Algae for healthier eggs

Algae for healthier eggs

Canadian egg farmers have a new opportunity to offer healthy eggs high in omega-3

Alternative bedding

Alternative bedding

Bedding is being examined as an increasingly important factor in poultry health

Precision livestock farming

Precision livestock farming

When a farmer enters the barn, he or she hears first, then sees, then smells the environment.

Turkey hens like it hot

Turkey hens like it hot

Animal welfare is the greatest impetus for our work

Ford’s new generation of big trucks

Ford’s new generation of big trucks

Almost twenty years ago the Super Duty line of Ford trucks was born.

March 22, 2017, Frankfort, KY — Federal and state authorities say a case of low pathogenic avian influenza has been detected in a commercial poultry flock in western Kentucky. Kentucky State Veterinarian Robert C. Stout said the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the presence of H7N9 low pathogenic avian influenza in samples taken from the Christian County premises. The virus exposure at the premises was initially detected by the Murray State University Breathitt Veterinary Center in Hopkinsville while conducting a routine pre-slaughter test last week. Dr. Stout said there were no clinical signs of disease in the birds. The affected premises are under quarantine, and the flock of approximately 22,000 hens was depopulated as a precautionary measure, Dr. Stout said. “Dr. Stout and his staff have extensive experience and expertise in animal disease control and eradication,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “They have an excellent working relationship with the Kentucky Poultry Federation and the poultry industry. They are uniquely qualified to contain this outbreak so our domestic customers and international trading partners can remain confident in Kentucky poultry.” Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) may cause no disease or mild illness. Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) can cause severe disease with high mortality. The Office of the Kentucky State Veterinarian and its partners in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) are conducting surveillance on flocks within a six-mile radius of the index farm, Dr. Stout said. The company that operates the farm is conducting additional surveillance testing on other commercial facilities it operates within that area.
Canadian egg farmers have a new opportunity to offer healthy eggs high in omega-3 to nutrition-focused consumers thanks to a recent decision by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
March 16, 2017 – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed a second case of highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza in a commercial breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tenn. This H7N9 strain is of North American wild bird lineage and is the same strain of avian influenza that was previously confirmed in Tennessee. It is not the same as the China H7N9 virus that has impacted poultry and infected humans in Asia. The flock of 55,000 chickens is located in the Mississippi flyway, within three kilometers of the first Tennessee case. Samples from the affected flock, which displayed signs of illness and experienced increased mortality, were tested at Tennessee’s Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. The USDA is working with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on the joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises, and depopulation has begun. Federal and state partners will conduct surveillance and testing of commercial and backyard poultry within a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) radius of the site. The USDA will be informing the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as well as international trading partners of this finding. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is working directly with poultry workers at the affected facilities to ensure that they are taking the proper precautions to prevent illness and contain disease spread.
March 15, 2017, Montgomery, AL — State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier, in consultation with Commissioner John McMillan, has issued a stop movement order for certain poultry in Alabama. “The health of poultry is critically important at this time,” said Dr. Frazier. “With three investigations of avian influenza in north Alabama on three separate premises we feel that the stop movement order is the most effective way to implement biosecurity for all poultry in our state.” The first two investigations were on two separate premises in north Alabama. One flock of chickens at a commercial breeder operation located in Lauderdale County, Ala. was found to be suspect for avian influenza. No significant mortality in the flock was reported. The other premise was a backyard flock in Madison County, Ala. Samples from both premises have been sent to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, and are being tested to determine presence of the virus. The most recent investigation began following routine surveillance while executing Alabama’s HPAI Preparedness and Response Plan. USDA poultry technicians collected samples at the TaCo-Bet Trade Day flea market in Scottsboro located in Jackson County, Ala. on March 12. Samples collected were suspect and those samples are on the way to the USDA lab in Ames, Iowa. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) on a joint incident response. This suspected strain of avian influenza does not pose a risk to the food supply. No affected poultry entered the food chain. The risk of human infection with avian influenza during poultry outbreaks is very low. “Following the 2015 avian influenza outbreak in the Midwest, planning, preparation, and extensive biosecurity efforts were escalated in Alabama. Industry, growers, state and federal agencies and other stakeholders have worked hard to maintain a level of readiness,” said Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan. “Our staff is committed to staying actively involved in the avian influenza situation until any threats are addressed.”
March 10, 2017, Nashville, TN – The Tennessee state veterinarian confirms that a flock of chickens at a commercial poultry breeding operation has tested positive for low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI). This chicken breeding operation is located in Giles County, Tenn. The company that operates it is different from the one associated with the recent detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Lincoln County. At this time, officials do not believe one premise sickened the other. On March 6, routine screening tests at the Giles County premises indicated the presence of avian influenza in the flock. State and federal laboratories confirmed the existence of H7N9 LPAI in tested samples. “This is why we test and monitor for avian influenza,” State Veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher said. “When routine testing showed a problem at this facility, the operators immediately took action and notified our lab. That fast response is critical to stopping the spread of this virus.” As a precaution, the affected flock was depopulated and has been buried. The premises is under quarantine. Domesticated poultry within a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) radius of the site are also under quarantine and are being tested and monitored for illness. To date, all additional samples have tested negative for avian influenza and no other flocks within the area have shown signs of illness. The primary difference between LPAI and HPAI is mortality rate in domesticated poultry. A slight change to the viral structure can make a virus deadly for birds. Avian influenza virus strains often occur naturally in wild migratory birds without causing illness in those birds. With LPAI, domesticated chickens and turkeys may show little or no signs of illness. However, HPAI is often fatal for domesticated poultry. The Giles County LPAI incident is similar to the Lincoln County HPAI incident in that both the low pathogenic and highly pathogenic viruses are an H7N9 strain of avian influenza. USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirms the H7N9 virus that affected the Lincoln County premises is of North American wild bird lineage. It is not the same as the China H7N9 virus affecting Asia and is genetically distinct. The Lincoln County premises affected by HPAI remains under quarantine. To date, all additional poultry samples from the area surrounding that site have tested negative for avian influenza and no other flocks within the area have shown signs of illness. Testing and monitoring continues.
March 8, 2017, Barron, WI – A low-pathogenic bird flu strain has been detected in a Jennie-O Turkey Store operation in Barron, Wis., marking the second bird flu case in a U.S. commercial operation this week. The U.S. Department of Agriculture posted notice of the Barron County case to the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health's website March 7. Hormel Foods, which owns Wilmar-based Jennie-O, confirmed the H5N2 strain was detected March 4 at its Barron operation. The USDA report said 84,000 birds are at the farm. READ MORE
March 7, 2017, Ames, IA – USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) has confirmed the full subtype for the highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza reported in Lincoln County, Tenn. The virus has been identified as North American wild bird lineage H7N9 HPAI based upon full genome sequence analysis of the samples at the NVSL. All eight gene segments of the virus are North American wild bird lineage. This is NOT the same as the China H7N9 virus that has impacted poultry and infected humans in Asia. While the subtype is the same as the China H7N9 lineage that emerged in 2013, this is a different virus and is genetically distinct from the China H7N9 lineage. As additional background, avian influenza viruses are classified by a combination of two groups of proteins: hemagglutinin or “H” proteins, of which there are 16 (H1–H16), and neuraminidase or “N” proteins, of which there are 9 (N1–N9). Many different combinations of “H” and “N” proteins are possible. Each combination is considered a different subtype, and subtypes are further broken down into different strains. Genetically related strains within a subtype are referred to as lineage. The USDA continues to work with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on the joint incident response. Birds on the affected premises have been depopulated, and burial is in progress. An epidemiological investigation is underway to determine the source of the infection. Federal and state partners continue to conduct surveillance and testing of poultry within an expanded 10-mile radius around the affected premises to ensure all commercial operations in the area are disease-free. In addition, strict movement controls are in place within an established control zone to prevent the disease from spreading. As of yesterday, all commercial premises within the surveillance area had been tested, and all of the tests from the surrounding facilities were negative for disease. Officials will continue to observe commercial and backyard poultry for signs of influenza, and all flocks in the surveillance zone will be tested again. The rapid testing and response in this incident is the result of extensive planning with local, state, federal and industry partners to ensure the most efficient and effective coordination. Since the previous HPAI detections in 2015 and 2016, APHIS and its state and industry partners have learned valuable lessons to help implement stronger preparedness and response capabilities. More information about avian influenza can be found on the USDA avian influenza page.
March 6, 2017, Washington, DC – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza (HPAI) of North American wild bird lineage in a commercial chicken breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tenn. This is the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the U.S. this year. The flock of 73,500 is located within the Mississippi flyway. Samples from the affected flock, which experienced increased mortality, were tested at Tennessee’s Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. Virus isolation is ongoing, and NVSL expects to characterize the neuraminidase protein, or “N-type”, of the virus within 48 hours. APHIS is working closely with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on a joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises and birds on the property will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is working directly with poultry workers at the affected facility to ensure that they are taking the proper precautions to prevent illness and contain disease spread. As part of existing avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area. The U.S. has a strong AI surveillance program and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, and in migratory wild bird populations. The USDA will be informing the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as well as international trading partners of this finding. The USDA also continues to communicate with trading partners to encourage adherence to OIE standards and minimize trade impacts. OIE trade guidelines call on countries to base trade restrictions on sound science and, whenever possible, limit restrictions to those animals and animal products within a defined region that pose a risk of spreading disease of concern. Additional information on biosecurity for can be found at www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/defendtheflock .
Health leaders around the world are using words like “historical” and “possible turning point” to describe a declaration passed by the UN General Assembly aiming to slow down the spread of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. The declaration requires countries to come up with a two-year plan to protect the potency of antibiotics. Countries also need to create ways to monitor the use of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture, start curbing that use and begin developing new antibiotics that work.
Over one hundred years ago the wild turkey was a familiar sight in North America. Unregulated hunting and habitat loss decimated their population in Ontario but that has since changed. In 1986, approximately 4,400 wild turkeys were re-introduced, and according to Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs figures from 2007, that population has reached over 70,000 and continues to grow.
In several parts of Ontario, poultry production is quite concentrated, which doesn’t bode well for preventing spread of disease in the event of an outbreak. Because of that, Tom Baker, project manager and incident commander at the Feather Board Command Centre (FBCC,) is co-ordinating a special project.
