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.

Support for poultry health

Support for poultry health

A recent donation to the University of Guelph’s (UofG) Poultry Health Research Network

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.
What to do with the males of a species when the females are all that are needed is an issue various agricultural sectors grapple with.In poultry, the question of what happens to male chicks when only females lay eggs continues to beg a satisfactory answer. Although cull is the current widespread solution, research is underway into alternatives, such as work by Dr. Michael Ngadi at McGill University (see page 24 this issue)   Egg sexing research is also underway in Germany, supported by a national animal welfare initiative that aims to ultimately phase out culling of male chicks altogether. In the German state of Lower Saxony, a trailblazer in animal welfare regulation in that country, the practice is slated to be banned by the end of 2017. Some farmers in Germany have built an alternative market for their male chicks, under the banner of the “Bruderhahn Initiative” – which literally translates into English as “the brother rooster initiative”.The concept, explained Christine Bremer of Bauck-Hof Klein Suestedt, located in the Lunenburg Heath about 100 kilometres south of the city of Hamburg, involves raising the male chicks 18 to 22 weeks of age and selling them for meat the way broilers are. Because their genetics are focused on egg and not meat production, raising the males for consumption is an expensive venture. “The males are very active and we need 5.5 kilograms of feed for one kilogram of gain, which is not a good conversion,” Bremer told international agricultural journalists touring her farm this past summer, adding this means her farm needs a subsidy of 7.50 to 10 Euros per “brother” to make the economics work.Unlike most farms, though, Bauck-Hof Klein Suestedt was able to get that money from the market place – but through egg sales instead of a premium on the meat, which is dark and has a taste similar to pheasant. Every egg sold from Bremer’s hens sells for four cents more than other eggs, and those funds, collected through the “Bruderhahn Initiative”, go back to the participating farmers to pay for the costs of raising and marketing the males for meat. “If a hen lays 250 eggs and we get four cents more per egg, we can pay for the “brother”,” she said. “Our trader who buys our eggs communicated this to the organic shops where our eggs are sold. In 2013, all eggs were increased by four cents and a label was added to explain why – and we had no loss of customers.” Unsure of whether consumers would be interested in the darker, more flavourful meat, Bremer’s first customer was actually a baby food processor.  “We weren’t sure people would buy this meat but gradually people start asking for it,” she said, adding that due to her farm’s rural location and resulting unreliable internet infrastructure, their marketing is done at point of sale as opposed to through social media. “As farmers, we need the help of traders and retailers to sell our products, and if our trader had said no, we couldn’t have done this,” Bremer said. “What customers are paying for is to not kill the bird at birth and that this animal is worth keeping alive longer.” The male layer for meat program is part of Bauck-Hof Klein Suestedt’s overall approach to agriculture. The operation is the second oldest organic farm in Germany, having farmed in this manner since 1932. More specifically, it’s one of Germany’s 2,000 certified Demeter farms. Demeter is the brand for products stemming from biodynamic agriculture and is well recognized by German consumers, which Bremer says has been helpful in supporting the marketing efforts around meat from the male layers. Bremer installed her first mobile poultry housing 13 years ago, and now has six mobile layer barns and four mobile broiler barns on her farm that are regularly moved to new locations on the fields and permit birds to roam and express natural behaviours. “We use genetics that grow slower and the birds can choose whether they want to be inside or out,” she says, adding that farmers who build mobile poultry housing can have 40 per cent of their costs covered by the European Union.Under the leadership of state Minister of Agriculture Christian Meyer, Lower Saxony has doubled state support for organic production from 137 Euros per hectare in 2013 to 273 Euros by the end of 2016. Subsidies for converting conventional farms into organic production have also increased, from 262 Euros to 403 Euros per hectare during that same time. Meyer, who represents the Green Party, is a proponent of organic agriculture and has also introduced some of the strictest animal welfare regulations in the country since he took office in 2013, including banning beak trimming of laying hens by the end of 2016, and phasing out caged egg production completely by 2025. “The supermarkets dictate and they are very strong. For example, although Lower Saxony is ending beak trimming, we can’t stop imports unless the retailers are supportive,” Meyer said, adding that retailers are supporting cage-free egg production by not selling eggs from hens in cages in countries like Poland and the Ukraine. The state has also committed to reducing antibiotic use in agriculture by 50 per cent in five years, resulting in farmers having to notify the government each time they purchase antibiotics for livestock use. Lower Saxony is one of Germany’s livestock powerhouses, home to 18 million laying hens that produce about half of the country’s eggs.
Egg shell quality is extremely important to table egg producers.  Egg shell quality has a direct impact on profitability because any broken, cracked, or misshapen eggs will result in a loss to the producer.  Some of the factors that influence egg shell quality include: nutrition, feed management, stress, the age of the hens, and mechanical equipment.  Understanding these factors that affect shell quality will have a positive impact on your bottom line.NutritionNutrition plays a significant role in minimizing cracks within the flock.  A properly balanced feed will give the laying hen the nutrients she requires to produce an egg a day, along with the shell needed to protect that egg.  The three main nutrients that nutritionists typically take into consideration when shell quality problems arise are calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D3.  These three nutrients each play a crucial role in shell formation.  The calcium status of a laying hen is very important because the hen must consume enough calcium to lay down an egg shell each day, as well as supporting her health and wellbeing.  In addition to this, she must replenish the calcium stores within the body so calcium is available for use the next day.  The calcium required to create the shell is obtained from two different forms, the medullary bone reserves and directly from the feed she consumes.  Medullary bone reserves of calcium are located within the long bones of the body and the hen is able to mobilize these reserves to supply part of the calcium required to produce the egg shell every day.  The remaining calcium required for the egg shell is obtained from dietary calcium comes from the digestive tract and is directly absorbed into the bloodstream.  A deficiency in calcium will cause an immediate decrease in shell quality and if prolonged, the medullary bone reserves can become depleted.  A hen in this state will begin to suffer a deterioration in egg shell quality, mobility problems, and soft bones.  Phosphorus is also important as it plays a key role in the storage of calcium in the medullary bone reserves.  Calcium is stored in these reserves as calcium phosphate, and for that reason phosphorus must be available in order for these reserves to be replenished.  Finally, vitamin D3 plays an important role in egg shell quality because it promotes calcium absorption from the digestive tract into the blood stream of the bird.  Once absorbed, the calcium is available to become part of medullary bone reserves to be laid down as part of the shell or for maintenance calcium requirements used to maintain the existing skeletal frame of the hen.  Additional calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D3.   can be added to the diet when egg shell quality issues arise on farm, however this should be done in close consultation with your nutritionist as any imbalances in these nutrients can cause further deterioration to egg shell quality.   While additional nutrients may help solve the problem, nutrition cannot be looked at in isolation as many factors contribute to these situations.  For example, if the hen is not consuming enough feed, changes need to be made in the barn to encourage this consumption.  Because shell quality issues are typically complex and have many contributing factors, nutritionists will focus on balancing the nutrition, while also considering environmental issues that may be contributing to the problem. It takes approximately twenty-one hours for the shell to be laid on the egg and a significant portion of this high calcium demand takes place when the lights are off.  Consequently, feed management plays a key role in maintaining shell quality.  It is important to make sure that the feeders are being run close to when the lights go off in the barn to ensure the hen is able to consume adequate calcium to support egg shell formation through the dark period.  In addition to the importance of feed timing, the form of calcium being provided in that feed can impact the ability of the hen to create a high quality egg shell.  Providing large particle calcium as a portion of the calcium in the feed will give the hen a source of calcium that is retained for a longer period of time.  This is because large particle calcium is less soluble than fine particle and will remain in the gizzard longer, making it available during the dark period when the bird is not consuming feed.  Research has proven that the hen also has a specific appetite for calcium and her appetite changes throughout the day.  By providing a portion of calcium as large particle calcium, the hen is able to selectively regulate her calcium intake throughout the day as her appetite for calcium changes.  In the late afternoon, when the demand for calcium is highest in the hen, having large particle calcium available allows her to choose to increase calcium consumption to meet her needs.  StressStress is known to cause disruption to the egg formation process which can lead to misshapen eggs, wrinkled and thin shells, as well as discoloured shells in brown egg strains.   Stresses in the barn can come in many forms, including disease, heat stress, excessive and sudden noises, mismanagement or failure of lighting programs, poor barn environment, and aggression from other birds.  These types of stresses can cause a disruption to the egg formation process because they will cause the hen to either hold on to her egg or lay the egg too soon.  Because stress influences the timing of the egg being laid, there can be an ongoing effect in the following days as the sequence of eggs has been disrupted and it takes time to get this corrected within the hen’s body.  Taking the time to observe what is happening in your barn will help you in the long run.  This includes ensuring the inlets and fans are providing adequate air flow, double checking that the lights are going on and off at the times they are set for, and observing bird behavior to look for signs of disease or aggression.  Solving these problems as soon as possible by changing fan settings, adjusting lighting schedules, dimming lights to control aggression, and contacting a vet if a disease is suspected will minimize stressors in your barn and have a positive impact on egg shell quality.Bird ageThe incidence of cracks is also affected by the age of the bird.  When the hens are young and first coming into production, there can be some thin or shell-less eggs.  This could be caused by the immaturity of the reproductive tract.  Typically this only happens to one or two eggs before the reproductive tract begins to function correctly.  The incidence of thin shells can increase as birds get older because the eggs become larger.  As eggs get larger, the amount of shell material being contributed to each egg remains virtually the same. Consequently, the shell has more surface area to cover, which may lead to thinner shells that are more prone to cracks.  Using management and nutrition tools to manage the egg size within the flock will help minimize the increase in cracks as the flock ages.  This includes working with nutritionists to review the diets to ensure that the nutrients are being fed at the appropriate levels for the age of hen, stage of production, and egg size.  This will help prolong eggs in the large category, rather than encouraging an increase in egg size.EquipmentEgg collecting equipment such as egg belts, transfer points, escalators, packers, and egg saver wires can also contribute to cracks in the barn.  Any aspect of these systems that contributes to the rough handling of eggs as they move through the system can increase the incidence of cracks.  Being diligent in inspecting and reviewing the equipment, as well as the frequency of egg collection, on a regular basis will help to minimize cracks being caused by mechanical damage.  A regular routine can be established by ensuring maintenance logs are kept with details of problems found and how they were fixed, as well as posting a regular maintenance schedule that all employees have access to.  While it is impossible to completely eliminate all egg shell quality issues within a laying hen flock, a reduction in the numbers of eggs lost over time is possible.  Working closely with your nutritionist to use nutritional strategies is one option to maintaining optimum shell quality. Managing the many factors within your barn that can contribute to decreased shell quality, such as feed management, stress, and egg collection equipment, will also have a positive influence on shell quality.  Combining good management practices with respect to barn environment, and management as well as building a strong relationship with a nutritionist will optimize your chances of decreasing the number of damaged eggs being produced, which means a healthier flock and more money in your pocket.
