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.
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.
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 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   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.        
  Decades ago when the scientific community had concerns about bacterial resistance to antibiotics, the agricultural industry started to produce antibiotic-free (ABF)flocks. Generally speaking, all chicken is antibiotic-free, because there are no antibiotic residues in the meat due to the withdrawal periods in broiler production. So in the U.S., “antibiotic-free” is not allowed to be used on a label but may be found in marketing materials not regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In recent years, the term “raised without antibiotics” (RWA) is widely used for the flocks that are raised without the use of products classified as antibiotics for animal health maintenance, disease prevention or treatment of disease. However, it can mean different things depending on the country in which you are producing chickens. Table 1 below shows the different meaning of an RWA flock in Canada, U.S. and Europe. In Canada, absolutely no antibiotics, ionophores, or chemical coccidiostats are allowed in RWA production, whereas in the U.S., chemical coccidiostats are allowed for RWA flocks. This poses even more challenges for Canadian RWA producers.   There are many factors that can affect broiler flock performance ranging from nutrition and health status of breeder flocks, hatchery operations, chick quality, nutrition and water quality to flock management. To successfully grow RWA flocks, one should not only provide good management and environmental conditions as for regular broiler flocks, but should create superior conditions such as reducing stocking density, increasing downtime between crops,  acidifying litter, and providing high quality water. Nutritionally, well balanced rations formulated with high quality ingredients are crucial for RWA flocks. Chick qualityA great flock starts with good quality chicks, and chick quality is even more important for broiler RWA production due to the lack of antibiotic protection. The feeding and management of broiler breeders can play an important part in the offspring’s health and performance. The breeder farms should follow strict biosecurity protocols, and breeders should receive a well-balanced and nutritionally adequate diet. Eggs should be handled in a professional manner and stored in ideal conditions. Hatcheries should follow a strict biosecurity program, with regimented cleaning and disinfection procedures. Chick boxes and hatcher trays have to be washed with correct temperatures. Good maintenance of hatching temperature and ventilation equipment is critical, as it has been shown that stress from late stage over-heating may result in leg problems and performance issues. Transport can be stressful for chicks. The temperature should be tightly regulated in the compartments with proper ventilation. To ensure uniform chick quality, there should be no over-heating in some areas while dead spots exist in others. Coccidiosis vaccinationUnlike RWA producers in the U.S., Canadian RWA producers cannot use chemicals to control coccidiosis, so the only option is vaccination. Coccidiosis control is key for successful RWA production, because it impacts intestinal integrity, gut health and is correlated to the risk of necrotic enteritis. Uniform vaccine application and uptake are essential for successful protection from a coccidiosis vaccine. The stocking density for the first seven days should be controlled at a half square foot per chick (or 465 cm2/bird), and litter moisture kept higher than normal at 30 to 35 per cent. The higher density and litter moisture will encourage oocyst sporulation and the opportunity to re-infect each other from their droppings. Thus, the immunity to coccidiosis will be developed earlier, and the flock will be better protected from coccidiosis. Flock managementStocking density after 10 days of age is also one of the most important factors that affect RWA flock performance. A minimum density of one square foot per bird is ideal. When the density is reduced, birds have more water line and feeder space, less competition for feed and water, better litter conditions and fewer pathogen challenges. For RWA broiler production, the litter quality is crucial. The wetter the litter, the more likely it will promote the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria and moulds. Wet litter is also the primary cause of ammonia emissions, one of the most serious performance and environmental factors affecting broiler production today. Controlling litter moisture is the most important step in avoiding ammonia problems. There are many factors that can affect litter conditions, such as leaking water lines, various diseases, improper rations, and ventilation. Ventilation removes combustion waste by brooders, ammonia, and moisture produced by birds while continually replenishing oxygen. Broiler genetics keep improving, and broilers grow faster every year, so their demand for oxygen is increasing all the time while their output of moisture is also increasing. Thus, producers should not use the ventilation rate of 10 years ago to grow today’s birds. Adequate and effective ventilation is critical for litter management and coccidiosis control, especially for RWA production. Producers should check and manage watering systems to prevent leaks that would increase litter moisture. Furthermore, producers should adjust drinker height and water pressure as birds grow to avoid excessive water wastage into the litter. Chick growth rate should be moderately controlled to avoid fast weight gain. This is particularly important in a flock that is 10 to 30 days of age, when there is more challenge from coccidiosis, thus a higher risk of necrotic enteritis. Producers should modify the lighting program, by slightly increasing dark hours to nine or even 10 hours, in order to improve the health condition and immunity of the birds. This modification is even more necessary for RWA flocks than for regular flocks. Nutrition for RWA flocksSound nutrition starts with a good selection of high-quality ingredients. Composition of feed ingredients should be consistent, and all grains should be free from toxin contamination. This is critical for the first four weeks of age. Nutritionally, all ingredients should be highly digestible, since the nondigested portions might enhance unwanted microbial growth and increase the chance for necrotic enteritis. The maximum inclusion rate for some ingredients such as wheat and corn distiller grains must be closely monitored, if not eliminated. There is evidence that suggests a strong relationship between higher inclusions of these ingredients with necrotic enteritis. Some reports suggest that animal protein may increase the risk for necrotic enteritis. It is generally accepted that lower crude protein levels should be fed to RWA flocks, because higher protein may increase the chance for necrotic enteritis.  Mineral balance is vital for RWA rations. Mineral levels that are either too high or too low will not only affect broiler body weight gain and feed conversion ratio (FCR), but also impact litter quality, gut health, and hence flock performance. With reduced growth and high-quality ingredients, the RWA feeds can cost more than the regular feeds. Together with a higher FCR  for RWA flocks, it will result in a higher feed cost per kilogram of body weight gain. Alternative feed additivesOver the last few decades, there has been a lot of research to explore alternatives for antibiotics in broiler production. Generally, these alternatives are categorized into feed enzymes, phytogenic additives, probiotics, prebiotics and symbiotics (a probiotic and prebiotic combination). Feed enzymes which help improve the digestion and nutrient utilization, and in some cases improve gut health, are widely used by nutritionists in both regular feeds and RWA feeds. Phytogenic additives (herbs, spices, essential oils or extracts) that originate from plants have been used in human food and medicine for thousands of years. Among these phytogenic products, essential oils have received considerable attention. Their active ingredients such as carvacrol, thymol, eugenol, alicin and cinnamaldehyde have been evaluated extensively as alternatives for antibiotics to improve animal health and performance. Some phytogenic products have direct antimicrobial effects, and other products show their effects on immune-regulation. Probiotics are also called direct fed microbial (DFM) in the U.S. The mode of action is to compete for available receptor sites and nutrients with pathogens, and produce or secrete metabolites (such as short chain fatty acids and bacterocin), thus changing the gut microflora and bird performance. Prebiotics are feed components that are not digested by host animals but selectively promote beneficial bacterial growth, hence improving animal performance. In this category, some commonly used products are mannan-oliglosaccharides (MOS) and fructo- oliglosaccharides (FOS). There has been considerable research done to investigate the effects of these alternative products on animal performance and health. Yet, the responses are quite variable due to the purity and concentration of these products, how they interact with flock management and health conditions, as well as the nutritional status of the birds. SummaryTo date, there is no silver bullet as an alternative to antibiotics. In conclusion, a decent RWA flock relies on the following factors: Good quality chicks that come from a healthy breeder flock and well managed hatchery; A successful coccidiosis vaccination program with higher stocking density and higher litter moisture for the first 10 days; Sound management practices with an emphasis on improving ventilation and reducing litter moisture; An RWA ration formulated with highly digestible ingredients and optimized mineral levels; Moderately reduced growth by providing more dark hours.      
June 6, 2016 - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is collaborating with public health, veterinary, and agriculture officials in many states, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), to investigate seven separate multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections. Results from these investigations showed that contact with live poultry in backyard flocks was the likely source of these outbreaks. READ MORE
  The rapid escalation in cage-free sourcing announcements from fast-food and quick serve restaurants in recent months has become concerning.  The words “cage-free” have become a marketing gimmick, and less a about the welfare of laying hens. Opponents of animal agriculture will look upon this tidal wave as a win for animal welfare, and continually claim that these restaurant chains are answering consumer concerns over hen housing. But, I suspect that most food businesses are, for the most part, bowing to pressure placed on them from animal activist groups. Releasing a cage-free commitment announcement has essentially become an insurance policy for a company against having its name associated with disturbing undercover videos or other forms of negative press and social media backlash. Until recently, this battle hasn’t affected individual farmers in Canada to a great extent.  It’s provided an opportunity for some to expand or transition and supply what is still considered a niche market.  However, when major grocery store chains follow suit, the entire egg industry is going to be affected — and so is the average consumer. Restaurant and foodservice providers can make blanket statements about sourcing one type of egg because it’s too complicated for them to offer, for example, a breakfast sandwich made with either an egg that’s cage-free, conventional, organic, enriched or free-range housing – it’s confusing and a logistical nightmare for their supply chains.  Whether a consumer is actively choosing a particular restaurant because the eggs are cage-free or not is a moot point when virtually every chain offers the same egg option. For a consumer, the decision of where to eat becomes a matter of convenience, price, and taste. However, the grocery store is still where a consumer can make a conscious decision on what type of egg to buy.  But that may change. In mid-March grocery members of the Retail Council of Canada(RCC), including Loblaw Companies Limited, Metro Inc., Sobeys Inc., and Wal-Mart Canada Corp., announced they are “voluntarily committing to the objective of purchasing cage-free eggs by the end of 2025” (see page 6).   No longer is the cage-free issue a way for a company to differentiate itself within a competitive marketplace, it’s now on a path to become the majority. There’s no doubt that cage-free housing offers improved animal welfare compared to conventional housing, however a multi-year intensive study by the Coalition for a Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) determined that when all factors of sustainability were examined, including important parameters such as food affordability and environmental impact, cage-free systems did not reign supreme. The CSES study determined that enriched colony housing offered the best for the hen, farmer and consumer – yet it’s a system that is rarely mentioned by restaurants and retailers. The Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC) hope to change this. It’s not about pitting one system against another – it’s about providing the consumer and retailers with choices, and keeping eggs an affordable source of high-quality protein.   There’s still time to turn the tide – but it’s going to be a battle the Canadian egg industry will be fighting for the next several years at least.      
May 16, 2016 - Merial hosted more than 500 participants at its 4th Merial Global Avian Forum in Barcelona to address opportunities in meeting the global demand for an abundant supply of safe and affordable source of protein. Poultry and egg producers, and top avian health scientists and experts from 70 countries shared information about solutions to efficiently prevent and control disease, strategies to increase productivity of poultry flocks and maximize efficiency of the poultry producers’ businesses. The growth of the global population, and expanding middle class populations and incomes in many developing countries, will require more than 30 per cent more animal protein worldwide by the year 2030. As a result, poultry producers are advancing their business models to deliver a greater quantity of healthy chicken meat at affordable prices. In a more complex and global environment, poultry production requires all-encompassing and evolving strategies that address infrastructure, production systems, disease prevention and sustainability. “As vast, multi-national poultry producers strive to safely produce more protein than ever before, Merial works side by side with them in every region of the world, to improve the health and productivity of flocks and to increase the efficiency and profitability of their business,” said Jérôme Baudon, Global Head of the Avian Business at Merial. Presentations and workshops during the forum explored global and regional poultry management trends; the evolution of emerging and re-emerging avian diseases; and current and future diagnostics and vaccine technologies. In an opening session, Rabobank Animal Protein Senior Analyst Nan-Dirk Mulder discussed the opportunity for producers to benefit from poultry being the fastest growing protein market, due to the low production costs, the health benefits of chicken meat, and consumer preference for affordability and convenience. He addressed the importance of production efficiency advances in light of the increasing pressures of global animal disease, supply and distribution challenges, food safety, animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Mr. Mulder also provided insight into the business models of the different regions and the import/export dynamics in a globalizing poultry industry. Several interactive discussions focused on the prevalence - often with considerable differences in regions - and evolution of (re)emerging diseases in the world, including respiratory diseases (avian influenza, Newcastle disease virus (NDV), Marek’s disease, infectious bronchitis, mycoplasmosis and infectious laryngotracheitis) and digestive diseases (caused by viruses, bacteria, coccidia, Histomonas and  other parasites). Other presentations examined strategies to prevent and control these highly endemic diseases, which have the potential to threaten entire flocks and cause significant quality, supply and economic losses. These sessions addressed a range of approaches to protect more birds from disease with greater convenience, less expense and reduced environmental impact, including: Disease diagnostic and vaccine monitoring tools Current and new vector vaccines in development Vaccination delivery methods and equipment solutions Hatchery automation and management techniques Flock management, cleaning & disinfection At the meeting, Merial announced updates on the use of its novel NeO effervescent tablet vaccine formulation, a simple, convenient and eco-friendly vaccine formulation that launched in September 2015. The NeO tablets are packaged in lightweight aluminum blisters and dissolved in water for spray, eye drop or drinking water administration, delivering enhanced convenience for the poultry farmers, safety for the birds and environmental benefits. The Avinew NeO effervescent tablet vaccine is already available in 16 countries for immunization against NDV and continues to roll-out globally. Merial also presented a product Life Cycle Assessment study comparing the environmental impact of the new NeO effervescent tablet solution to the existing Avinew™ vial packaging by looking at resources, and carbon and water footprint indicators. In France, the NeO packaging reduced climate impact by 80 percent, decreased resources by 70 percent, and reduced water use by 70 percent as a result of a reduction in raw materials, cold storage, and freight and distribution. The study revealed that NeO packaging is less impacting regardless of geography, and that important savings are made for every life cycle stage. The Merial Global Avian Forum also recognized the 10-year anniversary of Merial’s pioneering VAXXITEK HVT+IBD vector vaccine, used to protect flocks against Marek’s disease and Gumboro disease, two common yet threatening immunosuppressive diseases. Administered in the hatchery, the vaccine allows for immunization against both diseases with a single vaccine dose. VAXXITEK HVT+IBD is one of several offerings supported by Merial’s pioneering VTS (VaccinationTechnology and Services) teams. These dedicated field experts around the world work closely with customers at hatcheries and farms by delivering equipment, support, audits and training to help manage flock health and productivity. 
  Concern over the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in livestock has been growing steadily, with consumer and healthcare groups pressuring livestock producers and food retailers to commit to raising animals without their use. 
May 4,2016- Aviagen has announced the release of MyFlock,™ an app that gives breeder managers instant access to everything they need to take care of their birds and flocks throughout the production cycle. Available to all Aviagen customers in the U.S. and Canada, MyFlock offers convenient flock management tips and tools from mobile devices. MyFlock is a portable version of Aviagen’s standard flock management guides, offering customers an immediate and interactive pathway to the latest Aviagen advice and performance standards. From their smart phones and tablets, Aviagen customers can consult step-by-step task schedules, as well as critical advice and information regarding flock management. And, an interactive calendar lets them set reminders of daily activities needed to care for birds and optimize performance. When users are connected to the internet, MyFlock’s data is synchronized, automatically updating to the latest flock information. Therefore, through the sync function, customers have easy and uninterrupted access to the latest versions of Aviagen’s online flock management documents, even from areas with no cellular service. At no charge to customers, MyFlock can be downloaded to Android and Apple iOS phones and tablets from any Apple or Google Play store. MyFlock’s simple-to-use, intuitive interface means productivity isn’t slowed down by an initial learning curve. 
Oct. 14, 2016 - Monitoring the migration routes of wild birds could help to provide early warning of potential bird flu outbreaks, experts say. The recommendation follows new research that shows migrating birds can help to spread deadly strains of avian flu around the world.Lethal strainsSome strains of bird flu viruses are highly lethal in birds they infect and pose a major threat to poultry farms worldwide. In rare cases, the viruses can also infect people and cause life-threatening illness.Asia outbreakResearchers investigated how a subtype of bird flu called H5N8 spread around the world following outbreaks in South Korea that began in early 2014. The virus spread to Japan, North America and Europe, causing outbreaks in birds there between autumn 2014 and spring 2015.Migration patternsScientists analysed migration patterns of wild birds that were found to be infected with the H5N8 virus. The team then compared the genetic code of viruses isolated from infected birds collected from 16 different countries.Long-distance flightTheir findings reveal that H5N8 was most likely carried by long-distance flights of infected migrating wild birds from Asia to Europe and North America via their breeding grounds in the Arctic. The researchers say their findings reinforce the importance of maintaining strict exclusion areas around poultry farms to keep wild birds out."Bird flu is a major threat to the health and wellbeing of farmed chickens worldwide,"  says Samantha Lycett with the University of Edinburgh. "Our findings show that with good surveillance, rapid data sharing and collaboration, we can track how infections spread across continents." SurveillanceGreater surveillance of wild birds at known breeding areas could help to provide early warning of threats of specific flu virus strains to birds and people, they add. Deadly bird flu strains – known as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) – can kill up to 100 per cent of the birds they infect within a few days. The study was conducted by the Global Consortium for H5N8 and Related Influenza Viruses and involved scientists from 32 institutions worldwide.This study could only have happened through bird flu researchers around the world pooling resources and working together," adds Mark Woolhouse, also with the University of Edinburgh. "We see this as a model for how scientists should unite to combat infectious diseases of all kinds.Global studyThe study is published in the journal Science and was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, COMPARE. The Roslin Institute receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
September 14, 2016 - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has announced an investment of $690,000 to Éleveurs de volailles du Québec (ÉVQ) to help the Quebec poultry industry reduce the preventive use of antibiotics. Under this project, the Poultry Research Chair at the University of Montreal's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine will assess various alternative strategies and their effects on flock performance. The latest research into anti-microbial resistance (AMR) builds on a previous project, also funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and will seek solutions that can be applied across the entire poultry industry. This contribution has been made through the AgriInnovation Program under Growing Forward 2, a five-year, $698 million initiative. AAFC supports the development and adoption of industry-led initiatives regarding biosecurity and animal care to support the prudent use of antimicrobials. Pierre-Luc Leblanc, President, Les Éleveurs de volailles du Québec said in a release “the Quebec poultry industry is committed to developing cutting-edge farming methods while maintaining strict, rigorous animal welfare standards. Flock health and the quality of consumer products are top priorities. Working with the Poultry Research Chair, we are taking the necessary steps to preserve and enhance these priority areas by building on research and development."
