The Farm is a great place to learn more about the animals in Ontario that provide our food. Opened daily for the 16 day fair from 10 to 10 its located on the west side of the Better Living Centre.
While most of the animals have plenty of room to move around on the hay laid concrete floors of their enclosures the dairy cows and nursing pigs are trapped in tight quarters.
The piglets have enough room to move after they have fed but their mother is stuck laying on the straw, nipples exposed to the crowds that view her piglets feeding.
The dairy cows are confined to their tiny cube for most of the day. When asked how often the animals are allowed to move around the staff smiled saying that they are given break once a day where they are walked outside behind the building. Their smile turned into a frown when I asked if they really thought that one short break a day was enough time for the animals to have exercise and a taste of some sort of freedom. The answers stopped as the frowns appeared.
The cows in question don't have enough give on those chains to lay down in their space. They are on their feet for the 12 hours that they are in public view. What happens when the visitors leave for the day is up in the air.
What visitors are viewing though is the truth. The majority of dairy cows
in Ontario during their short life as a dairy cow (most cows milk production wanes after just four years) they are locked into position in order to produce the maximum supply of milk. Because of artificial insemination they are pregnant for 9 months a year. They never know the calves that they birth, their offspring are part of the veal industry.
Most of the other animals at The Farm have space to move. Their feeding hay is higher than the straw that they walk and rest on.
Specialty farming of animals such as ostrich and alpacas seem to have a more humane ideal for their farm animals. They are more likely to be free range and cared for with a tenderness that one would give a beloved pet.
The Farm does give a realistic view of how Ontario farm animals are cared for. That view though is glamorized as to being humane for all. For those who take a closer look that prettied up image goes out to pasture, something that the animals at The Barn can't do for 18 days.