Key Developments
January 10, 2014

Jan. 10, 2014 - In 2013, Canadian Poultry celebrated our 100th anniversary, which was a significant year for us – and an important year for these top newsmakers. From eggs used in antidepressant drugs and houseflies used to recycle poultry manure, to border openings and even a Presidential pardon, there was always something interesting going on in Canada's poultry industry.

Join us as we take a look back at some of our top stories of 2013!

Unveiling the new Vita D sunshine egg.

Adding Sunshine to Eggs

Agri-entrepreneur Bill Vanderkooi of Vitala Foods in Abbotsford, B.C. launched Vita D sunshine eggs, the world's first caged layer white eggs to provide people with 100 per cent of the daily recommended value of vitamin D in a single egg. He launched the new line of specialty eggs in downtown Vancouver by having the Vita D sunshine crew give people their daily dose of "sunshine" through free Vita D sunshine breakfast burritos.

Supply management is a complex system that few understand.

Managing Supply

As Canadian Poultry magazine celebrated 100 years, Jim Knisely took a look back at the long road to achieve the system we operate under – supply management. While many people understand the benefits of orderly marketing, few understand the work that went into achieving and implementing it.

Ivan Milin has created a new product to help with manure management.

Rocket Man

With more and more legislation about environmental stewardship, handling of manure is becoming even more regulated. In this interview with entrepreneur Ivan Milin, Canadian Poultry learns about his prototype technology that would industrialize the processing of manure – using the larvae of common houseflies.

Chicken Farmers of Canada was awarded for its food safety program. 

Food Safety Excellence

A long time in the making, Chicken Farmers of Canada was recognized in 2013 for its On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program, known as OFFSAP. CFC became the first commodity organization in Canada to be recognized by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada for effective and consistent implementation of a food safety program.


Health Secret Inside Eggs

At its 2013 annual general meeting, Egg Farmers of Ontario announced that it would fund research being done by United Paragon Associates (UPA), an Ontario-based privately-held pharmaceutical developer. UPA is undertaking clinical trials for a new antidepressant drug, named Rellidep, which could help millions of people, worldwide who suffer from Major Depressive Disorder.

Ray Nickel's farm was hit by avian influenza in 2004.

Speaking from Experience

B.C.'s four poultry marketing boards and commissions used their regulatory authority to make the industry-developed biosecurity program mandatory, but received little negative reaction because producers were keenly aware of the economic and mental devastation caused by the avian influenza outbreak in the Fraser Valley in 2004. Ray Nickel, a chicken, turkey and egg producer with multiple farms, felt the trauma personally as his layer farm was one of those infected.

Pullet Growers of Canada hope to achieve marketing board status.

Pushing for Pullet Growers

The Pullet Growers of Canada (PGC) has been working hard to achieve marketing board status in order to give pullet growers a clear voice in the industry. At its annual general meeting in March 2013, Andy DeWeerd, chairman of the organization and a farmer in Perth County, Ont., told the Nova Scotia Egg Producers that the PGC have been working with pullet farmers and provincial egg marketing agencies to develop a business plan for the proposed marketing board.

The Poultry Health Research Network aims to provide a forum for collaboration and co-operation.

More than Connecting Dots

The Poultry Health Research Network aims to provide a forum for collaboration and co-operation not only among researchers within the University of Guelph, but also between Guelph and other Canadian campuses. It will also, hopefully, reduce duplication where applicable.

The University of Guelph has received a donation to fund a professorship.

Professorship in Poultry Nutrition

In September 2013, the University of Guelph received a $1 million gift to help fund a professorship in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the Ontario Agricultural College. The generous donation from James and Brenda McIntosh will help improve poultry nutrition research, training and outreach.

Every Thanksgiving, the U.S. president pardons a turkey.

Standing Proud

Each year, the President of the United States pardons a turkey as part of a decades-long tradition. In 2013, the bird  chosen for the honour could be traced back, genetically, to Kitchener-Waterloo.

Full traceability in Canada is all about safegarding health.

Keeping Track

Full traceability is not yet mandatory in Canada, but the benefits to the agricultural industry as a whole are many. Whether it involves ready-to-cook seasoned poultry pieces, tomatoes or grain, it is all about safeguarding our health in times when food safety incidents occur – and presenting an image of Canada's agricultural industry as responsible and responsive.

The Farm Issues Survey shows that agricultural concerns change every year.

Consumer Perceptions of Food and Farming

Concern over jobs, health care, the economy and the environment are most consistently keeping people up at night. As the results for the Farm Issues Survey, done by Ipsos Marketing, these issues constantly change and reflect the changing times.