June 30, 2016 - Egg Farmers of Canada and the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) have announced the launch of the public comment period on the draft Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Layers. The public comment period allows stakeholders - poultry producers, consumers and others with an interest in the welfare of laying hens - to view the draft Code and provide input to the final Code. The draft revised Code is the result of the unique consensus-based, multi-stakeholder approach used across various agricultural sectors, which brings together all relevant stakeholders with responsibility for animal care standards. “Egg Farmers of Canada is committed to continuous improvements and a high standard of care for laying hens in a manner that is sustainable and implementable by all farmers in Canada,” said Peter Clarke, Chairman of Egg Farmers of Canada. “We value the National Farm Animal Care Council’s leadership and the rigorous, multi-stakeholder approach to developing the evidence-based standards that will enhance our national Animal Care Program,” he added. Once finalized, the revised Code will promote sound management and welfare practices through recommendations and requirements for housing, care, transportation, and other animal husbandry practices. The process began in April 2012, using the NFACC Code development process. Egg Farmers of Canada initiated the review with the support of the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council and Pullet Growers of Canada. “The Code development process helps diverse communities work together to improve the lives of farm animals,” said poultry welfare expert Dr. Ian Duncan, representing the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies on the Code Committee. “We hope for broad participation in the public comment period. It’s an important opportunity to improve the quality and success of each Code.” The draft Code and the public comment system is accessible All comments must be submitted through the online system. The public comment period closes on August 29, 2016. The Code Development Committee will consider the submitted comments after the close of the comment period and the plan is that the final layer Code of Practice will be released by the end of 2016. A Scientific Committee report summarizing research conclusions on priority welfare topics for laying hens can be found online alongside the draft Code. This peer-reviewed report aided the discussions of the Code Development Committee as it prepared the draft Code of Practice. The report, developed by world-renowned animal welfare scientists, should be reviewed prior to making a submission. The layer Code revision is led by a 17-person Code Development Committee that includes participants from across Canada including producers, animal welfare and enforcement representatives, retailers, researchers, transporters, processors, veterinarians and government representatives. More information on the Code development process is available at The layer Code is one of five Codes of Practice being developed as part of a multi-year NFACC project. Codes of Practice serve as our national understanding of animal care requirements and recommended practices. It is important that Codes be scientifically informed, implementable by producers, and reflect societal expectations for responsible farm animal care. The Codes cover housing, feed and water, handling, euthanasia, transport and other important management practices. In a release today, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) indicated that the timeline for ending the use of conventional cages has been accelerated, ending five years earlier than indicated by the Egg Farmers of Canada.  Funding for this project has been provided through the AgriMarketing Program under Growing Forward 2, a federal–provincial–territorial initiative.  
August 12, 2016 - New-Life Mills, the animal feed division of Parrish & Heimbecker Limited and P & H Eastern Grain Division have pooled resources to launch the new Science of Sustainable Agriculture Expo at this year’s Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock, Ont. from Sept. 13th-15th 2016. The exhibit will explore the elaborate connectedness of today’s agricultural world with sustainability in the forefront. The display at the Farm Show will be both educational for the inexperienced and eye-opening for the savvy farmer.   “It’s amazing how nearly every aspect of what we do in agriculture is connected on some level. We are among the most responsible of industries when it comes to ensuring nothing goes to waste,” says Sherry Slejska, marketing communications specialist, New-Life Mills. “To my knowledge, this will be the largest initiative P&H has ever started to show the community how deeply involved we are in helping them produce crops, market crops, transport crops and feed livestock through a spider web of interactions between Ontario’s livestock and cash crop growers as well as many other commercial players. We are involved in almost every step from fertilizing the crop to grinding it into flour and opening up their marketing opportunities to the world. Most farmers don’t realize that,“ advises Jeff Jacques (Sales Mgr Crop Inputs and Agronomy, Parrish & Heimbecker, Eastern Grain Div.).
August 11, 2016 - The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, in partnership with The Center for Food Integrity in the US (CFI), convened an Animal Care Review Panel to analyze an undercover animal rights group video about an egg farm that was released on July 21, 2016.  The panel was comprised of an ethicist, an animal care specialist and a veterinarian. A report of their findings was released by the Canadian CFI on July 22, and distributed directly to select media, egg industry groups and companies, food retail and food service associations. Review the report from the panel here. Hidden camera investigations have heightened public attention on animal care issues. In an effort to foster a more balanced conversation and to provide credible feedback to promote continuous improvement in farm animal care, CFI created the Animal Care Review Panel process.  The Panel operates independently, and Its reports are not submitted to the industry for review or approval. CCFI's role is to facilitate the review process and release the panel's findings.  For more information about the Animal Care Review Panel, contact Canadian CFI: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
In the poultry industry we discuss cost/profit/loss in terms of hundredths of pennies.  Those same pennies in a year equate to millions of dollars.   Properly evaluating any input — such as breed choice, equipment or feed additives -- at the broiler level can only be done with a properly designed commercial broiler trial within your complex. Basing decisions on data collected from another complex or research is only a part of the story.  In many cases it’s the beginning of the story, but can lead you down the wrong path for too long if not tested within your complex using your own system. It might be tempting to follow the path of another complex, but more often than not there are nuances within your complex that will impact the end result.  Most of the time you only have part of the other complex’s success story.  You don’t have the same inputs or outputs. A difference in live operations (inputs) and product mix (outputs) can greatly influence the profit/loss that might be generated by following the same path within your own complex.  You need to write your own story to make the best decisions for your complex.  That story is best told through a commercial trial. The value attached to the decisions made based on the commercial trial results warrant a properly designed, communicated and executed trial.   A properly designed trial takes as many variables out of the equation as possible, except those you are comparing.  For instance if you are testing different breeds, you want to have a farm with: Identical houses in equipment and design Two houses per treatment Same breeder flock ages Same hatchery and set date Same light, ventilation, feed and water programs If there is a variable that could have influenced your data there will always be questions and concerns regarding the validity of the trial.  The reason for at least two houses per treatment is that it allows you to choose one house from each treatment that closely mimics the other treatment in regards to mortality, morbidity and growing conditions.  This takes out more of the variables that may have occurred during the growing cycle.  Some of those variables that have been witnessed during the growing cycle are: running out of feed in one or more houses; environmental conditions; and chick quality It is also recommended to repeat the trial or multiple trials for the same reason, but this is not always practical.  Multiple trials help make the end picture clearer. A properly communicated trial involves including many departments within your complex in a planning discussion weeks in advance.  Having every department on board before the birds are set in the machines will result in the best outcome.  Departments that need to be involved include: breeder department; hatchery; feed mill and delivery; broiler department; live haul; processing plant; and government institutions. Communication about the trial will help minimize one of the biggest variables to a trial -- human error.  Assign a trial point person or persons to follow the trial through the process.  All departments need to take ownership and understand the importance of the trial results. A properly executed trial generates the quality data needed to make the right decision.  Typically the data needed is from live as well as plant performance.  To obtain accurate live data you should select a random sample of birds from one house for each treatment, as discussed previously, the day before processing.   The weight samples should be kept separate by sex, and collected from three areas of the house: Back, Middle and Front.  Either record individual weights, or use scales with the capability to calculate the standard deviation.  Once you have your mean (average) and standard deviation for body weight (by sex), you can fill in the boxes that define the weight category cut-offs on either side of the mean (middle) weight (See image page 22).  You will need to find the appropriate number of males and females for each weight range seen in the histogram below.  In the end, you will have four males and four females that are between 1 and 2 standard deviations below the average weight, eight males and eight females that are between the average weight and 1 standard deviation below the average, etc.. These birds should be tagged and followed the following day to the plant.  At the plant the birds should be reweighed and this individual plant weight will be your live weight.  The birds should then be sent through your processing plant.  This allows for you to see what the treatments will achieve in your operation.  Typically, the carcasses would be removed from the line just before the chiller to take the variable of water uptake out of the equation. The next step is to have a person that is well trained to debone the carcass and to collect the individual parts with the correct bird tag.  Another person will need to record the weight for each individual deboned or whole part for each tag/band number.  The data generated by your complex can then be analyzed. Once you have the results from the well-executed trial, you can start working on the economics to help in your decision.  The economic model should help you answer questions on how the inputs you are testing influenced your bottom line.  These are some of the factors your economic model needs to consider: Will the change result in more/less housing needs? How did the change influence live performance? (FCR, mortality, growth rates How did the change influence processing performance? (Meat quality, yield, condemdation) Will the change result in updating your system? (Hatchery, feed mill, processing plant) Take into account all the departments involved in the trial itself.  Sometimes decisions may result in a positive for one department and a negative for another department.  If you answer how each of those departments will be affected, your goal will have been met - the scenario that results in the most hundredths of pennies for your complex. A link is provided below on how Cobb recommends performing a commercial yield trial:
August 4, 2016 - Aviagen has added Matt Klassen to its customer service team to better care for customers in Canada. Klassen’s central location in Abbotsford, British Columbia, will enable him to work in close proximity to Aviagen customers west of Manitoba. As an Aviagen Customer Support Representative, Klassen will work hand-in-hand with customers, helping them reach the maximum performance potential with Aviagen’s Ross® brand of breeding stock. He will benefit poultry farmers and producers with his expert guidance and advice in key areas necessary for flock success, such as best management practices, feed and nutrition, hatchery operations and biosecurity. His objective will be to help customers get the most from their flock operations by improving efficiencies and thus increasing productivity and performance. Klassen has a well-rounded, 22-year background in the poultry industry. His career began in the early 1990s in Abbotsford, where he worked his way up from chick delivery and service to hatchery and feed mill management. In his most recent position at the British Columbia Broiler Hatching Egg Commission, he served as hatchery inspector, troubleshooting hatchery and production issues and advising the commission on policy changes regarding hatcheries. It was this breadth of experience, along with proven communication and relationship-building skills that landed him the position at Aviagen. Klassen has joined Aviagen during a momentous landmark in the company’s history. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Aviagen Ross brand, which enjoys high popularity in Canada. It is this widespread popularity of Ross in Canada, according to Scott Gillingham, Aviagen Canada’s regional business consultant, that has spawned growth in the region and prompted the company to extend its arm of support. “Klassen was the ideal candidate to add value to our Canadian customer service team due to his established relationships and thorough understanding of the Canadian poultry market. His strong communication skills and collaborative personality will help maintain and deepen the trust and confidence customers have in the and collaborative personality will help maintain and deepen the trust and confidence customers have in the Ross team and Ross products.”   
August 2, 2016 - Attendee and exhibitor registration and housing for the 2017 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) is now open. IPPE has secured more than 1,060 exhibitors with more than 507,000 net square feet of exhibit space already booked. The Expo is expecting to attract more than 30,000 attendees through the collaboration of the three trade shows - International Poultry Expo, International Feed Expo and International Meat Expo - representing the entire chain of protein and feed production and processing. The event is sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY), the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and the North American Meat Institute (NAMI).  Register online and receive a discounted price of $50 (USD) through Dec. 31. Online registration is the only way to receive this discount. Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, the registration fee will increase to $100. The IPPE website,, offers easy navigation with access to important information including attendee and exhibitor registration, hotel availability and reservations and a schedule of 2017 educational seminars and activities offered during IPPE. The annual global feed, meat and poultry industry trade show is scheduled Tuesday through Thursday, Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, 2017, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga., USA. Resuming for 2017 is the popular “Members to Atlanta” (M2A) program, which waives the registration fee through Dec. 31, for attendees from member firms of all three associations engaged in the production of poultry, eggs and meat for consumption and feed and pet food manufacturers. The program is supported through the sponsorship of elite IPPE exhibitors. They include Arm & Hammer, Aviagen, Biomin, Ceva Animal Health, Cobb-Vantress, Diamond V, Elanco Animal Health, Heat and Control, Huvepharma, Incubation Systems, Inc., Jamesway Incubator Co., Kemin, Soybean Meal Information Center, Watt Global Media and Zoetis.  The Expo will highlight the latest technology, equipment and services used in the production and processing of meat, poultry and animal feed. The week of Jan. 30 – Feb. 3, 2017, will feature dynamic education programs focused on current industry issues. The International Poultry Scientific Forum, Spanish Technical Seminar for Maximizing the Efficiency of the Poultry Industry, Pet Food Conference and the Environmental Conference for the Meat & Poultry Industry will kick off the week’s education programs. Several Tech Talks programs will also be offered on Tuesday and Wednesday. In addition, the Animal Agriculture Sustainability Summit, Worker Safety Conference for the Meat & Poultry Industry, Poultry Market Intelligence Forum and the International Rendering Symposium education programs will return for 2017. The 2017 IPPE will also feature several new educational programs including important sessions on food safety, consumer trends and international trade. The following programs are new for 2017: Worker Safety Conference for the Meat & Poultry Industry; Listeria monocytogenes Prevention & Control Workshop; Meat Quality Workshop: Know Your Muscle, Know Your Meat; FSMA Hazard Analysis Training; Pork 101; Family Businesses Strategies for Success; Beef 101; Feed Production Education Program; U.S. Employment Law Regulatory Update; Meat Industry Regulatory Update and Compliance Session; Setting Up for Success: Processed Meat Product Introductions; Get the Facts with Meat Mythcrushers; Whole Genome Sequencing 101; Understanding and Achieving Operational Excellence; and Toxic Release Inventory Reporting Guidance Workshop. For more information about the 2017 IPPE, visit   
July 25, 2016 - The H5 avian influenza A virus that devastated North American poultry farms in 2014-15 was initially spread by migratory waterfowl, but evidence suggests such highly pathogenic flu viruses do not persist in wild birds. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital led the research, which appears online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While wild ducks and other aquatic birds are known to be natural hosts for low pathogenic flu viruses associated with milder symptoms, the results of this study indicate that is not the case with the highly pathogenic flu viruses that are associated with more severe illness. The research suggests that wild ducks and other aquatic birds are not an ongoing source of highly pathogenic flu infection in domestic poultry. "The findings provide a scientific basis for the decision by officials to use culling and quarantines to stop the 2014-15 outbreak in domestic poultry," said corresponding author Robert Webster, Ph.D., an emeritus member of the St. Jude Department of Infectious Diseases. "Now, research is needed to identify the mechanism that has evolved in these wild birds to disrupt the perpetuation of highly pathogenic influenza." | READ MORE.
July 26, 2016 - The Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC) has released its 2016 Conference Report (the Report) that summarizes the need for the agricultural sector to better disseminate research results to producers, farmers, industry, academia, consumers and among the research community.  A number of findings and recommendations are included in the Report. One key finding is that research dissemination has often been neglected in past policy development or is left until the end of the project cycle, which needs to change in order to increase stakeholder engagement and allow for greater impact of results.  Another is that the sector needs to find new ways to incent and support knowledge transfer activities. “Last year, we broke new ground by releasing Canada’s first-ever agricultural research policy, a long-standing objective for the sector and for AIC," says Serge Buy, CEO for AIC.  This year, we are continuing our work by raising awareness of the need to better communicate and disseminate agricultural research.  We need to collectively ensure that game-changing results have the impact that they deserve in Canada and internationally.” The Report also discusses the role that Intellectual Property (IP) has to play in the dissemination of research outcomes.  Although the commercialization of research results can certainly lead to a positive rate of return on investment, IP management is often debated or misunderstood and not recognized as a potential dissemination route for Canadian innovations. The Report focuses on three key themes: Dissemination Strategies and Participation Channels for Agricultural Research Knowledge Transfer (KT) and Extension IP Protection, Cooperation and Collaboration The Report is a summary of the input gathered in policy discussions with researchers, government officials and other industry stakeholders at the annual AIC Conference that took place in April 2016. A subsequent, in-depth Best Practices Report for Research Dissemination that highlights a number of best practices from across the sector will be released by AIC in late Summer 2016. To view the 2016 Conference Report click here. Highlights of the report “A scientific breakthrough that could dramatically change how farmers harvest, or manufacturers prepare a certain product, is discovered in a lab.  How do we get this vital information from the research to benefit the end user?” – Theme 1, Page 8 “…farming has become an increasingly complex undertaking. The sector must find ways to unpack the complexity and tell stories in clear, uncomplicated ways to deliver strong, but accurate messages using adequate channels.” – Theme 1, Page 10 “The inclusion of funding for KT and extension activities in the next Federal-Provincial-Territorial Policy Framework…and enhanced collaboration across the sector can enable the environment needed to implement new participatory research methods and enable effective knowledge transfer.” – Theme 2, Page 15 “Intellectual property rights (IPR) affect nearly every part of the research process from initial development to the sharing of results with other researchers.  It is also an area of great debate and misunderstanding not only in agricultural research but also in other areas of scientific research.” – Theme 3, Page 19 “Stronger IP agreements and partnerships can also help Canadian agricultural research achieve a competitive advantage at the international level.” – Theme 3, Page 20
Steve Lalonde, a chicken producer in Ormstown, Que., has been working in the chicken barn since he was 10 years old. He officially bought the farm from his dad in 1984, becoming the third generation to own the farm. The 80-acre farm is supplemented by an additional 140 acres he rents from a neighbour, which helps him and his wife, Loraine, produce several tons of organic popcorn each year. However, the heart of the farm is the 28,000 chickens that are raised on an eight-week rotational basis. “What I like about the chicken industry is how efficient the birds are and that chicken is one of the most popular meats on the market now,” says Lalonde. Over the last almost 40 years, Lalonde has seen lots of change on his farm, some by choice, and some less so. In June 2004, the Lalonde’s farm suffered a barn fire where they lost 13,000 two-week old birds, and rather than try to repair, they decided to rebuild the barn. “At the same time, we evaluated the whole chicken operation,” says Lalonde. Before the fire, they had two barns for chickens, but opted to close the second one because it didn’t meet the required standards and would have taken a significant amount of renovations to be up to par. Lalonde also saw this as an opportunity to have all the birds in one barn. They opted for a three-storey barn simply because the math didn’t add up. “There was not enough room in the yard for us to build a two-storey barn long enough for the number of birds we were going to keep,” says Lalonde. With the new barn, their bird count went up from 22,000 to 28,000. In the reconstruction, Lalonde also put in radiant floor heat on the first storey. “We felt that it would be easier for us in the future as we were in our 40s. If we were going to keep up with chicken production, we would be getting older and the clean out wouldn’t be as easy for us in 10 years or so,” says Lalonde. The radiant floor heat means the cement doesn’t sweat, it’s easier to clean out the barns, and Lalonde says the birds seem to enjoy it as well. “One thing we would have done differently is to add some conventional heat as the heated floor relies on the heat evaporating. While the floor is comfortable it is slow to heat the air on the first floor,” says Lalonde, “it also takes less bedding on the first floor as it acts as an insulator and keeps the heat from rising.” However, one of the biggest challenges in a three-storey barn was finding the right balconies for the catchers to stand on. “The first set were our own design and worked well but they soon became obsolete when the trailers used to transport the chickens changed,” says Lalonde. A custom re-design by an outside contractor solved that problem. Finding a way to easily access the middle door on the second storey was another challenge the contractor helped solve. The new barn is 40’x190’, plus a 10’ alley at the end. Each floor has five 18” fans, six 24” fans and four 36” fans. “I think would have added a couple more 36” fans but the ventilation is still adequate for the population of the barn,” says Lalonde. Since the new barn has been built, and even before, Lalonde has always done his best to monitor trends in the market, including antibiotic free birds. “We are very interested in producing antibiotic free birds but we need more information on this front,” says Lalonde. He says he is seeing conflicting reports about the economics. He is also concerned that if a treatment is required, the premium is lost and the added cost will come out of pocket. “With the quality of birds we have been getting lately, we have to treat at least two batches a year with antibiotics and I feel the financial risk is too high at the moment. As a small farm, I cannot afford to subsidize the abattoir,” says Lalonde. He explains that while he’s willing to take the risk, there is no clear gain or benefit and it will most likely end up costing him, rather than advancing, his business. While the market for antibiotics isn’t currently where it needs to be to benefit the small farm, Lalonde isn’t opposed to the notion in the future. Until then, his chicken farm is complemented by the popcorn business, and it works quite well. “We are able to use our own straw for the bedding (in the chicken barn), and the manure that the barn supplies is an excellent fertilizer for our fields,” says Lalonde. Lalonde started growing popcorn just over 10 years ago because it was his and his wife’s “snack of choice.” Since then, they have grown to now be selling seven to eight tons a year, with an ever-expanding market. He says having the popcorn business offers “added diversity of the farm operation.” They have added a grain cleaning facility to package their popcorn and to be able to clean their own grains for seeds. “This is a practice that works well on our organic farm. We like to be as self-sufficient as possible and this is just one way we do so,” says Lalonde. As their popcorn business grows, they plan to maintain the chicken farm until the moratorium on quota sales ends. While Lalonde enjoys the industry, he’s been involved in it for more than 36 years, and there may soon be the chance for someone else to take the reins.      