Canada and the U.S. are set to severely restrict and even eliminate the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in poultry and livestock production by the end of 2017, says Elanco Animal Health regulatory affairs director Randy Bogg.Both Health Canada’s Veterinary Drugs Directorate (VDD) and the U.S. Center for Veterinary Medicine are proposing to disallow the use of antibiotics to improve performance and require veterinary oversight will be required for therapeutic use, he told the B.C. Poultry Symposium in Abbotsford, May 26th.“All labels are to be changed by the end of 2016,” Bogg says, noting it will impact over 160 products with growth promotant claims.The Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI) is committed to working with the VDD to develop new labels which define the terms and duration of use. Even though drugs are nationally regulated, usage may still vary among provinces as veterinarians are provincially regulated. The end of antibiotic use in hatcheries is taking its toll on hatchability and chick quality. To offset that, both hatcheries and hatching egg producers need to pay greater attention to detail, says Cobb-Vantress hatchery specialist Ben Green. It starts with the eggs.“If (producers) send us junk, how can we make good chicks?” he asks.Producers should stop sending or at least isolate dirty and floor eggs so hatcheries can handle them separately since “they’re not going to do as well.” Green says using a low-volatility electrostatic sprayer to spray eggs with chlorine dioxide increased hatchability 4.39 per cent. Cobb is also trying to identify hairline cracks in eggs. While they get an 89.6 per cent hatch from good eggs, cracked eggs only have a 66.4 per cent hatch and chicks are generally weaker.“Chicks from good eggs have a one per cent mortality rate in the first seven days while those from cracked eggs have a five per cent rate.”He also stresses the need for eggs to be right side up when they go into the incubator, claiming 75 per cent of chicks die if they start upside down. Once hatched, chicks have to be fed right. DSM Nutritional Products technical support manager April Levy says growers should no longer rely on the 1994 National Research Council recommendations as they are based on 1970s and early 80s genetics.“Today’s broilers are twice as efficient and turkeys three times as efficient,” she points out.DSM updated its guidelines this year and put out an app to help growers optimize the usage of vitamins D and E. Vitamin D helps prevent rickets and TD (tibial dyschondroplasia) and reduces egg shell problems while Vitamin E helps the immune response under heat stress and also improves infectious bronchitis titers. She also advocates biotin and added zinc to reduce footpad lesions in turkeys but admits it won’t help if litter is too damp.LITTERJones-Hamilton business development manager Blake Gibson calls litter a critical component, saying it should be below 4.3 pH.“Most litter is 6.5 to 7.5 pH,” he states, saying the higher the pH the more quickly bacteria will replicate.He notes all litter has benefits and drawbacks. Wood shavings increase pathogen loads while straw and grass are less absorptive. Sand is good but too much ends up in the crop. While Gibson recommends a moisture content of 10-20 per cent, CEVA Sante Animale poultry range manager Kobus Van Heerden wants to see it at 25-35 per cent if growers are vaccinating birds against coccidiosis. To be effective, the vaccine needs to be applied at the hatchery, then sporulated on-farm and reingested 2-4 more times.“Each time it cycles, the immunity gets better and better,” Van Heerden says, saying the damper litter (and a temperature of 26 to 36°C) is necessary to facilitate sporulation.While many growers start their birds at one end of the barn, then open up the rest of the barn when the birds have grown, Van Heerden encourages them to start the birds in a narrow lane along the full length of the barn, then widen the lane as birds age. That way, vaccine is spread through the whole barn, resulting in more uniform recycling. The experts not only disagree on the right moisture content for litter, but the right amount. Gibson wants litter to be at least 10-15 cm deep (higher in barns with concrete floors and on second floors and lower in barns with a soil base), saying birds use it to regulate their temperature. However, Martin Roshoj Jensen of Skov A/S suggests starting with only 1-5 cm of litter on a concrete floor, saying a shallow litter allows excess moisture to evaporate.“We tried it by accident and it worked,” he says, adding a shallow litter also got rid of darkling beetles “because birds can dig them out and eat them.”Jensen suggests peat moss as a litter, saying many Northern European poultry farms now use it. Before the litter is spread, the floor should be heated to 30-32°C. Birds should be started at a room temperature of 34°C until they reach 175 grams. He believes temperature is absolutely critical, saying birds eat less when they are too hot. Despite that, he told growers not to skimp on heat, saying it is easier to cool birds when they are too hot than to warm them up when they are too cold.RWA ProductionPhibro Animal Health nutritionist Mike Blair suggests growers consider using Nicarb as a feed additive instead of vaccinating, calling it “most efficient” at controlling coccidiosis. Nicarb should be added to starter feed at 125 ppm and to grower feed at 100 ppm and used until birds are 28-29 days of age.Blair claims some American ABF and organic farms use Nicarb year-round but one B.C. producer says he is not allowed to use it in his RWA (raised without antibiotics) chicken.While some antibiotics may still be used therapeutically, many products have been completely withdrawn. As a result, says retired B.C. Ministry of Agriculture poultry veterinarian Dr. Bill Cox, there is no longer any drug to treat blackhead in turkeys.To avoid blackhead, growers need to keep the birds as healthy as possible. Barns should be completely cleaned and disinfected between flocks to eliminate histamonids and sealed to prevent entry of earthworms, a primary vector for parasites. Just having a concrete floor is not a solution, the floor needs to be higher than the ground around it.Cox also discourages running turkey on pasture particularly if chicken have previously used it.“Birds on pasture are the greatest risk,” Cox says.To achieve good C&D, growers should do more than just blow down or air out their barns, says Merial Canada technical services veterinarian Louis Colulombe. He notes a dirty barn has up to 3,000,000 CFU (colony-forming units) of bacteria/square inch. Even after airing out the barn, 2,000,000 CFU’s remain. He advocates washing the barn with detergent and following that with a disinfectant to reduce the bacteria load to less than 1,000 CFU’s/sq. in. He encourages the use of a foaming detergent, as it sticks to walls longer and clearly shows the extent of the coverage. Concerns over the use of antimicrobials in food animals is driven by fears this will lead to resistance in humans but it is not just humans which could suffer the consequences of unbridled antibiotic use.“Using antibiotics is a selection process for E.coli,” says Zoetis veterinary services manager Babak Sanei. While E.coli can’t be eliminated in poultry, only a few are pathogenic. The most common result is cellulitis, now the number one reason for condemns in Canada.Another issue of concern is salmonella enteritidis (SE).“SE doesn’t make birds sick but it will make people sick,” says B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) public health veterinarian Melissa McLaws, claiming B.C. has the highest incidence of SE in the country. The BCCDC is working with the B.C. Ministries of Agriculture and Health and the poultry industry to develop a strategy to remove poor quality eggs from the marketplace. It is also adding SE-training to its FoodSafe program for food preparers and handlers.
The objective in vaccinating chickens against Campylobacter is to reduce intestinal colonization and contamination of chicken meat products. Existing experimental vaccines are not able to induce a sufficiently strong immune response, and provide no or little of protection against Campylobacter colonization. There is no commercially available vaccine against Campylobacter for chickens despite many attempts to develop one. A collaborative project between the laboratories of Prof. Shayan Sharif and Prof. Mario Monterio from the University of Guelph was initiated to try to develop an effective vaccine against Campylobacter in chickens. A prototype vaccine consisting of capsular carbohydrates of C. jejuni conjugated with a carrier (CPSconj) developed by Prof. Monterio, formed the basis of the vaccine development in the current study.  Prof. Mopnterios’ CPSconj carrier has previously shown efficacy in a primate model. The efficacy of vaccination for reducing C. jejuni colonization of chicken intestinal tissues was assessed. Three administered doses of the prepared CPSconj vaccine resulted in a detectable antibody response in 75 per cent of specific pathogen free birds.  Whereas vaccination of commercial broiler chicks resulted in a detectable antibody response in 33 per cent of orally challenged birds.  Overall, the in vivo findings show CPSconj vaccinated birds had significantly lower numbers of C. jejuni in intestinal tissue when compared to non-vaccinated birds.   The study went on to identify an immune response enhancer which is termed an “adjuvant”, with the specific capacity to induce immune responses in cells of the chicken intestine for inclusion in the prototype vaccine or as a stand-alone prophylactic compound.  In vitro studies demonstrated that adjuvant CpG-ODN elicited the highest activation of cell signaling molecules prevalent in immune responses and was therefore selected as the optimum mucosal vaccine adjuvant.  To target the selected adjuvant to the intestine of chickens and ensure slow release of the adjuvant at the site of infection, a delivery system based on encapsulating the adjuvant into specific nanoparticles was employed.  Results demonstrated that CpG-ODN administration reduced bacterial burden in the intestine and encapsulation of the CpG-ODN resulted in a greater decrease of bacterial burden in the chicken intestine. Overall, Dr. Sharif and his research team have demonstrated that it is possible to employ a subunit vaccine for reducing Campylobacter jejuni in chickens.  Additionally, the research team has provided evidence for CpG-ODN as a stand-alone anti-bacterial prophylactic strategy.    Dr. Sharif and his research team will continue to explore better ways for control of Campylobacter jejuni  through the use of vaccines, immune stimulants and probiotics.
