Agriculture This Week - Farm support through social media

The idea of a social media site such as Facebook does not immediately jump to mind as a resource for farmers.

Yet, I increasingly realize it is just that, and perhaps a crucial tool, at least for those who are farming on a small scale, with specific interests and specialized farm approaches.

Three of those are going to gain some mention here simply as examples of what can be found, in my case by happenstance, although a bit of dedicated searching would help anyone connect with specific groups dedicated to specific interests.

The first is a page dedicated to belted-Galloways.

As a farm writer I have always held an interest in rare breeds, and having written several features over the years on various ones over the years, ‘Belts’ included.

The Belted feature was on a small herd located north of Yorkton, and when I was visiting the aforementioned page, I added the local producer.

I was surprised in a matter of hours they had posted a picture of their cattle to the group, and I had gotten a very nice note from them that they were making a few good contacts on the page.

It was an indication of just how immediate connections via social media can be, even when talking farming.

Speaking of rare breeds, that would include Chantecler chickens, which to my knowledge are the only breed of chicken developed in Canada.

They are not the standard cage layer of large production units, so their numbers are limited.

However, as a backyard layer, increasingly popular in forward-thinking communities, Chanteclers can be a favoured bird.

But where would someone find hens? Or learn about specific genetic lines.

One option is to seek out the Canadian Chantecler Breeders page on Facebook. It is quite active with participants across the country.

I’ll add there are pages for other breeds as well such as the Rhode Island Red Club of America.

And then the Sask Pasture Pig Farmers Group caught my eye just recently, where I found several people on my friends list already members.

There was a reference to Berkshire hogs in a post, and since they were once on the old farm some 30-years, or 40-plus years ago. The breed is an old heritage breed which has its roots in Britain, and which has been a part of Canadian farming since some of the earliest days of farming.

The breed, which is black, like most breeds of colour, have fallen into near obscurity, deemed not a good fit for large-scale hog operations.

But for those opting for smaller holdings, with an eye to a simpler time, Berkshire, and similar breeds can still shine.

However, where does a farmer who wants to learn about raising hogs on pasture turn for help these days?

The industry has experts in terms of pork production, but the current literature is going to be focused on large barns with farrowing crates, and liquid manure systems. That is the state of the industry in general today.

So a user group on a site such as Facebook can connect like-minded pasture producers, as a forum for sharing ideas, and dealing with situations which might pop up.

Such pages via social media are great ways to connect and discuss matters associated with small scale farming and specific breeds of livestock. It puts sage knowledge a few keystrokes away.

Calvin Daniels is Assistant Editor with Yorkton This Week.

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