  An attempt to earn money for school 25 years ago has led to a thriving specialty poultry business for Trevor Allen of Skye Hi Farms in Chilliwack, B.C. Growing up on a 3.5 acre hobby farm in Maple Ridge (about an hour’s drive from his present farm), Allen always had an interest in livestock. He began as a 4-H goat pre-clubber, moved to lamb, then ended 4-H with both hogs and beef. At 14, he began hanging around a local feedlot, learning to operate the equipment and some of the ins and outs of commercial agriculture. When preparing to go to the local college, one of the feedlot owners, Steve Wynnyk, who grew a few turkeys on the side, suggested he grow a batch of turkeys for Christmas. “I started with 150 turkeys which ended up being 32 pounds each,” he recalls. He sold them by “cold-calling” on health food and other stores, most of whom had never sold turkeys before. At the same time, he was earning diplomas in livestock production and business management at the University of the Fraser Valley. As a first-generation farmer and self-styled entrepreneur, Allen “knew nothing about quotas or the supply management system.” He attended a few B.C. Turkey Marketing Board annual meetings (BCTMB) (“I sat in the back”) but basically flew under the radar until 2002, by which time he was growing 1,700 turkeys/year. At that point, then BCTMB-manager Colyn Welsh called. “Colyn gave me two options: I could cease and desist or I could become the board’s first new entrant direct vendor-producer,” Allen says. That was his first major turning point. Armed with a permit, he could approach financial institutions for a mortgage, allowing him and his mother to buy his present farm. Although his mother owns half the land and her own home on the property, she has no financial interest in the farm. By this time, Allen had married his wife Donna. Like Trevor, Donna is a first-generation farmer who went through the 4-H program while growing up on a Fraser Valley hobby farm. Although “I’m more into large animals,” she is fully involved in the poultry business, noting “turkeys are way easier on fences.” The Allens now grow about 7,000 hen turkeys/year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. “We could grow about 2,000 more but I can’t get the quota,” Trevor notes. “I put bids in six times but was only successful once.” He grows two flocks for each holiday, spaced three weeks apart to offer both 12-week and 15-week-old birds. For the first 4-5 weeks, the birds are kept inside a home-built barn. Once fully-feathered, the birds are turned out onto the range each morning and brought back into the barn each evening. The field is divided into paddocks using movable fencing, with each paddock able to access an open-roofed area the turkeys prefer during inclement weather. The turkeys are custom-processed as whole birds, then returned to the farm for warehousing, sorting and distribution. They are marketed as certified non-medicated, non-antibiotic free-range turkeys. “I deliver about 70 per cent direct to retailers myself and the other 30 per cent go through a local meat distributor,” Allen says, noting his website lists all 22 outlets that sell his turkeys. “All my retailers have my number so they can call me with questions or issues.” In 2004, he put his name on the B.C. Chicken Marketing Board (BCCMB) new entrant list. A year later, the B.C. Farm Industry Review Board’s Specialty Review ordered the boards to increase specialty and regional production by bringing new entrants into the industry. That led the BCCMB to offer him the choice of growing Taiwanese chickens immediately or waiting for a new entrant opportunity in mainstream chicken. Because FIRB wanted new mainstream production to be outside the Fraser Valley, Allen chose to grow Taiwanese chickens and now grows about 45,000 birds/year. The Taiwanese chickens are grown year-round in 16-week cycles. He was also appointed to the BCCMB’s Specialty Marketing Advisory Committee, along with Rob Donaldson, then the province’s largest specialty chicken grower, and another small grower, Casey van Ginkel. He and Casey decided they would have more control and perhaps even save some money if they produced their own chicks so they started their own Taiwanese chicken breeder flocks in 2010. “We bought a barn and equipment from a mainstream breeder going out of business and each took half. Since each of us didn’t need eggs year-round, we formed T & C Chick Sales and arranged our cycles so we could share the eggs,” Trevor explains. “We learned you need to have at least four breeder flocks with three in production at any time,” he says. Since they didn’t have enough of their own production to make that viable, they started selling chicks to other, mostly new entrant, Taiwanese chicken growers. “We will sell over 600,000 chicks this year.” Even though Donna insisted she would not pick eggs, Trevor appears to have been very hard-of-hearing that day. “I ended up doing all the egg picking and still pick 90 per cent of them,” she states, good-naturedly adding, “Trevor’s gotten a lot better the last few weeks.” T&C’s decision to become broiler breeders got a cold reception from the B.C. Broiler Hatching Egg Commission, even though the commission had decided, following FIRB’s Specialty Review, not to regulate specialty hatching egg production. BCBHEC’s efforts to stymie them resulted in a successful, yet still not fully resolved, FIRB appeal. In contrast, both the turkey and chicken boards, and their growers, appear to have welcomed Allen with open arms. He served as a B.C. Turkey Association director from 2003-2015 and has been serving as a director of the B.C. Chicken Growers Association since 2006. Although the BCCGA considers him its “de facto” specialty chicken director, Allen stresses he has been elected by and represents “all growers.” “Once you get past the marketing, we’re all the same. We all have OFFSAP and we all have biosecurity,” he notes, adding his hatchery, processing and wholesaling experience brings “a different perspective” to the board. While a director he has chaired the Emergency Response committee, served on the Poultry-in-Motion (educational trailer) committee, the agricultural waste control industry working group, the SE task force and the Sustainable Poultry Farming Group board. “I try to attend every producer meeting and all the FIRB appeals (even non-poultry) I can. My grandpa told me knowledge is power and I want to be the guy making informed decisions for the betterment of not only my farm but the industry as a whole.”      
Elijah Kiarie hasn’t lost sight of the fact that the poultry industry is a business. He knows farmers want to maximize their income and they want their farms to be sustainable. As the newly appointed assistant professor in poultry nutrition in the department of animal biosciences at the University of Guelph, he intends to lead the establishment of a world-class program in poultry nutrition with a focus on improving feed efficiency to help that important bottom line. As farmers know, feed is more than 60 per cent of the cost of production. In Ontario alone, Kiarie estimated that with 200 million 2.4 kg broiler birds, improving feed efficiency by just one per cent would save the farmers in Ontario about $3 million. Across the country that would translate to $10 million in savings over half a billion birds per year. But when Kiarie uses the term “feed efficiency,” it’s not just your typical feed to gain ratio. Feed efficiency can mean so much more than that. What if birds could get more from their feed? The typical excretion rate on a corn/soy diet is up to 15 per cent. What if that could be reduced to 10 per cent? That would be more efficient. As hens are housed in larger spaces, will more nutrients be directed to activity rather than productivity, reducing feed efficiency? Bone health is also a huge issue: the early nutrition received by the chick plays an important part in the strength of the skeletal system. That is part of a field called epigenetics – a field of research investigating how genes are expressed, right from pre-hatch. Can the chick get a better start? What about antimicrobial use? Both governments and consumers are looking for alternatives. Can probiotics provide a solution? While Kiarie acknowledges manipulating the gut microflora involves more than just nutrition, with management factors also coming into play, what if slight changes in feed can reduce the need for antimicrobials in the first place? These are just some of the questions to which Kiarie will be seeking answers. So far he has defined several issues that may be implicated in sub-optimal production, from variability in feed ingredients and the ability of the bird to digest their food, to water quality issues, high gut microbial loads, subclinical and clinical disease, leg problems, and environmental stress from ammonia. For both eggs and meat, these issues may represent areas where commercial production can be brought closer to genetic potential through nutrition. All of these issues can be traced back to gut microbes. There are more than 400 species of bacteria in the gut – how can we make them happy? When you feed the bird you feed the chicken but you’re also feeding the gut microbes: improving efficiency means you want to only feed the bacteria the chicken needs. As Kiarie says, “If you’re feeding the wrong microbes, you’re wasting feed.“ The chicken is affected in a 360-degree cycle, he explains, starting with the fundamentals: a strong gut and skeletal system to perform. If you don’t have a good gut and skeleton you’ve missed an opportunity to deal with what he calls an “addressable gap.” In this cyclic pattern a chick grows on maternal nutrition, so the mother needs to be healthy; we can’t just look at the chick in isolation. With this cycle in mind, Kiarie is looking at the broiler breeders to address egg size and body weight management. Kiarie earned his PhD at the University of Manitoba and his undergraduate and masters degrees at the University of Nairobi. He has been a research scientist at DuPont Industrial Biosciences since 2011. In his new role at the University of Guelph he will pull together students, researchers, and funding from industry and government for projects and ultimately develop industry workers, bringing all these minds together to work as a team to help to place Ontario as a leader in collaborative, world-class poultry research. The current specific areas of focus for the poultry nutrition plan include neonatal nutrition, immunity and epigenetic responses; dietary factors that affect gut function and health, performance, and product quality; feed additives to improve gut health and feed utilization; researching alternatives to anti-coccidials and antibiotics; and looking at feedstuffs and processing methods. Kiarie continues to work closely with monogastric and gut microbiology colleagues from the University of Manitoba where he researched different feeding strategies to improve gastrointestinal health and nutrient use in pigs and poultry. During the first several months of his new job, Kiarie has met with producers at regional meetings, with industry groups and has spoken with feed company representatives and nutritionists to establish what issues are relevant to the Ontario and Canadian poultry industry. From here he will begin to generate letters of intent for research projects while continuing to publish his own research. While his task is complex, he says his greatest joy still involves answering questions from producers and training students.   His professorship position was made possible thanks to a donation by Ontario poultry farmers James and Brenda McIntosh to the university in 2013.
In 2014, Canadian farmers produced more than 595 million dozen eggs per year and had eight straight years of sales growth. According to a recent study by Egg Farmers of Canada, it takes 69 per cent less water and half the amount of feed today to produce a dozen eggs, while hens are producing nearly 50 per cent more and are living longer than they did 50 years ago. Layer operations across the U.S. and Canada are progressing, and this fact is evident when visiting the layer operation at McGee Colony, recognized by Star Egg Company in 2015 with a first place finish in Saskatchewan for reaching the dozen eggs per bird and cost per dozen eggs quota. As of 2014, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) listed the average Canadian flock size at 20,192 hens; however, Canadian egg farms can range from a few hundred to more than 400,000 hens. The average laying hen produces approximately 305 eggs per year (25.4 dozen). The Bovan standard is 353 eggs per hen housed at 78 weeks. The flock of 16,200 Bovan White managed by Jerry Mandel and his father John Mandel boasted a production of 370 eggs per hen housed, with 106 grams of feed intake per hen per day at 78 weeks, in 2015. The number of eggs produced was above the Bovan standard, while the feed intake per hen per day was below the Bovan standard. Jerry and John emphasize that they had great help in earning the plaque from Star Egg Company that was presented to them at the Saskatchewan Egg Producers annual meeting.   “Part of making this program work is good teamwork, with everyone making sure the hens get the best nutrition, health and management care,” said Jerry. McGee Colony, located near Rosetown, Saskatchewan, is named after the site of the old village of McGee. The poultry barn and associated equipment are fairly new and well-maintained. Even so, there are challenges that need to be met. The well water’s pH level measures around 9. This is closely monitored and adjusted to 6.5 via acidification of the water on a continual basis. As a result, chlorination of the water is achieved with a more acidic pH, as chlorination works at its optimum for water sanitation with a pH around 5–6.5. The flock is an integral part of the colony. The feed is produced on-farm in a computerized mill, and the grains are grown specifically for use by the flock. Being located in the Rosetown area means wheat is the cereal of choice, not corn. By milling their wheat, McGee Colony was able to change to a larger screen (a 1-inch screen) with several advantages: There are less broken kernels. This reduces feed separation as it goes through the travelling hopper feed delivery system. Whole wheat causes more feed grinding in the gizzard, so more endogenous enzymes are mixed with the feed. Feed passage is then slowed, allowing for better digestion and thus gut health. Less electricity is required. Faster feed throughput is achieved at the mill. The integration of the poultry unit on the farm means the field crop operation is influenced by the poultry operation and the poultry operation is in turn influenced by the field crop operation. Manure is handled so that it is dried as rapidly as possible and initial moisture content is observed constantly.  Incoming water, as mentioned above, is treated to optimize pH as well as with chlorine. This combination helps to avoid excessively wet droppings.   McGee’s rations do not contain meat meal, so their nutritionist at EMF Nutrition pays close attention to the osmotic balance of the ration, which also helps to reduce the fecal moisture. The inclusion of a yucca plant extract technology helps to reduce ammonia in the barn while also lowering the amount of ventilation required in the winter to remove ammonia, thus allowing for ease of maintaining daytime temperatures at 20 degrees Celsius and nighttime temperatures at 22 degrees Celsius in the winter.   The manure, which is removed to the storage room at the end of the barn, has heated air from the barn drawn over it as it is exhausted from the barn. This also helps to further dry the manure. The dry manure is then removed from the storage area and allowed to cure before it is applied as fertilizer on the fields.  From this process, less nitrogen escapes from dry manure. The less the nitrogen escapes from the manure and the better bound the nitrogen is, the higher the nitrogen content is in the manure that is applied to the fields.   McGee Colony also includes an enzyme technology in their rations to increase the digestibility of plant-based ingredients, thus reducing the need for supplemental phosphorus and decreasing the phosphorus levels in the manure. By lowering manure phosphorus and increasing nitrogen, McGee Colony can minimize the land required to accept the phosphorus while maximizing the amount of nitrogen applied from the manure. This nutrient management plan helps to reduce the nitrogen fertilizer required to meet the needs for next year’s crop. Next year, the colony will be using a foliar-applied source of micronutrients on the land growing wheat for the poultry unit. This micronutrient application helps to optimize plant growth and harvest yield. Higher yield means less land required to grow crops for the poultry unit and more land for cash crops. Higher yield also means more nutrients removed, and the poultry manure can be spread over the land with less time and less fuel. McGee Colony has also implemented some of the programs other successful layer operations have shared within the industry. Dave Coburn of Coburn Farms spoke about its “Best Flock Ever” (Canadian Poultry, April 2012), and mentioned including the Alltech Poultry Pak® program in addition to the use of large particle sizes to stimulate the gizzard. Both of these methods were implemented in the Coburn Farms program to improve gut health and ultimately egg production.   McGee Colony has also incorporated both of these programs to maximize their eggs per quota and feed efficiency. With these programs in place, in addition to improving soil management and yield with effective soil nutrient management, McGee Colony is successfully building a sustainable agricultural program.   “The eggshells are better, even with the older 70 week birds, and we have less eggshell cracks than before,” said Jerry. “The birds are keeping their feathers longer and they always appear to be active.”