When a farmer enters the barn, he or she hears first, then sees, then smells the environment. Nanotechnology sensors can detect all of these parameters, providing novel solutions to practical issues in poultry health.Suresh Neethirajan is an assistant Professor and the director of the BioNano laboratory at the University of Guelph. He calls this agricultural revolution towards using nanotechnology ‘precision livestock farming’, a progressive movement over the past decade where technological advances are being used to save time - the time to test results or make management decisions. The ultimate goal of precision livestock farming is to transmit real time data related to health parameters using a combination of mobile phones and Internet to enable the end user to monitor and track flock health to enhance the productivity and welfare of the birds. The data is then used to proactively predict and prevent disease. This strategy is made possible by using nanotechology, which, in turn, uses tiny biomarkers to detect subclinical signs of disease at the molecular level in a non-invasive manner. Neethirajan uses the example that preventing the spread of Avian Influenza (AI) might be the best way to keep the disease under control. Using nanotechnology, he is developing a hand-held AI virus detection tool that will be able to differentiate and classify different strains of the AI virus - information that is crucial to optimize management strategies to treat and help prevent the spread of the disease. The tool will be able to replace the current laboratory RT-PCR analysis that can take from six hours to three days. Two types of nanotechnology are being investigated for this AI detection tool. The first type uses an optical sensor device, where light is reflected off specific nanomaterials, which bind in specific ways to proteins on the surface of the virus, fluorescing differently to allow identification of the strain of the pathogen. This information can be gathered in real time and records can be transferred through an android app to the entire value chain or veterinarians as required. Another option is an electrochemical type of sensor, similar to a handheld glucose meter. Just a droplet of blood can be read immediately using nanomaterials that focus on the virus pathogen rather than the chemical biomarker. Both optical and electrochemical options are being investigated, mainly to ease the interfacing with the smart phone and Internet for real-time transmission of data. Each of these modules has unique advantages, while optical seems to be easier to adapt, mainly because of the presence of cameras in the phones. At this stage the research focus is on multiplexing - refining the biosensor to identify multiple strains of the AI virus from a single drop of blood. Following a similar predictive and preventative approach, Neethirajan is also developing an Internet of Things (IoT)-based poultry monitoring telemetry system that will monitor bird health in a non-invasive manner, looking for subtle signs of disease that can be addressed proactively. With this telemetry system, a loonie-sized sensor placed on the bird will detect movement, monitor skin temperature and other biomarkers such as relative humidity, temperature, carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia levels, in real time fashion that could then become predictors of disease. This technology would not be feasible to monitor thousands of birds individually, but the data from sample birds in a flock can be applied to mathematical models to generate holistic predictions of flock health. Nanotechnology can also supply micro electrical mechanical systems (MEMS) - based sensor probes that can monitor blood flow in a non-invasive manner. Even sound can become a predictor of disease because the sound of a healthy chicken differs from a bird under any kind of stress. Integrating this vocalization with movement gives a more holistic picture of the health of the bird.More work is needed regarding practical application before this technology can be valid for on-farm use. For example, wearable sensors need to be lightweight and made of biological materials where possible so that the birds don’t peck at the ‘foreign’ object. Where sound is measured, random barn noise needs to be excluded from detection. Wireless technology doesn’t work in all barns in all locations, and adaptations will need to be made to accommodate differences between caged and cage-free systems.  Meanwhile thresholds of disease are being better established through mathematical prediction models and apps for reporting data are being refined.
Uniformity of body weight within a breeder flock remains a key challenge faced by the hatching egg industry. Broiler breeders are genetically selected for increased growth rates, which is associated with an increased appetite. Reproduction in broiler breeders is impeded unless their growth is constrained, which has resulted in the implementation of feed restriction strategies that may not allow for co-ordination of nutrient requirement and nutrient supply in non-uniform flocks.
They’re an ancient foe, a worthy opponent. For over 300 million years, we’ve been battling the bugs of infectious disease – but are we winning?
Last year marked a spectacular achievement for the Canadian egg industry. “It was the 10th consecutive year of growth in retail sales of eggs,” says Bonnie Cohen, Egg Farmers of Canada’s (EFC’s) long-time director of marketing and nutrition. “In addition, our end-of-year data for 2016 shows that retail sales increased 5.6 per cent over 2015, which translates to an increase of 16.8 million dozen.”
As many of us have heard on the news recently, food security in Northern Canada is a serious problem. Most people in the Far North are completely reliant on food produced in the south. Food is generally very expensive, but fresh fruit and vegetables in particular cost three to four times what they would elsewhere. Numerous new greenhouse initiatives are underway to address the problem – most of them employing high-tech green energy solutions and extremely high levels of insulation.
March 3, 2017, Delft, The Netherlands – Organic producers in Britain have gone high-tech in a bid to keep their poultry safe from avian influenza (bird flu). “The outbreak of avian influenza here in the UK back in December 2016 has caused untold stress to the poultry and egg sector,” explains Dan England, director of PestFix. “The advent of new Animal & Plant Health Authority (APHA) protocol allows free range birds outdoors, if they can be kept segregated from wild birds. With this rule, the laser technology for bird dispersal comes into its own. Because they are domesticated, the hens are unaffected by the laser.” One of the farms taking advantage of the technology is Orchard Eggs, based in West Sussex. “Our birds are housed across 50 acres of orchard and we want to do everything to keep them safe from infection,” says Daniel Hoeberichts, owner of Orchard Eggs. “Once we heard about [laser technology], it seemed like an ideal solution to complement all of our other biosecurity measures.” Automated lasers are method of repelling unwanted birds without causing harm to the wild birds, the chickens and the surrounding environment. The system being used at Orchard Eggs was developed by Bird Control Group, a Dutch company. The laser is silent and shows effectiveness of 90 to 100 per cent in bird dispersal at farms. This makes it a viable alternative to the expensive method of installing nets at the entire poultry farm.
February 24, 2017, Lethbridge, Alta – When it comes to successful brooding, it is not one size fits all. The Lethbridge Quality Brooding Workshop will explore what works and what doesn’t when it comes to maximizing flock growth, health, and welfare. This practical workshop takes place near Lethbridge on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. The workshop will be led by instructors who understand the importance of links between bird health, biology, and barn results. They will discuss ideal barn preparation, the key components of brooding management, identifying sick birds, the flock health and economic impact of a decision to cull specific birds, and more! Participants will go into the barn to discuss barn preparation and tools to measure environmental conditions; hear first-hand accounts of what works and doesn’t work in the field; and learn to assess external chick quality and how this relates to internal conditions of chicks.  The program will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at a farm located just east of Lethbridge. Registration is $60 per person and includes lunch. Additional registrants from the same farm will be charged $50 each. Please contact the Alberta Chicken Producers office at 780-488-2125 to register. There are a limited number of spots available, so register early to avoid disappointment. If you would be interested in participating in a future Edmonton-area Quality Brooding Workshop, please contact the office. Interested parties will be placed on a contact list. If there is early interest, officials will plan for this workshop to take place shortly after the Lethbridge workshop.
Growing volumes of data are being collected throughout the food production chain. But although this data could present big opportunity for agriculture, it’s not being used to its full potential, according to the international sales director of a software company that specializes in the protein industry.     
According to Statistics Canada (StatsCan), over the last several decades, the per capita consumption of animal protein in Canada has changed dramatically. Figure 1 shows the consumption of three different meats from 1980 to 2014.
Do turkeys respond the same way as broilers to transportation? That’s the question professional engineer Trever Crowe has been investigating at the University of Saskatchewan (UofS). “Animal welfare is the greatest impetus for our work,” Crowe told the audience at the Poultry Industry Council 2016 Research Day in Guelph, Ont., with his work focusing on the transportation of turkeys to market. The turkey industry is facing increased demands from regulatory agencies and consumers but current broiler data may not be directly applicable to turkeys.” Travelling TurkeysCrowe’s objective was to investigate the response of turkey hen and tom physiology, behaviour and meat quality to different temperatures and humidity levels during simulated transport.Crowe, the associate dean in the College of Graduate Studies and Research at the UofS and a faculty member in the department of mechanical engineering, was the principal investigator, along with his research assistant, Catherine Vermette, graduate student Zoe Henrikson, and a platoon of other casual workers helping to collect the data. Environmental simulationResearchers mimicked a typical farm-rearing environment at a barn on campus with 120 12-week old turkey hens and 120 16-week old turkey toms, growing them for a week with ad lib feed and water under 16 hours of light. After reaching market age the birds were crated and exposed to simulated transportation conditions where they were randomly assigned to one of five treatments: two warm treatments at 28 C with 30 and 80 per cent relative humidity, two moderate treatments at 20 C with 30 and 80 per cent relative humidity, and one cold treatment at -18 C, all at a stocking density of approximately 83 kg/m2. Crated birds were placed inside a pre-conditioned environmental chamber for eight hours under these experimental conditions before being processed at a mini slaughter plant set up at the university’s College of Engineering. Experimental measures included live shrink; core body temperature; behavioural observations during exposure such as sitting, standing, huddling, shivering, panting, pecking, ptiloerection and preening; blood glucose levels before and after exposure; heterophil/lymphocyte ratio and the meat quality – the pH and colour of the breast and thigh. HypothesisIn terms of meat quality, Crowe hypothesized that warm exposure would result in pale, soft, exudative (PSE) meat, demonstrating a decline in pH and subsequent water holding capacity that results in tougher, paler meat. He also expected that cold exposure would result in dark, firm, dry (DFD) meat, due to an increase in muscle pH. There was the potential that meat exposed to cold would provide a larger yield, reduced drip and cook loss, with improved texture and taste scores.ResultsThe results indicate that toms tolerate the cold better than hens but hens did better in the warmer conditions. For cold transport at -18 C, hen live shrink was greater, core body temperature tended to be lower, thermo-regulatory behaviours such as huddling, shivering, ptiloerection increased, both breast and thigh pH tended to increase and became darker when compared to both treatments at 20 C. Under the same cold conditions the blood glucose of toms had a tendency to decrease, thermo-regulatory behaviours increased and thigh pH increased. Comparing warm transport conditions, the opposite was true. Crowe found overall, that hens were less susceptible to the effects of warm transport than toms. Comparing both 28 C treatments to 20 C treatments at 30 and 80 per cent relative humidity, hen live shrink was greater and thermo-regulatory behaviours such as panting increased at 28 C. For toms live shrink increased, core body temperature increased, thermo-regulatory behaviours increased and breast pH increased under 28 C treatment compared to 20 C. Research conditionsCrowe suggested that the exposure conditions were not extreme enough to cause consistent and widespread physiological changes but that changes in core body temperature indicate birds were possibly beginning to reach the limit of their thermal coping abilities. Crowe pointed out that the research was conducted under ideal conditions, with all birds healthy and dry. Turkey physiology and behaviour were affected to a greater degree than meat quality measures; meat quality was not compromised and defects did not occur in cold or warm transported hens or toms.Crowe suggested that the large size of turkeys relative to broilers and size differences between hens and toms likely account for some of the variation in results and make it difficult to extrapolate work done with broilers to turkeys. As he says, turkeys are not just big chickens. Funding PartnersThis work with turkeys was one of the Growing Forward II projects sponsored by Turkey Farmers of Canada and Agriculture Canada.  Crowe is now looking ahead to do similar work with end-of-cycle hens in a collaborative project with Karen Schwean-Lardner and he has also explored the possibility of similar work with broilers.  There are no immediate plans to extend this work on turkeys, although there are other turkey-related projects ongoing at the UofS.
Jan. 11, 2017 - The National Chicken Council (NCC) is urging consumers, the foodservice industries and non-governmental organizations to invest in studying the impact of the growing market for "slower growing" broiler chickens in the United States (U.S).  A study released by NCC details the environmental, economic and sustainability implications of raising slower growing chickens, revealing a sharp increase in chicken prices and the use of environmental resources - including water, air, fuel and land.  NCC is also calling for more research on the health impact of chickens' growth rates, to ensure that the future of bird health and welfare is grounded in scientific, data-backed research.   "The National Chicken Council and its members remain committed to chicken welfare, continuous improvement and respecting consumer choice – including the growing market for a slower growing bird," says Ashley Peterson, NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. "However, these improvements must be dictated by science and data – not activists' emotional rhetoric – which is why we support further research on the topic of chicken welfare and growth rates."Environmental implicationsIn assessing a transition to a slower growing breed, the environmental impact is an important component often left out of the equation.  If only one-third of broiler chicken producers switched to a slower growing breed, nearly 1.5 billion more birds would be needed annually to produce the same amount of meat currently produced – requiring a tremendous increase in water, land and fuel consumption:  Additional feed needed: Enough to fill 670,000 additional tractor trailers on the road per year, using millions more gallons of fuel annually. Additional land needed: The additional land needed to grow the feed (corn and soybeans) would be 7.6 million acres/year, or roughly the size of the entire state of Maryland. Additional manure output: Slower growing chickens will also stay on the farm longer, producing 28.5 billion additional pounds of manure annually.  That's enough litter to create a pile on a football field that is 27 times higher than a typical NFL stadium. Additional water needed: 5.1 billion additional gallons of water per year for the chickens to drink (excluding additional irrigation water that would be required to grow the additional feed). Economic implicationsIf the industry did not produce the additional 1.5 billion birds to meet current demand, the supply of chicken would significantly reduce to 27.5 billion less chicken meals per year.The additional cost of even 1/3 of the industry switching to slower growing birds would be $9 billion, which could have a notable financial impact on foodservice companies, retailers, restaurants and ultimately – consumers.  This will put a considerable percentage of the population at risk and increase food instability for those who can least afford to have changes in food prices.A reduction in the U.S. chicken supply would also result in a decreased supply to export internationally where U.S. chicken is an important protein for families in Mexico, Cuba, Africa and 100 other countries. NCC's commitment to welfare and consumer choice"Slower growing," as defined by the Global Animal Partnership, is equal to or less than 50 grams of weight gained per chicken per day averaged over the growth cycle, compared to current industry average for all birds of approximately 61 grams per day. This means that in order to reach the same market weight, the birds would need to stay on the farm significantly longer.For decades, the chicken industry has evolved its products to meet ever-changing consumer preferences.  Adapting and offering consumers more choices of what they want to eat has been the main catalyst of success for chicken producers. "We are the first ones to know that success should not come at the expense of the health and wellbeing of the birds," said Peterson.  "Without healthy chickens, our members would not be in business." All current measurable data – livability, disease, condemnation, digestive and leg health – reflect that the national broiler flock is as healthy as it has ever been."We don't know if raising chickens slower than they are today would advance our progress on health and welfare - which is why NCC has expressed its support to the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association for research funding in this area," says Peterson. "What we do know is there are tradeoffs and that it is important to take into consideration chicken welfare, sustainability, and providing safe, affordable food for consumers.  There may not be any measurable welfare benefits to the birds, despite these negative consequences.  Research will help us identify if there are additional, unforeseen consequences of raising birds for longer."NCC in 2017 will also be updating its Broiler Welfare Guidelines, last updated in 2014, and having the guidelines certified by an independent third party.  The guidelines will be updated with assistance from an academic advisory panel consisting of poultry welfare experts and veterinarians from across the United States."NCC will continue to be in the business of providing and respecting consumer choice in the marketplace," Peterson concludes.  "Whether it is traditionally raised chicken, slower growing breeds, raised without antibiotics or organic, consumers have the ability to choose products that take into account many factors, including taste preference, personal values and affordability." For additional information and resources about how chickens are raised, visit www.chickencheck.in Study methodologyThe study was conducted August-September, 2016 by Elanco Animal Health, in consultation with Express Markets, Inc., using a simulation model that estimates the impact of slow-growing broilers on feed, land, water utilization, waste/manure generated, and production cost.  The model used average values of conventional vs. slow-grow broiler for mortality, grow-out days, feed conversion, days downtime, and placement density.  A full copy of the study is available here.