March 05, 2013





  • The B.C government raised alarm over the large volume of unmarked foreign eggs entering and disrupting the market in April 1915, so calls were made for immediate and mandatory Country of Origin Labelling.
  • Outdoor lamp brooding had had its day and indoor room brooding was the way of the future in March 1918.
  • The key to success in the egg business in 1918 was that good hens will yield a lot of eggs and a positive financial return while poor hens will cost more to feed than they will return in eggs.
  • In June 1919, getting rid of “surplus” males was advised for farmers who wanted a healthier, more productive flock. “If our readers have not already eaten or sold their suplus male breeders they should do so at once; the hens will lay as well, if not better, without a male bothering them.”
  • Poultry in the 1920 United States was one of the country’s biggest industries, but few people have much invested in it and even fewer focused solely on poultry, according to Geo Rommel, chief of the animal husbandry division of the U.S. Bureau of Animal Industry.
  • To get the best breeding results, farmers were told, to know the
  • background of each individual in the mating.” This would guarantee the pedigree.
  • “Poultry molted well will breed well, lay well and look well and pay well” – Canadian Poultry World, August 1921.
  • In 1921, the greatest concern was the importation of eggs from Washington State that were sold below the cost of production. Despite this, B.C. egg producers were investing in “splendid new buildings of the best known type.”
  • Highly productive laying hens were elusive, according to a January 1924 editorial. Fewer than one per cent of hens produced 300 or more eggs in
  • a year.
  • Imports of rail car loads of surplus U.S. eggs in December 1923 caused B.C. egg prices to fall from 55 cents to 42 cents a dozen in a matter of days.
  • Federal Record of Performance standards for Canadian poultry were becoming tighter and tighter in late 1924. Designed to maintain the standards of breed integrity and high productivity, ROP (Record of Performance) standards were advancing the quality of Canadian poultry on both fronts.
  • A three-year study of confinement versus range for laying hens ended in March 1925 and found that range birds produced more eggs and consumed less feed per egg produced. It also found that “chickens bred from hens confined lacked vitality, perhaps the biggest factor in egg production.”


Better birds, better prices and egg grading
When 1925 came to an end, egg producers were enjoying the best of times, according to Prof. E.A. Lloyd. Egg prices were up, farms were profitable and the birds had been mightily improved, breaking laying records year after year.

But he cautioned that the newfound prosperity might not last. U.S. eggs were re-entering the Canadian market, undercutting prices in Eastern and Central Canada. Canadian production was rebounding, adding pressure.

He also advised producers to remember that the current prosperity was built on boneyards of broken dreams. “Our comparatively high prosperity this year is due, however, to the losses and retirement of many poultrymen of previous years.”

He also reminded egg farmers that at least some of their prosperity was built on a solid foundation of consumer confidence that came from nationwide egg grading. “Canada’s egg grading laws are the envy of the U.S. and of practically every other country in the world.”

In addition, he warned against allowing the “propaganda” peddled by merchants and some politicians to abolish “these modern, advanced and helpful regulations.”


  • Regulations respecting the grading and marketing of egg were established in 1918 under the Livestock and Livestock Products Act. These applied to eggs that were exported or moved interprovincially, and they were the first set of national regulations established in any country in the world.
  • Also in 1918, the ROP programs were introduced, which gave rise to today’s quality breeding stock. Canada was the first country in the world to establish a government-supervised poultry improvement plan.
  • The publication of the first edition of Moose Jaw-based “The Western Hen” was welcomed by W. Miller Higgs, editor of Poultry Pigeons & Petstock Journal in March 1918.
  • With the strain the First World War was putting on food supplies in 1918, urban dwellers were urged to keep small flocks of chickens in their backyards.
  • W. Miller Higgs, editor of Poultry Pigeons & Petstock Journal announced he was headed to the front lines in the First World War “to do his bit” in July 1918. The production of the journal was left in the hands of his wife.
  • Starting with the November 1918 edition, Thos. Edwards, W.H. Willins and H.D. Reid acquired ownership of Poultry Pigeons & Petstock Journal from Mrs. Miller Higgs, who had been managing the magazine while her husband was serving with the Canadian army in Europe.
  • After lengthy consideration in July 1921, the editor and ownership decided to change the name of the journal from Poultry Pigeons & Petstock Journal to Canadian Poultry World – a “far more appropriate name.”
  • Mrs. Wilmer Steele of Oceanview, Del., is considered the pioneer of the commercial broiler industry. In 1923, she raised a flock of 500 chicks intended to be sold for meat. Her little business was so profitable that, by 1926, Mrs. Steele was able to build a broiler house with a capacity of 10,000 birds.
  • A co-op aimed at collecting B.C. eggs and wholesaling them collapsed and Chas. Golding wrote that he believed he knew why. The price of eggs in Vancouver was determined by the Seattle price for surplus eggs. He wrote in August 1924 that “we have absolutely no protection in our own markets for outside powerful competition.”



  • In 1926, there were significant drops in egg prices: Canadian duty was three cents per dozen, compared to a duty of eight cents for eggs entering from the United States.
  • Egg production in 1927 increased by over 100 million dozen, or 70 per cent, since 1920 due to increasing technology, husbandry and larger flock sizes.
  • Raising turkeys gained in popularity in the late 1920s.
  • In April 1931, the poultry population in Canada increased by one million between 1929 and 1930 due to the improvement in egg production, marketing and grading.
  • The use of wax in the poultry industry for help in plucking the bird was attracting attention, so the process was profiled in September 1935.

The Calm Before the Storm
In the late 1920s, there was a lot of focus on the perils of declining egg prices and the dominant presence of U.S. eggs in Canadian markets, known as “egg dumping.” An editorial from 1926 said that American eggs receive a duty of three cents per dozen, but local eggs sent to the U.S. are burdened with an eight cent tariff. While plenty of options were discussed throughout the following years, the issue was never completely resolved. In 1929, the B.C. Egg Pool and Poultry Association was formed to monitor, candle and distribute co-operatively up to 1,000 cases of eggs per day, valued at $9,000. In June of that year, 76 carloads (or 1,031,737 dozen eggs) were sold in 36 days.

Chick sexing was also a hotly discussed topic in 1934, with numerous articles explaining the process involved, and its potential use and value within the industry, which all culminated in a series of articles written by Rolfe M. Forsyth. The articles, which ran in July, August, September and October 1934, discussed every avenue of the process, including a step-by-step description of the process and the pros and cons associated with it.