It’s one of the most, if not the most, efficient and high-tech poultry barn in Canada – a layer barn/egg cooling facility that offsets the consumption of electricity and natural gas heating through the use of solar electricity generation and many cutting-edge technologies.The total estimated annual electricity and natural gas needs of the facility are between 80,000 to 120,000 kWh (with one GJ of natural gas consumption equivalent to 278 kWh). The existing solar panels generate about 29,000 kWh, so at this point, only about a third of the facility’s power needs are taken care of on-farm – but it’s a facility which holds many keys to how a layer facility might be designed and operated so that it produces as much energy as it consumes, known as “net zero.” Egg Farmers of Alberta describes the site as “establishing precedent for what additional solar (or other energy generation) would be required to get to net zero energy consumption,” and that it will “eventually provide all of the information we need to in order to communicate what a net zero layer barn looks like, and what it costs.”The free-run aviary barn is owned by the Brant Hutterite Colony (population 105) in Brant, Alberta (near Lethbridge) and houses 13,000 laying hens. To help offset some of the construction costs, the colony received a $250,000 grant from the Alberta government. Its partners, Egg Farmers of Alberta (EFA) and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AAF), also secured some funding from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (through Growing Forward 2) to help make the project a reality. The idea for a net zero egg facility came about in 2014 after EFA had completed a “life cycle analysis”(an examination of resource use and other factors) of the province’s egg farms. It showed that on-farm energy use represents nearly 15 per cent of the climate change impact of egg production in Alberta. “EFA was and is in the process of building plans and strategies to improve the carbon footprint of egg production and this [project] was a natural fit,” notes EFA Industry Development Officer Jenna Griffin. “Similar projects were initiated with Pork and Milk, but each organization took it in a different direction and I believe we were the only ones that went down the path of building a commercial facility.”To find an egg farmer partner, EFA sent information to all those in the province known to be building a new facility and narrowed it down to a few that met certain criteria. “For example, we wanted the facility to be near a major urban centre, and be of a size that was representative of an average Alberta egg farm,” says Griffin. “The intent was to give ourselves the best chance of successfully getting to net zero and to ensure that the data generated is applicable to most farms.”In describing why Brant Colony went ahead, Brant egg manager Darrel Mandel highlights the collegiality within Alberta’s egg industry. “There is a passion for your fellow producer,” he says. “When one has achieved a new and efficient way to better his or her farm…it is shared…For us, it did not seem right to let this pass and not do it for the industry.” The agreement with EFA and AAF required that Brant Colony provide data about barn energy performance and also install a web cam inside the barn, and Mandel says that while “providing data did not seem to be such a big issue” at the time, “agreeing to install cameras, allowing tours, were some big things to consider, and there were multiple reasons why we felt that first off, why should the public see what we or our birds are doing? It seemed like a very strange and out-of-place puzzle piece…[but] then we asked ourselves, what is there to hide? Why is this making us afraid on sharing what we do best, that being caring for our animals?…Adding the cameras would not change our everyday lifestyle. We love our animals…They need to be treated with the best care possible. By doing that, it gives the consumer a healthier egg…and gives us farmers an accomplishment that we are proud of and willing to share, be it on live stream or face to face with the public.”                                                           MAKING CHOICESUsing input from EFA and AAF, Brant Colony designed the building and purchased very high-efficiency systems and equipment. “The highest priority was for full laying-barn energy metering of electricity and natural gas,” notes AAF engineer Kelly Lund. “The next highest priority was for an investigation into using modern Heat Recovery Ventilator technology to save on heat energy.” Another main priority was choosing high efficiency equipment in the egg cooler. Electricity consumption is slashed low through the use of LED lights, which initially cost more but reduce light energy use by at least 80 per cent compared to incandescents, and have 30 times the lifespan.The barn is heated through hydronics, a system wherein heat radiates from warm water circulated through a set of tubes, in this case hung from the ceiling. The water is heated using a natural gas boiler and circulated by electrically-powered pumps. Retaining as much heat as possible is very important to keep energy consumption down, but in a poultry barn, extra insulation won’t really help. That’s because barns lose about 80 per cent of their heat in the winter through ventilation – and that’s why a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) was included in the barn design. HRV’s maintain air quality while preventing large amounts of heat from being exhausted outside through transferring heat from outbound warm barn air to the incoming cold fresh air. The airstreams pass through an elongated grid system and never mix. The amount of heat that can be retained depends on factors such as air velocity and the temperature difference between the airstreams. Moisture must be removed when the exhaust air temperature is reduced to the dew point. “In freezing weather, there is potential for frost build-up with this condensation,” notes Lund. “Most HRVs (including this one) have a defrost cycle they are able to run if required.”The HRV system will become operational this fall. Lund says they are anticipating some potential problems in colder weather, “not so much with the heat exchanger itself, but with the method of interior air distribution, which is a free air jet to a central redistribution fan system. If the incoming airspeed is not fast enough (which could potentially happen in particularly cold weather when the incoming airflow rate is reduced to prevent freeze-up), the incoming air may not reach the target location within the barn to be properly circulated.” Brant Colony has looked closely at the situation with EFC and AAF, and also hired an independent engineer. Mandel says everyone has concluded they need to run a distribution duct in order to get a good air flow to the centre of the barn. “We have decided it is better if we wait until the flock gets depopulated in early 2017,” he says. “We will still try to do some initial HRV testing once the heating season starts to see what the air distribution pattern looks like, but are prepared to shut it down if we notice problems.”When might this particular egg production and cooling facility reach ‘net zero’ energy consumption? Lund says once they have one to two years of data monitoring, they will have “a much better sense of the energy use” and of “the amount of solar panels it would take to make it fully net zero.” She adds that Brant Colony’s decision to go fully net zero will likely be based at some future point in time on “whether the marketplace was ready to reward that level of initiative.” Mandel notes that overall, being involved in the initiative gave him and his Colony colleagues the impression that the barn really could not be efficient enough, which spurred them to continuously look for efficiencies in all aspects of construction and operation. Besides the HRV system which hasn’t begun operating yet, Mandel says everything else is functioning well. “We can see the energy loads of the equipment in the control system and in the boiler room, and the cooler unit and solar are showing positive signs that the research was a worthwhile cause.”
Nova Scotia broiler producer Nick de Graaf passed several significant milestones in 2008.First, he bought out his father’s share in the Annapolis Valley poultry farm founded by his Dutch grandfather in the early 1960s in Kings County, Nova Scotia, between Canning and Port Williams. Next, Nick bought more quota, increasing his flock production by 196,000 birds annually. This came just three years after the de Graafs bought additional quota in 2005, increasing their flock production by 102,000 birds per year. “We grow 660,000 chickens per year and we also grow 67,000 turkeys per year,” says Nick. He ships his birds to the Sunnymel poultry processing plant in Clair, Northern New Brunswick. Nick’s poultry production is audited for four food safety and animal welfare programs. For his broilers, this includes the Chicken Farmers of Canada’s (CFC) On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program (OFFSAP) and CFC’s Animal Care Program. He also follows two similar programs for his turkey production. Lastly, in 2008 he also built a feed mill to process poultry rations from his crops. He grows wheat, primarily for straw bedding for his flocks and he is 100 per cent self-sufficient in corn cultivation. Nick owns 700 acres of arable land and he also crops an additional 900 acres in scattered parcels across Kings County. He only grows 65 per cent of the soybeans he uses in his rations as he doesn’t yet have enough acreage for soybean self-sufficiency. However, he is looking for more land. Nick graduated in 1998 from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, now the Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus with a B.Sc. in  Agricultural Economics and four years later, in 2002, he became financially involved in the family farm. Nick is now a director on both the Chicken Farmers of Nova Scotia and the Turkey Farmers of Nova Scotia marketing boards. To date, he has served seven years on the chicken marketing board and two years on the turkey board. He is also a past-president of the Kings county Federation of Agriculture. He and his wife, Trudy, have three children. Their eldest daughter, Malorie, is married with two children of her own. Their next daughter, Vanessa, is 16 and their son, Tyler, is 14. Vanessa plans to attend Dalhousie University’s Agricultural Campus and seems interested in farming after graduation, de Graaf says. At age 40 he has not yet begun farm succession planning. Off-farm recreational interests of the de Graaf family include travel and de Graaf says he and his two youngest children enjoy the shooting sports of trap and skeet.
September 28, 2016 - Hendrix Genetics (HG) says it is reinforcing that high health, salmonella-negative flocks and ensuring clean and pathogen-free facilities are a top priority, with an investment in new laboratory facilities and upgrades. The company is highlighting an expansion to its North American poultry laboratory, based in Kitchener, Ont. This central facility, run by a team of six, processes approximately 200,000 samples per year from all turkey and layer parent stock flocks in North America. They also schedule and prepare all tests required by regulatory and export agencies. With biosecurity as a key component of the new layout, HG says it was staff that came up with the design of the various zones. The design sought to ensure secure division between zones for preparing test kits as well as receiving, handling and analyzing different sample types. "The design of this lab was truly a collaborative effort," says laboratory manager, Peter Pozder. "The team worked together to identify opportunities for improvement within the current layout and planned the enhanced work flow; all without any interruption to the testing schedule.” After inspection for biosecurity standards, the new design was approved and is licensed under Canadian federal public health and food inspection agencies. On Sep. 9, 2016, HG opened the doors to local customers, government partners and internal teams in order to exhibit the updated facility. “Investment in the lab benefits our customers and all stakeholders in the value chain," says Scott Rowland, Hybrid Turkeys' general manager for the Americas. "The samples analyzed at this facility, whether it’s directly from the birds or samples from the water residue, litter, transport vehicles, or feed ingredients, have a direct impact on how we can effectively monitor flock health and prevent the spread of disease.”
Sept. 27, 2016 - Cobb-Vantress, Inc. recently welcomed hatchery managers and owner/operators from across Canada for its 2016 Hatchery Roundtable in Toronto, where incubation companies Jamesway and Chickmaster also took part providing insights on their specific equipment and programs.In addition to Cobb presentations, topics of discussion included vaccination, sanitation, maintenance as well as many other important hatchery procedures and practices. “These hatchery managers and owner/operators play a key role in the Canadian poultry industry and this type of roundtable meeting provides an ideal opportunity for everyone to visit with Cobb experts in person, share ideas and best practices, and network with other industry professionals that deal with similar issues in their operations,” says Trevor Gies, marketing manager for Cobb North America.“Instead of focusing on general topics, we covered areas that everyone was interested in and wanted to learn more about,” said Ben Green, hatchery specialist in the Cobb World Technical Support Team. “Each attendee suggested topics of interest before the meeting through our event website and that allowed us to create a meeting agenda addressing everyone’s needs. We had great participation from the group and were able to help answer many of their questions.
Sept. 26, 2016 - Adrian and Jodi Roelands of Roelands Plant Farms Inc. have been selected as Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2016. The winners were announced at the Ontario regional event in Stratford, Ontario on Sept. 13.Roelands Plant Farms Inc. is a greenhouse in south western Ontario where Adrian and Jodi custom grow premium cucumber, tomato and pepper seedlings for sale to vegetable production greenhouses. Since construction of the greenhouse in 2013, they have since expanded twice, bringing their total operation to 12 acres. The industry uses computer technology to automatically control almost every aspect of climate, and the increasing amount of automation available to growers enables them to produce extremely high quality vegetables while keeping costs competitive.“The Ontario OYF region put on a great event in conjunction with Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock to showcase the OYF nominees,” says OYF vice president East Carl Marquis. “Adrian and Jodi really demonstrated their passion for agriculture and I’m excited for them to represent the region at the national event this fall.”Both Adrian and Jodi have been involved in agriculture their whole lives. Adrian grew up on a farrow to finish hog operation, and Jodi grew up working alongside her family on their broiler breeder operation. Even before they got married, it was evident that farming together was in their future - it was just a matter of how and when.In 2012 Adrian and Jodi made the decision to venture out on their own, and by early 2013 they had started construction on four acres of greenhouse propagation space on a newly purchased farm. The operation started with just the two of them, and quickly grew to 60 full-time employees and another 100 staff seasonally. Managing a farm like this has meant learning a lot of new skills quickly, and adapting their management styles accordingly.One of the principles that guide Adrian and Jodi is to remain committed to their agricultural roots, and endeavour to be a leader into the changing future of farming. They see the future of the family farm being much different than the past - it will be larger, more productive and technology based, and will employ more highly-skilled staff.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.Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2016 will be chosen at the National Event in Niagara Falls, Ont. from Nov. 29 – Dec. 4, 2016.
August 11, 2016 - Twenty-one U.S. land-grant institutions and partner organizations are collaborating to provide researchers, Extension professionals, regulators, feed industries, and producers with up-to-date, research-based information on the nutrient needs of agricultural animals. Since forming in 2010, the National Animal Nutrition Program has created a database of animal feed ingredients. The database is a vital tool to inform cost-effective production decisions, animal welfare policies and procedures, and to guarantee the safety and nutritional value of consumers' food. "Feed is the largest livestock and poultry production expense, and better information on animal nutritional needs and feeding strategies is key to making livestock production sustainable and effective," stated Merlin Lindemann, project leader fromUniversity of Kentucky. Activities conducted by the program aid in the development of feeding strategies and research to enhance animal health, which allows for better productivity and lowered costs. Consumers will also benefit from safer, more nutritious meat, dairy, and eggs. "The significance of this data is vast," says Phil Miller, project participant from University of Nebraska. "It shows how we can use the byproducts from biofuel grain production in animal feed more economically.  It also reveals how modified animal diets can reduce the emissions from livestock that contribute to global warming." So far, the program has collected and sorted 1.5 million feed ingredient records to create a reliable database that is used by organizations in over 30 countries, including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.  The National Animal Nutrition Program is a National Research Support Project supported by the Agricultural Experiment Stations with funds administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The feed database is only one of many accomplishments of the NANP since its inception in 2010. For more information, visit The participating land-grant universities include: Auburn University University of California, Davis University of Connecticut University of Guelph University of Illinois  Iowa State University University of Kentucky Michigan State University  Louisiana State University University of Maryland  University of Nebraska North Carolina State University  Ohio State University  Pennsylvania State University Purdue University  Texas A&M University  Texas Tech University  Virginia Tech University  Washington State University  University of Wyoming  USDA-ARS/Wisconsin
August 11, 2016 - Earlier this week Yum Brands investors filed a shareholder proposal requesting that it phase out antibiotic use in its meat supply, with a particular focus on the company's Kentucky Fried Chicken chain. READ MORE  
August 5, 2016 - As they prepare to take on the world in Rio, members of the national swim team were sent sent off with the best wishes of Canada's chicken farmers. These competitive swimmers, along with their coaches and support staff, have each been given a special edition 2016 Lucky Loonie, in recognition of farmers' and athletes' partnership for healthy living. "We are proud to be the official protein of swimming in Canada and to support Canada's athletes," said Dave Janzen, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada. "With the team equipped with these Lucky Loonies, we're cheering them on as they compete for Canada in Rio." "Swimming Canada's partnership with Chicken Farmers of Canada has grown every year, and continues to evolve," said Chris Wilson, Swimming Canada's Director of Marketing. "Our swimmers appreciate the support they get and understand the amount of work thatCanada's 2,800 chicken farmers do to put a healthy product on Canadian tables. This good luck gesture is a fun way for the farmers to remind the athletes of all the supporters rooting them on from back home." Last year, farmers' ongoing support for swimming in Canada was recognized with the 2015 Corporate Excellence Award from Aquatics Canada. The award specifically highlighted the farmers' wide range of support, from high performance athletes to the grassroots levels. The Lucky Loonie, a specially-minted coin from the Royal Canadian Mint, has been issued for each Olympic and Paralympic Games since a loonie was buried beneath the hockey rink for the 2002 Winter Games. It worked then too as both the men's and women's teams won gold that year.  
  For Susan Schafers, the choice to go cage-free in 2007 was obvious. “At the time, my father still owned the quota, and he downsized from 30,000 to 7000 layers,” she explains. “For that smallish flock size, free-run made sense financially. And also, my brother, Martin Kanehl, was selling poultry barn equipment, and we saw the writing on the wall with cage-free. Everyone would be moving that way. I think we were second in Alberta to do it.” Schafers’ operation, STS Farms, located in Stony Plain (outside Edmonton) supplies Burnbrae, which is the sole provider of eggs to McDonald’s Canada. Schafers is pleased that the retail chain sources eggs, meat, potatoes and more from Canadian farms, a practice some other chains don’t choose to employ. STS Farms was started by Schafers’ parents Manfred and Elke Kanehl, in the early 1960’s. They were immigrants from Germany who met and married here. “My Dad did everything from working the railroads to being a cowboy to running a hatchery,” Schafers explains. “At one point, he got a few hundred chickens and then grew from there. He grew grain as well, and had a broiler-breeder operation and then went to layers. As their layer flock downsized and they stopped cropping, their pullet operation grew and STS Farms now produces 150,000 pullets a year. “We started with free run housing with the pullets, then went to caged and now we’ll be switching to loose housing again, which might mean downsizing,” Schafers says. “The next renovation will be aviary free-run, with birds having the opportunity to learn how to fly.” She notes that in 2007, she would have gone to an aviary system for the layers, but they weren’t around at the time. “Now there are better styles,” she says. “They’ve done a lot of development work, and now you have the ability to place more birds.” While Schafers supports producers using aviary, enriched cage or free-run systems, she notes that when you go from cages to one of the looser housing systems, there is an increase in the environmental footprint of the farm – a fact which many consumers may not realize. “You have to build more barns, which takes up more space and uses more resources and adds to the cost,” she notes. “That’s the reality. It will take time for industry to make those changes. I think consumers should have the choice of buying eggs from hens living in different housing systems, but it’s different when retailers and some consumers dictate a single choice to egg farmers and to all consumers. Going to all free-run barns across the country will mean the price of eggs will go up substantially. But there is a silver lining in that there is excitement and enthusiasm in the industry along with some fear and uncertainties. We have a very strong and positive industry. Eggs are considered healthy again, and we’re in growth mode. I’d like to build a second barn in time.” Schafers has five full-time employees and several part-time employees, some of whom have been with her over 20 years. She has a farm manager, but does lots of hands-on daily tasks such as gathering eggs and loading pullets as she enjoys it, it keeps her in good touch with the birds and it provides good balance. Her parents live next door to her and her children on the farm, and her Dad Manfred still enjoys helping out and sharing his wealth of knowledge. Schafers’ children Isaac (14 years old), Elisabeth (17) and Glen (19) have always helped out on the farm. “I’ve always encouraged them to get post-secondary education and to have that experience away from the farm,” she says. “They will know when and if they want to come back.” Importance of AssociationsLike Schafers’ father, who served on the Egg Farmers of Alberta (EFA) and Egg Farmers of Canada boards for many years, Schafers also has held association positions. She’s the current EFA Vice Chair and former Chair and has also served on the Pullet Growers of Canada board. “Unless you’re on a board, you don’t realize how important it is,” she says. “At some point, every producer should be on the board. You see how what you do on your own farm relates to what is happening in your own province and nationally, how the provinces need to work together on national issues and also international ones. I really enjoy the board service.” Schafers has a degree in Agricultural Management, and does both public speaking and blogging on the EFA website. “Ag education is one of the things I love the most,” she says. “It’s many things. I enjoy being part of the conversation and talking to people about their views. I love teaching people about where their food comes from in the schools, at events, on television, and I think it’s very important as an entire industry because interacting means you’re able to develop your industry and reach people. We are well on our way to educating people about food and animal husbandry but we can always do more.” She adds, “I think egg producers are living in a great time, in a very strong growth mode where eggs are viewed as nutritious, fresh and economical for consumers. Yes, there are challenges, the biggest one being the housing situation, but we will meet those. I am very happy being on the EFA Board, with the current focus on planning and supporting producers to find solutions. “Producer education and awareness are very important so that producers are prepared for the future and aren’t left scrambling.”      