Jan. 5, 2017 - New research conducted by the University of Adelaide shows there is no greater risk of Salmonella contamination in the production of free-range eggs due to hot summer weather, compared with other seasons.Despite a higher number of cases of Salmonella poisoning from eggs and egg products during the hot summer months, researchers at the University's School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences say the egg production process itself is not to blame for the increase in cases.The findings are further evidence that the hygiene around egg handling in the supply chain and in household and restaurant kitchens is critical to reducing food poisoning from eggs.Researchers conducted a study of four Australian commercial free range egg farms, with the results now published online ahead of print in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology."Eggs and egg products have been associated with an increased risk of Salmonella contamination. Because the use of free-range eggs by consumers is on the rise, we felt it was important to better understand the risk factors at the production stage," says lead author Kapil Chousalkar, from the school of animal and veterinary sciences at the University's Roseworthy campus."Birds raised in the free range production system could potentially be exposed to weather extremes, and the free range environment is not as easily controlled as in cage egg production. Therefore, it has been assumed that hot weather has a role to play in the potential contamination of eggs at the site of free range egg production."Our results show that the types and levels of Salmonella found in and around free range egg farms, and on the eggs themselves, is highly variable, often dependant on the specific husbandry and management practices employed by each farm. However, we found that there was no direct association between hot weather and increased prevalence of Salmonella at the production stage, even when data was collected in the hottest month of February," Chousalkar says."This helps to reinforce a simple health safety message: that it's important for people to wash their hands before and after handling eggs, whether at home, in a restaurant, or while working in the supply chain."The bacteria Salmonella Typhimurium – the most common cause of Salmonella poisoning from eggs and egg products in Australia – was the second highest type of Salmonella found at free range egg production farms. The most prevalent, Salmonella Mbandaka, is generally not associated with egg or egg product-related food poisoning cases in Australia.As well as renewing calls for people to practice good hand hygiene when using eggs, Chousalkar says there is a need for nationwide standards and uniform practices on the surveillance of egg contamination and safety."Currently, each of the states has their own food safety and surveillance programs. Because of its implications for public health, we believe the incidence of Salmonella contamination needs to be monitored in a standard way across all farms," he adds.
As the broiler breeder industry has evolved, there has been considerable change in equipment. A large percentage of production houses have moved from manual egg collection to mechanical systems based on a community nest or an individual, single-hole system.When mechanical nests were first introduced, many people began referring to them as ‘automatic’ nests.  While the term technically applies to mechanical nests, they still require a lot of human involvement to operate efficiently.Key to achieving outstanding performance with mechanical nests is the proper training and rearing of the females. This should start in the pullet barn, by placing slat sections, or perches, to help get the birds used to going up on to the slats.  The training should continue in the laying barn by routinely walking the birds to encourage them to move on to the slats and towards the nests.  The females should also be in the right condition at lighting and carrying the proper amount of fleshing and fat reserve, to help them come into production with the correct nesting behavior.Most mechanical nests are placed on slat sections, which play an important role in how the nests perform.  Make sure slat areas are not too tall; 20-25 cm (8-10 inches) is a good height.  Anything taller will discourage birds from jumping up from the scratch area, and a step or ramp would be useful in helping the birds move up on to the slat.The nests should be down and open for the females to enter one week before the expected first egg.  This will be approximately one week after light stimulation, which gives the pullets an opportunity to explore the nests and become comfortable using them.  Close the nests at night to help keep the nest pads clean, which will also prevent the eggs from becoming contaminated. This becomes even more important as we move into an era of antibiotic-free broiler production.    Three areas of nest maintenance that have a huge impact are the nest pad, the curtain and the nest belt itself.  Nest pads must be clean, because if dirty, a bird may be less likely to use that nest box.  Secondly, if it is used, the egg laid on that pad will most likely be contaminated.  As well, nest pads installed at the wrong angle will cause issues.  If the angle of the nest pad is not great enough, the eggs will not roll out of the nest box properly.  If the angle is too much, it will discourage hens from using that nest box.On center belt nests, if the curtain that separates the nest box and the egg belt is missing or curled up where the hen can see the egg belt moving, hens are discouraged from utilizing the nest box.  If multiple nests are affected, you will soon see many of the hens laying their eggs outside the nest.Egg belts should always be kept clean and in good repair.  A belt that is not clean will often have an odour that the hens do not like and will keep them from using the nests. If the edges of the belts become frayed, the edges can rub the hen while the belt is running and cause her to leave the nest.Producers should have a consistent program for running egg belts.  It is best not to run the belts until you see 10 to 15 eggs.  When starting the belt, run it slowly late in the afternoon.  A rapidly moving belt creates excessive vibration, which scares the birds out of their nests. By slowing down the speed of the egg belt, you are less likely to scare the birds out of the nests. Once the daily production reaches 5 per cent, run the belts at noon and again later in the day, around 5 p.m.  When production reaches 20 per cent, go to more frequent gatherings.  A good rule of thumb is to gather eggs at 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.  This will help acclimatize the birds to the sound and vibration of the belt.  Multiple, consistent gatherings can prevent eggs from building up on the belt and also allow for an accurate daily count of egg production. It is very important to accurately calculate and plan the nest space required.  With a community style nest, a good rule is no more than 48 birds per meter of nest space.  With a single-hole nest, allow for a maximum of 5 hens per hole, which will give the hens enough space to lay their eggs in the nest.Other considerations1.    Correct equipment layout: With a community nest system: have a mix of feed lines in the scratch area and on the slats Water lines approximately 60 cm (24 inches) from the nest entrance, and adequate spacing between water and feed lines to allow the birds to comfortably use them With individual nest systems,  have an adequate landing area from the front edge of the slat to the nest of 35-40 cm (14 -16 inches).   The distance from the back of the nest to the feeder and the feed to the drinker line should be at least 45-60 cm (18-24 inches), and the height from the slat to the bottom of the feeder should be 20-22 cm (8-9 inches) 2.    Ventilation: High temperatures on the slats can stop the hens going into the nest Improper inlet pressure can cause air to enter the nest at a rate that causes a draft, forcing the hen out of the nest 3.    Light intensity and distribution: A minimum of 60 lux (6 FC) at bird level is desired, but an approximate six-fold increase in intensity from the brightest spot in rearing to the darkest spot in laying is needed No more than a 20 per cent difference in intensity across the barn Close attention to these details will help achieve a high-performing flock producing clean, high quality eggs.
March 1, 2017, Dublin, OH – The Wendy's Company recently announced the expansion of its Supplier Code of Conduct, which now includes all U.S. and Canadian contracts managed by Quality Supply Chain Cooperative (QSCC) and suppliers that provide a significant stream of goods or services to Wendy’s on an annual basis. "We expect all of our suppliers to comply with the law and use best practices in all aspects of their operations, and to conduct business in a way that is consistent with the values of Wendy's and our franchisees,” said Todd Penegor, president and CEO of the Wendy's Company. “Further, it's important to us to reaffirm our past commitments and aspire to even greater accomplishments in the areas of environmental and social responsibility." The code focuses on topics important to the Wendy's brand and its customers, including food safety and food ingredients, farm animal health and well-being, human rights and labour practices, environmentally sustainable business practices, and business ethics and integrity. The company will now add approximately 100 additional suppliers to be covered by the code, including all U.S. and Canadian contracts managed by QSCC, and suppliers that provide a significant stream of goods or services to the Wendy's Company on an annual basis. The code will also require third party reviews related to the human rights and labour practices of certain produce suppliers. The decision to add third party reviews was due in part to the nature of agricultural work, its workforce, and an evaluation of various risk factors. The code's provisions apply to all suppliers. However certain sections may be inapplicable to certain suppliers. Wendy's Supplier Code of Conduct is accessible under the Responsibility tab in Supply Chain Practices section of its website.
February 24, 2017, Mississauga, Ont – Maple Leaf Foods Inc. recently reported net earnings of $181.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. This is up from $41.6 million in net earnings reported at year-end 2015. “We finished 2016 with a strong quarter sustained by solid commercial performance,” said Michael H. McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods. “With the combination of our increasingly competitive cost structure, and commercial strategies that intersect with important consumer needs and trends, we are well positioned for future profitable growth.” The company’s Meat Products Group, which includes value-added fresh poultry products, reported a 1.2 per cent increase in sales, earning $3,316.5 million for 2016. Fourth quarter sales alone were $824.4 million, a decrease of 5.1 per cent from the previous year.   Margins in prepared meats improved due to lower operating costs across the network. Earnings in fresh poultry declined slightly as industry processor margins receded from record levels in the fourth quarter of 2015.   Prepared meats sales declined slightly in response to a price increase in the first quarter but strengthened as the year progressed. Fresh poultry sales increased due to stronger volume and an improved sales mix.
Jan. 26, 2017 - Poultry genetics company Aviagen has reported that its new hatchery in Watertown, N.Y. is now fully operational and began shipping chicks to customers in early November.Located in upstate New York just south of the Ontario border, the Watertown hatchery is strategically situated to efficiently supply Canadian customers with broiler breeding stock. “Aviagen continually makes investments that result in better service to customers,” says Kevin McDaniel, president, Aviagen North America. “The new hatchery enables us to keep up with the region’s expanding demand for our products, while at the same time promoting the success of our customers by offering them the highest quality of chicks possible.”The Watertown facility has become Aviagen’s seventh commercial breeding stock hatchery in the U.S.With a hatching capacity of up to 135,000 high-quality chicks per week (7 million per year), the new hatchery is able to effectively keep up a growing demand in the region. It is equipped with advanced technology equipment such as Jamesway Platinum incubators and hatchers, which are designed for heightened biosecurity and energy efficiency. Sophisticated environmental controls ensure consistently exceptional hatch results and provide the highest level of care available for our eggs and chicks.The new hatchery boasts a favorable strategic location. Its nearness to Aviagen customer farms translates to minimal transport times, which safeguards the safety, health and welfare of day-old chicks. And, the close proximity to JFK airport in New York makes it a logical location to safely and securely export choice broiler breeding stock.The new hatchery also contributes to the economy of the Watertown community, by employing 40 local people.
Jan. 13, 2017 – After graduating from high school, Gary Baars hung up a shingle as TNT Agri-Services, offering “relief milking and much more.” “Much more” soon started becoming a reality and on Jan. 11th, the now 33-year-old Chilliwack, B.C. dairyman, hay salesman and cattle dealer and his wife, Marie (26), became the B.C. & Yukon Outstanding Young Farmers for 2017.In 2006, TNT Agri Services turned into TNT Hay Sales as Baars started selling hay, first to local horse farms and then to local dairy farms.“We sell a lot of hay to different dairy farms,” Baars says. Not long after, the young entrepreneur expanded TNT to include cattle sales. When Farm Credit Canada offered him a large loan with “no strings attached” in early 2011, Baars used it to start his own dairy farm.“I had enough money to buy quota for 15 cows,” he recalls.Two years later, Marie’s grandmother asked if they would manage her 160-cow 80-acre dairy farm in east Abbotsford. The Baars agreed on condition they could buy it.“We amalgamated our small herd with her larger herd and have been steadily improving the facilities over the past few years,” Baars reports.His entrepreneurship did not stop there. Last year, he purchased additional hay-growing acreage in Greendale and joined up with two partners to buy a 472-acre 100-cow dairy in Manitoba.“We have already grown that farm by 20 per cent,” Baars says.He has also served as a director of both the Mainland Young Milk Producers and the B.C. Young Farmers. Baars’ entrepreneurial spirit even extends itself to his recreational activities. Gary and his father-in-law have begun holding Cornfield Races twice a year, inviting friends and neighbours to race beat-up cars on the farm.To earn the 2017 award from judges Rick Thiessen (2004 BC & Canadian Outstanding Young Farmer), Mark Sweeney (retired B.C. Ministry of Agriculture berry and horticulture specialist) and Kurt Bausenhaus (KPMG), the Baars outpointed Jeremy and Tamara Vaandrager ofVaandrager Farms in west Abbotsford.After managing several egg farms for other owners, the Vaandragers obtained a 3,000 bird quota in the 2010 B.C. Egg Marketing Board new entrant lottery. In the six years since, they have increased their quota holdings to 6,000 birds and are in the process of converting their farm from a free-run operation to an aviary.“Aviaries have become common in Europe but it is still a relatively new system in North America,” Vaandrager notes.The BCOYF program is sponsored by the BC Broiler Hatching Egg Commission, Clearbrook Grain & Milling, Farm Credit Canada and Insure Wealth. To be eligible for the award, applicants must be under 40 and derive at least two-thirds of their gross revenue from farming. They arejudged on the progress in their agricultural careers, the sustainability of their farming operations and involvement in their industry and community.Gary and Marie Baars will represent B.C. at the national OYF competition in Penticton, B.C., in November. The national competition is supported by AdFarm, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Annex Business Media, Bayer Crop Science, BDO, CIBC, Farm Management Canada and John Deere.
