and corn byproducts from ethanol production for a minimum of 100 days at the end of the finishing period.
Our farm is certified under the Ontario Corn Fed Beef Quality Assurance Program, which is the only beef cattle program in Canada that has a defined feed ration protocol. Ontario Corn Fed Beef is recognized around the world for consistently great taste.
Finishing feed rations must satisfy OCFB QA guidelines and restrictions for co-products of human food or animal processing.
Samples of feed, along with feed labels and tags, are retained as required by the OCFB Quality Assurance program.
The majority of feed ingredients are all grown and harvested on our own farmland. This contributes to increased operational efficiencies, as well as ensuring the sustainability of our croplands.
Cattle and Crops
We believe the most environmentally friendly way to produce beef is to maximize our land base to produce the feed for our animals, the bedding for their pens, and to utilize the manure as a nutrient source to improve our soil health.
Our land is rotated amongst corn, soybeans, wheat, and edible beans (kidney and white pea beans) to ensure there is a suitable location to apply manure to the land in a responsible and timely manner. By utilizing our manure as a nutrient source, we reduce our dependence on synthetic fertilizer while at the same time improving the health and resiliency of our soil.
All of our land is regularly tested to determine nutrient levels so that we are able to apply cattle manure where it is going to bring the most benefits. There are only certain times of the year that the land is suitable for manure application, which is why we have a certified manure management storage plan along with a provincially recognized nutrient management plan (NMP).
We know that the most productive land is the land that has something alive on it. This is why we utilize cover crops between our regular cropping seasons – to feed our second most important livestock … the critters that call our soil home.