Very few Canadian farmers schedule their farm projects around when the House of Commons is sitting in Ottawa. But that’s the case for New Brunswick egg farmer and Member of Parliament, TJ Harvey. By the end of June when the House adjourns, TJ will break from his hectic travel schedule to be in his constituency of Tobique-Mactaquac until mid-September. When not fulfilling responsibilities in his home riding this summer, TJ squeezes in time with his wife, Tanya, and their four children – Emma, Madilyn, Sarah and Jack – and juggles farm projects. TJ and Tanya were accepted as new entrants in 2009, and were established in their newly built layer barn the following year at Sunnyside Farms Ltd. in Glassville, N.B. “We started with an allocation of 1,100 birds from the Egg Farmers of New Brunswick, and have grown to 3,000 birds with additional allocations and increases,” TJ explains. It was Tanya’s introduction to poultry farming while gathering eggs with her sister at the local Clarks chick hatchery growing up that sparked the interest in her and TJ becoming new entrants. Tanya’s family has a dairy farm in Midland, N.B.   A second generation farmer, TJ grew up on a seed potato farm that his father started with seven acres in the 1980s. In 2011, when the opportunity presented itself, the family sold out of the cropping enterprise, which then comprised 550 acres of seed potatoes and 900 acres of soybeans, wheat and barley in rotation. Today, TJ and Tanya still live on the family farm, while the family rents out the potato storages and remaining acres of land. While most N.B. new entrants retrofitted or worked with existing barns, the Harveys built new on a site that hadn’t had livestock in recent years. This meant they had to meet the province’s stringent Livestock Operations Act. Despite the challenges, they “had the opportunity to build a modern barn on a smaller scale,” TJ says.   The barn was built large enough to house 4,000 birds in a conventional housing system. It’s fully automated except for the gathering, which “allows us a lot of flexibility.” That flexibility has come in handy with TJ’s schedule and Tanya working full time in tech services for McCain Foods Ltd., headquartered in nearby Florenceville, the World’s French Fry Capitol. An employee, Chris Milheron, that has been with the family since the seed potato growing days has been “invaluable” as a consistent set of hands and eyes working in the layer barn. “We encourage our four kids to go and help in the barn as much as possible, too,” says TJ, who also makes a point to have at least weekends in the barn when life gets extra hectic. “An alarm system is the best thing we installed,” notes TJ, “whether it’s a power failure, fans or water issue, we know instantly and can have someone there right away.” The Harveys had plans to expand by adding another tier of layers, but have been stymied by the requirement that future expansions must be either free range or enriched housing. It’s just not in the cards for them so soon after their initial investment to get established. Interest in Politics“Deep down, I always knew I wanted to run for politics,” TJ shares. After off-farm stints with crop protection and food ingredient companies, the opportunity presented itself to get involved in the leadership campaign for Justin Trudeau. “I was always engaged and part of the local Liberal association and it just started to snowball from there.” On October 19, 2015, TJ was elected to represent his constituency in the Federal election. He is one of the few Members of Parliament under 35 years of age. His farm background also means he’s frequently lobbied on agricultural issues. TJ believes the biggest challenge in agriculture is the disconnect between the farm and consumer. “We need to get a lot better at telling our story.” He encourages farmers to be proactive and create opportunities to show what you do, such as adding skyways or viewing rooms on your farm for visitors. “People just do not understand and we have a duty to share our story.” For his part, in Ottawa, TJ is chairing an all-party agriculture caucus. He describes it as an opportunity for MPs representing rural areas, or those interested in or wanting to learn about agriculture to meet and leave the partisan aspect at the door. “We just share, talk and debate about what’s best and what’s needed for the agricultural industry, and how we can support that with good policy.” It’s one of few such caucuses in Government, though TJ sees more being established in future. “It’s really taken off,” he says, noting approximately 40 MPs have joined the all-party agriculture caucus. The only requirements to join are an interest in agricultural issues, and attending the 7 a.m. meetings each month. “We’re working hard to get renewed vigour around agriculture.” TJ has noticed that, often, one sector of agriculture gets pitted against another. He describes this as unfortunate and unnecessary. “As a country, we need to create agriculture policy that allows all our sectors to flourish, and that includes supply management as a key pillar.” TJ is confident every sector can gel together without creating hardship in another. “There are much easier ways to make a living than farming. If you didn’t love farming, you wouldn’t do it.” TJ believes our agricultural industry stakeholders can rally around buying Canadian products, food security and food sovereignty – issues that touch all sectors. Certainly, TJ and Tanya are proof that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for working life in agriculture. “If you’re committed to agriculture and have an open mind, you’ll see opportunities among the challenges.” There’s a shelf-life to politics and TJ won’t rule anything out for the future. “When you stop looking for opportunities, then you’re truly done.”
The swell of demand from North America’s largest food companies for cage-free eggs is a stunning example of why public trust in our country’s food system matters. The huge number of cage-free commitments from food makers, retailers and restaurants in Canada and the U.S. stems from how these companies perceive overall consumer opinions on hen housing – the fact that consumers do not trust that farmers know best with regard to housing systems that provides the best life for hens. While these North American food companies (see sidebar) are no doubt being influenced by cage-free commitments already made by their subsidiaries or peers in Australia, the UK and the EU, their promises to only source cage-free eggs in these other parts of the world are again based on consumer perception, largely influenced by animal activist groups.   The united cage-free front of North American food makers, restaurants and retailers suggests that cage-free housing is inevitable in both Canada and the U.S. There are simply no major egg buyers who want anything else. “This is a done issue in the U.S.,” says Josh Balk, senior director for food policy at the Humane Society of the United States. “I can’t see the Canadian scenario being any different.”   However, whether egg farmers in either country will be able to meet the deadlines  is far from certain.   Eggs Farmers of Canada (EFC) has currently committed to reaching 50 per cent cage-free production within eight years (2024), 85 per cent within 15 years and to have all hens “in enriched housing, free-run, aviary or free-range by 2036, assuming the current market conditions prevail.” This does not line up with North American food industry timelines of sourcing only cage-free eggs by 2025 or sooner. For example, Retail Council of Canada members such as Loblaw and Wal-Mart have committed to 2025, and David Wilkes, Retail Council senior vice-president of government relations and grocery division, says they “will continue to work with producers and processors to transition to this housing environment.” Burnbrae, sole egg supplier of McDonald’s Canada, is switching all its production for that customer to cage-free to meet the restaurant chain’s 2025 deadline. In the U.S., Rose Acre Farms and Rembrandt Farms, the country’s second and third largest egg producers, are already converting to cage-free barns. A&W Canada currently stands alone among North American food industry companies in its support of enriched housing. The fast food company says it “has worked very hard to have our eggs come from hens that live in enriched cages,” and that it “will continue to serve eggs from enriched housing while we work towards better cage-free housing.” The chain recognizes that Canadians want their eggs to come from hens housed outside of cages, but adds that “there are currently no viable commercial cage-free housing options that meet our strict standards.” To that end, in March 2016 A&W announced it wants to work with Canadian charity Farm & Food Care to bring egg industry partners, retail and food service from across Canada together with the U.S. Center for Food Integrity’s Coalition for a Sustainable Egg Supply to discuss all issues impacting sustainable eggs (including food safety, environment, hen health, worker health and safety and food affordability), and determine areas that the Canadian egg sector feels funding would be best spent. A&W has offered a grant of $100,000 to further this research. For it’s part, EFC recognizes research that shows each production system comes with trade-offs. We asked EFC about the fact that for any Canadian egg farm to convert to enriched cages and keep the same production level, new barn(s) will likely have to be constructed because the same number of birds cannot be housed in enriched cages in a given barn as were housed in battery cages. Does EFC see this as a particular challenge for Canadian egg farmers in terms of costs and the land required? “There are many factors a farmer needs to consider when evaluating the realities of transitioning an operation,” EFC states. “What’s important to keep in mind is that every farm is different (e.g. size, location, etc.) and until farmers start working through the implications of their transition—carefully considering his/her requirements—any estimation of cost is speculative.” While EFC is currently looking into the financial implications of various alternative housing systems, we asked also if cage-free barns are less expensive than enriched cages, taking into account the possible requirement for new barn(s). “The decision to retool an existing barn or build a new barn is an important component of each farm’s individual transition plan,” EFC states. “Shifting to a new production system with different space requirements can impact the overall size of the flock. Typically, alternative housing systems have a larger building footprint and do not contain as many birds and conventional housing systems.” Cost is a concern for the United Egg Producers, which represents those producing almost 90 per cent of American eggs, and for the National Association of Egg Farmers (NAEF), which represents about one per cent of U.S. production. NAEF is against mandated cage-free production for other reasons as well, including increased egg prices, increased mortality due to cannibalism and other factors, increased pecking injuries, higher risk of contamination due to prolonged exposure of eggs to litter and manure in nest boxes or on the barn floor, high dust levels and ergonomic challenges in egg collection.   Canada’s National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) released the draft version of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Layers for public comment in June. The draft does not promote any type of housing over any other, but does include new recommendations for roomier cages. In the end however, any attempt to convince the North American foodservice industry of the merits of any other type of housing except free-run/cage-free may be a lost cause. Marion Gross, senior supply chain management vice president at McDonald’s USA, may have summed it up best in her statement in January 2016 in the Chicago Tribune: “Enriched [housing] doesn’t mean anything to our customers, but they know what cage-free means.”
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.
  Chickens, like all vertebrates, are governed by a circadian rhythm that is governed by the natural light/dark cycle of day and night. As such, chickens mostly rest and are inactive at night, especially when it is dark.  Although they do rest during the daylight hours, most of their feeding and activity is performed during this time.    Studies show that just as in humans, major abrupt changes to the day/night cycle of the chickens, such as waking up the chickens at night with loud noises, will lead to stressed and anxious chickens. In addition, studies have shown that loud noises such as found near airports, rail road tracks or loud hydraulic or pneumatic equipment and machinery close to the chickens leads to lower egg production, stunted growth, higher blood pressure, stress and fatigue in the birds.  A study has shown that loud noise simulating noisy ventilation fans and operational machines found at slaughterhouses led to increased plasma corticosteroids, cholesterol and total protein.1 This study recommended the control of noise pollution near the chickens and chicks. Other studies show that noise levels past the 85 dB level can lead to a decreased feed intake of between 15 to 25 per cent.  Lower feed intake stunts chicken growth — something the poultry farmer or processor does not want. But all is not lost. Below are some tips and advice to reduce the noise level to an acceptable and healthier level leading to happier and healthier chickens – both psychologically and physically. First identify the sources of noise pollution equipment. Use a sound measuring tool if necessary. Erect sound barrier secondary glazing in windows. Establish your chicken farm in a quiet area away from airports and industrial areas and rail yards. Maintain your ventilation fans and feeding machines making sure they are not producing excess noise. Try to buy machines that produce the least noise possible. Avoid repairs and renovations with noisy equipment, especially during the rest and sleep hours of the chickens Muffle noisy equipment. Make sure that family members do not honk the car horn too often during chicken sleep hours. Investigate “active noise control” - a noise cancelation anti-noise system that produces sound waves of the same amplitude as the noise pollution, but in opposite polarity causing a cancelling of the noise pollution. Train employees and family members to respect the sleep hours of the chickens - they should not be screaming out to each other, joking etc. around sleeping chickens. We simply see that it’s about common sense and respect. We need to respect the fact that chickens are living beings that need many of the same things that we need, including a good night’s sleep and some peace and quiet during the day. We just have to sensitize ourselves by imaging how we feel when we are woken up while we are asleep. We feel grouchy the next day and are less productive in the office. If we internalize this reality, we will treat the chickens with more respect, which not only is the proper thing to do, but it is actual good business sense. The results will be healthier, bigger chickens.  Thus, everybody gains by respecting the chickens needs not to be exposed to high levels of noise pollution: the commercial poultry farmer, the backyard chicken farmer enthusiast, the processor and the chickens. Ronnie P. Cons is EVP of C&C Packing Inc., a leading Canadian distributor of meat and poultry. He can be contacted at
September 21, 2016 - With early harvest feed grain samples confirming a high risk year for potential feed quality issues, livestock operations and feed mills are advised to take cautionary steps to safeguard feed quality and livestock performance. “The risk of feed grain quality issues that can affect livestock performance is quite high this year,” says Rob Patterson, Technical Director for Canadian Bio-Systems Inc. (CBS Inc.) “That’s no surprise with the type of growing season it has been across the Prairies. In many areas it has been very wet with high disease pressure and high risk of mycotoxins, mold and other issues. We are now seeing the risk confirmed in reports from across the region, based on analysis of early harvest grain samples.“It’s a year when livestock operations and feed mills will want to be even more diligent than normal in taking the right steps to safeguard the quality of feed and the performance of livestock consuming the feed.”A good starting point is to send in feed grain samples for analysis, says Patterson. “This can identify the presence and level of mycotoxins and other contaminants. Once you know what you’re dealing with you can take the steps needed avoid any issues.”The convenience, sophistication and accuracy of fast test capability has improved dramatically in recent years, says Mark Peters, Director of Sales and Marketing for CBS Inc. “We have seen a lot more interest in the testing. Industry has become more knowledgeable and cautious about the risk out there and how it can impact production. The testing is a good insurance policy and it’s good for peace of mind. Especially in a year like this one.”CBS Inc. is an example of industry taking on greater capacity in grain analysis to help serve customers. The company offers a tool called MycoCheck that has been developed in part based on studies in partnership with Canadian universities.“The customer sends us a sample, we run the analysis and get back quickly with the information to support a sound management decision,” says Peters. “The technology has come a long way. We see increasingly more livestock operations and feed mills taking advantage.”More information on grain sample analysis options, potential quality issues and options for safeguarding feed and livestock is available by contacting CBS Inc. directly. CBS Inc. offers additional FeedCheck analysis tools. The company also conducts an annual Wheat Survey in cooperation with industry and the University of Manitoba.More information on CBS Inc. and its comprehensive line of feed technology is available at
Sept. 20, 2016 - Ontario farmers are invited to safely and responsibly dispose of their unwanted or obsolete pesticides and livestock (including equine) medications from Sept. 20-30. This collection program is offered at no cost to Ontario farmers.  CleanFARMS, an industry-led, national not-for-profit agricultural waste management organization partnered with the Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI) and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to co-fund the disposal program with support from CropLife Canada, Ontario Agri Business Association, Farm & Food Care Ontario, and the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers' Association, in offering this free program."Ontario farmers are environmentally conscious and are pleased to partner with CleanFARMS to safely dispose of obsolete pesticides and livestock medications," says Craig Hunter from the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. "The CleanFARMS collection program provides an excellent one-stop service for Ontario farmers to continue to protect the land."Farmers in Ontario have a long history of good stewardship practices. Since 1998, Ontario farmers have turned in more than 500,000 kilograms of obsolete pesticides."Ontario has a history of successful collections," says Barry Friesen, General Manager of CleanFARMS. "The participation of Ontario farmers shows they are good stewards of their land and committed to protecting the environment."After collection, the pesticides and livestock medications are taken to a licensed waste management facility where they are disposed of through high temperature incineration.The following locations will be accepting obsolete pesticides and livestock/equine medications from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on the dates specified:Tuesday, Sept. 20Brodhagen - Hoegy's Farm SupplyGuelph - Woodrill FarmsGlencoe - Parrish & HeimbeckerWednesday, Sept. 21Brussels - Brussels AgromartAilsa Craig - Hensall District Co-opAylmer - Max Underhill's Farm SupplyThursday, Sept. 22Beamsville - NM BartlettForest - Lakeside Grain & Feed LtdKitchener - GROWMARK IncMonday, Sept. 26Bothwell - Hagerty CreekAlliston - Alliance Agri-TurfTara - Sprucedale AgromartNew Hamburg - Good Crop ServicesLancaster - Munro's AgromartTuesday, Sept. 27Tupperville - Agris Co-opWellandport - Clark AgriServiceBradford - Bradford Co-opWalkerton - Huron Bay Co-opAlfred - SynagriWednesday, Sept. 28Paincourt - South West Ag PartnersPrinceton - CargillOakwood - Oakwood Ag CentreHarriston - CargillCasselman - Agro Culture 2001Thursday, Sept. 29Blenheim - ThompsonsBolton - Alliance Agri-TurfTrenton - TCO AgromartDundalk - Huron Bay Co-opRichmond - SynagriSept. 27-29Verner - Verner Ag CentreGore Bay - Northland AgromartPembroke - M&R Feeds and Farm SupplyArnprior - M&R Feeds and Farm SupplyThornloe - Temiskaming Ag CentreThunder Bay - Thunder Bay Co-opFriday, Sept. 30Courtland - CargillOrangeville - Holmes AgroPicton - County Farm CentreLeamington - Agris Co-opChesterville - SynagriFor more information, please call CleanFARMS at 877-622-4460 or visit
September 15, 2016 - The Government of Canada has announced an investment of $10 million over seven years to bring one of the world's most respected experts in food security to  Canada. A recognized leader in crop adaptation to marginal soil environments, Leon Kochian will become the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Food  Systems and Security at the University of Saskatchewan.  The United Nations estimates the world's population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050. Ensuring sufficient nutritious food will therefore be one of the greatest  challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. Working out of the university's Global Institute for Food Security, Kochian will lead a multidisciplinary team  to unlock the secrets of a plant's "hidden half"-the root system-an unexplored aspect of plant breeding.  His research will develop new root-based approaches to crop improvement that will enable breeding for improved root system structure and function, producing  new varieties with higher yields and greater capacity to thrive in difficult conditions. Kochian will identify and map the genes linked to root system  traits that are specifically responsible for nutrient and water uptake under drought conditions. He anticipates this research will enable increased crop  production in less fertile areas.  Leon Kochian is the University of Saskatchewan's second CERC after Howard Wheater, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security. He becomes the country's 27th CERC.  In total, Leon Kochian's research will receive support worth almost $21 million. The Government of Canada is also providing $800,000 through the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The balance will be invested by the Global Institute for Food Security ($7 million) and the University of  Saskatchewan ($3 million).   