The arduous review process is over and the award has now been bestowed. Of the various operations nominated for the 2016 Canadian Poultry Sustainability Award, Farmcrest Foods Ltd. (Farmcrest) is the winner.The enterprise was started in 1999 and is owned by Richard Bell and his brother-in-law Alan Bird, whose families both originate from Ireland and came to Canada looking for new opportunities. In addition to Richard and Alan, members of three generations of the families currently help out on the farm, including Richard’s father Cecil (a retired farmer), brother Henry and sons Henry Jr. and Jack.  The operation includes: a hatchery and poultry barns (in addition to growing their own birds Farmcrest also contracts 16 new entrant growers to supply chicken to their processing plant); feed mill; processing plant; rendering plant (renderings are not used on the farm but sold for animal feed); enclosed mechanical composting for bird mortality, and crop production (200 acres of owned land and 400 acres of leased land farmed with potatoes, sunflowers and soybeans). Farmcrest also has its own poultry retail store. In total, the operation employs 45 people. The farm itself is situated on soils ranging from clay and loamy clay to sandy loam with some peat areas in a relatively flat river bottom area near Salmon Arm, B.C. “It is also very close to Shuswap Lake,” Bell explains. “We therefore need to be very careful with the amount and type of nutrients applied to this well-drained area to prevent runoff.” Farmcrest’s regular nutrient management practices include using a concrete pad (contained to prevent runoff) for manure storage. There is also virtually no runoff of nutrients from the fields (and little odour) as manure is worked in with a disc or ploughed under immediately after application. “We only apply the manure to the fields needing it for the seed that is being planted,” Bell notes. “Our soil health has improved steadily in the last five years since these measures were put in place.” No commercial fertilizers are used.Farmcrest has an environmental farm plan and has used expert advice from a certified crop advisor since 2011. In 2013, Farmcrest also began a working relationship with Poultry Partners, a team of technicians, production specialists, veterinarians and nutritionists based in Airdrie, Alta., which offers a variety of agricultural industry services. The firm supported Farmcrest’s nomination for the sustainability award through a letter of recommendation - as did the British Columbia Chicken Marketing Board. “They’ve done an excellent job farming intensively in a very ecologically-sensitive area,” Shawn Fairbairn, Poultry Partners general manager says. “They have committed to improve soil fertility, optimize production and most importantly, reduce chemical and pesticide use and virtually eliminate synthetic fertilizer to ensure the surrounding ecosystem remains undisturbed. There is on-going monitoring and testing of the manure, soil and crops to ensure their goals are being reached. The investment in new equipment to allow for less soil disturbance and odour when poultry manure is applied is one example of their forward-thinking.”  Fairbairn also notes that farm equipment is continuously upgraded at Farmcrest so that the most precise technology is used with the most fuel-efficient engines. “By growing about 85 per cent of all the feed ingredients their chickens consume, they have dramatically reduced the carbon footprint of their operation,” he adds. Farmcrest also uses moisture and pH meters for soil testing to understand when conditions are optimal for manure application. An overall goal to achieve air quality improvement (reductions in odour, ammonia and particulate matter inside and outside the barn) has been achieved by ensuring an optimal level of nitrogen is available to the birds. Ingredient and feed sampling are conducted on a regular basis to track this, and tests to track soil nitrogen levels are also completed annually. Because of all this monitoring and adjustment (not to mention an on-farm feed mill that makes immediate changes in the ration possible), Farmcrest has seen improvements in bird growth as well as air quality and soil improvement. No irrigation is used at Farmcrest, and as much water as possible is conserved through the use of an ‘air chill’ system in the processing plant, nipple drinkers in the barns and a misting system for barn disinfection. Farmcrest has built 14 new poultry barns in the last five years, and Richard says their goal with each build is to be as energy efficient as possible. This includes the use of R60 insulation, LED lighting, high-efficiency electric motors and radiant tube heating. Product differentiationFarmcrest was the first in its region to grow grain corn and now non-GMO grain corn. This led to the operation breaking new ground on a national level by being the first poultry operation in Canada to market non-GMO chicken (verified through nongmoproject.org). Poultry Partners assisted with further development of products. “[Farmcrest] listened to their customers and have proactively responded to the demand that was there in their local market. This has been extremely good for their business and the long-term financial viability of their operation.” Fairbairn describes the Bird and Bell families as having a “tangible passion” for poultry and farming. “We love working with clients that are ‘hands-on’ and engaged,” he notes. “And the folks at Farmcrest are extremely engaged. Their work ethic and commitment to the environment and their local community is easy to grasp when you spend time with them. They are big believers in continuous learning and improvement. There is on-going reinvestment in all aspects of their operation to allow for improved welfare, safety and production efficiency for the birds, workers and the food they produce.”  Team effortThe fact that the Farmcrest owners directly work alongside their employees every day has created, in Fairbairn’s view, a culture of hard work and high standards. “It is also unique to see three generations of family all working together towards a common goal,” he notes. “The youngest generation is actively involved in working and planning and will be well prepared to continue the legacy of this agri-business. The owners are always looking for new technologies and ideas. They literally travel the world to attend trade shows, farm tours and crop production events to ensure they are on the leading edge of agriculture. As a consulting group, we are extremely fortunate to have a client like Farmcrest.” Bell says he feels honoured that Farmcrest has won the 2016 Canadian Poultry Sustainability Award. “It is very much a team effort,” he notes. “I wish to thank my staff and our team for their dedicated efforts each and every day.” Visit farmcrestfoods.ca if you would like to read in more detail about the business.
Hybrid Turkeys, a division of Hendrix Genetics, has built a new breeder facility between Berkeley and Markdale, Ont. The name of the farm, “Berkdale” is a mix of the two.While construction of a new turkey breeder farm might not seem terribly newsworthy, this one is, firstly because of its location. The site was chosen at a significant distance from the company’s other operations in southern Ontario, mainly for biosecurity reasons. “Five years ago we wouldn’t have even considered a location so far away from our other farms,” says Hybrid Turkeys’ farm division manager, Marek Mirda. “To ensure secure supply to our customers, especially during disease outbreaks and establishment of quarantine zones, we looked for an area with distance from our own and other poultry farms. During disease outbreaks there can be an impact on healthy farms due to restriction of movement within quarantine zones, so we want to minimize or eliminate this potential risk.”Hybrid Turkeys began its search for a location by examining a Canadian Food Inspection Agency map of Ontario that pinpoints all types of livestock operations. “We evaluated this area on the map to choose a location with the least amount of poultry operations,” Mirda notes. “After working with real estate firms, we found this property between Berkeley and Markdale.”New designLocation aside, Berkdale has other important biosecurity aspects, with the most significant being a farm design that connects the barns. In the past, Hybrid Turkeys would have designed the farm so the egg house and lay barn (for example) were separate buildings, and staff would therefore have to change clothing and boots every time they would go between. “A system of separate entry and exit not only adds risk of picking up outside organisms, but is also difficult during winter months in Canada,” Mirda explains. “The new system has staff go through biosecurity procedures once and then they have safe access to the entire barn system.” Hendrix Genetics is in the final stages of upgrading a layer breeder facility in Ontario that will have the same design, he adds. In addition, Berkdale (and a Hybrid Turkeys pedigree facility as well) have a dry shower and other additional measures to keep foreign organisms as far away from the barn as possible - on both the brood/grow side as well as lay barn side. Upon arrival at the farm, staff and any visitors must enter the dry shower facility, which requires individuals to change out of street clothes into farm clothing and footwear. Next, individuals exit the dry shower into a neutral air pressure zone before accessing the completely enclosed wet shower rooms. After using the shower facilities, individuals change again into new farm clothing and boots, ready to enter the clean zone of the farm. Outside the buildings, there is complete separation of the clean and dirty zones. Dirty zone roads are for external suppliers to deliver fuel and other supplies without entering the farm area. Clean zone roads are only for internal clean vehicles that transfer staff or supplies between barns. All the buildings’ mechanical equipment can be accessed from the dirty zone so that contracted service technicians have quick access in case of urgent need. Hybrid Turkey employees have access to a storage garage in the clean zone with equipment only to be used within the clean zone, and one on the dirty side for use only in the dirty zone. Additional biosecurity was gained through filling any saw cuts on concrete with caulking to prevent particulates from settling in. “One of the project members suggested we used ‘an entire truckload of caulking’ to ensure no cut was missed!” Mirda reports. In addition, as part of the ventilation system, the farm features darkout hoods large enough for a person to fit inside, which makes it easier to ensure proper cleaning of these areas. There is also a wash station for vehicles on the ‘lay side’ of the farm.Berkdale also features an innovative truck-loading dock for the egg cooler, complete with dock-levelling equipment and seal for the truck. This system allows for the use of trolleys to transfer eggs from the storage room into the trucks rather than the traditional moving of eggs by hand. “Temperature shock is avoided,” explains Mirda, “and there is also no need for an outside connection, in that the delivery driver can stay in the cab while the eggs are loaded by internal staff. It’s a best-practices system that improves worker health and safety and minimize the handling of eggs.”Results so farBerkdale began operation in August and all systems are running smoothly with birds doing extremely well. Mirda says the winter season is when staff expects to see the new design of this facility to show its full benefits. This will be in part because use of the barns on the lay side (that are connected between egg house and laybarn) will begin then, and also, from a comfort and efficiency standpoint, workers will not have to go outside as much during the harsh weather.When asked what factors other poultry operators should consider in building a similar facility isolated from all other farms in the company, the Berkdale staff had good input. They pointed to the decision of whether to try and relocate current employees or search for new employees close to the new facility who may need a lot of training and support. They also pointed out that you have to be ready for staff and equipment from other company facilities to be dispatched as needed for hands-on assistance at the ‘orphan’ facility.Scott Rowland, general manager, Americas at Hybrid Turkeys says that although this facility came at a significant cost, the company leaders feel that the investment in Berkdale is the next step in biosecurity for both customers and staff. “The features of this facility were designed to secure the supply to meet our customers’ needs, while ensuring excellent health and safety of our workers,” he says. “This investment signifies our dedication to continuous improvement. By spreading out our operations, we are working towards the next generation of biosecurity.”Hybrid Turkeys also has production and research facilities in several other locations in Canada, as well as in the U.S., France, Poland and Hungary.
At a conference last month, I ran into a peer who I would dub an “agvocist” – someone very passionate about promoting agriculture to the point that it pours over into her personal Facebook posts.  This woman is, for lack of a more appropriate word, effervescent.But, when I asked her what she thought of two on-farm animal welfare breaches that made the mainstream news last fall, her shoulders sagged slightly and a small sigh escaped from her lips.  I was taken aback.“Sorry,” she said as she collected herself.  “It’s just that there’s so much good being done out there that doesn’t make the news but agriculture is a slave to its exceptions.”  We carried on chatting for a little while and by the end of the conversation, she was back to her usual bubbly self, but that one brief moment of resignation startled me – perhaps because it was so out-of-character.  I think any farmer who strives to do what’s right grimaces when an undercover video surfaces. We cannot deny that Code of Practice violations will occur from time to time on Canadian farms – and yes, poultry operations too.   What we can do, is acknowledge and correct those breaches.  We can train personnel, instil respect for the animals in our care, reprimand and penalize as necessary and learn lessons from what happened.But let us not forget that there’s another side to the coin.  As well as recognizing when things have gone wrong, it’s equally important to acknowledge things done right, and applaud the many shining examples we own in this industry of sustainable farming.  We congratulate not because they are exceptions, but because they are – happily – instances of the trending norm.  As an industry, it’s essential to remind ourselves of that.So, on that note, in this issue we are delighted to tip our cap to Farmcrest Foods Ltd. (Farmcrest) of Salmon Arm, B.C., recipients of the 2016 Canadian Poultry Sustainability Award.  As you read on, you’ll discover how Farmcrest is dedicated to continual learning and improvement, takes responsibility as stewards of a sensitive land area and works to ensure that employees are treated like family.  The operation is a true model of sustainability in all of its forms.Owners Richard Bell and Alan Bird will receive $2,000, and a farm gate sign as well as the award itself.  We congratulate them on their achievement.In closing, I would also like to take the time to first acknowledge all of the applicants for the award.  Your dedication and commitment to your own longevity and that of the industry is commendable. I would be remiss as well, if I didn’t acknowledge our Canadian Poultry Sustainability Award judges this year – former Canadian Poultry editor, Kristy Nudds; Valerie Carney, poultry research scientist and technology transfer coordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry; and Al Dam, provincial poultry specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  The quality of the applicants was exceptional and selecting our winner was no enviable task.  Your thorough review process and willingness to give time to the selection of our winner is appreciated. Recognition, also, to would-be sponsors of the cancelled Canadian Poultry Sustainability Symposium: Big Dutchman, Clark Ag Systems Ltd., Chicken Farmers of Canada, Cobb-Vantress, Egg Farmers of Canada, Farm Credit Canada and Walbern Agri Ltd. Thank you for your support.