Did you know that only 30 per cent of Canadians believe that the Canadian food system is heading in the right direction? And that 93 per cent of Canadians know little or nothing about Canadian farming practices? These findings, from recent research done by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, are alarming and should be of concern to everyone involved in the food system in Canada – from farmers, to processors, to retailers.What can we do about it and how can we get our message out?  The good news is that while many Canadians know little about farming, over 60 per cent indicated that they would like to know more. As farmers and the food industry, we have a huge opportunity to engage with Canadians and build trust in our food system.The task of getting our message out is extremely difficult. No one industry or organization can do the work that needs to be done; it has to be a collaborative effort. There are many excellent Canadian initiatives underway — each with a slightly different focus and mandate but each providing important tools to promote Canadian food, farmers, and agriculture.   Farm & Food Care, Agriculture More than Ever, and Agriculture in the Classroom, along with countless commodity specific programs all at various stages of their growth, are doing tremendous work in being agricultural advocates. Two months ago I was honoured to become chair of Farm & Food Care Canada.  For those who haven’t heard of this organization, it’s a framework of farmers, food companies, input suppliers, and associations created in 2011 with a mandate to provide credible information about food and farming in this country. Farm & Food Care Canada is also home to the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI). The CCFI will be another source of credible information on food and farming related issues — information and research that has been compiled by trusted professionals within the Canadian and U.S. food industries.One of the key elements related to the structure of Farm & Food Care Canada is the collaborative approach that it brings to the table. The ability to collaborate and work together with the groups mentioned above — and others — is unique and gives us a great opportunity to connect with consumers.As we move forward, it is critical that all of us involved in the Canadian food industry (yes, that includes farmers) must put our personal agendas and biases aside and work together to get the good news story out about Canada’s food system.  If we don’t tell our story, who is going to talk to the 60 per cent of Canadians that want to know more about farming?Over the last few years, we have seen some common farm practices — practices that we as farmers think are normal — come into the spotlight.  As a result, some poultry and hog farmers are facing the fact that they’ll have to adopt new, costly housing methods for their livestock and some crop farmers will have to adopt alternative methods to protect the seeds they plant.I can’t help but think that if there was a framework such as Farm & Food Care Canada 25 years ago, and if the average Canadian consumer had better access to accurate information, then maybe some of the challenges we face today could have been overcome. The work ahead is huge and we will not have success overnight.  However, the ground work that we lay together as a united agriculture and food industry today will help to ensure that the Canadian food system is trusted, healthy, sustainable, and robust for years to come.Ian McKillop is the Chair of Food & Farm Care Canada, a coalition of farmers, associations and businesses proactively working together with a commitment to provide credible information and strengthen sustainable food and farming for the future. McKillop is a fifth-generation egg, beef and grain farmer in Elgin County, Ontario and has a proven track record for leadership. He has been a board member of Farm & Food Care Ontario since its inception in 2010, while balancing his time on his busy farm with his young family. McKillop served as a board member for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association for five years, and chaired the National Farm Animal Care Council’s Beef Cattle Codes of Practice committee. He also served as president of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association between 2005 and 2008.
September 1, 2016 - The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in a wild mallard duck from a state wildlife refuge near Fairbanks, Alaska. READ MORE
July 10, 2016 - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has set up a quarantine zone after low-path H5N2 avian influenza was detected in southern Ontario. The CFIA says a quarantine zone covering a three-kilometre radius has been placed near St. Catharines. The agency says bird flu hasn't been detected anywhere else in the quarantine zone, but officials say they're monitoring for any spread of the disease.  Currently 23 premises are quarantined, however only one commercial/regulated broiler chicken farm is in within the quarantine zone besides the AI positive duck flock. The other quarantined premises are small and/or unregulated flocks.   Trace out to three other high risk contact flocks (from the positive farm) has been completed and those flocks have tested negative.    The Feather Board Command Centre have asked Ontario poultry industry stakeholders to use heightened biosecurity measures if it is necessary to enter into this area. Heightened biosecurity measures include (but are not limited to): • wearing boots, protection suits, hats and gloves/hand washing; • ensuring that all deliveries/loading should be the last on the route; and • washing and disinfecting the truck’s undercarriage and steps before proceeding with any other delivery/loading. Should you become aware of health concerns in a flock(s), please advise the farmer to contact a veterinarian, as well as their Board or call 1-877-SOS-BYRD. 
  Board of Directors ChangesCPRC held its Annual General Meeting in March followed by a meeting of the board of directors. Two new directors joined the board replacing long-time directors who had decided to step down. Roelof Meijer, an eight-year board member representing Turkey Farmers of Canada (TFC) and chair for the past three years, was replaced by Brian Ricker from Ontario.  Cheryl Firby, the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers (CHEP) board member has been replaced by Murray Klassen from Manitoba. Tim Keet (Chicken Farmers of Canada) was elected chair with Helen Anne Hudson (Egg Farmers of Canada) elected vice-chair. Erica Charlton (Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council) was elected as a member of the executive committee along with the chair and vice-chair. Poultry Science ClusterThe Poultry Science Cluster, co-funded between industry, provincial governments and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has completed year three of its five-year research plan.  The cluster, the second that CPRC has administered, is a $5.6 million program with $4 million from AAFC and the balance from industry and provincial governments.  Seventeen research projects in four categories make up the cluster, details of which can be found at www.cp-rc.ca/poultry-science-cluster-2/. The Poultry Science Cluster runs from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2018 and some research projects are being completed. Two projects were scheduled to be completed by March 31, 2016, and are winding up with final analysis and reporting underway. Ten projects are scheduled to be complete by the end of March 2017 with the final five projects being completed by the end of the cluster in March 2018. Poultry Research Strategy UpdateCPRC has begun a process to update the 2012 document National Research Strategy for Canada’s Poultry Sector, which formed the basis for much of the research structure of the Poultry Science Cluster. While much of the strategy remains relevant many of the research priorities identified have evolved and new issues have become important to the poultry industry. Two new priority areas, climate change impacts and precision agriculture, were added to this year’s CPRC call for Letters of Intent. The strategy update is designed to validate and/or amend priorities from the 2012 document and to identify new priority areas since 2012. Issues that may be on the horizon but have not yet become poultry research initiatives will also be identified. The update will seek input from producers through the national and provincial representative organizations, scientific community including university and government, and other industry stakeholder organizations representing a broad range of value-chain members. Consultations will include surveys and webinars to gather information as well as to seek feedback on the updated strategy as it is developed. Target completion of the research strategy is early in 2017 so it can be used as the basis for a new application if a third science cluster program is included in the next federal-provincial agreement upon the expiry of the current Growing Forward 2 initiative. New CPRC WebsiteThe April CPRC Update announced that CPRC has a new website. Changing a website is a lot more than having someone do a new design. All of the material on the website has to be reviewed and decisions made on what should stay, what should go and new material that should be added. An important part of the CPRC website is the research summaries that are posted on all CPRC co-funded projects. A review of those summaries indicated that there were several formats being used, particularly during the last several years, and some project summaries had been missed. A format was adopted, very similar to one of those that had been used, and CPRC has reviewed all summaries, and edited them as necessary, to ensure consistency in presentation. 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, Ontario, 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.        
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.