We have two new cutting-edge Canadian poultry feed developments to present in this issue of Canadian Poultry. First up is a high-protein ingredient produced by Enterra Feed Corporation of Langley, B.C., which recently received Canadian and U.S. regulatory approval for use in animal feed (broilers and pets so far) – the first ingredient of its kind to do so.The ingredient is Whole Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSF). Black Soldier Flies are native to North America and do not bite or sting. The larvae are high in protein and fat, and grow quickly. Enterra’s Marketing and Operations Manager says BSF are renewable and environmentally-friendly, consuming pre-consumer food waste that would otherwise go to landfill, composting or waste-to-energy operations where the food nutrient value would be lost. Victoria Leung also notes that BSF larvae will consume a wide range of waste food, from fruits, vegetables and stale bread to grains and grocery store waste.All of the company’s production processes were developed in-house by Enterra’s research and engineering teams over the course of several years. “The adult flies are grown in cages under controlled environmental conditions,” Leung explains. “Once the larvae mature, they are either sent back to the cages to emerge as flies or they are harvested as product.”When asked about the potential reaction a consumer might have to eating chicken that has been fed dried fly larvae, Leung says that “based on our experience, we are not too concerned…Insects are a natural source of nutrients for chickens, fish and other animals – it’s what they eat in the wild. Free-range chickens, for example, naturally forage for insects.” The biggest barrier to commercialization of BSF has been clearing regulatory hurdles to achieve approval as a feed ingredient. “However, we are now seeing very good progress on this front, first with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S., and now with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as well,” Leung explains. CFIA approval this summer came after four years of work, during which time the agency reviewed BSF as a ‘Novel Feed Ingredient,’ did a data review and a complete safety assessment (livestock, workers, food and the environment). “CFIA has a very thorough review process that involves assessing the product for safety, microbiology and efficacy for each target animal type, for example salmon, broilers and so on,” says Leung. “We also needed to show the product worked equivalent to or better than feed ingredients currently on the market.”Enterra is working with the CFIA and FDA to have its BSF approved for use in other animal feeds as well, including poultry layers, other poultry (turkeys, ducks), trout and salmon. Approval is anticipated in mid-2017. The firm is also working to develop new products from dried larvae such as oil and high-protein meal.Because it’s a natural ingredient, we asked Enterra if inclusion of BSF in chicken feed will help with bird gut health, for example perhaps reducing incidence of coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis. Leung responded by noting that “insects contain chitin as part of their exoskeleton structure. Researchers have proposed that inclusion of chitin or chitosan in poultry diets may improve poultry health; however, more research is needed.”Dr. Bob Blair, nutritional scientist and Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia (UBC), has studied BSF. “The meal is closest in composition to fish meal and is a valuable feed ingredient,” he says. “It contains 40 to 60 per cent crude protein, depending on the amount of oil extracted during processing.” He has found no issues with blending it into feed, though he notes the high-fat product may have to be stabilized. “I do not have first-hand experience of feeding the meal to poultry since UBC no longer has the requisite facilities, but based on my talks with the company and my understanding of research conducted on similar products elsewhere, I regard it as an excellent poultry feed ingredient. Its main limitation is the cost - can it compete economically with other protein feedstuffs or will its cost limit it to more expensive feeds such as fish feed?” Blair adds that since BSF excrement can be used as fertilizer, the whole BSF production process “is to be welcomed as a sustainable way of producing a valuable feed ingredient from vegetable waste that would otherwise be dumped.”Enterra is currently selling BSF to both Canadian and U.S. customers in the poultry and pet food industries. Scratch and Peck Feeds in Bellingham, Washington began purchasing BSF in April 2015, shortly after it became available on the U.S. market. “We wanted it to package as a poultry treat as an alternative to meal worms which are predominantly grown in China,” explains owner Diana Ambauen-Meade. “One of our company’s values is to source our ingredients as locally/regionally as possible so we don’t buy anything offshore. And we value that they feed the larvae pre-consumer food waste that would normally end up in a landfill as it is a very effective way to close the food waste loop.” She says she fully intends to integrate BSF into her feeds as an alternative protein source to the fishmeal currently used.  When asked about the potential to have widespread inclusion of BSF in U.S. and Canadian poultry feeds, in terms of the environment impact that would have on diverting landfill waste and in the avoidance of other feed ingredients which have greater impact, Leung has a positive outlook. “There is a big potential for our insect ingredients to become a standard inclusion in livestock diets,” she says. “Our company plans to expand far beyond our Langley facility – anywhere there is an abundance of food waste, it is possible to build a commercial insect-rearing facility to upcycle the waste nutrients into sustainable feed ingredients.”Antibiotic replacement?Ontario-based AbCelex Technologies has developing a line of non-antibiotic, non-hormonal products that eliminate or significantly reduce pathogens in the chicken gut such as Campylobacter and Salmonella. “Since these innovative products are based on natural antibodies, there is no risk to human health and no possibility of antibiotic resistance,” says President and CEO Saeid Babaei. “The products will be delivered as a feed additive. Chickens simply ingest the antibody and it selectively neutralizes the bacteria. Our results in live chicks show 95 per cent inhibition of the Campylobacter pathogen, far higher than any other pre-harvest method used in industry and what expected by regulators.”AbCelex is now moving forward with young adult field studies to be followed by large broiler trials to support regulatory submissions, with a goal of market launch in late 2018 or early 2019. “Being the first product of its kind, we will work with various regulatory agencies in getting our products approved,” Babaei notes. “Our commercialization strategy is to directly market to large poultry producers/processors as well as co-marketing opportunities with larger animal health companies…We have already partnered with one of Ireland’s largest poultry producer/processor, Carton Group, which may be involved with commercial farm studies and product registration in Europe.”The very small antibodies (also called single-domain antibodies or nanobodies) employed by AbCelex occur naturally only in the blood of cameloids (camels, llamas and alpacas) and sharks. “The discovery of this novel class of antibodies stems from the early 1990s,” Babaei explains, “when Belgium scientists were studying the blood of cameloids and they noticed that the immune systems of these species produced a unique type of antibody around a tenth of the size of usual antibodies — small enough that they were orally bioavailable, whereas conventional antibody drugs must be injected to enter the bloodstream.” The nanobodies’ small size and flexibility for molecular engineering also allows for cost-effective mass production. In the past several years, AbCelex has increased the resistance of its lead products to the acidic conditions of the animal digestive tract, and also significantly improved their resistance to heat (required in poultry feed preparation). In the past year, they have also produced their lead antibodies in various micro-organism systems, such as yeast. In July 2016, AbCelex received an investment of $3.4 million through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s ‘AgriInnovation Program’ to support further product development. Babaei says this will be conducted in collaboration with Canadian and international academic institutions, companies and contract research groups.
The CPRC 2015 funding process approved projects that addressed several poultry industry priorities.  A major industry priority is improving the immune system, and two projects that specifically address this in poultry have recently acquired all necessary funding in addition to CPRC funding.  These projects are now currently under active research. Activation of innate immunityThe emergence and spread of resistant bacteria are rendering current antibiotics less useful.  Furthermore, the controversial practice of prophylactic use of antibiotics encourages the emergence of antibiotic-resistant microbes.  Therefore there is a need for the development of novel alternative strategies to antimicrobials for infectious disease control.CPRC has recently funded a project that will investigate an innate immune-based method of disease protection as an alternative strategy to antimicrobial use.  During initial exposure to pathogens, birds are reliant on their innate immunity for protection against infection.  Innate immune responses are not pathogen-specific but are activated by features/patterns characteristic of pathogens.  The innate immune system is capable of limiting a variety of infections once activated.  Although the innate immune system of chickens is developed at hatch, it is not activated; therefore, microbial agents (particularly bacterial pathogens) can infect chicks at the time of placement in the barn.Professor Susantha Gomis, from the University of Saskatchewan has studied the effects of a pattern characteristic of bacterial DNA, known as CPG-motifs to induce or activate the innate immunity.  Research has shown that synthetically generated CPG-motifs or ‘CpG-ODN’ as an immune system stimulant is capable of protecting neonatal chickens against specific bacterial infections.  Results obtained to date show that intranasal delivery of CpG-ODN is advantageous to in ovo delivery as innate immune stimulation coincides with the first week of the birds’ life, which is the most vulnerable period for bacterial infections.  Dr. Gomis’s current research will develop an effective method of intra-nasal delivery of CpG-ODN at hatch.  The research approach will be to initially develop a CpG-ODN delivery prototype for intranasal delivery of the CpG-ODN to neonatal chicks followed by field efficacy and safety trials.This research is also funded by NSERC, Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan, (Saskatchewan Chicken Industry Development Fund), Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency Ltd., Western Economic Diversification Canada, Sunrise Poultry Hatchery, BC and Prairie Pride Natural Foods Ltd., SK. Activation of adaptive immunityRespiratory viruses have a negative impact on the poultry industry.  Although vaccination against respiratory viruses is used to control these common viral diseases, “vaccine failures” remain common.  CPRC has recently funded a project that will investigate the use of innate immune stimulants to induce adaptive immunity against respiratory viruses.  Adaptive immune responses are pathogen-specific and recognition of the pathogen results in both antibody-related and cell-mediated immunity.  Adaptive immune responses are slow to develop and may take up to a week before the responses are effective.  Associate Professor Faizal Careem, from the University of Calgary, has studied the effects of synthetic Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns (PAMPs) in activation of innate immune responses.  Research has shown that these PAMPs are effective in reducing the impact of a number of avian bacteria and viruses.  PAMPS are also a known to increase the immune response of experimental vaccines when incorporated with these vaccines as ‘immune response enhancers’.Dr. Careem, will investigate the role of innate immune stimulants in the induction of adaptive immunity to respiratory viruses.  Results obtained in his prior research have demonstrated that in ovo delivered PAMPs can reduce a specific viral load in the respiratory tract of embryos and neonatal chicks.  in ovo delivered PAMPs also increases innate immune cell responses in neonatal chicks.  These responses have been shown to promote the development of adaptive immune responses in mammals.  Overall, this study will determine the efficacy and mechanism of in ovo delivered PAMPs in inducing pathogen specific adaptive immune responses against respiratory viruses.  The approach is centralized on stimulation of the innate immunity to reduce the viral replication at the site of entry allowing birds to acquire adaptive immunity.This research is also funded by NSERC and Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency Ltd.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, tel: (613) 566-5916, e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. 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The University of Guelph has received $76.6 million from the federal government to start a “digital revolution” in food and agriculture. The government is investing in U of G’s Food From Thought research project, which will use high-tech information systems to help produce enough food for a growing human population while sustaining the Earth’s ecosystems. The funding, announced by Lloyd Longfield, MP for Guelph, on behalf of Kirsty Duncan, minister of science, will come from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), which supports world-leading research at universities and colleges. It’s the largest single federal research investment in U of G history. “This will position Canada as a leader in sustainable food production,” said U of G president Franco Vaccarino, adding the project will help farmers produce more food on less land using fewer inputs. “Our faculty, staff and students will have opportunities to participate in innovative discovery and to play a role in tackling one of the world’s greatest challenges: how to sustainably feed our growing population.” Longfield added: “The University of Guelph has a long history of collaborating across Canada and globally to contribute to understanding complex challenges. The global food supply will require the University’s unique leadership skills that bring together agricultural expertise, big data, environmental science, business and civil society. Today’s funding announcement will give Canada a huge step forward to become a global leader in food.” Food From Thought will create novel tools for producing more and safer food while also protecting the environment. “It is not just how much food we produce but also the way we produce it that will be key in the next century,” said Prof. Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research), who is the institutional lead for Food From Thought and a plant genomicist in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. New technology and agricultural practices must enhance biodiversity, produce safe, nutritious food, and improve animal welfare and human health, he said. U of G is well-placed to lead this project, Campbell said. “We are Canada’s food university, with a 150-year legacy in agri-food and a reputation for innovation and commitment. We also have the capacity, with world-class researchers and facilities, and strong partnerships with government and industry.” Geography professor Evan Fraser, scientific director of Food From Thought and director of U of G’s Food Institute, said launching a digital revolution will require improved understanding of the complex interplay between farming practices, the genetic potential of our crops and livestock, and the environment. “This is essential if we are to realize the potential offered by our emerging ability to collect vast amounts of data and to develop information management systems,” he said. Food From Thought will bring together experts to generate and commercialize knowledge, and to inform agri-food policy-makers and practices from farm management to global conservation planning. The initiative will offer new teaching and research opportunities, and will focus on training the next generation of agri-food leaders through fellowships and graduate student positions. More than $1 million will be available for annual research awards and competitions intended to develop innovations for sustainable food systems. Within Food From Thought, researchers will work on key scientific missions including: Expanding use of DNA barcoding technology developed at U of G to identify food fraud, food-borne ailments and invasive pests, and to improve environmental impact assessments; Using “big data” on farms to reduce pesticide use, monitor watershed health and identify crops suited to the effects of climate change; and Using information management systems to help track emerging infectious disease threats to livestock and control pathogens in the food supply. Food From Thought includes partnerships with academic institutions around the globe, numerous government agencies, and industry and innovation centres. One key partner is IBM Canada, which will be involved in everything from research collaborations to cognitive and data analytics tools and training to secure cloud-based storage. “IBM shares the scientific vision of Food From Thought: ensuring that we sustainably, resiliently and safely increase production while enhancing ecosystem services and livestock health and welfare using data-driven approaches,” said Sanjeev Gill, research executive at IBM Canada. Food From Thought will be one of U of G’s largest and most inclusive research projects, spanning all seven colleges. It will be led by 10 principal investigators from across campus.This funding announcement was part of a $900-million competition lasting several months and involving a review panel of Canadian and international scientific experts. This is the second CFREF competition since 2014.  
August 4, 2016 - Dr. John David Summers, Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph, passed away August 2, 2016. He completed both his BSc. and MSc. from the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) and completed his PhD. at Rutgers. Most of his academic career was spent at the University of Guelph, initially in the Department of Poultry Science and later in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science. His ongoing contacts with industry ensured direct application of his research into various aspects of poultry nutrition that was always timely and insightful. For example, his pioneering work of nutrition and fat deposition in broilers, which is still important today, was started in 1974. His research spanned all the major poultry species, and John could always be counted on to ask penetrating questions at poultry and nutrition meetings around the globe. John was truly one of the pioneers of the golden age of poultry nutrition. Together with his esteemed colleagues, he helped to develop what has become the foundation of our modern strategies of poultry nutrition. John had a close working relationship with Shaver Poultry in Cambridge, Ontario, and in this capacity visited over 50 different countries. John gave numerous invited lectures around the world where his insightful knowledge was always greeted with great enthusiasm, from both students and other professionals in the poultry industry. John authored over 400 research papers and co-authored 5 books on various aspects of poultry production. John became Professor Emeritus in 1990 and received the Order of OAC in 2013. A celebration of life for Dr. Summers is taking place Monday August 15 at the Village Centre at the Village by the Aboretum in Guelph, Ont. from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Please RSVP to Bill Summers, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (226) 820-5000. If you have photos of John that you could share for a photo display, please send them to Bill or bring them with you the day of the event.
August 2, 2016- Canadian biotechnology company AbCelex has received an investment of $3.4 million from the federal government to develop a new line of anti-microbial feed additives to help control disease outbreaks in poultry flocks. Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains, on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (AAFC), Lawrence MacAulay, made the announcement July 29. The company is developing a line of innovative non-antibiotic, non-hormonal additives that are specifically targeted at Campylobacter and Salmonella, two of the most common food-borne bacteria that infect poultry. The new anti-microbials – called “nanobodies” – will result in healthier poultry and improve food safety. AbCelex is a Canadian biotechnology company focused on developing livestock food additives that help improve animal health and food safety. AAFC supports the development and adoption of industry-led initiatives regarding biosecurity and animal care to support the prudent use of antimicrobials. This project will be conducted in collaboration with the International Vaccine Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Toronto and the Colorado Quality Research Inc. Funding for this project comes from the AgriInnovation Program (Research and Development Stream) as part of the Growing Forward 2 agricultural policy framework.
  The revelation that a bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort was found in a Pennsylvania woman prompted a flurry of media activity in late May. Increased consumer concern on an already-sensitive topic is understandable in light of such headlines as, “Nightmare Superbug Shows Up in the United States” and “Infection Raises Specter of Superbugs Resistant to All Antibiotics.” The Washington Post conducted a Q&A with an infectious disease doctor at the University of Pittsburgh who tried to put the development into perspective. He said, “While certainly concerning and something to keep a close eye on from a public health point of view, there is no evidence that this is a widespread problem at this time. Even in the rare event that you get sick from this bacteria, there are treatment options available.” Since the bacteria has also been detected in pigs, the Post asked about food safety concerns. The doctor stated there is no risk as long as meat is properly handled and cooked to the recommended temperature. There’s growing consumer concern and rising pressure on the food system about the use of antibiotics in food animals. Antibiotic resistance is a serious issue and one farms and food companies are taking seriously, but the connection between antibiotics used in animals raised for food and the risk of human antibiotic failure is a complex issue not easily distilled for widespread understanding. Several things must happen before resistant bacteria from a farm can affect people: Antibiotic-resistant bacteria must be present in an animal when it leaves a farm The bacteria must survive sanitation steps during the packaging process The meat must be undercooked, enabling bacteria to survive The bacteria must cause human illness The ill person must receive medical attention and the antibiotic therapy must involve the same class of antibiotic used on the farm The patient must get worse or fail to recover due to the resistant infection There’s also the perception that antibiotic resistance results from eating meat containing antibiotic residue, but there are strict federal laws in place to prevent unsafe residues in meat. By law, since the 1950’s, the FDA strictly audits and enforces that unsafe levels of antibiotics may not be present in meat before it enters the food supply. Leading drug companies have recognized the concern about the resistance issue and are making antibiotics available only for treatment and prevention of disease — not growth promotion. Beginning next year in the U.S., antibiotics important to human medicine will only be available under a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), which is essentially a prescription from a veterinarian. There are unanswered questions on the link between animal antibiotic use and human resistance and the issue is still being studied. Until those questions are conclusively answered, the best source of information is sound science in the form of peer-reviewed and published studies. Dr. Peter Davies, BVSC, PhD, professor of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota, says, “There are almost no documented clinical cases where antibiotic resistance was unequivocally tied to animal antibiotic use. So while the risk is not zero, in my opinion, it is extremely low.” Animal antibiotics must be used responsibly to minimize agriculture’s contribution to antibiotic resistance. But much of the current discussion about antibiotic use is highly polarized, pitting commercial interests against public health interests. It’s important to remember that preventing disease and treating sick animals through the responsible use of antibiotics is the ethical thing to do. Reprinted with permission from the Center for Food Integrity (CFI).  CFI’s vision is to lead the public discussion to build trust in today’s food system and facilitate dialog with the food system to create better alignment with consumer expectations. For more information, visit:      
October 19, 2016 - The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) refers to permitted business deductions in a number of sections of the Income Tax Act (ITA). However, these deductions can only be used if the taxpayer can show their business has a reasonable expectation of profit. The problem is that reasonable expectation of profit is not defined in the ITA so how is “reasonable expectation of profit” applied for tax purposes?  Farm losses and restricted farm losses are a prime example of the interpretive confusion that might exist under Section 31 of the Tax Act. These rules limit the amount of losses from a farming operation that can be deducted from other income by taxpayers whose chief source of income is neither farming nor a combination of farming and some other source. There is extensive case-law dealing with the issue of what a taxpayer's "chief source" of income is for this purpose. The last bench-mark case found in favour of a producer and ignored whether the source of income was a combination of farming or some other source. The court ruling did not factor the government’s contention that farm income had to be the main source of income.The court decision didn’t last long because the federal budget of 2013 introduced a change to the Act that reinforced the government’s earlier interpretation of the legislation. The amendment states that if your chief source of income is not farming, then the restricted farm loss rules apply. Farm losses in this case may reduce income from other sources for the year only to the extent of the lesser of the farm loss for the year or $2,500 plus half of the farm loss exceeding $2,500 to a maximum of $15,000.The deduction for the farm loss for a year is therefore limited to a maximum of $17,500 representing an actual loss of $32,500. Any farming loss which is not deductible currently by virtue of Section 31 becomes a "restricted farm loss".There are subtle differences in the way CRA categorizes two sets of farmers. The taxpayer who does not look to farming or to farming and some subordinate source of income for his livelihood but carries on farming as a sideline business The taxpayer who does not look to farming or to farming and some subordinate source of income for his livelihood and who carries on farming activities with no reasonable expectation of profit. Whether a taxpayer has a reasonable expectation of profit from his farming operations is a subjective or objective determination to be made from all of the facts.  Some of the criteria to be considered are: Extent of activity in relation to businesses of comparable nature and size Amount of gross revenue from farming in relation to the relevant expenses Time spent in the operation as compared to other income earning activities Profit and loss experience in the past years Taxpayer's training Taxpayer's intended course of action Capability of the venture as capitalized to show a profit after charging capital cost allowance As you might expect, the importance of documenting and supporting the above noted criteria will assist you in ensuring you can claim your farm losses.