This decade was also a time of change for Canadian Poultry World (renamed Canada Poultryman in 1928), with not only a title change but also many layout and design alterations along the way. The most significant occurred in May 1930 with the sponsorship of the International Egg Laying Contest by Canada Poultryman and the disasters that followed and resulted in the demolishment of Western Trade Publishing Co. Ltd., the company that owned and published the magazine.

In total, the design of the magazine changed four times, while ownership of Canada Poultryman shifted twice: from Pacific Coast Motorist Ltd. in May 1930 to Farm Papers Limited in
February 1935.


  • The April 1933 issue featured a Fire Torch from North Coast Welding Co. Ltd. to disinfect and sanitize your barn is a “positive way to destroy disease germs.”
  • Chick sexing using the Japanese method was first described in September 1933.
  • B.C. Electric Railway Company released a forced air draft electric brooder in early 1934.
  • In mid-1934, a connection was found between the number of eggs a hen produces and the amount of oyster shell (a popular source of lime) the bird consumes because of calcium requirements.
  • Chick sexing was
  • demonstrated in a series of articles: July, August, September and October 1934.
  •  Ventilation strategies for your barn, from R.V. Wilcox, B.S.A., described in September 1934, included using hinged windows as well as air intake and outlet shafts to take advantage of natural air movements.


  • Egg grading helped to increase both production and consumption of Canadian eggs (from 142 million dozen to 249 million and 16.8 dozen per capita to 26.8).
  • The Poultry Producers’ Association of British Columbia was formed in March 1926.
  • R.H. Storer and W.B.M. Miller purchased The Canadian Poultry World in December 1926.
  • Adding oyster shell to feeds became mainstream in mid-1927.
  • 1,080,000 eggs were shipped to Great Britain from the Pacific Coast for the first time in 1927.
  • The magazine was renamed Canada Poultryman in 1928.
  • National Poultry Council was formed in January 1929.
  • In February 1929, the B.C. Egg Pool (the first step in co-operative marketing) was introduced.
  • Canada Poultryman opened office in Saskatchewan in 1930.
  • The magazine was taken over by Canada Poultryman Publishing Co. Ltd. from Western Trade Publishing Co. Ltd. due to losses sustained conducting the International Egg Laying Contest in April 1930.
  • Pacific Coast Motorist Ltd. purchased the magazine in May 1930.
  • In December 1930, magazine released the first Annual and Breeders Directory.
  • In 1933, tried and true “Canada Poultryman Feeds” within the magazine were published to help farmers.
  • Chick sexing was discussed in the September 1933 issue for the first time.
  • Farm Papers Limited purchased Canada Poultryman in February 1935.
  • Douglas Thornhill, a well-known Alberta poultry farmer, began writing his article “Practical Paragraphs by a Prairie Poultryman.”
  • The “Albertan” poultry breed was officially recognized as a new Standard variety in 1935.


  • The controversy of importing chicks from the United States continued in 1926.
  • Bacillary white diarrhea was the most discussed problem affecting B.C. poultrymen in 1928.
  • Price disagreements within the B.C. Egg Pool plagued the organization after its founding in early 1929.
  • In early 1930, the use of artificial heat in poultry houses was gaining steam, but was not recommended by a committee of B.C. poultry officials.
  • Egg prices reached below 35 cents per dozen in B.C. in the first half of 1931, and dipped even lower in the Prairies (21 cents), the lowest in 20 years.
  • In 1933, it was decided that Grade A1 eggs are to be candled, graded and packed by the producer (a grade available only to the producer) by the Live Stock Branch of the Dominion Department of Agriculture.
  • With chick sexing becoming more common in the early 1930s, farmers were interested in acquiring the skills, but lacked the confidence to master the procedure.
  • The Poultry Marketing Scheme for British Columbia (part of the Natural Products Marketing Act) was outlined in detail in April 1935, with its problems discussed in the May 1935 issue.

The Beginner’s A.B.C.January 1929

  • Always interest yourself in your stock.
  • Breed always from the best of stock.
  • Careful attention commands success.
  • Dirt is the most virulent conveyance of disease.
  • Eggs should be removed from the nest as often as convenient.
  • Fresh water is compulsory.
  • Good frit, flint and oyster shells should never be absent.
  • Hatch no more than your ground will carry – save chance of loss.
  • Insides of houses, etc., must be kept spotless.
  • Join and support the associations that are working for the betterment of the industry.
  • Keep well up in poultry matters – read the Canada Poultryman.
  • Look out for the first signs of disease – a stitch in time saves ninety-nine.
  • Make a spare pen; it’s bound to come in handy for hospital, new purchases or training.
  • Nests must be roomy, comfortable and clean.
  • Overfeeding is the cause of many disappointments, such as scarcity of eggs, etc.
  • Perches should be movable so that they may be often and easily cleaned.
  • Query columns of Canada Poultryman are a mine of information.
  • Raise chickens only from the best stock.
  • Successful poultry-keeping is the result of careful study.
  • Turn every useless fowl into cash, or it will quickly eat your profit.
  • Utility points must be maintained by pedigree record-nest strains.
  • Vegetables and green stuff are a necessity.
  • Water and waterpots must be fresh.
  • X’s should be cut down as much as possible.
  • Years and seasons are not all alike – do not expect the same success every time.
  • Zeal – and plenty of it.



  • Debate continues throughout the decade, especially in Western provinces, regarding the import of U.S. eggs into an already satiated Canadian market.
  • In May 1936, the Dominion Budget imposed a duty of 10 cents per dozen on eggs and four cents on baby chicks coming from the United States.
  • Per-capita egg consumption had decreased from 356 eggs in 1926 to 260 eggs in 1936.
  • In October 1940, 20,000 cases of eggs were shipped from British Columbia to Great Britain to help the British during thewar effort.
  • From Oct. 1 to Nov. 30, 1940, the editors of Canada Poultryman donated every cent from subscribers to the Canadian government to assist in thewar effort.