Every day nearly 62,000 cockerels are culled in Canada. That’s 22.5 million birds each year. While the number sounds shocking, it is the harsh and unavoidable reality of Canada’s egg industry. In the developed world, that number reaches over a billion chicks. The birds that commercial egg farms purchase are bred specifically for egg, not meat, production, which means that while the females are highly coveted, male chicks have absolutely no value.This is not only a serious animal welfare issue, but also an issue of waste. But technology developed by the Egg Research Development Foundation (ERDF) could change all that. Hatcheries in Canada run a tough business. According to Tim Nelson, Chief Executive Officer of the Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC), when you take into consideration their losses, they run at 50 per cent efficiency. For one, some 10–15 per cent of all eggs are infertile, and hatcheries are forced to dispose of them as waste. Of those that do hatch, cockerels make up 50 per cent.  The chick must then be identified, culled and disposed of by the hatchery. On top of the waste and animal welfare issues this raises, the hatchery must foot the bill for their incubation, as well as the labour and energy associated with raising them. In 2007, the industry started working towards a solution. Egg Farmers of Ontario (EFO) has been funding research for a new technology, tentatively called “Hypereye,” that uses hyperspectral imaging to identify infertility and gender in day-of-lay eggs. If successful, Hypereye could be a game changer for Canada’s egg industry. Hypereye uses spectroscopy, which is technology that allows hatchery personnel to identify eggs that are infertile. More importantly, though, it allows them to determine gender of the day of lay. Since day-of-lay eggs are essentially the same as regular table eggs, early identification could mean a new source of eggs. The potential, said Nelson, is huge.Dr. Michael Ngadi, a food and bioprocess engineer at McGill University, is the head researcher on the project. In a recent interview, he explained how the Canadian technology differs from similar technology being developed around the world. A team in Germany, he said, is also using spectroscopy, although their approach is much different.“We combine spectro-image data, so that’s why we call it the hyperspectral imaging,” explained Ngadi. “It’s a combination of broad spectral image signatures that we get from the egg. Then we put that through a fairly complex mathematical analysis where we are using some deep learning techniques to identify or relate those spectral and image data to the specific attributes that we are looking at – in this case, whether it is fertile or not and whether it is male or female.”Dr. Ngadi said that they have chosen not to go into the infrared range for a number of reasons, mostly because he doesn’t see it as commercially feasible to operate at that wavelength. “Also because you will not be able to get an image at that wavelength,” he added. Hypereye is almost ready for market. In fact, Nelson said that it could be ready as early as mid-2017. At present, the bench-scale model operates at an accuracy of 99 per cent. On a commercial scale, Hypereye must be able to process 30,000–50,000 eggs per hour. Currently, it’s nowhere near that speed, said Nelson, although he’s confident that speed won’t be an issue. “It’s just a case of ramping up the software,” he said. “Speed is important, but accuracy is more important. Right now we’re not worried about speed.”The Poultry Industry Council in Ontario first provided funding for the project in 2007. Preliminary results were so successful that EFO decided to invest in further research, which is now being conducted through the McGill University in Montreal.Currently, ERDF is looking for a qualified commercial partner who will assist taking the technology into production, and then market and service it around the world. ERDF believes that there will be considerable interest in the technology, especially since the approach they take keeps the eggs intact. Other systems, explained Nelson, involve invasive DNA testing. Not only is DNA testing time consuming, but it also requires putting a hole in the egg. There is greater risk of contaminating the eggs with bacteria and transmitting disease between eggs, and partially incubated male eggs and incubated infertile eggs have to be destroyed. Since Hypereye will enable hatcheries to determine gender and infertility on the day of lay, eggs need not be wasted. Theoretically, said Nelson, the egg industry could take a large number of hens out of production. This is unlikely, though, especially as new egg markets are opening up. One such market, said Nelson, is the pharmaceutical industry. In recent years, EFO committed $1 million to Relidep, an antidepressant drug that requires thousands of fertile eggs each day. Nelson said the food processing market will take them as well. Harry Pelissero, EFO’s general manager, says Canadian egg producers need not worry about production loss. “The non-female eggs could be used either for other uses such as table or breaker markets, vaccine egg production or for production of anti-depressants,” he said. “Given the ever-increasing use of eggs as a source of protein, existing egg farmers should not be worried about any reduction of egg production as a result of the implementation of this process.”While the announcement is an exciting one for the industry, it could be a while before Hypereye is available commercially for large-scale operations. “There are a whole lot of variables in the industry that we need to account for when we are actually putting this thing out there,” said Nelson. “Age of flock may make a difference, what the flock’s being fed may make a difference, and genetics of the flock may make a difference. So there’s a whole lot of things we have to take into account.”The long and the short of it, though, is that the technology is there. “And because this is day-one and because it’s non-intrusive, it’s really important technology,” said Nelson.Pelissero agreed. “We are getting closer to building a prototype, testing and will be in a position begin to take orders within the next two years,” he concluded.
Dec. 5, 2016 - It turns out birds have a flu season too. After years of studying the role of wild birds in outbreaks of avian influenza in domestic poultry flocks, one of Canada’s top public sector veterinarians says the bottom line is farmers need to take precaution in the fall. John Pasick is the national veterinary science authority for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and he says there’s an annual rhythm to infections. Much like humans tend to suffer more in the fall when kids return to the Petri dish of schools, birds spread disease in the fall during migration.“The main message from our research is for farmers to maintain good biosecurity measures in the fall when the birds are migrating,” Pasick said in a recent interview. “Pay close attention to every detail during that time because domestic flocks have little natural immunity to diseases.” | READ MORE.
Dec. 7, 2016 - Poultry across England, Scotland and Wales have been forced indoors as a precaution after announcements by the Chief Veterinary Officers of the countries of avian influenza prevention zones.The requirements aim to protect poultry from a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza which has been spreading around Europe recently. Housing birds is more of an issue for free range producers, but they will retain the ability to market their eggs as free range for the duration of the order. | READ MORE.
Nov. 30, 2016 - A local company has developed an electronic logbook system that can help the livestock industry quickly and easily track movement on and off farms – information that is absolutely critical for preventing or minimizing costly disease outbreaks. Currently, a paper-based visitor register is the global standard for keeping track of who entered or left a farm property at what time and where they’d been previously. A manual system is slow and leaves room for error, however, neither of which is helpful during a disease emergency, especially in the early days when spread can still be prevented or contained.“It’s not just livestock that are affected by catastrophic disease outbreaks, it’s just as important for crop and horticulture growers to keep unclean vehicles moving from farm to farm,” says Tim Nelson, CEO of Be Seen Be Safe Ltd. “Uncontrolled disease populations increase exponentially and that’s why control is so important.” Be Seen Be Safe uses predetermined geo-fence boundaries around a farm business to automatically record movements on and off the property, either through a mobile phone app or an in-vehicle GPS system used by the individual accessing or leaving the premises. Property owners can download and review their electronic visitor records using a personal login; no movements outside of the pre-determined geo-fence around the property are recorded. The information is collated and analysed to predict disease spread, and can then be used to electronically contact people within the surrounding area of a possible outbreak, a process that currently is done manually. It runs in tandem with the company’s customizable Farm Health Monitor software, which lets farm staff record clinical signs of disease on-farm before there is a formal diagnosis as part of regular or special herd visits. The software also allows for inventory management of antibiotics on-farm, by letting users record both purchase and actual use of antimicrobials. “This is a proactive decision support tool for farmers,” explains Nelson. “The Farm Health Monitor gives you the clinical signs, Be Seen Be Safe provides the movement, and when you overlay the weather on a network of properties, you can start to show risk that you can alert people to.” “Everybody is worried about catastrophic diseases, but this is also powerful for production-limiting diseases that can be carried from farm to farm,” he adds. “If livestock and poultry sectors start to see cost benefit from this because it is reducing the rate of production-limiting illness, people will get used to observing and preventing instead of diagnosing and treating disease.”First steps have been taken to build a farm sector-led biosecurity community with the hosting of a successful information day in Guelph recently. The system is being trialed in the Ontario poultry industry, as well as with large poultry integrators in the United States, and an agreement is in place with a Spanish partner to roll it out to the swine industry in the European Union. A pilot is also underway with the wine industry in Australia to track the spread of fomites, which can carry disease.Be Seen Be Safe has received support from the Bioenterprise Seed Funding program funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. The Ontario poultry industry trials are supported in part through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.
Dr. Elijah Kiarie is a newly appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal Bio–sciences at the University of Guelph. Dr. Kiarie has recently secured partial funding for two research projects and will be investigating the optimal feed structure for pullets. His research will be designed to investigate optimal feed structure (by using oat hulls and limestone particle size) for enhanced gut and skeletal development in pullets and subsequent effects on egg production, hen bone health and integrity and livability.Oat hullsModern layer diets have been refined to improve intake and efficiency. The implications of these strategies are diets with low fiber and overall structure.  Poultry require a certain amount of fiber for optimal development and physiology of the gastrointestinal tract. Low fiber diets have negative consequences on the development and functioning of the gut, particularly the gizzard. Addition of insoluble fiber could be a practical solution of increasing diet structure.  In an interview, Dr. Kiarie explained the problem at hand. “It remains unknown whether it is beneficial to introduce fiber at the rearing phase or laying phase, or indeed both phases,” he said.   “Modern pullets have a propensity to reduce intake at the onset of lay. Stimulation of gut development at the pullet phase may lead to birds with improved appetite for satisfactory laying phase performance,” he said. “This may be particularly strategic for alternative housing where the birds may have increased nutrient requirements over and above normal maintenance and still meeting the requirements for egg production.”Diets will be designed with oat hulls to create feed structure and fed to pullets throughout the grow-out period. During the laying phase, birds will be maintained on diets with or without the addition of oat hull. Gut and skeletal development will be evaluated during the grow-out phase and egg production and quality will be measured during the laying phase.  Limestone particle sizeProper skeletal development is essential for high levels of egg production in all poultry housing systems.  “Studies to improve skeletal health often focus on manipulating the birds’ environment and nutrition during the layer phase.  Unfortunately, at this phase it might already be too late to improve bone quality,” Dr. Kiarie explained.  “Earlier interventions by stimulating bone development at pullet stage could lead to a bird with sound skeletal structure for satisfactory laying phase performance in alternative housing.”  “Pullets undergo fast bone formation during rearing, and nutritional strategies during this phase could have a major impact on bone quality and skeletal integrity of hens,” he added.  The proposed research will evaluate the effect of limestone particle size on pullet skeletal development and subsequent effects on layer performance, bone health and integrity in hens housed in conventional and furnished cages.  Dr. Kiarie said the limestone particle size will be used as a method of manipulating the calcium supply form to create feed structure. Diets differing in limestone particle sizes will be formulated and fed to pullets throughout the grow-out period. During the laying phase, bird diets will be maintained in conventional and furnished cage housing systems. Skeletal development will be evaluated during the grow-out phase.  Egg production and quality and bone health and integrity will be measured during the laying phase.   “The long term objective is to explore nutritional means to improve gut health and function, skeletal integrity and feed utilization in pullets and layers,” said Dr. Kiarie in describing the anticipated outcomes of these studies. “Research results will be directly transferred into practice through partnerships with feed manufacturers and allied industries that serve the Canadian egg producers.”Components of this research will be funded by the Egg Farmers of Ontario,  Egg Farmers of Canada, and the Canadian Poultry Research Council.