Oct. 14, 2016 - The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) has created a way to help agricultural associations save money, engage members and improve revenues through a powerful new phone app. After rigorous testing, the Ag Smart-Association App (ASApp) was launched recently via the Apple and Google App stores. The innovation that ASApp brings to the industry is the ability for an organization to reach its members on the screen of their choice. Smartphones are the most-used mobile business device and ASApp leverages push-notifications to alert members to the latest stories and news in real-time. “Smartphone Apps, like ASApp bring the best of your website to your members’ mobile phones,” explains Andrew Hurrell, business development and stakeholder engagement with CAHRC. “It helps ag associations to engage their members, save money and generate revenue by providing self-managed mobile application services.” If controlling costs while delivering better services to your members is important to your ag organization, a smartphone application is a great solution to consider. ASApp brings newsletters, journals, conferences and event programs right to the phones of association members – with all information easily updated by staff via the web interface. Increased revenue streams are possible through ASApp by using it for membership renewals, advertising directories, and sponsor’s offers and benefits. Beyond the traditional communications capabilities, the smartphone app can engage your membership to help with advocacy by asking members to perform activities through the app.   Finally, usage analytics and easy to administer member surveys help to provide important insights to associations about their membership. Each association’s version of the app is customized for branding and functionality, allowing ASApp to adjust menus, content and features as desired. When offered by national or provincial organizations, ASApp is free to users and is always ON with real-time notifications. This creates a wide range of applications for member engagement allowing members to: sign-up and renew memberships with payment processing; register for events; participate and vote during events; access multilingual content; be included in association contact directories; access secure log-in areas; and engage in social media feeds, among other functions – as well as full access to CAHRC provided employer tools including the Ag Employer Toolkit and CAHRC’s national job board, AgriJob Match. The app design is compatible with both Android and Apple smartphones and follows best practices in mobile user interaction design and suability. As with other mobile applications it is intuitive requiring no end-user training. For more information on CAHRC’s ASApp visit
Oct. 14, 2016 - Farming is a unique type of business that causes financial planning to take on dimensions not often seen in other industries. This is reflected in the Income Tax Act, which has numerous provisions for things like farm income, tax deductions, various subsidies, and more.  It can feel at times overwhelming and hard to keep up-to-date. Fortunately, there are people with the knowledge and expertise who can help. Engaging an accounting or tax planning firm can give your farm the ability to grasp the nuances of the tax laws and get the most tax deductions and minimal liabilities possible. Navigate an ever-changing landscapeSmall businesses and farms are subject to various types of subsidies and tax quirks that the provincial and federal governments use to help spur growth or respond to situations like droughts or cold snaps. Tax legislation relevant to farming and small business are regularly tinkered with as government tries to respond to industry shifts, projections and predictions, or other concerns that may or may not be more hype than substance. Knowledge is power when dealing with subsidies, and managed accounting can give you the power needed to keep track of the benefits you qualify for as well as how to take advantage of them.Reconcile reality with governmentGovernment works best when things can be precise and measured. As any farmer knows, nature doesn't always care for timetables. This can lead to situations where seemingly trivial differences in how an animal or piece of equipment is used can affect how it gets classified for tax purposes. Tax planners can help you interact with this sort of bureaucratic matter and ensure you don't inadvertently run afoul of the Canada Revenue Agency or miss out on a tax deduction you should've been able to claim. Accounting for it allAmong the various types of income that need to get reported are profits from property or livestock sale, breeding fees, renting fees, incidental income, all taxable subsidy and conservation payments, and gross income from other sources. Expenses can include things like feed, pest management products, fertilizer, and more. Even if you don't have an upcoming tax filing to make, this all results in a great deal of numbers to keep track of. Accounting services can help you stay on top of your income and expenses so you can have a full and accurate view of your financial situation.FBC is Canada's Farm & Small Business Tax Specialist, providing tax accounting and bookkeeping services to over 20,000 farms and small businesses from Ontario to British Columbia. Our complete financial planning for farm and small business owners takes a long-term approach to address your specific needs at all stages of life and business, minimizing your taxes year after year. Year-round services include tax planning, tax optimization, business consulting and audit protection.  
Controlling highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks is a costly business. Quarantine, culling and depopulation, poultry movement control and increased biosecurity amount to high costs for the industry. So, too, does establishing transparent communication with both the public and producers.Compensating farmers – and not compensating them – brings costs of its own, as proper compensation facilitates reporting and disease control. Unfortunately, not all compensation schemes are created equal, and lack of compensation is a problem that extends far beyond geographical borders. One could say that its consequences are global in scale.Compensation around the worldAt this year’s International Egg Commission (IEC) conference in Warsaw, HPAI was a hot topic. Concerned poultry producers from around the globe met in an economics workshop to listen to Peter van Horne speak about compensation schemes around the world. Van Horne is a poultry economist from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. There are a lot of regulations in the EU on how to compensate, said Van Horne as he dove into his presentation. The European Union clearly says where there is an outbreak of AI and birds are culled, farmers are compensated for the market value of that bird – both pullets and layers, he said. “The EU, at the same time, says that it is very important that all of the member states have good control of the outbreak,” he continued. “If there’s an outbreak in one country, the neighbouring countries are also impacted.” The EU compensates 50 per cent of direct losses because it believes that it’s in the best interest of all member states to do so. The EU, however, does not compensate for consequential losses, so all of the empty periods on the farm. That’s the risk of the farmer. How governments operate at the state level is their decision, said van Horne.But how do you determine the market value of a layer? Do the eggs she could have laid determine her worth or is the farmer simply compensated for the value of the bird? Turns out that there’s no clear answer.In the Netherlands, value is assigned to pullets beginning at seven weeks. Feed costs are also calculated and included up to a maximum of 23 weeks. There are two main points where market value is determined, at the beginning and at the end. Since there is no market for hens at 50 weeks of age, value is simply estimated. Value is also based on revenue that would have been earned from the eggs. Consequential costs, including the costs to destroy the birds, transport, and the cleaning and disinfection of farms, are not covered. “The Dutch say that there should be a maximum that the farmers can pay,” said van Horne. “There is a fund with levies. For five years the levies go into a fund and then there is a certain amount of money compensated from this fund to give compensation payments to the farmers – so there is a ceiling because otherwise it would be too expensive for the farmers.”“When there’s a big outbreak, like 2003, there are very, very high losses with a lot of birds culled, then it’s just only the first part [that is] paid by the farmers,” he continued.Belgium’s compensation scheme, said van Horne, is very straightforward. With regards to direct losses, the EU pays 50 per cent and farmers pay the remaining 50 per cent. Regarding the cost of control, the EU pay 50 per cent and the Belgian government pays the remaining 50 per cent. Consequential losses are at the risk of the farmer.In Germany, direct losses are paid by the EU (50 per cent), by the government (25 per cent) and by the farmer (25 per cent). The scheme is similar for control costs, although Germany is a little more complicated as the various states have different regulations. Like Belgium and the Netherlands, there is no compensation for consequential losses. There are, however, insurance companies that will cover consequential losses. In France, farmers don’t have to pay anything for control or direct losses. The EU pays the 50 per cent, and the government pays 50 per cent. Consequential losses are not covered, but like Germany, there are insurance options.Like the other EU member states, Spain gets 50 per cent compensation for direct losses. While van Horne couldn’t speak with great certainty on what happens beyond that, he did say that there are plenty of public-private insurance schemes in place. Outside of Europe farmers have very different schemes. Australian farmers, for instance, are only compensated for direct losses. The amount of compensation is dependent on the type of disease. Diseases fall into three categories – one, two or three. The government compensates 100 per cent of direct losses for those diseases that fall into category one. Diseases that fall into category two, like HPAI H5 and N7, are paid for by the government and industry at 80 per cent and 20 per cent respectively. Category three diseases, such as HPAI other than H5 and N7, and LPAI subtypes H5 and H7, are paid for 50 per cent by government and 50 per cent by industry.In Indonesia, where there’s no clear preventative or control program, farmers are offered little to no compensation. This creates an additional problem, van Horne pointed out. That is, when farmers are not compensated, they are not motivated to report cases to the government. In many cases, they take the birds to market as quickly as possible. Sometimes, though, farmers are offered credit schemes to return to farming once the crisis is over. “There should be compensation to motivate the farmers to be involved in solving the problem,” said van Horne.This has been a problem in South Africa where there is no compensation for consequential losses. “The difficulty we have, if it’s a controlled disease, then the government will depopulate,” one South African farmer said at the workshop. “But you don’t know what you’re going to be compensated when they depopulate.” “It’s never happened with chickens, but it’s happened with ostriches and cattle, so we don’t have any poultry experience,” he clarified. “But it is a practical problem for us, and private insurance is too expensive.”Just as schemes vary in other parts of the world, they differ from country to country in North America as well. Although no official details on Mexico’s compensation scheme could be found, a Mexican farmer at the workshop, Sergio Chavez, quoted a price of $0.50 per bird. Chavez’s concern went beyond compensation, though. In 2012, there was a major outbreak in Jalisco, he explained. This was particularly problematic for the industry, as Jalisco represents 55 per cent of Mexican production. “I think that’s important to measure – the social impact, the political impact – because what happened at that time?” he asked. “The prices to the consumer skyrocketed – doubled or tripled.” Until 2012, U.S. poultry farmers hadn’t faced large outbreaks, so they didn’t have a compensation scheme in place. “If you don’t have a problem then you don’t know how to compensate for it,” said Chad Gregory, president and CEO of United Egg Producers. “Clearly, with the high-path AI outbreak of 2015 where we lost 35 million layers... we got intimately familiar with indemnity, and the formula and the areas that it was lacking.”The first figures, said Gregory, weren’t good. The U.S. government came to a figure by calculating costs, including the costs for buying in and moving chicks, feed, vaccinations and service costs. One of the big problems was that the government was taking 90 per cent or more for dividends, earnings and taxes, he said. “You’re left with about $1.00 to $1.10,” he said. “They add that to the figure to start of layer capitalization – so $4.25 to 4.50 – that is what she’s worth at 19 weeks.”“That doesn’t come anywhere close to helping pay for the bird or helping the farmer staying in business,” he concluded. “We had a lot of upset farmers last year.”The U.S. government also paid for cleaning and disinfecting, but Gregory says they hired contractors who had no idea what they were doing. “It took five times longer and it wasn’t done well,” he said. Since then the U.S. government has changed the rules about virus elimination. The farmer now gets a cheque for around $6.45 per bird. “The total package is very fair,” said Gregory. “We think the reimbursement package is nice. In Canada, the order to have animals destroyed as part of disease control activities comes from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) under the Health Animals Act. “The amount of compensation is the market value, as determined by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, that the animal would have had at the time of its evaluation if it did not have to be destroyed,” explained Tammy Jarbeau, media relations person for CFIA. The maximum amount established for this type of animal is in the Compensation for Destroyed Animals Regulations. If there is no readily available market for the animals, said Jarbeau, the market value is estimated using CFIA economic models. These models take into consideration factors such as incomes and costs for feed and bedding.AI is a global issueAvian influenza, unfortunately, is here to stay. As it affects farmers globally, prevention and controls programs, as well as compensation schemes are necessary to prevent its spread, especially as migratory birds don’t recognize geographical and economic borders. The meeting in Warsaw was a good start, though, as it provided a space to increase dialogue between affected countries.
Numbers found on cans of tuna provide the combination to unlock a wealth of information. It’s yet another example of the food system recognizing consumer demand for information and embracing transparency.Chicken of the Sea’s traceability website allows consumers to enter a 10-to-15 digit number found on the bottom of certain tuna products. In return, the consumer can read a description of the species; where the seafood was caught, including a map and a species-specific stock status report from the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation; the fishing method used; the fishing vessel; where the seafood was processed; where the seafood was canned; and general information on the company’s sustainability initiatives. The company says it will eventually expand the program to its entire shelf-stable line.“It is important for our customers to have an opportunity to know the story behind their fish,” said Chicken of the Sea’s director of sustainability. “Traceability is an essential step.”Former New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman recently suggested that the long and contentious GMO labeling law debate could force a transparency revolution. There’s no doubt that farmers and food makers need to be aggressive in opening their doors and letting consumers see how food is produced, but in reality, a transparency revolution is already underway.Chicken of the Sea’s new program is a good example, but only one of many.Hershey’s commitment to increased transparency and move to simpler ingredients goes back to 2015. The company’s website now provides an A-to-Z glossary of all its ingredients with easy-to-understand descriptions.Leading food, beverage and consumer products companies last December unveiled SmartLabel to empower consumers to access a myriad of information with a simple bar code scan or click of a website.  The technology puts nutritional information, ingredients, allergens, third-party verifications, social compliance programs, usage instructions, advisories and safe handling instructions at consumers’ fingertips in a standardized format.At California’s JS West and Companies, a leading egg producer, cameras in the barns allow online visitors to see what the hens are doing 24 hours a day. Visitors to the site are welcome to leave comments about what they see.New Jersey-based Catelli Brothers has installed a 12-camera system at its veal plant that monitors the facility in real time. A third-party generates a daily report on animal treatment.At Indiana’s Fair Oaks Farms, the doors are open for thousands of visitors every year to look through glass walls to see how real dairies produce milk and how pigs are born and cared for. The founders of the company say they have nothing to hide and want the public to see how their animals are treated.CFI research proves that increased transparency is a powerful tool to earn consumer trust. People today expect transparency and want to see how food is produced. Consumers want the ability to engage and get questions answered promptly and in easy-to-understand language. They want to see how food is produced, who’s producing it, what’s in it and how it impacts their health.A growing number of farms and food companies are engaged in the transparency revolution and pulling back the curtain, which should be applauded. Critics who intentionally disregard the progress toward greater transparency only serve to discourage it by refusing to give credit where credit is due. So, food system critics are encouraged to be transparent about genuine progress among food producers just as producers who have yet to embrace transparency need to be encouraged to build on the positive momentum. There is no denying the ability of transparency to increase consumer trust. nReprinted with permission from the Center for Food Integrity (CFI).  CFI’s vision is to lead the public discussion to build trust in today’s food system and facilitate dialog with the food system to create better alignment with consumer expectations. For more information, visit:
  It should be evident after reading our cover feature this month that agriculture has a lot of work to do to regain the trust of Canadian consumers with respect to methods of production and the food products produced. While it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in the agriculture business that consumers are confused about food, just how confused they really are is perhaps worse than originally thought. In early June, Farm & Food Care Canada held a “Public Trust Summit” in Ottawa, Ont., with the intention of “encouraging continuous collaborative discussions amongst farm and food system leaders, while developing concrete actions for earning public trust.”  Participants included representatives covered the gamut of food production, including all livestock sectors, crop and seed production, to government and academia.   Farm & Food Care Canada launched a new division at the event known as the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI). It’s an international affiliate of the U.S. Center for Food Integrity, which has been assisting the food system “meaningfully engage with their most important audiences on issues that matter” for nearly 10 years, and was the first organization to introduce the concept of building public trust. Before its launch the CCFI conducted a web-based survey earlier in 2016 of approximately 2500 Canadians to get a benchmark on the trust the average Canadian has in Canadian food and food production.  The respondents were then segmented into three groups - “Moms”, “Foodies”, and “Millenials” – to gain additional insight, as these groups are considered the most influential, and interested, in information about food. 93 per cent of consumers in the survey indicated they knew little, or nothing, about farming.  However, compared to a similar survey conducted by Farm & Food Care in 2006, Canadians’ positive impressions of agriculture have increased by 20 per cent. This, combined with the fact that 60 per cent of respondents indicated they would like to know more about farming, is an opportunity for Canadian agriculture to make a connection with consumers, Farm & Food Care Canada CEO Crystal Mackay said at the event. What will be the challenge moving forward is how to make this connection.  The CCFI and Farm & Food Care are working on five action points, but made it clear that “re-gaining public trust must be everyone’s responsibility.” Opportunity exists for farmers and farm organizations to help regain trust as the CCFI survey results showed that 69 per cent of respondents favourably viewed farmers as credible sources of information, and 52 per cent of respondents felt farmer associations were credible sources. Unfortunately, results indicated that animal rights organizations are also viewed with some credibility, so it will be paramount moving forward that farmers and farm groups try to engage with consumers in more effective ways.  It’s the clear the old methods of reaching consumers aren’t hitting the mark, but Mackay says the entire industry needs to share successes and failures in engagement with each other and “commit to making mistakes”, reminding attendees that the whole concept of public trust is new territory. But she stressed that fear of failure can’t hold an organization back.  As she said at the Summit, “if you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not doing enough.”   