War Impacts the Industry
During the last half of the 1930s, genetics took the forefront, with a major discussion in 1936 focusing on the differences between breeds. Producers were concerned about the emergence of the New Hampshire breed (similar to the Rhode Island Red) and its effect on the industry. Additional breeds were thoroughly discussed throughout the year as well, including the Buff Minorcas, Light Sussex, Barnevelders, Welsummers and more.

Different methods of production were also discussed, namely the dramatic rise of the laying battery system. So much so that many articles and editorials were devoted to the explanation of how the new cages allow greater sanitation, bird control, cleaner eggs and ease in bird management.

The issue of U.S. imports continued to worry producers with a tariff imposed on eggs and baby chicks (10 and four cents, respectively), so the domestic and home markets were protected. Despite that, prices were still so low that in the April 1937 editorial, editor Fred W. Beeson advised producers to “set aside one case of eggs that would ordinarily go to market” and store it yourself to decrease the market saturation and drive up prices. There was no indication his idea worked, but in December 1937 and January 1938, both editorials highlighted the need for a different method to increase both prices and demand – advertising.

This led to the development of a petition to the minster of agriculture, conducted through Canada Poultryman, for the creation and funding of a national advertising campaign for the purpose of raising egg consumption in Canada. In June 1938, in which the minister promised to take some sort of action. Instead, a “Buy by Grade” campaign was delivered in the fall, which showed little improvement to the industry. Industry prospects improved the following year in mid-November 1939 with a campaign to foster the increased consumption of poultry and turkey meat on the domestic level through “magazine and newspaper ads, radio talks and moving pictures.”

All other debates and developments, however, got placed to the side briefly when the Second World War broke out in 1939. Countless articles were written on Canada’s involvement, specifically with regards to its commitment to provide Britain with eggs and how the war would impact the poultry industry as individuals left Canadian shores to fight. While other issues popped up, such as the drive towards battery cages and the advantages of blood testing for Pullorum, until its end the war continued to draw headlines regarding its impact on the industry.


  • In June 1936, the Slatted Floor House from England is introduced to rear pullets and make sure that every bird has fresh air within the house.
  • FIRPLY, an “ideal lining for brooder houses, laying pens” that is made from four-foot by eight-foot sheets of Douglas Fir plywood, is shown in the July 1936 issue.
  • The B.C. Electric Company’s new system of circulating preheated air under barn floors to eliminate condensation during the winter was featured in late 1936.
  • Two articles, in September and October 1938, described ways to take advantage of the loans available through the Home Improvement Plan (H.I.P) to improve various aspects of a farm.
  • In April 1939, the electric brooder was profiled because it began to gain usage across Canada.
  • Due to war restrictions, producers were encouraged by the magazine in March 1943 to build their own breeders.
  • In May 1943, the egg-drying process for shipment overseas was explained in detail, so producers could fully understand what was happening to their product


  • Breeders and hatcherymen organize in Alberta and British Columbia to create Western Canada Baby Chick Association in 1936.
  • In March 1937, electrocution (or electric stunning) is thought to take the place of other killing methods, based on studies by the National Research Council.
  • In January 1938, Canada Poultryman began a multi-month petition to the Hon. James G. Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture) to create and fund a $100,000 national advertising campaign
  • for eggs.
  • In July 1938, a delegation met with the minister of agriculture on June 16 and received active support and a promise of action.
  • October 1939: With the Second World War in full swing, Canada helped to feed Great Britain and her allies with eggs and other poultry goods.
  • July/August 1943: Rail grading of poultry was introduced in Canada.
  • The R.O.P breeding policy was redone with regards to pullet pedigrees and egg grading in January 1944.
  • The R.O.P Breeders of British Columbia formed a new association – the R.O.P Poultry Association of B.C. in November 1944.


  • With a shortage of chick sexers in Canada in early 1936, workers from Japan came over to do the job, but numbers still fell short.
  • B.C. poultrymen protested Dominion government regulations requiring compulsory blood testing for pullets not intended for breeding in mid-1936.
  • The debate between laying or battery cages for layers still raged in December 1936.
  • October 1939: An article on how the war will affect the Canadian poultry industry from Canadian poultry marketing authorities (John I. Brown, W.A. Landreth and W.A. Brown) was published.
  • Wartime Prices and Trade Board announced that wholesale prices will be fixed beginning on Feb. 12, 1941, for fish meal and animal products to be used in feed.
  • A National Poultry Conference was held in January 1944 to discuss conduct during and after the war for
  • the entire industry.
  • At the National Poultry Conference, cross-bred chicks were looked upon with disfavour, and it was recommended that shipments be prohibited, at each province’s discretion.



  • Canadian chick production in 1945 was 43.4 million, down seven million from 1944.
  • Following the Second World War, competition for egg and poultry markets increased in late 1945 and Canadian producers were told to focus on efficiency.
  • The campaign to sell victory bonds didn’t let up with the end of the war. In the October 1945 edition of Canada Poultryman, it shifted to a call for farmers to buy bonds to ensure “a victorious peace.”
  • During the Second World War, Britian became a dominant market for Canadian eggs, taking up to half of surging production, but by January 1949, it had changed. Canada Poultryman wrote, “we shall do well to look after our domestic market which is, and always has been our most profitable outlet for eggs and poultry.”
  • Total confinement rearing of turkeys gained popularity on the Prairies in early 1949. However, “where good, clean range land is available and where the danger of predators is not too great, it is felt that the range rearing system has many advantages and should be followed wherever practicable” – R.M. Blakely, Dominion Experimental Station, Swift Current, Sask.