Fortune magazine in September took a deep dive into the cage-free egg movement, chronicling how McDonald’s made its decision to go cage-free and the company’s prospects for being able to follow through on its pledge.McDonald’s announcement a year ago spurred a tidal wave through the food industry. Around 200 companies, including every major fast food chain and many major brands, have said they will go cage-free. Most of them target 2025 for completing the transition.The Fortune article cites results from Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) research that examined three different hen housing systems – conventional cage, enriched colony and cage-free – and concluded there are positive and negative trade-offs with each.Food beat writer Beth Kowitt cites that the CSES study considered the housing systems as a whole – worker health, animal health, food affordability, food safety and environmental impact, while activist groups focus solely on animal welfare. An excerpt: In the end, science wasn’t the deciding factor. The study intentionally excluded one component – consumer sentiment – and that turned out to be the most important of all. The phrase “enriched cage” means nothing to the average person. So if McDonald’s had shifted to that option, it wouldn’t get any credit from consumers. “Science was telling us enriched, but when talking with the consumer, they had no clue what enriched was,” says Hugues Labrecque, who runs the egg business that serves McDonald’s at Cargill. Once that became clear, cage-free became the inevitable consensus.In a Forbes op-ed, contributor Steve Banker, who covers logistics and supply chain management, cites the Fortune article and analyzes what will have to happen in the marketplace in order for McDonald’s to meet its cage-free commitment by 2025. He concludes, “McDonald’s shows us that companies have a chance to do ‘good,’ where ‘good’ is defined in a way that resonates with their customer base….”In a Forbes article back in May, “Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert noted there currently is no United States Department of Agriculture legal definition for “cage-free” and that, “…transparency of what the term actually means will anger many as they discover their imagery of a happy-go-lucky hen running through the field is far from the truth.”People with strong feelings about hen housing tend to bypass scientific studies such as that conducted by CSES. Food companies want to give customers what they want regardless of the science.There are a number of barriers to consumers integrating scientific information into their decision-making process. The influence of group values, confirmation bias, scientific illiteracy, the tribal nature of online communication and other factors all pose challenges to successfully introducing technical information into the social conversation about food and agriculture.Many of the barriers can be overcome by following the formula developed through CFI’s research. Establishing shared values opens the door for technical information to be introduced into the conversation. It begins by first identifying and then communicating values from a credible messenger.  Only then can incorporating technical information be viewed as trustworthy, building on a message platform that encourages informed decision-making.Building trust is a process. Authentic transparency and continued engagement will encourage objective evaluation of scientific information that supports informed decision-making. Encouraging informed decision-making requires meeting people in the communities where the discussions are taking place, acknowledging their scepticism and committing to long-term engagement.The Center for Food IntegrityCFI is a not-for-profit organization whose members and project partners represent the diversity of today’s food system, from farmers and food companies to universities, non-governmental organizations to retailers and food processors.Visit foodintegrity.org for more information.
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.
Dec. 2, 2016 - Each year the Canadian Animal Health Coalition (CAHC) presents the Carl Block Award to an individual nominated by his or her peers for outstanding contributions in the field of livestock animal health. This award is in memory of Carl Block, who was chair of the CAHC when he passed away as the result of a small plane crash in May 2002. The CAHC has named Dr. Grant Maxie of Puslinch, Ont. as this year’s recipient of the award.  Through his hard work and dedication, Dr. Maxie has made many significant contributions to the Canadian animal health industry.  Maxie has been integrally involved in the laboratory management and surveillance scene both in Canada and internationally over his distinguished career. Since 1997 he has been Director of the Animal Health Laboratory (AHL), University of Guelph and since 2007 co-executive director of laboratory services, University of Guelph. In these positions he has provided leadership in several national diagnostic and surveillance initiatives.  Most recently, he has lead the Animal Health Lab and provided guidance to industry through the recent PEDV and Avian Influenza outbreaks in Ontario. He is the project chair for the Disease Surveillance Plan 2013- 2018, an Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs project, administered by AHL that has enhanced the conduct of disease surveillance in Ontario and has contributed nationally as well. Accompanying Maxie’s nomination for the Carl Block Award were several letters of support from both Canadian and international bodies, which is a testament to his influence globally. In a news release, CAHC says that considering that the primary criteria to receive the Carl Block Award is that recipients demonstrate leadership, commitment and passion for enhancing animal agriculture in Canada, it is easily apparent why Grant Maxie is the 2016 recipient.
Nov. 28, 2016 - Cara Operations Limited has announced that it has successfully completed the St-Hubert acquisition.  The company first announced on March 31, 2016, that it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 100 per cent of Group St-Hubert, Quebec's leading full-service restaurant operator as well as a fully-integrated food manufacturer for $537 million. 
Jean-Pierre Léger, the outgoing chairman and CEO of St-Hubert commented, "I'm proud of the St-Hubert legacy and confident that this new alliance with Cara will open up opportunities for St-Hubert associates as well as new possibilities, both inside and outside of Quebec, for the St-Hubert business". 
Cara's chief executive officer, Bill Gregson, said, "This acquisition represents a historic alliance and an excellent strategic fit for both companies. It gives St-Hubert the opportunity to expand its restaurant network as well as to drive a national retail food program on behalf of Cara, leveraging St-Hubert's existing management, Quebec manufacturing facilities and supplier network".
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.”
The Canadian Poultry Research Council, (CPRC) completed its 2016 funding process at the board of directors’ June meeting by providing funding approval for seven research projects that address several poultry industry priorities.  Final approval for some projects is based on the researchers securing full funding for their proposed research projects, while other projects are fully funded and ready to commence. The board also awarded the 2016 Postgraduate Scholarship.  Both the 2016 funding process and Postgraduate Scholarship were extremely difficult tasks, given the high caliber of the applicants.LAYERS AND BROILERSThree projects that received funding support from CPRC precisely address the layer, broiler and broiler breeder industries directly. Elijah Kiarie, a newly appointed assistant professor at the University of Guelph (UofG) will perform research investigating the optimal feed structure for promoting pullet gut and skeletal development for enhanced layers productivity. This study will determine the comparative effects of introducing diet structure at pullet and/or laying phases to test the hypothesis that introduction of diet structure in pullet rearing is beneficial to layer hen productivity.  Doug Korver at the University of Alberta will research the effect of barn sanitation on performance, microbiological and processing traits of commercial broilers.  The research project will provide an understanding of the linkages between barn sanitation, innate immune activation, broiler productivity and processing traits, food safety and a thorough economic analysis of those characteristics.  Martine Boulianne at the University of Montreal will perform a broiler breeder national survey on food-borne pathogen prevalence, antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial use.  This study will fill knowledge gaps in understanding the ecology of enteric organisms and antimicrobial resistant organisms and antimicrobial use in broiler chickens in Canada.POULTRY HEALTHThe remaining four research projects encompass poultry health, a major industry priority. Douglas Inglis, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientist, will conduct research on alternatives to antibiotics using a novel symbiotic technology to mitigate enteric inflammatory disease.  The project objective is to develop tailored probiotics as a non-antibiotic treatment for these enteric inflammatory diseases.  Juan Carlos Rodrigues-Lecompte, an associate professor at the University of Prince Edward Island, will investigate nutritional regulation of genes associated with avian B cell receptors involved in innate and adaptive immunity.  The overall objective of this research is to establish a chicken model of nutritional intervention to regulate immunity through nutrients.  Shayan Sharif, also at the UofG, will perform research to determine if it is possible to control avian influenza (AI) virus transmission among poultry.  Avian influenza viruses are of great importance to poultry health and viability of the poultry industry in Canada and across the globe.  The research involves development of vaccine formulations that can effectively control virus shedding.  Another novel aspect of this research is combining experimental findings with modeling and cost-benefit analysis to inform decisions in regard to control measures against AI.  Joenel Alcantara, an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Calgary, will research an inexpensive plant-derived multi-component vaccine for poultry coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis.  The research aims at expressing these components in plant organisms to reduce the cost of isolating the antigens from their native hosts.SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONSSeveral strong applications were received for the 2016 CPRC Postgraduate Scholarship.  Charlene Hanlon, UofG graduate student under the supervision of Grégoy Bédécarrats, was selected by the CPRC board of directors as this year’s scholarship recipient.  Her research objectives are to clarify the dynamics of the reproductive system in layer hens and apply these findings to promote better management of pullets and adult birds.  Specifically, her studies will determine the factors behind the early start and extended laying period observed in commercial hens.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 cp-rc.ca.
In 2007, when Dr. Michael Ngadi at McGill University developed a way of predicting chicken egg hatchability using hyperspectral imaging with 95 percent accuracy, no one noticed. Three years later an article appeared in a magazine asking, what happened to that research? No one answered.But in 2012, public concerns with chick maceration changed the question: could this technology determine the gender of the chick? No one had thought to ask until then, but the Egg Farmers of Ontario (EFO) decided to invest $50K to find out.“It’s a testimony to funding early research,” said Tim Nelson, CEO of the Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC), a Guelph-based organization that acts as a catalyst to enable cross-disciplinary and cross-sectorial research.Speaking to the Poultry Industry Council’s 2016 Poultry Health Day in Stratford, Ont., Nelson used Ngadi’s research as a prime example of how a piece of research can surface and become useful when exposed to the right timing and conditions. By 2014, the technology had been developed to a point of 99 per cent accuracy of predicting gender at time of lay and almost 98 per cent accuracy of predicting fertility. Not only did this reduce waste, it also reduces the carbon footprint. “Every egg is useful,” said Nelson. The male eggs don’t have to be incubated, saving energy, and they’re still fresh enough to use in food service. For tom turkeys the cost effective sex separation could mean huge incubation and feeding advantages. The camera is non-intrusive, meaning no risk of contamination or disease transmission during testing.In the summer of 2015 this project started “getting serious”, said Nelson, as the discussions and legal agreements swirled towards commercialization. “It takes a lot of time…longer than you think.” The inventor of the technology had to negotiate intellectual property agreements and royalties with his team, McGill University, and the EFO. The sensitive equipment capable of scrutinizing 30,000 eggs per hour was also picking up electrical interference, while the hatching equipment itself was developed in South Africa and required approval from the CSA. The PIC funded the original research; funding sources expanded to include further support from the EFO and the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC).On May 28, 2016, an excited Dr. Ngadi e-mailed Nelson to announce that the prototype would soon be ready to begin industrial trials, and a partnership is being established with an EU organization to further develop and distribute the technology as the project partners seek worldwide distribution. “It’s off the bench now,” said Nelson.