It’s been a year since Synergy Agri Group Ltd. (Synergy) in Port Williams, N.S. installed HatchCare – the first in Canada and the fourth company in the world to do so. And now, the company is currently producing 200,000 HatchCare broiler chicks a week.HatchTech of the Netherlands developed its ‘HatchCare’ incubation and chick care system to better benefit chicks, the environment and poultry farmers. The company conducted years of testing on HatchCare before rolling it out to market in 2014. The total number of chicks now being reared under the system per year is over 680 million, in Australia, China, Europe, South America, the U.S. and Canada. With HatchCare, the fertility of eggs is first checked using new lighting methods so that only 100 per cent viable embryos are incubated. Chicks are vaccinated while still in the egg. In a standard hatchery, chicks are shipped after emergence and receive their first food and water after they settle in on the farm a day later. In the HatchCare system, chicks are immediately able to drink and feed, which  – several research studies have shown – results in higher body weight and breast meat yield. HatchTech also cites research findings showing HatchCare chicks to be 1 cm longer at hatch due to their incubation conditions.HatchCare involves a unique and advanced handling system called HatchTraveller, where the chicks stay in small individual crates from hatching until delivery to the farm. The crates are then cleaned and disinfected for re-use. HatchTech representatives say this provides every chick with ongoing uniform conditions in terms of temperature, airflow and relative humidity. The highly energy-efficient HatchCare system also includes several features that enhance biosecurity, such as sealed incubators with filtered entry and exit air. Synergy's ExperienceDoug Kaizer, Synergy’s chief financial officer, is very positive about their decision to go with HatchCare. “We were expecting improvements in chick health, mortality, weight gains and feed conversion, but we did not expect the large improvement in early farm brooding,” he notes. “The chicks arrive ready to grow. We use lower initial temperatures, put less feed out on paper and generally treat the chicks as if they are a couple of days older than their age. This has shown to be a tremendous help in the older barns, where it was harder to get the proper conditions for the day-old chicks.”Kaizer says the system has also helped the company’s less-experienced barn managers. “The chicks aren’t as demanding, arrive with no hatchery infections and already have a built-in pattern for eating, drinking and resting,” he explains. “It has really levelled the playing field among different-aged facilities and experience levels of the farm operator.”With HatchCare, Synergy has also been able to significantly lower antibiotic use. Before the installation, an average of over 20 per cent of flocks had to be treated due to issues from the breeder flock/hatchery. With HatchCare, to date that’s less than five per cent, and in most cases, Kaizer says, the reason for the treatment has been identified and the issue removed at the hatchery level. He adds that their HatchCare hatchery will be the key component in their move to RWA (raised without antibiotics) broiler production. BiosecurityIn terms of biosecurity, Kaizer describes the system as “very” biosecure, partially because the entire setup - from egg delivery to chick delivery - takes place in areas isolated from each other, and because every process has built-in biosecurity aspects. “One of the best features is the ability to clean and disinfect after each batch of eggs and chicks are processed,” he says. With respect to fluff filtering, Kaizer notes that within the HatchCare setup, their processing room (take-off room) is extremely clean and by using a special storage area, they have reduced the size of the hatchery. Kaizer says they are adding to HatchTraveller by designing their own transport trailer, which will enable chicks to have feed throughout delivery, regardless of time or distance to the farm. “All chicks stay in the same box where they are hatched and do not undergo any of the stresses in traditional hatcheries related to handling by humans or machines,” he says. “The goal is to have an almost seamless transition for the chick from hatch to barn under perfect conditions.”On the energy efficiency front, Kaizer says it’s hard to make comparisons with their previous setup, as HatchCare systems are very automated and also require a lot of fresh air to maintain the perfect environment for the hatchlings. He believes they are just beginning to understand all the benefits of the system. Continuous improvement “Every aspect of the hatchery will see continued improvements over the next few months and years,” he notes. “We are working on specific incubation parameters for young and old breeder flocks as well as specific setups to enhance the hatchability and health of eggs kept over longer periods of time. Our hatching egg farms saw an immediate gain of four per cent hatchability, but we know that this can be improved by another two to three per cent with flock-specific incubation.”“We are continuing to experiment and adjust growing procedures in the barn as well the feed inputs for the broiler rations,” Kaizer adds. “Basically, we are examining every single aspect from the hatching egg farm to live transport to the processing plant to see how things can be improved for the chicks with the HatchCare system. The possibilities are almost endless.” Besides the initial cost of the system and needing to keep a good inventory of spare parts, the biggest drawback of the system in Kaizer’s view, is digesting the amount of information that’s becoming available and almost being overwhelmed by the number of future trials they want to do.Facility toursIn the past year, Synergy has hosted a lot of interested people who want to look at HatchCare in action. This has included staff from hatchery companies all over North America, South America, Europe and Australia. “As we say to all who have toured our facility,” Kaizer notes, “This is not an easy or cheap hatchery, but it produces the best chicks for the broiler farmer. If your organization’s goals are focused on health, animal welfare and broiler performance, this system is for you. But if your goal is least-cost hatching, you are better to look at the traditional hatchery systems.” However, he believes anyone thinking of building a new hatchery has to consider animal welfare and be concerned with traditional hatchers that don’t allow newly-hatched chicks access to food and water for many hours or days. He says all personnel at Synergy firmly believe HatchCare is the future of hatching for both animal health and animal welfare reasons. “When this system was unveiled,” concludes Kaizer, “we actually stopped our hatchery construction and redesigned the entire project to allow for the HatchCare system. Looking back, this was the best decision our company has ever made.” Return on investmentAsked about the return-on-investment timeline, Kaizer says that as an integrated system, when they add the profitability of the hatching egg farms and broiler farms to the hatchery profits, they are very satisfied with the rate of return. “Our customers [farmers and shareholders] not only benefit financially, but take great pride in knowing that the chicks they grow are the healthiest and most humanely-hatched chicks in North America,” he says. “There is no better return as a farmer than when you go home each day and can tell your ten year-old daughter that we hatch the healthiest, happiest chicks in the entire world.”
Consumers want to know where their food comes from and the vast majority of Canadians believe that it is important that domestic chicken be labelled as such.  Solid valuesBased on that feedback, Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) has made it easier for consumers to choose Canadian chicken with its new “Raised by a Canadian Farmer” logo, which will be applied to chicken products at the grocery store level.By buying chicken with this brand, not only are consumers getting quality Canadian chicken, but they are also supporting farmers they trust – farmers who effectively manage bird health and raise their birds with welfare top-of-mind, who produce safe chicken for Canadians, who preserve the health of the land and their farms and who provide value to Canada, and affordable food to Canadians through supply management. These are the key values of CFC’s new sustainability program. The first sustainability report will be published online in early 2017.  These concepts are what make  the Canadian chicken industry sustainable – the hard work, and the good work, of all chicken farmers.  The sustainability journey is a process of continual improvement. Chicken farmers have come a long way with the implementation of on-farm programs, responsible antibiotic use and growth in the industry which has contributed to the Canadian economy and helped support rural communities. There will always be more work to do, however. Chicken farmers are striving to continually evolve and work to improve policies and practices that will deliver on the expectations of Canadian consumers.     Read on for a summary of projects and initiatives.Protecting bird health and welfareCFC is implementing a national, mandatory Animal Care Program that is enforced and includes third party audits.The Canadian chicken industry is implementing a comprehensive “Antimicrobial Use Strategy” which involves surveillance, education, research and reduction.Innovation is the foundation that provides farmers with the information and tools to be able to effectively  manage bird health and welfare. CFC is a founding member of the Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC), the organization through which the majority of research funds are allocated. The CPRC is dedicated to supporting and enhancing Canada’s poultry sector through research and related activities.Producing safe chicken for Canadians CFC is implementing a national, mandatory On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program which has received full recognition from the federal, provincial, and territorial governments. The Canadian chicken industry has an effective and responsive traceability system in place, as well as well as communication and operational plans for dealing with potential disease outbreaks. Preserving the health of our land Canadian chicken farmers have adopted practices on the farm to reduce environmental impact. Examples include renewable geothermal heating, high efficiency lighting, and improved manure storage to prevent groundwater contamination. The chicken industry’s environmental footprint has the lowest greenhouse gas intensity among all major livestock and poultry sectors in Canada [1]. Canadian chicken farms are healthy and vibrant, welcoming new entrants each year to a strong community of family farms. Providing value through supply managementSupply management allows for the implementation of on-farm programs, for farmers to invest confidently in their operations and for the industry to contribute positively to the Canadian economy.  It also allows chicken farmers to  give back to local communities and for consumers to be assured of a steady supply of fresh, high-quality chicken at a reasonable price.J. A. Dyer, X. P. C. Vergé, R. L. Desjardins and D. E. Worth, “The Protein-based GHG Emission Intensity for Livestock Products in Canada,” Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, vol. 34, pp. 618-629, 2010. Note: Adapted from the presentation CFC prepared for the 2016 Canadian Poultry Sustainability Symposium.
Dec. 20, 2016 - The University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan campus has a new national research chair. In collaboration with Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC), UBC has named Nathan Pelletier as egg industry chair in sustainability/endowed chair in bio-economy sustainability management.Pelletier is cross-appointed to both UBC's Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences and the campus' faculty of management, to support interdisciplinary research at the Okanagan campus."Food system sustainability is a subject of increasing importance in Canada and beyond and I look forward to collaborating with UBC colleagues and others in this research area," says Pelletier. "I would like to thank Egg Farmers of Canada for their participation and support of this crucial area of study."As part of his role, Pelletier will be responsible for directing and managing research programs to support sustainability measurement and management for the Canadian egg industry and food sector more broadly. His work will include exploring sustainability measurement and management, life-cycle thinking and resource efficiency."We are proud to be working with Dr. Pelletier," says Tim Lambert, chief executive officer of Egg Farmers of Canada. "Egg farming is already one of the most environmentally sustainable forms of animal agriculture. Building on this reality, our strong commitment to sustainability and our investment in Dr. Pelletier's innovative research will ensure that the Canadian egg industry continues to improve its environmental footprint."Pelletier holds a BSc from the University of Victoria, a Master of Environmental Studies from Dalhousie University and an interdisciplinary Research PhD in Ecological Economics, also from Dalhousie. He also conducted post-doctoral research for Environment Canada and, most recently, for the European Commission Joint Research Centre's Institute for Environment and Sustainability.EFC will be providing funding for the new chair in connection with research activities, including the areas of sustainability measurement and management, life-cycle thinking and resource efficiency.EFC has released a video that provides additional information on Pelletier and his research, available online here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ig_PHQkYpfo.
Dec. 8, 2016 - Nestlé Canada (Nestlé) has announced that it will move to using only cage-free eggs in all of its Canadian food products by 2025. The company says this is part of its commitment to improving animal welfare throughout its supply chain. Nestlé purchases almost 500,000 pounds of eggs annually, but says it is dedicated to working with Canadian farmers to make this transition by 2025. “Canadian farmers are important to us, and in addition to eggs, we also purchase approximately $44 million worth of dairy products every year. Working alongside Canadian farmers is an essential part of our commitment to the health, care and welfare of animals,” Catherine O’Brien, senior vice president, corporate affairs says. The pledge to use 100 per cent Canadian cage-free eggs is part of Nestlé’s global commitment on farm animal welfare, launched in 2012 and strengthened in 2014. As part of the commitment, the company outlined its plan to eliminate specific farming practices, like tail docking for cattle and pigs, gestation crates for pigs and veal crates. Nestlé works with World Animal Protection, a global animal welfare organization, to assess its suppliers against these commitments. “[Nestlé's] commitment to move to cage-free eggs will have a huge positive impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of hens," Josey Kitson, executive director for World Animal Protection Canada says. "Unlike conventional barns, cage-free systems allow hens to move around freely, perch and lay their eggs in a nest box.  World Animal Protection has been pleased to support Nestlé’s work to improve the lives of farm animals. We applaud Nestlé Canada’s commitment to hens today and their ongoing efforts to give other farm animals better lives as well.”Nestlé is developing pilot projects with its suppliers and World Animal Protection to establish a roadmap for sourcing cage-free eggs in Europe and the rest of the world.