It was during one particular panel discussion that the need for the “Public Trust in Agriculture Summit” became crystal clear. The Summit was held in early June in Ottawa, with speakers and participants in attendance from all aspects of food production, from seed companies, chefs and farmers, to academics, farming associations and large companies like Maple Leaf Foods. This ground-breaking inaugural event was intended to “encourage continuous collaborative discussions amongst farm and food system leaders, while developing concrete actions for earning public trust.” And this is exactly what the panel discussion involving five typical urban Canadians exposed – a distinct sense of mistrust towards the Canadian agri-food system. The level of knowledge about farming among the panelists was – for many of the audience members who live and breathe food production on a daily basis – shocking. But to be fair, many attendees also recognized how difficult it is for anyone outside of agriculture, the health care system, forestry or any other complex sector of our economy to make time to learn the basics, let along keep up with the many changes in practices and policy that are standard today. “Their level of knowledge…on some questions, it was pretty good, [but] on others it was not good at all – industry’s fault, not theirs,” notes attendee Robin Horel, president and CEO Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council (CPEPC). “It certainly emphasized some of the information that was shared from the public survey [presented at the Summit; more on that later] – that consumers get much of their information from friends and family and do not trust industry or government.” Horel highlights a point during the panel which occurred after the participants had been asked quite a few quiz questions on various aspects of food and farming, with the moderator letting them know in each case if they were correct or incorrect. “[The moderator’s feedback] seemed to be accepted every time by the panelists until the question of hormones in poultry came up,” he notes. “All panelists believed that poultry contained hormones, and when the moderator corrected their belief, they did not believe her, even though on all the previous misconceptions, they did believe her. Then when she asked what it would take to convince them – examples like government, scientists, etc. – they still stuck to their belief and said that they would not be convinced!” Egg Farmers of Ontario (EFO) director Dianne McComb also attended the Summit, and says that because she’s on the EFO Public Affairs Committee and has therefore had a lot of exposure to the general public’s level of agri-food knowledge, she “wasn’t too shocked” at the panel responses. “A few others at my table were shocked, or absolutely blown away,” she says, “seeing the panelists’ understanding and that they were in some cases so far away in their opinions from the facts and reality.” (See sidebar for some quotes from panelists.) If the reason for the Summit hasn’t been made clear yet, let’s dig into brand new survey research presented at the event, conducted by Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI), which had its launch at the Summit. (The CCFI is a division of Farm & Food Care Canada, a charity with a vision to earn public trust in food and farming. It’s also an affiliate of the well-established U.S.-based Center for Food Integrity. Both organizations are made up of members representing the diversity of the entire food system. In Canada, that includes Dow AgroSciences and Tim Hortons. The survey results may shock you. The CCFI’s brand new poll of over 2,500 Canadians found that a whopping 93 per cent know little or nothing about farming. Exactly 50 per cent are unsure about whether our food system is going in the right direction, and 21 per cent believe it’s on the wrong track. Yes, that’s less than a third of Canadians who believe our food system is going in the right direction. So, it’s clear that the trust of many Canadians in farming and food production has been lost to some extent. This isn’t hard to understand. There was an extremely serious listeria outbreak involving lunchmeats in 2008 resulting in 22 deaths (with new recalls in May 2016), and major outbreaks of swine flu and BSE before that. In recent years, several serious instances of animal cruelty were caught on tape and created national headlines, shaking many Canadians to the core. Then there are all the countless media stories and weighty books – sometimes published within the same year – containing conflicting claims about the health benefits, non-benefits and even detriments of food items like eggs, coffee, whole grains, various types of fat and even certain vegetables and fruits. Indeed, it’s hard not to understand where consumers are coming from and how hard it is for them to keep trusting the food system at this point. But what’s more serious – and especially relevant to farmers – is that because trust in the food system has been lost, consumers (as well as retailers and restaurant chains such as McDonald’s responding to consumers) are now in a position where they are all but dictating on-farm practices. One stunning example is the demands for Canadian egg farmers to convert to cage-free hen housing (see story this issue). Another example is the strong consumer pressure to abolish sow gestation crates, and the current growing pressure to raise poultry without antibiotics. Demand for no added hormones in beef and for more GMO-free product availability and labelling is also increasing. Outside of farming, strong demands also exist in some instances for restaurants (for example, Earl’s in Western Canada) or grocery stores to carry local – or at least Canadian – products. Taking stockOnce trust has been lost in any arena, it’s hard to build it back up again. But the Summit highlighted the fact that for farmers, it’s no longer only a quest to regain public trust in agriculture, but to keep their ‘social licence’ – their very ability to dictate their own farming practices and have the general public believe them competent to look after animals, crops, the land – a ‘freedom to operate’ if you will. On that note, here are some more CCFI survey results to ponder. Less than a third (only 29 per cent) of Canadians believe Canadian farmers are good stewards of the environment. Almost three-quarters believe videos of farm animals being treated poorly are “representative of normal livestock farming.” “Control has already been lost,” noted Summit presenter Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity in the U.S. He and other presenters suggested that perhaps building public trust in the food system starts with accepting that the social licence of farmers may henceforth always be shared to some extent with the consumer. Several speakers pointed out that this reality – that consumers these days have a great deal of influence over farmers and the food system – is not yet accepted or believed by many in agriculture. Nor is the fact that most Canadians know little or nothing about the day-to-day reality of farming understood by many of us who produce this country’s food. So, on the whole, the Summit presented a new ‘normal’ that farmers should strive to get used to as quickly as they can.   A CCFI statement published in a Summit booklet summarizes the situation well. “We see consumer alienation from agriculture and the food system expressed through concerns about nutrition, food safety, affordability, environmental sustainability, animal well-being and other issues. Some argue that maintaining public trust is a worthy goal, but not relevant to success in business. This outdated notion fails to recognize the financial benefit of maintaining trust of stakeholders who can determine the level of social license or social control an organization enjoys…Once lost, either through a single event or a series of events that reduce or eliminate stakeholder trust, social license is replaced with social control. Social control is regulation, legislation, litigation or market demands designed to compel the organization to perform to the expectations of its stakeholders. Operating with a social license means more flexibility and lower cost. Operating with a high degree of social control increases costs, reduces operational flexibility and increases bureaucratic compliance.” Taking actionIt was stressed over and over again at the Summit, that re-gaining public trust must be everyone’s responsibility. The CCFI, Farm & Food Care, private companies, food and farming associations and individuals were all encouraged to bridge the gap that currently exists between consumers and farms. For its part, the CCFI will continue to research consumer opinions, questions and concerns. Its ‘Public Trust Research’ will benchmark consumer attitudes about food and agriculture against U.S. and Canadian data gathered since 2001. In addition, the CCFI will develop and highlight best practices, models and messages that build trust, and hold future Summits. Horel thinks the CCFI is “likely a good thing.” The CPEPC Board has asked CCFI to make a presentation and will then decide if CPEPC should become a member. McComb also thinks the CCFI is a positive step because it’s connected to its well-established U.S. counterpart and can draw on its experience. “We’re being forced by special interest groups and a lack of understanding and pseudo science,” she notes. “Consumers need to make choices and their choices are being taken away by these groups, so we need to reach around these groups and help consumers make their own choices. People want to know food is affordable and safe. And we do have affordable and safe food. The answers that we have in agriculture, the good answers, we haven’t informed consumers about them. With eggs, it’s things like the fact that the carbon footprint of farms is much lower than it was years ago, and at the same time, crop productivity is up, hen productivity is up, the soil is still vibrant and so on. Those are tremendous positives.”   McComb says the Summit was valuable “because the whole focus of it was the commonality of our problems and the things we need to face.” She believes “Consumers are confused. They have lost touch with agriculture today and we as a whole agriculture sector need to reconnect with the people who buy our products. I think it was a great start. I sat at tables, and I know others did too, with a great variety of people around me. We all thought we are islands, maybe, but we are not. We have lots of commonalities. The Summit helped us make connections, understand the problem, and come up with plans and solutions.” EFO is working with Farm & Food Care and CCFI on concrete plans on topics like better understanding food-related trends, best public communication practices and more. “When we say agriculture, they [consumers] think food,” McComb notes. “We say food safety and they want safe food. We talk about biotechnology and they wonder about GMOs and steroids and hormones. We talk efficiency and they talk affordability. We have to modify our language and need to speak factually and passionately.” Alison Evans, communications manager at Egg Farmers of Canada, found the Summit to be “an interesting event,” and notes that “the concepts of social license and public trust are very important to our farmers…We are active participants in a range of initiatives that promote dialogue and action on these matters, and value collaboration that benefits the entire sector. We will look forward to hearing more about the planned initiatives of the CCFI with interest.” Turkey Farmers of Canada (TFC) Chair Mark Davies attended part of the Summit and TFC Manager of Corporate Communications Robin Redstone attended the entire event. “We felt it was a useful event and we certainly welcome the dialogue on what we agree is an important issue for the Canadian food and agriculture sector,” Redstone notes. “Going forward, TFC will continue in our efforts to address the public’s demand for information and transparency, and our organization will be assessing the proposal for involvement put forth by the CCFI.” For its part, Farm & Food Care is working on five action points. CEO Crystal Mackay pointed out at the Summit that results for Google searches must be improved, in terms of offering Canadians more balanced and accurate information about food and farming. (The top 10 ranked results for a Google search for the words ‘cage free,’ for example, turned up only animal rights websites and a Wikipedia entry.) Secondly, Farm & Food Care is going to invest in new online content, for example expanding its Virtual Farm tours to Virtual Farm and Food Tours. In addition, it will continue working to reach ‘thought influencers’ in Canadian society, such as Foodies, bloggers and Moms, to support the development of new resources and research, and to continue to build networks and momentum. Let’s finish with some pertinent quotes from some of the Summit presenters, starting with UK-based food industry researcher and commentator Dr. David Hughes: “There are no passengers here. We all need to take action individually and collectively.” Arnot stressed that information on farming and food must be more readily available, “We have to get past ‘There is nothing to hide, but it’s none of your business,’” he said. Arnot also put emphasis on a long-term view: “Success will not be defined by where you’ll be in 12 months from now. Three, five, ten years is what matters.” “This is a moving target,” Mackay stated. “This is new territory…We need to commit to making mistakes.” She advised everyone to go back and look at their website and other materials and commit to helping each other and providing feedback across sectors. “If you’re not making mistakes, you’ve probably not doing enough,” she said. “It’s a movement – you have to move.” Mackay believes the CCFI findings point to a huge opportunity to make a better connection between Canadians and their food. With the survey showing that 60 percent of Canadians would like to know more about farming practices, she’s very right. The overall survey results, however, suggest an uphill battle ahead. The Public Trust Research Report is available at:
October 3, 2016 - Aches and pains are common afflictions of everyday life. Stiff knees, sore feet and back pain are all too common. Back injuries can be chronic (long-term) or short-term and can affect everyone at some point in their life. Back pain, especially lower back pain is a common work-related issue that affects many farmers from farms both small and large. Back pain can be caused by many factors and can affect anyone, young or old. Farmers are especially at risk because work done on the farm can include activities that are factors for developing back pain. Some risk factors for developing back pain include: Lifting objects heavier than 25 pounds or repeatedly lifting lighter objects, Awkward body posture while working Driving farm equipment for long periods of time that cause your whole body to vibrate, Slips and fall Most lower back pain caused by overexertion is short-lived and usually resolves on its own. However, having back pain for any amount of time can be a real problem. If severe enough, back pain can lead to a hard time walking or sitting, let alone doing any farm work! What can be done to help reduce the risk of having back pain? There are some easy steps to remember to help reduce the likelihood of spending the next few days in pain. Start by recognizing high-risk activities. Are you spending an extraordinary amount of time in equipment? Are you lifting awkward or heavy loads? Is there a tripping hazard that could lead to a fall? Once you realize that there could be a potential for creating back pain, take some steps to help yourself. Avoid prolonged, repetitive tasks (ask somebody to help out and take turns) Practice good lifting hygiene (use your legs) Alternate between heavy and light work tasks Take frequent rest breaks Before starting a task, consider how it could be done differently. Address tripping hazards There are also things that you can do to strengthen your body against the suffering of back pain. Don’t wait until you are in severe pain to start! Exercising, strengthening your core, stretching and eating well can not only safeguard against back injury, it can also lead to optimal health.   If you’re back pain doesn’t resolve itself or is unbearable, seek the advice of a doctor or other medical professional. Don’t ignore the pain and hope it goes away. Medical treatment and rehabilitation may enable you to continue working and functioning. By addressing the issue, you could prevent further pain. For more information about farm safety, visit the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association website at
Sept. 29, 2016 - Farmers in Alberta are invited to turn in their obsolete or unwanted agricultural pesticides and livestock/equine medications on the dates and at the locations specified below for safe disposal.Collection sites will be open on the days specified from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.Monday, Oct. 3                        Central Alberta Co-op in Innisfail, 403-505-1467Edberg Crop Management in Edberg, 780-877-0003Crop Production Services in Westlock, 780-349-4525Crop Production Services in Smoky Lake, 780-656-4343Tuesday, Oct. 4                        Richardson Pioneer in Provost, 780-753-2511Alliance Seed Cleaning Association in Alliance, 780-879-3927Parkland Fertilizers in Lacombe, 780-782-2232Neerlandia Co-op in Barrhead, 780-674-2820Wednesday Oct. 5 Andrukow Group Solutions in Saint Paul, 780-645-5915Richardson Pioneer in Lavoy, 780-658-2408McEwen's Fuels & Fertilizers in Athabasca, 780-675-9500Crop Production Services in Camrose, 780-672-3025Thursday, Oct. 6                      Crop Production Services in Vermilion, 780-853-4711North Corridor Co-op in Thorhild, 780-398-3975Leduc Co-op in Leduc, 780-986-3000Andrukow Group Solutions in Wainwright, 780-842-3306Friday, Oct. 7                            Sturgeon Valley Fertilizers in Legal, 780-961-3088Andrukow Group Solutions in Viking, 780-336-3180UFA in Drayton Valley, 780-621-0313Crop Production Services in Lloydminster, 780-871-4601 CleanFARMS, a national, industry-led agricultural waste stewardship organization, has partnered with CropLife Canada and the Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI) to deliver this program to Alberta farmers. The plant science and animal health industries are committed to safely and responsibly collecting and disposing of obsolete pesticides and livestock/equine medications at no cost to farmers.For more information, visit or call 1-877-622-4460.
Sept. 28, 2016 - I can’t. I don’t want to. You can’t make me. Coming from a child, talking about a math problem or a difficult chore, adults would accuse them of having a negative attitude. But children are not the only ones that can suffer from a negative attitude. Could a negative attitude be preventing you from having a safe farm? Having a safe farm is a priority for almost all farmers. But is this just all talk? According to an survey conducted by Farm Credit Canada, 75 per cent of farmers feel the work on their operation is done safely most of the time, however more than 40 per cent of the same respondents have reported a personal injury, family member injury or employee injury on their operation. This begs the question – if most work is being done safely, why are people still getting hurt? Time, money, old habits. These are common responses when asked what obstacles to improving safety are. However, a negative attitude towards safety can impact job performance and increases the chance of getting injured. One of the biggest negative attitudes when it comes to safety is “accidents happen”, or “it was a freak tragedy”. These statements are simply untrue. Recognizing that accidents are not only predictable but preventable as well, is the first step in having a good attitude around safety and injury prevention. Sometimes it might be uncomfortable or time consuming to think about safety and injury prevention, but those inconveniences are minor when it comes to preventing an injury or even a fatality. When it comes to day to day attitudes, first, avoid becoming fatigued or overly hungry or thirsty. No human does their best under these conditions. Being tired can slow down your reaction time and can influence your decision making skills. Being hungry, well, that can just make you irritable, easily annoyed and even reckless. Addressing basic needs like rest, food and drink can go a long way in maintaining a good attitude. Another negative attitude that can affect your farm and your safety is complacency. After performing a job many times without a problem, you may believe you’re experienced enough to skip steps. That’s exactly when an injury can happen. It’s important to follow your established safety procedures each and every time you perform a task. Emotions are good and normal. It’s ok to be upset or angry at a situation. But it’s not ok if you let those emotions get in the way of performing your task correctly. Being angry or upset can lead people into being reckless or in making hasty decisions. Take the time to calm down, or to figure out a solution before performing your task. Sometimes, a task can be frustrating. We’ve all been in the position where, no matter what you do, nothing you do seems to go right. This can be annoying, frustrating and infuriating! Walk away, calm down and then restart. This goes for everything from fixing machinery to sorting calves. Take a moment (it doesn’t have to be hours) to take a few deep breaths. Regroup. And restart. Lastly, ask for help! You aren’t in this life alone. Many people including agri-retailers, medical professionals, family members, neighbours and friends are there for you. We all need help sometimes. It can be as simple as asking for clarification on a new crop protection product from your local ag rep or as complex as dealing with a health crisis. Not knowing, or feeling overwhelmed is totally ok, just ask for help when you need it. Maintaining a positive attitude will help reinforce the importance of doing farm work safely. Having a good attitude about farm safety costs no dollars, but it is an investment in time and in thinking and that investment can pay off in spades in having an injury-free farm. For more information about farm safety, visit
Sept. 27, 2016 - Farm Management Canada (FMC) has launched an enhanced version of its former Step Up mentorship program to help bridge the gap between generations of farmers to provide Canada's future farmers with the best chance for success.  Succession planning - also called transition planning, ensures farm business continuity: it is the only process that links one generation to future generations involved in the farm business, and addresses how the vision, goals and dreams of a farm will carry on.  "According to the recent study, Making Dollars and Sense, less than 1/3 of Canada's farmers have a succession plan, while close to 40 per cent are in the succession stage of their farm business," says Heather Watson, executive director of FMC. She goes on to note, "this signals not only a significant risk to the Canadian agricultural sector, but also an immense opportunity to promote and provide the information, tools and resources for farmers to improve their succession planning practices." The Bridging the Gap: Step Up to Succession program is comprised of a series of Succession & Transition Planning workshops for farm families coupled with a Successor Development program, exclusively for young farmers. FMC will be working with renowned farm family coach Elaine Froese and business management consultant Cedric MacLeod to help lead the program and coach participants throughout their journey. In the true spirit of collaboration and partnership, Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers' Program, the Canadian Young Farmers' Forum and 4-H Canada are partnering with FMC to help ensure the program is a complete success. For more information on the program, please visit Farm Management Canada's website.
September 22, 2016 - Connect OnFarm has appointed a new senior on-farm representative as part of its expanding team servicing customers in Canada and the U.S.  Industry veteran Rick Barva joins the team bringing a wealth of experience and relationships, along with a passion for helping farming operations maximize opportunities. “We’re very excited to welcome Rick on board,” says Cal Ginter of Connect OnFarm. “It’s a big role. It’s also a very important step for Connect OnFarm, as our business continues to grow during an exciting time of evolution in the industry. We wanted someone who, first and foremost, would complement our community – someone who would fit well as part of the team, the family really, that includes not just Connect OnFarm but also our customers, partners and suppliers. “Rick fits the culture we are building. He brings a lot of knowledge and insight that will benefit everyone involved with Connect OnFarm.” Barva was raised near Lethbridge as part of a long-time ranching family that grew its cattle feeding business into one of the largest in the area at the time. His natural enthusiasm for agriculture and the people who make it work led him to a degree in agriculture from the University of Alberta, with a double major in animal nutrition and finance. Since then through several agricultural sales representative and banking/finance roles, Barva has built a strong reputation and become well familiar to many in western Canadian agriculture, particularly in the tight-knit swine community. Barva is also currently a director of the Alberta Pork Congress and has served in a number of industry service and leadership positions over the years. “I couldn’t be happier to have this opportunity,” says Barva. “I’m really looking forward to working with the Connect OnFarm community and, especially, contributing at the farm level. “The Connect OnFarm approach is all about finding ways to help farming operations fully identify and capture the opportunities they have for success. That way of looking at things is always what I have enjoyed most about working in agriculture, along with of course the people. This feels like a very natural fit for me. I know many of the Connect OnFarm customers already and I can’t wait to get more involved with contributing to the growing team and customer base. I feel like this is exactly where I want to be and there is a lot to look forward to.” Ginter, along with partner Wes Friesen, co-founded Connect OnFarm three years ago and the rising company has experienced steady growth and progress now set to reach a new level. Rounding out the core of the Connect OnFarm team is office manager Cleuza Friesen. “Rick understands the vision of Connect OnFarm, including our focus on grass roots relationships and dedication to helping farmers innovate and get the most out of their operations,” says Wes Friesen. “Many of our customers have already worked with Rick in his past roles and are as excited as we are to have him join the team. Rick also brings a unique and valuable skillset, bridging both agriculture and finance, that is an excellent fit not only with where we are today but where we are moving toward for the future. Connect OnFarm is a company built on serving producers and helping farming operations become more profitable, innovative and sustainable, through a range of services and products based around nutrition programs for livestock. The company provides a full range of consulting services and also supplies a variety of product options, including Connect OnFarm custom label products such as Encompas5 and WeanEase. A key focus is natural feed supplements that offer a range of efficiency, performance and environmental benefits while also offering a strong fit with the shifting expectations of today’s marketplace and trends such as reduced reliance on antimicrobials. For more information, contact the Connect OnFarm office at 403-330-3727.   

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