Unless you’ve had your head in the sand for the last 30 years, you know producers of food now have to pay a lot more attention to what the end consumer wants than perhaps they did in the past. The fact that it may cost more to produce a commodity if the animal is housed differently is of little concern to Joe Shopper. What he or she wants to do is make a “feel-good” purchase.
February 9, 2017 – The global poultry probiotics market size was estimated at over $750 million (US) in 2015 and is likely to be valued at $1.2 billion (US) by 2023, according to Global Market Insights. The global probiotic ingredients market size is likely to cross $46 billion (US) by 2020. North America, especially the U.S. probiotics market for poultry, is likely to grow at steady rates owing to increase in meat consumption, particularly chicken. Europe is also likely to grow at steady rates owing to ban on antibiotic feed supplements. Asia Pacific probiotics market is likely to grow owing to increase in awareness of benefits in meat production. Globally, antibiotics are used to prevent poultry diseases and pathogens required for improving egg and meat production. Dietary antibiotics used in poultry applications have encountered some problems such as drug residues in bird bodies, drug resistant bacteria development, and microflora imbalance. Increasing application in poultry market is likely to counter the aforementioned factors and promote demand over the forecast period. Probiotic species belonging to Bacillus, Streptococcus, Lactobacillus, Enterococcus, Bifidobacterium, Candida, Saccharomyces and Aspergillus are used in poultry applications and are expected to have beneficial effects on broiler performance. Poultry feed accounts for almost 70 per cent of the total production cost and, therefore, it is necessary to improve feed efficiency with minimum cost. In the poultry industry, chicks are subjected to microflora environment and may get infected. Broiler chickens can also succumb to stress owing to production pressure. Under such a scenario, synthetic antimicrobial agents and antibiotics are used to alleviate stress and improve feed efficiency. However, antibiotics in poultry applications are becoming undesirable owing to residues in meat products and development of antibiotic resistant properties. Europe has banned use of antibiotics as a growth-promoting agent in poultry application owing to several negative effects. These aforementioned factors are expected to drive probiotics demand in the poultry market. Antibiotics failure to treat human diseases effectively has led the European Union (EU) to ban low doses of antibiotics in animal feed. This factor has also led the U.S. government officials to restrict antibiotics use in animal feed. Poultry probiotics products are available in the form of power and liquid feed supplements. Commercial products in the market may be comprised of a single strain of bacteria or single strain of yeast or a mixture of both. Chicks/broilers/layers require a dose of around 0.5 kg per ton of feed whereas breeders require close to 1 kg per ton of feed. The global probiotics market share is fragmented with the top five companies catering to more than 35 per cent of the total demand. Major companies include Danone, Yakult, Nestle and Chr Hansen. Other prominent manufacturers include Danisco, BioGaia, Arla Foods, General Mills, Bilogics AB, DuPont, DSM and ConAgra.
Jan. 27, 2017 - Canada's 150th anniversary is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the historical role of farmers in growing our nation. The Canada's Farmers Grow Communities program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, provides yet another opportunity for Canadian farmers to strengthen their communities by nominating their favourite local charities to win grants of $2,500.Over the first five years of the program, more than 300 rural charities have received almost $1 million thanks to farmers. The fascinating stories of the farmers, the charities and their connections to the community paint a colourful portrait of rural Canada which will now be shared on the Canada's Farmers Grow Communities blog."Farmers are often unsung heroes in Canadian history," says Kelly Funke, public affairs manager for Monsanto Canada. "But farmers deserve credit for their contributions. That's why we created this program, and why we've now added a blog to our website to further highlight the stories behind the farmer heroes and their chosen charities."The list of charities can include almost any non-profit organization based in rural Canada. Winners have included 4H clubs; rural daycares; libraries; volunteer fire departments; hospitals; schools; ag societies; senior centres; and other community facilities.Farmers who are considering an application are encouraged to visit the Canada's Farmers blog at http://canadasfarmers.ca/blog/ for inspiration and to think about their own local charities or non-profit organizations. It takes just five minutes to apply and be entered into the random draw.Once again in 2017, two $2,500 grants will be awarded in each of 33 different territories across the grain growing regions of northeastern B.C. (Peace River district), Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces. Applications are open now through September 30, 2017. And anyone can suggest a charity for a farmer to discover! Simply visit www.CanadasFarmers.ca where complete contest rules and an online application form are available. Winners will be selected by random draw on or about Nov. 1, 2017 and notified by Nov. 15, 2017.
Jan. 25, 2017 - 4-H Canada and Syngenta Canada are pleased to announce the national winners of the Proud to Bee a 4-H’er video contest. 4-H’ers from across Canada were asked to create a short video, either as a club or as individuals, demonstrating their pride in being a part of the 4-H program and reflecting the wide variety of Canadian 4-H clubs, projects, communities and age groups.The videos submitted during the contest entry period in November—coinciding with National 4-H Month—highlighted the common values and central experience of 4-H in building responsible, caring and contributing young leaders, and the sense of pride and accomplishment they all feel as 4-H’ers. “Congratulations to all of the winning 4-H clubs and 4-H members who did such a wonderful job of showing their enthusiasm and excitement for 4-H in their videos, making this contest a great success,” said Shannon Benner, CEO of 4-H Canada.  “Thanks to Syngenta and the Proud to Bee a 4-H’er initiative, 4-H youth across Canada have had incredible opportunities to grow their knowledge of the important work of pollinators and show leadership in their communities by supporting the creation of pollinator-friendly habitats.”    Approximately 3,800 votes were cast during the online public voting period. The winning entry received a GoPro HERO5 camera. The first and second runner-up entries each received an Apple iPad mini 2 and the remaining top ten entries received a selfie stick. Each of the top ten entries also received 4-H Canada branded items to continue displaying their 4-H pride in their communities. Proud to Bee a 4-H’er – Winning Video Entries 1st place - The Pas Helping Hands  / 4-H Manitoba 2nd place - Aidan Tully / 4-H Manitoba 3rd place - Colton Skori / 4-H Alberta 4th place - Comox Valley 4-H Calf Club / 4-H British Columbia 5th place - Boots N Bridles 4-H Club / 4-H British Columbia 6th place - Irishtown 4-H Club / 4-H New Brunswick 7th place - Caroline Carpenter / 4-H New Brunswick 8th place - 4-W 4-H Club / 4-H Alberta 9th place - Hillmond 4-H Beef Club / 4-H Saskatchewan 10th place - Jocelyn Kerr / 4-H British Columbia This fun and engaging video contest wrapped up the third year of Proud to Bee a 4-H’er, a national initiative encouraging 4-H club members to learn about the amazing world of bees and other pollinators, which includes planting and tending pollinator-friendly gardens in their communities. Since 2014, close to 100,000 seed packets have been distributed across Canada, through the generous support of Syngenta, giving 4-H’ers and others the opportunity to create pollinator-friendly habitats and to enjoy the outdoors.“The addition of the Proud to Bee a 4-H’er video contest in 2016 was a fun and fitting way to cap off a successful year of activities that saw more than 120 4-H Canada clubs from coast-to-coast-to-coast support the important work of pollinators. The enthusiasm that 4-H’ers brought to their Proud to Bee a 4-H’er activities was on full display in their video submissions,” says Dr. Paul Hoekstra, Stewardship and Policy Manager with Syngenta Canada. Syngenta support for Proud to Bee a 4-H’er is through its Operation Pollinator program, which is focused on research and other initiatives that contribute to enhanced biodiversity and habitat in support of healthy pollinator populations. To watch the winning videos, please visit www.youtube.com/4HCanada.
Jan. 25, 2017-  An Independent Agri-Food Policy Note released today by Agri-Food Economic Systems explores the expanding trade policy agenda now facing Canadian agri-food as the trade agenda of the Trump Administration and other factors become evident.“Not that long ago we thought the major sources of uncertainty dogging Canadian agri-food trade had been resolved”, says Al Mussell, Agri-Food Economic Systems research lead and co-author of the policy note. “That is quickly being proved wrong.  We had not expected US trade policy to turn protectionist, and in the interim a number of other major trade issues have arisen”.The policy note takes stock of the range of developments in US trade policy under the new Trump Administration, the implications and alternatives for Canadian agri-food, and the consequent demands on trade and domestic agricultural policy. It highlights both bilateral shifts and multilateral issues that will reshape domestic and trade policy and require Canadian attention.      “We face a problem of breadth and depth”, says Douglas Hedley, Agri-Food Economic Systems associate and co-author of the policy note. “The sheer number of prospective trade complaints and defensive actions coming from the US could swamp our capacity to effectively analyze and mount a successful defense; this may be a strategy of the new US administration”.  Mussell says, “a retrenchment of the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, potential renegotiation of NAFTA, a prospective US border tax, and US trade complaints raised against Canada will drive Canada to consider alternative markets.  This puts more pressure on CETA and prospective new trade agreements with Japan, China, and perhaps others to provide markets for our agri-food products.  It will also require alignment between domestic agricultural policy and this new trade environment”.“At the same time, a WTO Ministerial meeting is scheduled for later this year, in which domestic support for agriculture is likely to be a key element," Hedley adds.  Canada will be pressed to advance its agenda for reduced agricultural support globally and to deal with its own sensitivities.  This will further draw upon our trade policy capacity”.       The Independent Agri-Food Policy Note can be accessed at www.agrifoodecon.ca.