Modernization Takes Root
There is no doubt the average poultry farm is far too small. Attempting to make a living comparable from those in other industries or occupations with a thousand layers just can’t be done anymore. For one thing. the possible profit per bird is not likely to increase as the years go by, and for another, the complexities of modern living bear little relationship to a couple of decades ago.

That is another way of saying that our living today is far more expensive because of our greater “quantities of essentials than ever it has been in the past. Those who in past years made a living from 160 acres of land did so on mighty few dollars a week, but they made a living or figured they did. No one farming today has any desire to go back to the hardships endured by earlier settlers, and so, if we are to expect an income that will cover present day living costs, we have to raise our sights.

Therein comes the rub. The cost of constructing the necessary buildings for additional stock is so steep as to make one hesitate at the attempt. It is safe to say, though, that those who are able to do this will reap a worthwhile harvest because their number will be comparatively few for a long time to come.

With labour saving equipment, a man today is said to be able to look after several thousand layers with less work than his father encountered with a few hundred. From now on, the watchword is going to be economical production and that means maintaining the greatest number of productive birds with the least labour.”

Canada Poultryman, November, 1948 – Written by Fred Beeson


  • Beginning in late 1966, the use of artificial lighting was found to be beneficial to egg production. “In turkey production I see a change coming. In fact, the most spectacular development that is likely to take place in the next few years in the poultry industry of Canada will be the commercialization of turkey poults,” wrote W.J. Rae, professor of Poultry Husbandry, University of Saskatchewan, in November 1946.
  • “One of the newest and most advanced pieces of equipment is the moving feed carrier which is now in operation in some plants and which may be regulated to operate with absolute regularity as the operator may desire.”
  • – Canada Poultryman September 1949.


  • The war in the Netherlands officially ended when German General Johannes Blaskowitz surrended to Canadian General Charles Foulkes on May 5, 1945, at Wageningen.
  • The war in Europe ended with Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945.
  • The Empire of Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945, ending the war in Asia.
  • The Vancouver Island Poultry Co-operative Association was formed in 1945 to operate a killing, chilling and egg-grading station and to supply wholesale and consumer markets.
  • In 1946, Ontario passed the Farm Products Marketing Act, which, with numerous amendments, remains in effect today.
  • Vitamin B12 was identified in 1948, the last traditional vitamin. Shortly thereafter, it was found that animals such as poultry require the vitamin.
  • In January 1948, Newcastle Disease was first identified in Canada. By late 1948, six cases had been identified, including one in Saskatchewan, three in Ontario, one in Quebec and one in Nova Scotia.
  • The Australian Egg Board was established in January 1948 to buy and sell eggs and egg products intended for export.
  • In the March 1948, a new machine – The Automatic Egg Washer – was introduced,  which washed eggs in a “sanitary manner” with water hot enough to kill common bacteria, and was gentle enough not to damage the eggs.
  • The B.C. Poultry Producers’ Association applied to the minister of agriculture in February 1948 for the establishment of a poultry marketing scheme.
  • In 1950, W. Murray Clark of Caledonia, Ontario, established a business to sell production equipment to local poultry and egg farmers.



  • In February 1960, the Canadian egg industry became free of support prices (for the first time since 1941).
  • Debeaking of poultry was claimed to be the best way to prevent cannibalism in 1960 by Herb Gasperdone of the B.C. Department of Agriculture.
  • New Canadians’ preference of ducks and geese to regular poultry allowed the waterfowl market to expand in the early 1960s.
  • The Fraser Valley, in mid-1962, had more layers in cages than conventional floor-type houses, turning egg production into a more factory-style operation.
  • A new disease known as transmissible enteritis appeared in turkey poults in Alberta in late 1963.
  • A.D. Davey of the Poultry Division of CDA said in December 1963 that consumption of poultry products could rise by 190 per cent for meat and 85 per cent for eggs by 1980.

Vital Growth
From the December 1961 Fred Beeson editorial regarding an address by W.A. Landreth at the 1961 Poultry Conference:
“Now, to return to Mr. Landreth’s ideas. He suggests that each province form an Egg Producers Council, a Broiler Growers Council, a Turkey Producers Council. Taking eggs first, he suggests this Council should, in conjunction with the “Trade”, establish the prices of eggs for the coming week. The spread in price for grading and cartoning eggs should have added to it one half cent per dozen which would finance the council.

Through its provincial board of directors, working closely with the egg wholesalers, be they co-ops or privately owned, Mr. Landreth stresses that stability can result from studying trends and putting in voluntary production controls. He suggests similar procedures for broilers and turkeys.

His views are interesting, particularly since the B.C. Broiler Growers Association has gone on record as favoring Production Control by a Compulsory Quota. They made an attempt at a voluntary cut-back, failed, and then decided that the only way to achieve a quota system was to come in under the Natural Products Marketing Act. Even with this Act they cannot control how many broilers a man grows but they think, and hope, that they can enforce their powers under the Act to regulate how many broilers from any one grower can be processed.