Dec. 7, 2016 - Andrew and Jennifer Lovell of Keswick Ridge, N.B. and Dominic Drapeau and Célia Neault of Ste-Françoise-de-Lotbinière, Que. have been named Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2016. These two farm families were chosen from seven regional farm couples across Canada at OYF’s national event last week in Niagara Falls, Ont. Both families have dreamed of owning their own farm since they were young and were not afraid to make changes and embrace technology along the way. Their entrepreneurial spirits and adaptability has made them successful both on and off the farm. “All of this year’s regional honourees have shown us their incredible passion for agriculture,” OYF president Luanne Lynn says. “It was extremely difficult for the judges to make their decision, but ultimately our winners stood out for their state-of-the art thinking and commitment to the future of Canadian agriculture.” The Lovell’s story is different than most because neither of them grew up on a farm. In 2012 they purchased their farm River View Orchards with roots tracing back to 1784, and created a diversified u-pick farm market operation. It wasn’t an easy start as they suffered $100,000 in damage in 2014, but they persevered and adapted their plans until they were able to begin full production again. By offering fence and trellis construction services and building attractions which brought over 1,400 visitors to their farm they were able to carry on with the farm they have always dreamed of. Drapeau and Neault are third-generation dairy and field crop farmers who are not afraid to make changes and embrace technology. Raised in a farming family, Dominic got involved in the family business at a young age. When he was 16, he was performing artificial insemination on cows and developed his management skills by taking over the herd and feeding responsibilities.  In the barn they use genomic testing on young animals, motion detectors for reproduction, a smart scale on the mixer-feeder and temperature probes close to calving. In the fields, the farm uses a satellite navigation system for levelling, draining, seeding, fertilizing and spraying. With these innovations over the last four years, they have enabled the farm to increase overall yields by five to 10 per cent each year. “The national event in Niagara Falls this year was a great opportunity to showcase all of the great contributions to Canadian agriculture,” Lynn says. “All of the regional OYF honourees really went outside of the box and pushed the boundaries this year.” Every year this event brings recognition to outstanding farm couples in Canada between 18 and 39 years of age who have exemplified excellence in their profession while fostering better urban-rural relations. The Lovell’s and Drapeau/Neault were chosen from seven regional finalists, including the following honourees from the other five regions: Brian and Jewel Pauls, Chilliwack B.C. Shane and Kristin Schooten, Diamond City, Alta. Dan and Chelsea Erlandson, Outlook, Sask. Jason and Laura Kehler, Carman, Man. Adrian and Jodi Roelands, Lambton Shores, Ont. Celebrating 36 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.
The German food industry has come together to form a partnership that addresses animal husbandry issues. Together, farmers, retailers and the meat industry are working to ensure stricter animal welfare standards are enforced – and that farmers are compensated for going the extra mile.
March 2, 2017, Madison, NJ – Merck Animal Health recently announced the introduction of the High Quality Poultry Science Award, aimed at supporting research in poultry health, production and welfare by tomorrow’s industry leaders. Starting this year, Merck Animal Health will award three masters or doctoral students who recently received degrees in veterinary or animal science with an emphasis on poultry, the unique opportunity to present their research to industry specialists. Winners will travel to Merck Animal Health High Quality Poultry meetings in Europe, the Americas and Asia, to review their research and network with some of the most renowned experts in the field. “At Merck Animal Health, we are proud to invest in the future of the poultry industry by supporting these young veterinary scientists with this new award program,” said Delair Bolis, executive director for global poultry, Merck Animal Health. “Our High Quality Congresses provide a forum for leading experts from across the industry to further foster innovation that will benefit poultry health, production and welfare.” Eligible graduates must have completed master or doctoral (PhD) research for an applied project in either veterinary or animal science, with an emphasis on poultry, and defended their degree in the past 12 months. Topics of interest include infectious diseases such as infectious bronchitis (IB), Newcastle disease (ND), infectious bursal disease (IBD), infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT), reovirus (REO), Salmonella or Campylobacter, as well as red mite control, general welfare, hatchery health, antibiotic reduction, and environmental impact. To apply, eligible graduates must submit a 300-word summary of their research project and a brief letter describing why they deserve the award, including how their work can contribute to the improvement of the poultry industry, to
February 17, 2017 – Biomin welcomed 145 delegates from 23 countries representing the feed and poultry sectors over several days in mid-February in order to address how to solve the antibiotic-free production puzzle. With the subheading of “Guidelines for a responsible use of antibiotics in the modern broiler production,” the event afforded participants the opportunity to consider a host of different viewpoints.Expert speakers explored the role of genetics, nutrition, biosecurity and farm management. Highly interactive exchanges throughout the event converged on the idea that a holistic approach is the way forward in reducing antibiotics while maintaining high performing flocks.
Although the table egg industry is significant in Canada, it remains vulnerable to shifts in consumer attitudes and perceptions. Eggs are washed prior to retail sale, to remove potential pathogens from the eggshell surface. However, cases of Salmonella poisoning do occur.  
Truss plate corrosion can be an issue in barns - but it doesn’t have to be. The life span of truss plates, hangers, screws and nails in the truss system depends on the materials used, barn design and maintenance.
Bedding is being examined as an increasingly important factor in poultry health, and can affect a producer’s bottom line through how much labour is involved in spreading it and how well it cleans up.Jillian Jasper, self-proclaimed “head of the herd” at ABC (Animal Bedding Company) in Woodstock Ont., is a firm believer that producers should be taking a much closer look at their bedding choices. “We are told over and over by producers of poultry and every other livestock species that outside of a vet making bedding suggestions in times of health crises, [that they] are never approached to talk bedding,” she notes. “We believe that our products outperform straw, shavings, drywall, peat moss, sand and everything else on the market in terms of animal health and positive environmental inputs. When cull rates with our poultry clients consistently come back with zeroes for respiratory and zeroes for pad/leg health issues, it confirms our complete belief in what we offer.” ABC provides bedding for poultry, cattle, horses, sheep, pigs and exotic animals. It was founded in 2013. Ray Batchelor, a retired Chrysler engineer, got all of the equipment and manufacturing processes up and running. Jeffrey Moore, a chartered professional accountant, runs the overall organization. Jasper takes the lead with sales, marketing and education, using skills gained earlier in her career in animal health pharmaceuticals. She says that during her years of representing other products, she was always searching for her own proprietary product to bring to market. About 15 years ago while showing her horses in Ohio, she came across bedding that appeared to be made from chopped-up cereal boxes. It never left her mind. “After years of research into adhesives, dyes, components of cardboard, other materials, packaging, and so on, I developed a cardboard product that seems simple,” she says, “but it is brought to its greatest potential through addressing the growing consciousness in the ag sector of better animal husbandry and environmental stewardship.”  HOOF-PRINT is one of the company’s five products. It manufactured by chopping up virgin corrugated cardboard, extracting the dust and compressing the product into 35-pound bales. It is free of salmonella, toxins, labels, tapes or inks, with what Jasper calls “an overwhelming absorption capacity.” After use, it turns into black, composted material in six to nine weeks. TRACK-PRINT is a mineral bedding which is widely used in all species. It balances pH, absorbs moisture, is non-caustic, acts as a natural insecticide and reduces ammonia. It works similarly to diatomaceous earth, killing insects by scraping at their shells when they crawl through it but Jasper says it is better because it does not lose stability when exposed to moisture.  She says it is very effective for darkling beetle control in poultry barns. Bedding for each species required its own dedicated focus. “Eighty per cent of our market is poultry,” Jasper notes. “Initially, it was twenty per cent, but this changed rapidly as we educated and gained exposure in the poultry segment. Our products are very conducive to the biosecurity and general sensitivity of the poultry segment.” ABC distributes across Canada, and will currently ship to the U.S. if Canadian customers have operations there. “Holland is a big potential market for us,” Jasper adds. “We have both a dairy and poultry contingent in Holland…they are very innovative. They love our stuff. And all of those Holland connections come through our existing users.” TrialsBoth HOOF-PRINT and TRACK-PRINT are being trialed at many operations in southern Ontario.Hybrid Turkeys recently trialed HOOF-PRINT as part of its continuous overall company focus on innovation and improvement, especially in this case, the potentially improved environmental conditions due to the ‘dust free’ nature of this bedding. The trial lasted 15 weeks (from 5 weeks to 20 weeks of age) and the following were evaluated: curability, absorption, ammonia levels, dust levels and overall acceptability/comfort of the birds. Overall, Hybrid Turkeys is pleased with the results of the trial but feels further testing is required at different ages and at different stages of production (e.g. rearing phase and lay/production phase). The company also wishes to find out more about the biosecurity processes for the manufacturing of this type of bedding.University of Guelph doctoral candidate (pathobiology) Ryan Snyder is currently studying the effect of bedding and other factors on coccidiosis survival at several area farms. He will have results in years to come.Peter Greydanus who raises broiler breeders for Maple Leaf at Greyda Plains Poultry in Petrolia has used TRACK-PRINT since last October. “It’s controlling the flies and it’s a bit cheaper and less dusty than diatomaceous earth,” he says. “I like it. I think Jillian’s on the right track with it, it’s non-chemical. You have to re-apply after manure builds up and I’m curious to see how it works on darkling beetles.”Greydanus has used HOOF-PRINT bedding in one pullet cycle so far. “I used it combined with straw and it was a rough cycle for coccidiosis because it was too dry,” he says. “Whether it was the product or my management, you’d have to add moisture I think. There’s a lot less dust with it than straw or shavings. I think it would be the same cost as shavings and fewer bags to handle.” In October however, Greydanus was very happy with the performance of HOOF-PRINT in a breeder barn cycle. He plans to definitely use it in the breeder barn going forward instead of straw, at least for winter flocks because it dries “very nicely.”
A recent donation to the University of Guelph’s (UofG) Poultry Health Research Network (PHRN) will further enhance research and outreach opportunities connected to this hub of poultry research excellence.UofG alumni Vic Parks and his wife, Uta, have generously donated almost $40,000 to be used in the area of most need for the PHRN. “The generous gift by the Parks family will have an immense impact on the PHRN,” says Shayan Sharif, an immunologist in the Ontario Veterinary College’s department of pathobiology and leader of the PHRN. “This gift will afford PHRN the opportunity to serve its stakeholders, including industry, government and academia, more effectively through enhanced learning opportunities, research activities and knowledge mobilization.”The Parks have a strong family history with the University of Guelph and particularly the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) and Ontario Agricultural College (OAC). Vic Parks graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College with his DVM in 1964 and both the Parks’ daughters are also OVC grads. Both Mrs. Parks and their son, Jason, graduated from OAC’s School of Landscape Architecture.With their daughters’ close ties to poultry health and welfare, “it seemed a good fit to provide this most recent donation to support poultry research at OVC,” says Vic, who began his career in large animal practice, before moving into companion animal medicine. He worked in marketing with Novartis Animal Health in Mississauga for 20 years before his retirement in 2006. During this time the Parks also had a farm near Guelph where they raised Limousin cattle. The Parks fell in love with Salt Spring Island on a trip to British Columbia more than 30 years ago and now live there, near Mount Maxwell Provincial Park. In addition to their donation to the PHRN, the Parks previously established an endowed Parks Family Travel Grant in OAC, as well as an endowed Parks Family Travel Grant in OVC. The latter is presented annually to a fourth-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine student entering the Food Animal Stream for assistance travelling outside of Ontario on an external rotation.
Research strategy review The Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC) facilitated development of the National Research Strategy for Canada’s Poultry Sector (the Strategy) which was released in 2012 (view it at cp-rc.ca/research/). The Strategy identified nine priority research categories including (not in order of importance): Economic viability Genetics Food safety Animal health products Poultry health Poultry welfare Environment Functional and innovative products Poultry feedstuffs Industry’s goal was identified for each category and, rather than identifying specific projects, research target outcomes were listed.  For example, industry’s goal for the animal health category is to “continue to  promote the prudent use of antimicrobials and reduce their use where possible and increase the use of alternatives to antibiotics.” One of the research target outcomes is “alternatives to currently-used antimicrobials.” This approach to identifying and stating research priorities leaves it to researchers to propose projects that will address the results industry would like to achieve from its investment in research activities. CPRC uses the Strategy as a guide in its annual calls for Letters of Intent and as a basis for development of the poultry science cluster, a five-year research program co-funded by industry and government. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) contributed $4 million to the $5.6-million poultry cluster under the AgriInnovation Program, part of Growing Forward 2, with the balance of funds from industry and provincial government funding.  That program runs from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2018.CPRC’s board of directors has decided to review the Strategy to identify changes in existing priorities and new issues that have arisen in the past four years that should be included in an updated Strategy.  The review will include a broad consultation with poultry research stakeholders including producer groups, researchers, government, input suppliers and processors.  Many of these stakeholders are represented by CPRC’s member organizations.The review is not designed to generate a research strategy from scratch but to build on the two-year process that led to the 2012 document.  The priorities identified in that process remain valid but issues may have evolved over the past four years and new research opportunities (such as precision agriculture or climate change impacts) may have appeared.  The Strategy review is targeted for completion so that the CPRC board can act upon a final draft at its March 2017 meeting.Potential new research clusterThe science cluster program is part of the five-year federal-provincial agreements that include risk management, market development and research funding programs.  The science clusters were introduced in Growing Forward and continued in Growing Forward 2. Inclusion of a third science cluster program in the next federal-provincial agreement is not certain; however, AAFC has received good reviews from industry and government. CPRC is hopeful that the science cluster program is included in the next agreement. The cluster program fits well with CPRC’s system.  It is a five-year funding commitment and allows CPRC to cooperate with other organizations to combine funding and design a more extensive research program than is the case with CPRC’s annual funding, which is usually for two or three years.  This approach allows CPRC to target longer-term objectives, such as vaccine development, in the cluster but still respond to more immediate issues, or those closer to the end user, with the annual funding calls.Updates to the research strategy will provide information that will help CPRC and its industry partners develop a strong cluster proposal that will include research based on industry-identified priorities.CPRC, its board of directors and member organizations are committed to supporting and enhancing Canada’s poultry sector through research and related activities.  For more details on these or any other CPRC activities, please contact the Canadian Poultry Research Council, 350 Sparks Street, Suite 1007, Ottawa, ON K1R 7S8. Phone: 613-566-5916, fax: 613-241-5999, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit us at www.cp-rc.ca.The membership of the CPRC consists of Chicken Farmers of Canada, Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, Turkey Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors’ Council. CPRC’s mission is to address its members’ needs through dynamic leadership in the creation and implementation of programs for poultry research in Canada, which may also include societal concerns.