Jan. 24, 2017 - The single biggest labour challenge for the dairy, poultry and egg commodities will be finding skilled and experienced farm managers, including owner-operators. For these commodities, management and ownership jobs account for almost two-thirds of the current workforce, and between now and 2025, they will account for the majority of the jobs going unfilled due to a lack of domestic workers. The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) has completed a three-year study and released the Dairy: Labour Market Forecast to 2025 and Poultry and Egg: Labour Market Forecast to 2025. These studies examine two of Canada’s most significant agricultural industries, which together account for 55,500 jobs, or 15 per cent of the total agricultural workforce. Through consolidation, automation and other efficiencies, the dairy-cattle industry has shed more than a third of its workers since 2009, employing 39,900 as of 2014. However, despite this reduction in the size of the workforce, an additional 3,400 jobs went unfilled due to a lack of available domestic workers. This labour shortfall cost an estimated $71 million in lost sales. While the labour demand is expected to continue to decline as a result of a stable market for the industry’s products, the labour supply is also predicted to shrink. As a result, the industry will continue to experience a labour shortage, with manager and owner-operator jobs at the greatest risk of going unfilled. Of the 1,100 jobs forecasted to go unfilled by 2025, 90 per cent will be jobs at the manager and owner-operator level, which will result in a skills shortage as well as a labour shortage. For the poultry and egg industry, the research included farm operations engaged in breeding, hatching and raising poultry for meat or egg production, including chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pheasants, partridges and pigeons. Similar to the dairy industry, a leveling of demand for poultry and egg production and improved industry productivity will limit the demand for labour, while a shrinking supply of domestic labour will widen the industry labour gap. In 2014, 15,600 people were employed in the poultry and egg industry and an additional 250 jobs went unfilled due to a lack of domestic labour. These shortages cost the industry an estimated $6 million in lost sales. By 2025, 15,900 workers will be required, and 1,100 jobs are at risk of going unfilled. As with the dairy-cattle industry, manager and owner-operator jobs will be the most difficult to fill. Both industries will be significantly impacted by retirement, with nearly one-third of the dairy workforce and nearly one-quarter of the poultry and egg workforce expected to retire by 2025. Finding Canadian workers with the right skills and experience is the greatest barrier to recruitment for both industries, despite the fact that they often offer attractive work conditions, including full-time, year-round employment located relatively close to urban centres. Both industries also have voluntary turnover rates that are below the sector average, which means that fewer employees choose to leave their jobs. Unless these industries can find additional sources of labour with the right skills and experience, they will suffer from a critical gap at the managerial and leadership levels that could inhibit their ability to thrive. To address the labour issues identified in the research, CAHRC has developed agriculture-specific human resource (HR) tools designed to support modern farm operations to manage their workforce. CAHRC offers Agri Skills, online and in-person training programs, and the Agri HR Toolkit – an online resource guide and templates to address the HR needs of any business. For agricultural organizations there are customized labour issues briefings that apply the new research to specific commodities and provinces, to explore the labour implications within their specific area.  The Dairy: Labour Market Forecast to 2025 and Poultry and Egg: Labour Market Forecast to 2025 reports can be downloaded at http://www.cahrc-ccrha.ca/agriLMI.ca. The study data was validated through industry consultations conducted Canada-wide including: 1034 surveys of employers, workers and industry stakeholders; 80 phone interviews; six focus groups for a total of more than 100 participants; and seven webinars focused on specific commodity groups with 100 participants in total. The LMI research was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.
Jan. 20, 2017 - Ontario livestock and poultry farmers now have a more consistent and transparent process for compensation when their animals are injured or killed by predatory wildlife. The newly updated Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program (OWDCP) standardizes the requirements farmers need to meet to receive compensation. In addition, a new single-stage appeal process simplifies the process to address program application concerns and disputes.The compensation rates, program guidelines and application forms are available at www.ontario.ca/predation.
Jan. 19, 2017 - The Canadian veterinary profession has taken a significant step forward with the creation of a national framework (the Framework) to address its responsibilities under new Federal Government regulations for increased veterinary oversight of antimicrobials, which are expected to be implemented by the end of 2017. The Framework, “Veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use – A Pan-Canadian framework for professional standards for veterinarians,” was developed by the veterinary pharmaceutical stewardship advisory group of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) in collaboration with the Canadian Council of Veterinary Registrars (CCVR). It provides a template of professional standards, which may be used by provincial and territorial veterinary regulatory (licensing) bodies when developing their own regulations, guidelines, or bylaws relating to veterinarians’ professional responsibilities in providing oversight of veterinary antimicrobial use. “Canadian veterinarians have a national and international responsibility to protect public health by contributing to the fight against antimicrobial resistance,” says Dr. Troy Bourque, CVMA president. “By working towards harmonizing veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use in Canada, we are optimizing our stewardship practices in animal and public health, maintaining access to and effectiveness of antimicrobials for the treatment and prevention of disease in animals and upholding to the integrity of the veterinary profession.” The Framework describes the professional obligations for veterinarians as ‘suggested standards,’ provides a definition of the Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship (VCPR), and describes the professional obligations to be met by veterinarians when prescribing an antimicrobial drug. In addition, the Framework makes several recommendations on outstanding issues, including surveillance of antimicrobial use and distribution, and continuing education opportunities for veterinary professionals on antimicrobial stewardship. The veterinary profession in Canada will continue to be engaged in discussions on the oversight of the use of veterinary antimicrobials at provincial and national levels. The Framework was developed after consultation with key stakeholders from the veterinary and human health communities, producer groups, and regulators from across Canada. The framework document has been completed and distributed to all regulatory bodies and CVMA members. It is available for download from the CVMA website at www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/pan-canadian-framework .
Jan. 16, 2016 – Canadians looking for the real story about their food can get it directly from the source online with virtual visits to farms and processing plants. Farm & Food Care is proud to present its latest national outreach initiative – FarmFood360°. Using 360 cameras and virtual reality technology, the new FarmFood360° website gives Canadians the chance to tour real, working farms and food processing plants, all without putting on boots. It’s the latest version of the highly successful Virtual Farm Tours initiative, which was first launched in 2007. “Canadians want to know more about their food, but they are also increasingly removed from its production,” says Ian McKillop, chair of Farm & Food Care Canada. “Changing technology also means they are looking for and finding information in different ways. “FarmFood360° keeps pace with both these factors; it uses modern technology to immerse them right in the process, and address their questions in the most compelling way possible.” Farm & Food Care partnered with Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd. and Dairy Farmers of Canada to add three new tours to the FarmFood360°  website – a dairy farm with a Voluntary Milking System, as well as two individual milk and cheese processing facilities. Visitors can access these tours on tablets and desktop computers, as well as through mobile phones and VR (Virtual Reality) viewers. Interviews with the farmers and plant employees involved in each business have also been added. Both dairy processing facility tours were created in partnership with Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd. Steve Dolson, chair of Gay Lea Foods, says “Farm & Food Care has created an accessible and practical way for us to open the doors to two of our processing facilities – locations that are usually restricted to ensure food safety and quality.” “Gay Lea Foods is pleased to provide this unique opportunity for Canadians to see how milk from family farms is transformed into the milk, cream and cheese they know and love.” Michael Barrett, president and CEO of Gay Lea Foods, added “we are tremendously proud of our employees and happy to highlight the passion, care and dedication that goes into the wholesome products our company is known for.”  As an original partner in the first Virtual Farm Tours project, Dairy Farmers of Canada again worked with Farm & Food Care to film a dairy farm using Voluntary Milking System in Prince Edward Island. These tours compliment the two dairy farm tours already on the site – featuring farms that use both free stall and tie stall milking technologies. “Using new technology to bring farm life to Canadians is both exciting and a critical part of food production,” says Wally Smith, president of Dairy Farmers of Canada. “This modern platform is a great way of doing just that. These immersive tours open barn doors to show the passion and care our farmers put into the food they produce.” This national initiative is being launched with a newly rebranded and interactive website, www.FarmFood360.ca. The site features all 23 farms originally featured on the Virtual Farm Tour platform plus the three new virtual reality tours. Additional tours will be added later in 2017.
