Would consumers watch a farming reality TV show? The ‘Incredible’ Dr. Jan Pol thinks so.
Since 2012, the 73-year-old veterinarian has starred in the popular series bearing his name on National Geographic’s NATGEO Wild channel, which features him and his family as they make their rounds tending to the needs of farm and companion animals.
Pol says the show has been successful because it shows what farm life is really like. Nothing is scripted. “Anything you see is real life,” says Pol, who notes that part of the objective is to explore what farmers have to do to keep animals healthy and put food on the table. “I think that’s a very important thing. It shows that the farmer is taking care of his animal, but he is not abusing the animal.”
Speaking to farmers and fans at the Canadian Dairy XPO in Stratford this week, Pol offered some simple advice on animal welfare: “If you mistreat cows, they don’t milk. Cows respond to good care.”
While it’s essential to do what’s right for the cow, Pol says it’s also important for farmers to help consumers understand the workings of a modern dairy farm.
“Farmers should be open,” says Pol, noting the growth of programs like ‘Breakfast on the Farm’ in his home state of Michigan and in Ontario. “This is where the public can come and look at the farm. I think that’s important because there are so many people who think they know what’s good for the animals…. I think farmers know more than anybody else what is good for the animal.”