The Poultry Industry Council (PIC) funded several research projects in 2016.  The following project addresses the layer sector of the poultry industry directly. Grégoy Bédécarrats and his research team from the University of Guelph will be performing research which investigates the control of reproduction in poultry, within the context of a continuously evolving genetic makeup. HPG axisSpecifically, the study will seek to reveal whether intensive genetic selection of commercial layer chickens has impacted control of the reproductive or HPG axis. HPG axis refers to the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and gonadal glands as a single system because these glands often act in concert.In an interview, Bédécarrats described recent research in which he observed that modern strains of layers no longer fully fit the accepted neuroendocrine models.  He hypothesized, “While doubling egg numbers laid per hen, the past 50 years of genetic selection may have altered the normal physiological controls.”  Key questionsBédécarrats highlighted the key questions being formulated through recent analysis of commercial layers, “Why do they tend to mature without stimulation?  Why do they display extended laying persistency?  Is there desynchronization of the ovulatory process?”Purpose of the strainThe proposed research aims to answer these questions by comparing a strain not selected for egg production versus a modern commercial strain selected for egg production.    The approach is to compare production parameters and relate these to molecular events.  Differences in the function of the HPG axis between the two strains will be identified.  Bédécarrats explains “Identifying differences between strains will give insight into the understanding of the actual mechanisms responsible for maturation, ovulation and persistency of lay.  This will show how genetic selection may have impacted the reproductive axis.” Study objectivesThe initial objective of the study will be to determine the relative importance of photostimulation versus metabolic status to initiate sexual maturation in commercial layers.  The study will then go on to investigate if a previously observed second estradiol peak is specific to modern commercial strains and correlated with laying persistency.  The study will conclude by determining if the second estradiol peak is the result of activation of the entire reproductive axis as opposed to independently ovarian activation. Outcomes“Outcomes of this research will assist in adjusting and/or refining on-farm management procedures and could help update codes of practice as it relates to layer flock turnover,” Bédécarrats said. This research is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Discovery Program and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs - University of Guelph Research Program.
Next time you go into a livestock barn, stop, look, listen and smell. How is one species of livestock different from another? Or better yet, how are all livestock species the same?The answer to that question may just hold the key to the future of research. The days of independent, species-specific research may be changing to a new model, bringing together not only different livestock species but also different sectors of research and industry. “It’s time to start thinking outside the shell,” said Tim Nelson, “and think very big.” Nelson is the CEO of the Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC) – a new hive of cross-disciplinary research based in Guelph, Ont. The new network is an assembly of Ontario Livestock and Poultry Organizations that are betting the future of agriculture on well designed and directed research. Their mission is to provide, “a single portal through which collective investment in livestock and poultry research conducted in Ontario, is able to generate the best possible outcomes and return on investment for our sector and the Province.” Times are changing, explained Nelson. Funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food is holding steady but overall investment in poultry research is declining and industry funding is flat. Government funding is pulling back at a time when their target outcomes are moving to a focus of creating jobs, although Nelson has high hopes with a new government that believes in science.That’s not the only change.  The agriculture and food industry is changing too, looking for economies of scale. Industry is relying less on publicly funded research to pursue their goals of efficiency, while large corporations in areas such as genetics and pharmaceuticals continue to consolidate and do their own research.Meanwhile research priorities are also changing. “We’ve gotten good at producing eggs,” said Nelson. In 1951 a hen would give us 150 eggs; in 2006 that number had risen to 325 eggs, using only 1.4 kg of feed compared to 3.4 kg. The feed to gain ratio in broilers has dropped from 6:1 to 1.6:1. “Do we still need to be doing this,” he asked?Society is changing too, said Nelson, and their push for change is powerful. Many suggested production practices have no science to guide them. It’s one thing to ask to ban cages but what do the birds need in alternate production systems such as aviaries to ensure they’re getting a better deal?At the researcher level, one measure of success is the number of patents issued, which potentially may delay transfer of technical information, adding to cost and reducing the desire of the industry to invest in late-stage research.What opportunities can cross-disciplinary research create in this changing environment? Nelson makes a strong case for collaboration. When it comes to addressing societal needs, for example, Nelson suggests that the ‘silo’ model just doesn’t work. Social and ecological problems are far too complex. In response, research ‘clusters’ are becoming more common, allowing for the spreading of costs and creating a synergy to address common interests. Nelson cautions though that they need to be more than a grouping of researchers in one building, each working on their own projects. Just calling a grouping of researchers a ‘cluster’ doesn’t necessarily follow his definition of cross-disciplinary research.So what does? Let’s consider what topics are important to poultry research right now. Nelson has condensed them to three areas: animal welfare, antibiotics in feed and food safety. None of these are what he calls “single discipline issues”.  Each has components that could be cross-funded by more than one sector, working in collaboration. Could solutions to treat salmonella in pigs, for example, also be applied to poultry? Why not to dairy and beef as well? The advantages of shared research are clear: costs can be spread, bigger industry funding can be leveraged to better government funding, more tech transfer will be encouraged and private investment will be exposed to more opportunity. But what about the language? Will researchers talking in ‘pig language’ be able to communicate with those talking ‘chicken’? Nelson says yes, once an early solution gets to the point where it needs to diverge it will need individual attention. “This is a paradigm shift,” said Nelson, which may not apply to all research but it is a way forward that will help the agriculture industry.Nelson wants to target the resources of LRIC at what he calls the ‘Blue Sky/ Discovery stage’: “Start thinking about opportunities early.” LRIC is there to find commonalities in research, searching proposals and issues to find common ground. “Cross-disciplinary research is already a reality; cross-sectorial research will become a reality,” said Nelson. “It will become a necessity.” Don’t be shy, he says, talk to LRIC and find out who else would benefit from or fund your work.
Dec. 5, 2016 - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is seeking public comment on proposed amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations Part XII which deals with humane transportation. This is an opportunity for Canadians to share their views on the transportation of animals.The draft amendments appeared in the Canada Gazette, Part I on December 3, 2016 and the public comment period will run until February 15, 2017.Quick Facts The CFIA establishes and enforces regulations for the welfare of animals during transport, as specified in the requirements of the Health of Animal Regulations, which governs the humane transportation of animals in Canada. The current regulations were developed in 1977 and few amendments have been made since then. The proposed regulations are the product of ten years of consultation with industry, the public and special interest groups. Protecting animal welfare in Canada is a shared responsibility between governments (federal, provincial and territorial), industry (e.g. producers, transporters, processors, registered slaughter establishments) and the public. Health of Animals Regulations: Part XII: Transportation of Animals-Regulatory Amendment - Interpretive Guidance for Regulated Parties
Any method to preserve a species’ genetics is complex and costly. For poultry, raising generation after generation of a certain group of birds is one method, but because those who have been doing this don’t really receive any benefits that outweigh the costs, many are not continuing with it. In addition, relying on live flocks as a way to preserve genetics is also quite risky because something like a disease outbreak or a fire could always come along and cause the DNA to be lost forever.A solution is therefore needed, preferably one that allows for the preservation of as much avian genetic diversity as possible. This will allow for genes from heritage breeds to be fully examined and characterized – genes which may hold great future promise in commercial breeding in terms of important traits like resistance to disease. American geneticist Dr. Janet Fulton has already demonstrated that there are some genes present in heritage poultry breeds that are not present in commercial breeds, and some of this heritage DNA (very much at risk of being lost at this point in time) may become crucial in future commercial poultry breeding enhancements. But how is a central, efficient and secure way to preserve poultry genes to be developed? Cryopreservation (slow freezing) was tried because it works for mammalian sperm, eggs, embryos and more. But it turned out that cryopreservation of avian sperm significantly lowers its ability to fertilize eggs, and avian sperm doesn’t contain the entire bird genome anyway. While avian embryonic cells do, cryopreservation doesn’t work with them either. Finding a reliable way to preserve poultry genetics is also challenging because of the trickiness involved with manipulating bird eggs and sperm, explains Dr. Carl Lessard, curator of the Canadian Animal Genetic Resources program (CAGR) at the University of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan. “What’s required is to open a small spot in an egg shell and deposit desired embryonic cells into the host embryo without killing it,” he notes. “That’s very difficult. So, while freezing embryonic blastodermal cells is a good way to preserve the entire genome of a species, it just doesn’t allow for easy usability of that genome in poultry.”  In 2006, Dr. Fred Silversides (now retired from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) tried some new thinking. What about preserving the gonadal tissue (testicular and ovarian tissue) where sperm and eggs are created and stored? Might it be possible to develop a relatively efficient way to remove gonads, chill and store them, and then thaw and transfer them, resulting in the hatching of a chick with the desired genetics and not any from the surrogate mother hen?  Instead of the slow freezing involved with cryopreservation, Silversides tried vitrification, where a gonad is removed from a day-old chick, treated with lots of cryoprotectant and chilled rapidly through a plunge in liquid nitrogen. The gonad is never technically frozen (there’s no ice crystal formation) but maintained in a glass-like (vitreous) state at a very low temperature. Once thawed, the gonad is surgically transferred to a day-old chick recipient that has had its gonad totally or partially removed. At the same time, Silversides and his team developed ways to preserve the viability of the tissues during and after thawing and transplantation, such as treating the recipient chick with immunosuppressants to avoid rejection of the graft.Success was achieved! Over time, the work of Silversides and his colleagues at AFFC was transferred to CAGR, where Lessard became curator in 2014. Since that point, Lessard and his team have been working hard to move all aspects of poultry genetics preservation forward.   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.canadianpoultrymag.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=latest&layout=latest&Itemid=1#sigProGalleriae0a889fb63 What’s happening nowThe technique for chicken testicular tissue is now well-established, and Lessard and colleagues are currently optimizing Silversides’ technique for ovarian tissue. “The ovarian grafts are not growing the way we need them to, so we are now trying to find a new chicken line recipient,” Lessard explains. “The bird line we were using likely has an immune response that’s too high. We didn’t see this with the testicular tissue grafts in that line.”With turkeys, Lessard has established a reliable protocol for freezing gonads from newly-hatched chicks, with the next step to optimize the surgical procedures and immunosuppressive treatment to obtain successful growth of the grafts. In terms of the team’s preliminary genetic analysis, they’ve found turkey breeds have a lot of genome ‘admixture’ (many shared genes alleles between breeds), but more samples are needed to confirm this finding. Shared alleles, says Lessard, make it harder to characterize the entire genetic diversity of turkeys and establish what is, and what is not, pure turkey genetics. Once vitrification of male and female gonadal tissue for chicken and turkeys is complete, the team will launch a national call in 2017 to request genetic samples of fertilized eggs from commercial and heritage breeds. They will also move on to other poultry breeds such as ducks.Lessard and his colleagues are also creating a germplasm repository (sperm, eggs, gonads, embryos) for other types of livestock from all across Canada. “We are looking for donations from purebred animals in all areas of the country,” he says, “including bison, cattle, sheep, goat, horse, pig, deer, elk and more. It’s going well, and we’re getting more and more participation from livestock associations and individual producers. Right now (in September and October 2016), we are in Ontario and Quebec gathering samples from sheep, goat and beef cattle.” A website letting the public know what has been contributed is being developed and Lessard is looking for more Canadian and international graduate students to tackle all the work. “We need many samples for poultry and everything else produced in Canada,” he explains. “Genetic characterization of commercial and heritage poultry breeds is extremely important and we need to establish the true diversity of the different poultry breeds produced here. The number of heritage breed birds is shrinking every year, and it’s very important to capture genetics as soon as possible.” Silversides’ vitrification preservation technique has so far been adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture ‘Agricultural Research Service’ Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Lessard says individuals at that organization have already used the technique to preserve the genetics of several U.S. commercial and heritage breeds. In terms of other groups beyond CAGR working on gonadal transfer, a team in Hungary is currently working to master it. To make is easier for them and other researchers around the world learn how to successfully complete surgical transfer of vitrified gonads, Lessard has been working on a free tutorial e-book featuring detailed video and audio descriptions of each step. “This strategy (vitrification and gonadal transfer technique) has great potential to preserve the entire genome of a poultry breed and also use that genome fairly easily,” he explains. “We want it to be available to everyone.”