The achievement of their goal may be attainable. It may not. Time alone will tell … We have given this matter a great deal of thought. We do not think Mr. Landreth’s ideas are likely to be taken up by the industry in each province, on an entirely voluntary basis. We further are of the opinion that the Natural Products Marketing Act, so sweeping in its powers, is not the vehicle the industry needs. We agree with Mr. Landreth that the Councils should be voluntary, but we’d like to see national legislation put into effect that a producer group, representing say, 75 per cent of the product within its boundaries, could establish, under Law, Production Quotas, to be set in consultation with the first receivers – the egg wholesalers and grading stations, the poultry meat processors, the feed manufacturers and the hatcheries. Each of these parts of the industry are vital to the continuing welfare of the industry.”


  • The U.S. banned diethylstilbestrol for the caponizing of poultry in the early 1960s.
  • Fraser Valley, B.C., in 1960 began talks to utilize the Compulsory Egg Marketing Board, which would allow producers to set prices
  • Early in 1961, a referendum took place to bring in compulsory marketing in the Fraser Valley, but it was defeated by a vote of nearly three to one.
  • The former president and general manager of Canadian Poultry Sales Ltd. proposed in 1962 that each province form an Egg Producers Council, a Broiler Growers Council and a Turkey Producers Council, and establish quotas.
  • Fred Beeson’s August 1962 editorial discussed the danger the poultry industry is facing by losing the small and independent producer and being controlled by a few very large firms or corporations. He also introduced the idea of using “sales quotas.”
  • The London Poultry Show building, the Western Fair Manufacturers Building, burned down on June 20, 1963 (the final day of the sixth annual Poultry Conference and Exhibition).


  • In early 1960, a University of California vet scientist found a new virus that affects the respiratory system of chickens and may be related to Newcastle disease.
  • At the 1960 Poultry Conference in London, Ont., re-formation of the Canadian Poultry Council was suggested to help promote Canadian poultry products, but no action was taken.
  • Five hundred egg producers were in favour of forming the B.C. Egg Producers’ Association at a meeting in Abbotsford, B.C., during the mid-1960s to help voice the views of the producers, and help them solve price and surplus problems.
  • However, the motion for a marketing board from the B.C. Egg Producers’ Association was defeated at a subsequent meeting.


  • The Insect-O-Cutor, a bug zapper, became available in Canada in 1962 and could be used to control flies and other flying insects in barns.
  • By feeding layers increased corn, alfalfa meal and cereal-grass, it was shown in late 1962 that eggs were produced with a much darker yolk, but with no difference in flavour.
  • Dr. Salsbury’s Laboratories marketed a vaccine sprayer in the early 1960s that could vaccinate 5,000 chickens or turkeys in 12 minutes
  • Researchers at J. Bibby and Sons of London, U.K., developed a new feed during the 1960s known as “Peckets,” designed to keep laying birds from becoming bored and from developing vices.
  • A new technique for measuring the success of fumigation and sanitary measures was outlined in the October 1963 issue – examining fluff (or downy) shed from newly hatched birds
  • for microbes before and after the measures were implemented.
  • In the mid-1960s, lagoon disposal systems for poultry manure were gaining popularity across the Western and Prairie provinces.
  • In late summer 1962, a mild vaccine tocontrol Avian Encephalomyelitis (Epidemic Tremors) became available in British Columbia and Ontario.



  • Dr. R.V. Hemsley of K-Vet Laboratories, Hespeler, Ont., in the January 1968 issue of Canada Poultryman stresses that the keys to disease prevention are often good management; a good, well-ventilated, well-maintained barn; and clean equipment.
  • In a series of articles in 1968, Ross Milne of the farm sales department of Ontario Hydro emphasized the need for proper poultry barn planning, as well as lighting, ventilation and wiring.
  • Concern was growing over the increases of disease and mortality in broiler breeders in early 1969, as the new superfast growing strains of broilers were more susceptible to disease.
  • To meet the needs of modern turkey production, breeding companies adopted strain cross programs and breed tomes for a variety of traits to increase potential profitability in mid-1969.
  • To preserve egg quality, the Canadian Department of Agriculture reported in March 1970 that proper cooling is essential.
  • The ads in Canada Poultryman from 1965 to 1975 tell a unique story of an industry on the move with new technologies being unveiled all the time.

The Rough Ride to Supply Management
From the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, Canada’s poultry industries lurched from crisis to profitability and back to crisis. This culminated in the so-called chicken-and-egg war with provinces dumping surplus production into other provinces and dealing with the commercial, regulatory and legislative reactions and fallout.

Throughout this period, producers and provincial governments sought answers and stability by forming provincial marketing boards. Often they worked to stabilize production and prices, but just as often they buckled under the pressure of dumped products from other provinces, and in later years, the United States.

It was a stressful, high-pressure time. Sometimes the pressure came from within the industry applied by producers and processors wedded to free enterprise and sometimes it came from consumer groups and commercial interests, which benefited from bouts of chronically low prices and chaotic markets.

This didn’t end with the formation of CEMA (Canadian Egg Marketing Agency) in 1972. The agency struggled. Its member provincial marketing boards agreed with the necessity of a co-ordinated national program, but disagreed mightily on such details as provincial shares of national production, quotas, traditional markets and even how to measure production.

Then in 1974 and 1975, an even larger threat appeared in the form of eggs coming in from the U.S. The imported eggs combined with the failure to control surplus production within Canada resulted in near panic. Agriculture Minister Eugene Whelan, long a strong supporter of marketing boards, stepped in with an ultimatum and a solution.

The ultimatum was to tell CEMA and the provincial boards that they first had to devise strict, enforceable rules to control overproduction and once that was done the federal government would deal with the U.S. imports.

“CEMA is not the success that producers want it to be. Nor is it the success I want it to be. …The final verdict will come in the next few months. If the provincial boards live up to their agreements, our chief egg marketing problems will end. If they don’t, the next press conference I call on CEMA will be the last.”