Jan. 4, 2017 - Canadian agriculture benefited from a relatively low dollar throughout 2016 and this trend is expected to continue into 2017, according to J.P. Gervais, Farm Credit Canada’s chief agricultural economist.Top Drivers“There are certainly other factors that could influence Canadian agriculture, such as the global economy, the investment landscape, commodity and energy prices,” says Gervais, speaking to his top five agriculture economic trends to watch in 2017. “The Canadian dollar, however, has been a major driver for profitability in the last couple of years and could have the biggest influence on the overall success of Canada’s agriculture industry in 2017.”Gervais is forecasting the dollar will hover around the 75-cent mark and will remain below its five-year average value relative to the U.S. dollar in 2017, potentially making the loonie the most significant economic driver to watch in Canadian agriculture this year.The low dollar not only makes Canada more competitive in agricultural markets relative to some of the world’s largest exporters, but it also means higher farm cash receipts for producers whose commodities are priced in U.S. dollars.ProducersA low Canadian dollar will keep the demand for Canadian agricultural commodities healthy, which is especially important considering the higher projected supply of livestock and crops. This means potential revenue growth, especially considering a likely rebound in livestock prices off the weakness observed in the second half of 2016.“A lower Canadian dollar makes farm inputs more expensive, but the net impact in terms of our export competitiveness and cash receipts for producers is certainly positive,” Gervais says. “Given the choice, producers are better off with a low-dollar than one that’s relatively strong compared to the U.S. dollar.”Food processorsFood processors are also better off with a low Canadian dollar, which is partly the reason behind the strong growth in the gross domestic product of the sector over the past few years. Canadian food products are less expensive for foreign buyers, while it is more difficult for foreign food processors to compete in the Canadian market, according to Gervais.“The climate for investment in Canadian food processing is good, given the low dollar and growing demand in the U.S.,” Gervais says. He projects that exports of food manufactured products to the US could climb five per cent in 2017.AgribusinessesA lower-than-average U.S. per Canadian dollar exchange rate supports foreign sales of agribusinesses as more than 90 per cent of all exports are made to the U.S., and compensate for a weaker demand due to the recent downturn in the U.S. farm economy.“The dollar’s impact on agribusinesses is complex and not as consistent as it is on producers and food processors,” said Gervais, noting that strong farm cash receipts due to a weak loonie are generally good news for agribusinesses, since they can expect sales to producers to increase with rising revenues.But he also notes that “a weak loonie raises the price of inputs like fertilizers or equipment, making them more expensive for producers, which may impact their purchase decisions.”For an in-depth analysis of the impact of the Canadian dollar and Gervais’s four other economic drivers to watch in 2017, visit the FCC Ag Economics blog post at www.fcc.ca/AgEconomics
A new study, Dollars and Sense, by Kynetec (formerly Ipsos Agriculture and Animal Health) has identified the top seven habits of Canada’s best farmers.  For the first time, researchers have established a direct link between farm business management planning and higher farm income and profitability.According to the report, leading Canadian farm businesses in the top 25 per cent financially out-perform those in the bottom 25 per cent by a wide margin: a 525 per cent increase in return on assets (ROA), 155 per cent increase in gross margin ratio, and 100 per cent increases in return on equity (ROE) and asset turnover. “This is the first time we clearly see how specific business management practices positively affect a farm’s financial outcomes,” says Agri-Food Management Institute (AMI) executive director, Ashley Honsberger. “Management matters and this study illustrates just how much of an impact the top habits can have.”  The study, commissioned by AMI and Farm Management Canada, included 604 farms of all types and sizes, and farmers of all ages, nationwide, in the grains and oilseeds, beef, hogs, poultry and eggs, dairy, and horticulture sectors. The leading driver of farm financial success is continuous learning. Farms in the bottom 25 per cent are three times less likely to seek out new information, training or learning opportunities.Number two is keeping finances current so that key farm decisions are made based on an accurate financial picture of the business. Farms in the bottom quartile are three times more likely to have financial records that are months behind and are also almost three times more likely not to monitor their cost of production. The third driver of farm success is seeking the help of professional business advisors or consultants. Farms in the top quartile are 30 per cent more likely to work regularly with a farm business advisor or team of advisors.Four other drivers also ranked highly: having a formal business plan, knowing and monitoring cost of production, assessing and managing risk, and using budgets and financial plans. Of the 55 poultry and egg farmers surveyed nationwide, 69 per cent felt the financial health of their farm was a little or much better now compared to five years ago.The top 25 per cent of poultry and egg farms shows a five per cent ROA compared to 0 per cent in the bottom 25 per cent; 37.7 per cent gross margin ratio compared to 0 percent; 15.6 per cent ROE compared to 15.4 per cent; and 13.6 per cent asset turnover compared to 10.1 per cent. Poultry and egg farmers lead the pack. Thirty-six per cent have a formal business plan, well ahead of the 25 per cent average of all other farmers, 36 per cent have a financial plan with budget objectives, which again is higher than the average of all other farmers at 33 per cent, and 26 per cent have a formal human resources plan, considerably more than the 17 per cent average of all other farmers. The study also showed that 69 per cent use supply chain relationships to add value, which is significantly higher than the 49 per cent of all other farmers. Honsberger advises farmers considering making business management changes to divide a large task into smaller steps, such as using the off-season to attend education events or meet with a business advisor. A resource for farmers, dubbed “Pledge to Plan” can also help with business management activities for each season, support tools, and stories of producers who’ve already gone through the process. It’s available at pledgetoplan.ca. The study was funded through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.About the Agri-Food Management Institute AMI promotes new ways of thinking about agribusiness management and aims to increase awareness, understanding and adoption of beneficial business management practices by Ontario agri-food and agri-based producers and processors.
Donald Shaver has been retired from poultry breeding since 1986, but this hasn’t diminished his passion for feeding a hungry world and promoting his vision for accomplishing it.Shaver recently gave a keynote presentation to the 11th International Symposium on Avian Endocrinology, held in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.Entitled “Mandating a sustainable economy before it’s too late”, the presentation dealt with a number of current issues critical to, in Shaver’s view, the future of humanity, as we know it.For sustainable development, he used the United Nations 1987 definition that it “is attained when current generations could meet their needs without undermining or destroying future generations’ chances of having their needs met”.Of course, much has changed since 1987, especially recognition of the twin challenges of climate change and the associated problem of finite water resources.“There isn’t an alternative presently known to man that will safeguard the well-being of our grandchildren, short of immediate, co-ordinated reductions in CO2 emissions to levels that will assure human survival,” Shaver said, with regard to global warming and CO2 emissions.  “The economics of the so-called market place alone, will not be able to accomplish this, for it is a truly Churchillian undertaking.”   The consequences of existing climate change in terms of loss of ice cover and rising sea levels, increasingly volatile weather phenomena, etc. are well known.Many of these factors are already influencing the world’s food supply.  But it is not just climate change that is affecting food security.  Shaver quoted Mahatma Gandhi (who died in 1948) as saying that “the earth provides enough for everyone’s needs, but not for everyone’s greed”.   The West’s model for food production, Shaver stated, will fail to feed the world if adapted globally, because it destroys resources and many of the traditional farmers whose knowledge is so essential to future food security. One of the main thrusts of the presentation was the need for governments to restore the priority of food production and agriculture in the scientific world. Apart from those involved in space or defense programs, scientists’ funding is unreliable and short term. The need for worldwide food security is paramount.  And the industrial systems now operating in the West are not only largely unsustainable in their present form, they are unsuited for exporting to Africa and other less-developed food systems. This is particularly so for animal systems which, except for ruminants, compete with the human population for food resources.Effects of climate changeClimate change is already reducing crop yields.  Research has shown that, while corn yields in France rose by 60 per cent between 1960 and 2000 (the green revolution), they were flat for the next decade. They are predicted to fall by 12 per cent over the next twenty years.  Wheat and soya yields showed a similar pattern and are expected to fall by up to 20 per cent. In the U.S. Midwest, higher temperatures are expected to lower crop yields by up to 63 per cent by the end of this century.  Similar reductions may be expected in the Canadian prairies, and, as the world’s sixth largest agricultural economy, this can be predicted to significantly affect the world’s food supply.The inequity in food distribution is well known.  Obesity is rampant in the West, and yet many economies are characterized by widespread malnutrition. Shaver stated, “Nor do the industrialized countries recognize that, for their own future security, they must commit to helping find an enduring solution to the chronic food shortages present in too many disadvantaged areas. Some of us are beginning to think that terrorism is not entirely based on religious differences.”Shaver also made reference to the inequalities in income and spending power between the “one per cent” and the rest of society. In the past half-century, taxation has favoured the rich in many countries, particularly the U.S. Finding workable solutions“If we are to build a more sustainable economic system, we must legislate a less reckless financial sector,” he said.  “Neo-liberal capitalism may create wealth, but no attempt is made to distribute this wealth with any degree of fairness, much less honesty. We have apparently accepted a “CEO mythology” replete with excessive salary, bonuses. Even in Great Britain, CEO’s from the top 100 companies enjoyed a 10 per cent salary increase in 2015 and are now paid 129 times more than their employees. Research has shown that since 2008, 91 per cent of all financial gains in the U.S. went to the “one per cent”, and they are basically not spending the money, while many of the other 99 per cent spend all their money just to get by.  This weakens demand and suppresses growth.”While admitting that Canada, on its own, can do little to alter the world’s CO2 levels, we have nothing to lose by establishing a sustainable food system. Shaver proposed the establishment of a “senior cabinet post, second only to the prime minister, responsible for sustainable economic development and the sciences. Shaver envisions that this person would firmly direct our national scientific activity with respect to sustainability, eliminating duplication and managing the function of bureaucracy in areas where it lacks expertise. Furthermore, he would require the creation of a sustainability commission, chaired by the chief scientist; a non-partisan group, with long-term goals. It would not only create plans for Canadian sustainability, but also liaise with similar bodies in other countries.Shaver sees this commission initially providing the prime minister with three 10-year plans, reviewed and if necessary updated as circumstances change. The rewards envisaged would accrue to the scientists involved with the various projects and would be a serious incentive for long-term scientific endeavour.  In many cases, the challenges we face can be solved with existing knowledge. What is needed is the will to recognize and prioritize the need for action in the field of sustainability.In conclusion, Shaver said that “the future human reality will be centred less on technology and industrial might than on food and water security for all mankind.  An Eastern philosopher observed that knowing the facts is easy; knowing how to act based on the facts is difficult!”

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