March 24, 2017, Lexington, KY – ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference, being held May 21 to 24 in Lexington, Ky., is certain to inspire and motivate producers and agribusiness leaders, but more importantly, it will prepare them for the future. The three-day conference will bring together industry experts from across the globe to share insights and solutions to today’s most pressing issues within agriculture. To provide an opportunity for every corner of production agriculture to engage in disruption, ONE17 will include various tracks, including a focus session specifically dedicated to poultry production. From topics covering in ovo techniques and the use of CRISPR/Cas9 genome modification to the effects of backyard farming and consumer meat preferences, ONE17 will give poultry producers real-life solutions. “We believe it’s important for everyone involved in agriculture to be inspired to harness disruption,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, founder and president of Alltech. “For poultry producers, however, we understand that innovation must be practical and profitable. Our poultry focus session will facilitate open discussions about what’s ahead for the poultry industry and will drive the disruptive thinking that could determine long-term success.” ONE17 poultry focus sessions include: In Ovo: Counting your chickens before they hatch? Could in ovo techniques be the next disruption in the poultry industry, and what benefits could they deliver to the consumer? Chickens by Design: What implications does CRISPR/Cas9 have for the world’s preferred protein? Slow-Grown Disruption: Is the slow-growth movement a disruption? Is it sustainable? Chickens and Eggs: Two growing markets have emerged: backyard farming and large-scale consolidation. What are the opportunities? Disruption in Washington: What can we expect from the new leadership landscape? How could the food chain and global trade be disrupted? The Biologist’s Toolbox: Precise gene editing technologies are the newest tool in the biologist’s toolbox, but are we pushing ethical limits?  For more information on the ONE17 poultry focus session, visit one.alltech.com/poultry.
March 24, 2017, Kitchener, Ont – Hybrid Turkeys recently announced plans for ongoing and future investments in the U.S. turkey industry. In order to deliver quality products throughout the supply chain, Hybrid will invest in two new hatcheries, new egg production farms together with new contract partners, state-of-the-art transportation, and the skilled workforce needed to support these areas of operations. “Our business is focused on creating value for customers and built on strong partnerships in the industry,” said Dave Libertini, managing director of Hybrid Turkeys. “As the demands of the modern consumer evolve, the stresses on a collaborative supply chain for the turkey industry have never been greater. A more transparent food system, with ever reducing use of antibiotics, means that the responsible production of high quality day old turkey poults is critical.” The decision for Hendrix Genetics, parent of Hybrid Turkeys, does not come lightly. This move represents a significant investment of financial capital and human resources in a market long overdue for this type of upgrade. “We are committed to delivering the quality poults that Hybrid customers are looking for,” said Peter Gruhl, general manager of Hybrid USA. “We explored many options and have decided that making an investment in new, state-of-the-art facilities is the only way we can satisfy our client’s demands.” The move comes after an announcement in January 2015 in which Hybrid and Ag Forte entered into a commercial egg and poult supply agreement. In November 2016, Hybrid served notice that it would not seek to renew this arrangement beginning in January 2019. Hybrid will continue to supply breeding and commercial stock to the U.S. market and, with access to a global supply chain, expects no interruption in supply for their clients.
March 24, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – Chicken Farmers of Canada are fighting back against the “inaccurate and irresponsible portrayal of Canadian chicken production that is being used to target retail and foodservice companies.” According to the industry organization, Mercy for Animals, a U.S.-based activist organization, has been using sensationalized video footage and accusations implying that this is representative of Canadian chicken farms. Other groups have also been using questionable information to fuel their campaigns and push an agenda to eliminate animal agriculture and shutter Canadian farms, CFC officials added. “These tactics are shameful, inaccurate, deliberately misleading, and undermine the hard work and animal welfare standards of local Canadian farmers throughout the country,” the organization stated in a recent press release. "We believe that this video footage isn't from a Canadian chicken farm and appears to be recycled from previous propaganda campaigns that have taken place in other countries," said Benoît Fontaine, chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada, adding 90 per cent of the country’s poultry operations are family owned and audited for animal welfare standards. "Canadian chicken farms are run by hardworking men and women who take to heart their responsibility to uphold animal health and welfare on their farm and share Canadian values. They are proud ambassadors in promoting and defending their good management practices, and believe that there is no defense for the mistreatment of birds." The Chicken Farmers of Canada’s press release describes the organization’s mandatory Animal Care Program, which is administered across all 2,800 chicken farms in Canada. The program recently completed an inaugural comprehensive third-party audit. NSF International's report concluded: "The national Animal Care Program has been implemented effectively and maintained on an on-going basis. Animal care measures have been consistently applied." NSF is an internationally recognized, third-party certification body, accredited by the American National Standards Institute to ISO 17065. “Animal rights groups claim that mistreatment of animals has no place in society today,” the press release stated. “We agree.” “Farmers in Canada have a responsibility to the birds they raise, to the industry, to their fellow farmers, and to all consumers for upholding high principles of animal health and welfare on the farm.”
March 22, 2017, Toronto, Ont – Two of Canada's largest quick-service restaurant chains – Burger King and Tim Hortons – have pledged to improve their poultry welfare standards. Burger King and Tim Hortons (whose parent company is Restaurant Brands International) collaborated with Mercy For Animals on the new policies. Burger King and Tim Hortons have all pledged to use only chicken that meets the welfare standards laid out by Global Animal Partnership (GAP), an international farmed animal welfare certification program. These standards will require chicken suppliers to breed only higher-welfare strains of chickens, reduce the stocking density of the birds, improve light levels and litter quality inside barns, and use controlled atmosphere stunning to render the birds unconscious before slaughter, dramatically improving slaughter methods and the birds' living conditions. RBI will also transition to cage-free eggs for Burger King and Tim Hortons locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Latin America by 2025. “We have been so pleased to work with Burger King and Tim Hortons to develop their progressive broiler welfare policies,” said Krista Hiddema, vice president of Mercy For Animals in Canada. “It is certainly a testament to the times that two of Canada's largest quick-service brands are committed to meeting GAP standards, and we are confident the rest of the Canadian food industry will soon follow.”
March 20, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – Chicken Farmers of Canada's (CFC) commitment to animal care has been confirmed with the completion of a comprehensive third-party audit. "The national Animal Care Program has been implemented effectively and maintained on an on-going basis,” stated NSF International in its report. “Animal care measures have been consistently applied." Under CFC's Animal Care Program, audits are conducted annually on all Canadian chicken farms. It is a mandatory program with enforcement measures for issues of non-compliance and the program guarantees one national standard for consistency of requirements and recordkeeping on all chicken farms in Canada. CFC has been administering a national Animal Care Program on all 2,800 broiler chicken farms across Canada since 2009. Since 2016, the implementation of the program by farmers and the effectiveness of CFC's audit team are subject to an annual third-party audit. NSF performs the third-party audits using PAACO (Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization) certified auditors to ensure the effective and consistent implementation of the CFC Animal Care Program. NSF is an internationally recognized, third-party certification body, accredited by the American National Standards Institute to ISO 17065. Their auditors are professionals with years of experience performing animal care and food safety audits for the agricultural sector. Third-party audits were conducted in all provinces and more than 90 per cent of CFC's on-farm auditors were evaluated. The program has credible, science-based foundations in that it is based on the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Hatching Eggs, Breeders, Chickens and Turkeys, as developed by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). NFACC is a leader in bringing together stakeholders with different perspectives – farmers, veterinarians, processors, transporters, animal welfare associations, and provincial/federal governments – to develop robust and sound codes of practice. NFACC's code development process begins with a full scientific review, which is used to draft the code that then undergoes a public consultation process. In this way, all Canadians have an opportunity to contribute to the final code. With the code of practice for chicken recently finalized in 2016, CFC has begun implementing the new requirements and is in the process of updating the Animal Care Program by engaging a group of competent experts using NFACC's Animal Care Assessment Framework. Looking forward, CFC will continue funding animal care research as a priority area – to enhance future versions of the code of practice and farm management practices. In addition, CFC is petitioning the federal government to implement a recognition protocol for animal care in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's next Agricultural Policy Framework, similar to the successful on-farm food safety recognition protocol. Such a recognition system would leverage the work performed by NFACC and organizations such as CFC that are implementing one auditable, mandatory standard to effectively demonstrate the level of animal care on Canadian farms.
March 20, 2017, Vaughan, Ont – Cara recently announced it continues to work with suppliers to evolve animal welfare beyond current standards, including the adoption of controlled atmosphere stunning. Cara has committed to have its suppliers begin the conversion to this humane method by 2020, with a vast majority of its suppliers completed by 2022 with the rest to follow thereafter. An example of Cara's ongoing commitment to humane treatment of animals occurred in February 2016 when the company announced that a number of its restaurant brands were switching to cage free eggs and all of its restaurant brands would do so by 2020. Cara is excited to announce this initiative that goes beyond the current standard and will continue to work with various associations and regulatory bodies to continue to evolve animal welfare in Canada.
Canadian poultry processors need a consistent supply of dependable, high-quality chicken to supply to their distributors and retailers. In order to achieve this, many processors have contracts with multiple farmers. This begs the question: Can anything be done to ensure the quality  of their supplied product?
For the most part, European farmers view the liberalization of agricultural markets positively. Many felt that farmers were relying too heavily on subsidies, a dependence that negatively impacted markets. In terms of trade, the use of subsidies also disadvantaged some countries – particularly those in developing nations – and cost taxpayers dearly each year. In recent years, policy reform and the reduction of trade barriers have addressed these issues; now new problems have surfaced.
When a laying hen is finished laying she becomes “spent fowl,” with her meat used for deli purposes or tenderized and flavoured for soup or TV dinners. Much of this spent fowl is imported from the United States under no tariff restrictions, fulfilling a Canadian demand that does not displace broiler meat.
While making the rounds at ag industry events this winter, I noticed one topic was sure to draw a crowd every time. It seems producers, suppliers and other industry stakeholders are eager to soak up information on markets and international trade – and with good reason.
March 14, 2017, Siloam Springs, AR – Cobb-Vantress, Inc. recently announced the launch of a new website dedicated to animal welfare. The website can be accessed at cobbcares.com or by visiting cobb-vantress.com under the About Cobb tab. “We’re taking a proactive approach,” said Joel Sappenfield, company president. “Sites like this are important because they allow us to be transparent with our direct customers, consumers and the poultry industry.” Animal welfare has been a focus at Cobb for a long time and has become an increasingly important topic for consumers. Cobb recognizes there is a need to openly discuss animal welfare and poultry care. The company’s goal is to provide a tool that can be used for education and to provide an in-depth look at the company’s programs. “Cobb has a longstanding commitment to animal welfare, and we wanted a place where we could easily share information about our efforts, such as our training programs, research and development, disease prevention, and care and handling procedures,” said Dr. Kate Barger, veterinarian and Cobb director of world animal welfare. The new, interactive animal welfare website is divided into three sections: Education and Awareness, Healthy Birds and Cobb Cares. Each section features information, photos and videos on Cobb’s practices to advance animal welfare in each of these three areas. Visitors to the website can also get a detailed look at Cobb’s commitment and innovative approach to research and development, disease prevention, safe handling at farms and hatcheries, transportation and biosecurity programs. “Our commitment to animal welfare is not only the right thing to do, it is an important moral and ethical obligation we owe to our global customers and, most importantly, to the chickens we breed, raise and distribute worldwide,” said Sappenfield.
March 13, 2017, Vancouver, BC – A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. recently committed to the adoption of even higher animal welfare standards for farm-raised broiler chickens. "We want to continuously raise the bar in animal welfare to ensure animals are treated with respect,” said Susan Senecal, president and chief operating officer at A&W Canada. “Today, we have elevated our standards to include some new ones. It all adds up to a better life." Under A&W’s new requirements, producers must: Introduce physical enhancements that best allow for natural bird behaviour, while preserving an antibiotic-free environment. Ensure a minimum of six hours of darkness in the barn so chickens can rest better at night. Ensure barn density levels meet or exceed the standard set out in the Global Animal Partnership Step Level 2. A&W works with farmers to ensure chickens are humanely raised in large barns with ample access to fresh air, food and water. Lighting, air quality and cleanliness are monitored and clean litter is provided for every flock. A flock health care plan and qualified veterinary care is currently required at each of A&W's supplier farms to maintain flock health, which is actively monitored. A&W uses breeds of birds that can thrive in the barns with optimal health. These birds are raised to a weight best for maintaining mobility and leg and foot health. The company understands that the University of Guelph is undertaking a study to determine whether there may be breeds of chickens better suited for Canadian farms. A&W looks forward to the results of this study. All of A&W's farmers work to ensure that the birds have ample room to roam, with the majority of barns operating at a density well below the industry requirement, providing lots of space to range. A&W currently has stringent standards for the humane handling of birds for euthanasia and has already begun working with its suppliers to adopt controlled atmosphere stunning. This process reduces the individual handling of the birds. The company has committed to a complete conversion to this enhanced method as quickly as possible and no later than the end of 2022. All A&W suppliers are currently required to have annual third party audits by qualified professional animal auditors to ensure compliance to A&W's standards.

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