The squabbling and squawking came to a quick end and the federal government imposed import quotas in mid-1975. However, Canada’s import quotas were challenged by the U.S. under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now the WTO). The U.S. challenge was dismissed when the international panel ruled that Canada’s quotas were in compliance with international trade law.


  • In April 1967, most employees of farms, ranches, nurseries and greenhouses became eligible for unemployment insurance.
  • In early 1967, William (Bill) Stewart officially opened Shaver Poultry’s new hatchery in Galt, Ont.
  • The Saskatchewan Turkey Marketing Board was approved by the provincial government and set to begin operations Aug. 1, 1967.
  • In early 1967, Ontario broiler producers voted 92 per cent in favour of giving their board the responsibility of setting live prices and of setting terms and conditions of sale. However, Bruce MacNamara, former chair of the broiler board, cautioned that some form of national marketing control was still necessary.
  • In 1968, for an unprecedented third consecutive time, the Shaver Starcross 288 walked off with the USDA-ARS two-year sample test with the highest net income.
  • The Canadian Department of Agriculture received a major international award for development of a process for a new form of frozen eggs in early 1970. Using liquid nitrogen, egg mélange is frozen into droplets that can be packaged in varying sizes. Previously, frozen eggs came only in 40-pound lots and smaller portions were unavailable.
  • On Apr. 18, 1975, the Farm Products Marketing Amendment Act was signed into law. It gave the Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board, for the first time, authority to establish regulations to carry out effective production control utilizing quotas and providing for the inspection of premises (without a warrant) when it is believed the regulations are not being followed.
  • On Sept. 5, 1975, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food poultry research centre at Arkell, outside of Guelph, officially opened, consisting of six buildings designed to meet the research demands of the entire industry. The centre is operated by the University of Guelph under the Department of Animal and Poultry Science.


  • In a series of articles in 1968, Ross Milne of the farm sales department of Ontario Hydro emphasized the need for proper poultry barn planning, as well as lighting, ventilation and wiring.
  • A vaccine against Marek’s disease was introduced in 1970 and the scientist credited with its development is Dr. Ben Roy Burmester. Before that, Marek’s disease caused substantial loss in poultry industries estimated at up to $20 million in increased mortality in Canada. Approval to release the vaccine for sale in Canada was given Nov. 11, 1970.
  • In 1975, the University of Saskatchewan received a $2.2-million grant from the Devonian Foundation for a new laboratory to study infectious diseases of food-producing animals.
  • The new laboratory will be operated by VIDO (the Veterinary Infectious Diseases Organization) and will develop new vaccines aimed at combating a wide range of animal diseases.



  • Nov. 15, 1976: CEMA dropped egg prices by two cents per dozen for A Large in response to a reduction in costs established by the production pricing formula.
  • Agriculture Canada revised regulations in late 1976 to allow Canadian plants to sell egg products to the U.S. or do custom processing.
  • In January 1977, CEMA launched a second national advertising campaign to increase egg consumption: it marked the creation and first-time usage of the “Get Cracking” and “Faites vos oeufs” slogans.
  • The use of broiler cages, instead of housing on the floor, began to take off in late 1977 with the ACA Co-op acquiring a Lohmann Broilermatic in Berwick, N.S., the first commercial installation in North America.
  • At a meeting at the end of January 1979, CEMA increased egg quotas by three per cent due to increasing demand.
  • With the election of Joe Clark’s Progressive Conservative government in 1979, the minister of agriculture, Eugene Whelan, was replaced by John Wise.
  • Due to a shortage of large eggs in Ontario in late 1979, the Ontario Egg Board increased demand for medium eggs and increased the price spread between medium and large eggs to 10 cents.

The Honeymoon Period
In the mid-1970s, supply management was already in full swing and enjoying a fairly productive time. However, without a national agency to control production of broilers, the product was susceptible to market pressures and imports from the U.S. That said, not everyone was happy with supply management, as evidenced by some speakers of the 1978 National Poultry Seminar exclaiming that they want a return to the “good old days.” The debate continued throughout the decade, with no sign of slowing down.

Additionally, in February 1976, the Consumers’ Association of Canada told the Canadian Broiler Council (CBC) that the egg industry was overcharging consumers a million dollars a week (or 15 cents per dozen). Industry leaders and professionals were quick to state that the claim was untrue and unsupported. However, the damage was done and resulted in many individuals and professionals questioning the methods used. Add that to CEMA’s difficulties in managing the market supply and adjusting the prices of eggs based on a formula from outside consultants, and it is no surprise that many articles were written throughout the decade on how exactly egg pricing is determined and possible alternatives. However, when the minister of agriculture threatened to disband CEMA, the agency improved its standing and producer co-operation.

In response to criticism, the National Farm Products Marketing Council conducted hearings into the egg industry (requested by the Consumers’ Association of Canada). The full hearings were published and summarized in the November 1978 issue of Canada Poultryman,and will be featured on our 100th website.

In May 1977, Bill C-42 was introduced and criticisms of it from farmers arose almost immediately with the proposed creation of a Competition Policy Advocate. This position would be able to challenge the rulings of national marketing boards and take them to court if it was believed not enough market competition was present. However, a few months later in August, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture said in a statement that marketing boards should be exempt from Bill C-42. In the end, the bill did not pass through Second Reading of the legislature and disappeared from discussion.

There were also numerous reports on the effects of eggs on cholesterol; with articles and news briefs written to the effect that egg yolks run the gamut from having a significant effect, to a minimal, to none at all. The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs in January 1978 stated that people should drastically decrease cholesterol consumption, especially in regards to eggs. In response, CEMA planned (in the fall 1978) an extensive public advertising and promotion campaign to raise awareness of the health issue.

After the 1979 election of Joe Clark’s Progressive Conservative government, John Wise replaced Eugene Whelan as minister of agriculture. Editor Fred Beeson wrote a farewell editorial for Mr. Whelan in July 1979; however, the change did not last long – as the re-election of the Trudeau Liberal government led to Whelan’s reinstatement until 1984.

A great change in Canada Poultryman occurred in July 1980, as Beeson retired as editor, a position he had held since the


  • The Hon. William G. Newman was appointed minster of agriculture for Ontario in January 1976.
  • The Poultry Industry Council of Canada formed in mid-1976.
  • In November 1976, British United Turkeys of England and Hybrid Turkeys Limited of Canada announced an agreement giving Hybrid exclusive rights to breed and market the B.U.T. 6 Large White turkey in North America, Central America and South America.
  • CEMA was awarded the I.E.C. Annual Marketing Award for egg promotion in June 1978.
  • The Canadian Chicken Marketing Agency commenced operations on Feb. 5, 1979.
  • Canfarm moved ownership from Agriculture Canada to its new company, Canfarm Co-operative Services, on March 30, 1979.
  • The B.C. interior’s first processing plant, Colonial Farms Ltd., opened in Armstrong, B.C., in mid-1979.
  • Poultry weights changed to metric from the more customary imperial units (foot, yard, pound, etc…) on Jan. 1, 1980.
  • Fred W. Beeson retired as editor of Canada Poultryman in July 1980.


  • In 1976, imports of broilers from the U.S. were on the rise because there was no national agency to control production and utilize supply management of broilers.
  • Consumption of eggs in Canada was declining in the late 1970s.
  • In April 1976, the Consumers’ Association of Canada said that in February the egg industry had overcharged consumers a million dollars a week (or 15 cents per dozen).
  • In late 1976, the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency (CEMA), which is in charge of operating the supply-management program, refused to import and subsidize any more eggs.
  • Also in 1976, the Canadian Egg Producers Council signed new agreement with CEMA to be its public relations and political arm while remaining a member of CEMA’s consultative committee.
  • In the late 1960s, imports of U.S. chicken were hurting retail sales, so in the 1970s, provincial marketing boards sought protection under a national broiler chicken marketing plan.
  • Competition Bill C-42, described in May 1977, aimed to establish a Competition Policy Advocate that could challenge national marketing boards rulings.
  • In June 1977, Poultry Industry Council provisional chairman, Edward R. Hoover, wrote that Council operations should be shelved after strong opposition from one particular segment of the poultry industry and its coercive methods.
  • In Nov. 1977, the Standing Committee on Agriculture in B.C. ruled in favour of forming the Canadian Chicken Marketing Agency
  • Alberta Turkey Growers Marketing Board officially withdrew from the CTMA on in January 1978 because of high U.S. imports.
  • The Alberta Turkey Growers Marketing Board sought readmission to the CTMA in April 1979
  • April 1980: A report from the Committee on Antibiotics in Agriculture was released and recommended as much reduction of antibiotic use in food-producing animals as possible.
  • Maplewood Processors Ltd., a major poultry processor in B.C., closed down in June 1980, allowing Cargill an almost complete monopoly on the B.C. processing industry.


  • DEKALB AgResearch introduced the XL-Link, a “high performance” white egg layer bred for “high egg numbers and high peaks, excellent livability and good egg size” in 1976.
  • The “Long Egg” was introduced to Canadians in Copenhagen by the SANOVO Engineering Company in July 1976.
  • A study from the University of Maine in 1975, detailed in August 1976, investigated the effects of heat stress on caged layers. It found that older birds suffer more, that they take longer to recover and that this problem requires constant management and maintenance.
  • The use of ultraviolet light versus chlorine treatments to sterilize the water for poultry was debated in March 1977.




  • R.J. Morris forecast that changes in consumer eating habits would benefit poultry in early 1985, as the steady and increasing demand would require producers to adopt “disciplined financial management” as the main priority.
  • In the March 1985 editorial, Tony Greaves wrote: “Phew! We came through 1984 with our agencies intact. But only just. I’m aware of at least one provincial government that is actively promoting the withdrawal of a board from its agency. And I hear rumours that there may be others.”
  • Cuddy Food Products of London, Ont., in April 1985 was processing 66,000 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken meat daily to produce 4,568 chicken nuggets per minute to supply all McDonald’s restaurants in Canada.
  • The arrival of computers and computer spreadsheets in April 1985 on the farm was eliminating the need for copious paper records and made putting together information significantly easier.
  • CEMA cautioned the new Progressive Conservative government in Ottawa in mid-1985 against deregulating the egg industry.
  • A full-blown free trade deal with the U.S. would wipe out 80 per cent of the poultry production on the Prairies, according to a study by Deloitte, Haskins and Sells in May 1986.
  • The dramatic growth in the market for processed eggs presented new prospects for the industry but was creating major problems for CEMA in May 1986.
  • Mould and mycotoxins in poultry feed were found to be a source of significant economic loss in late 1994.
  • Dr. Peter Hunton of the Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board described in early 1995 how computers and the wide range of information now available online will be an “invaluable tool.”

Lost Years
The poultry industry went through over half a decade of uncertainty as NAFTA, CUSTA and the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations went on and on and on …

Those five years of uncertainty may have delayed the day of reckoning, but they did not allow the industry to start its reactive process. The result was delayed construction and renovation and the development of a siege mentality that interfered with normal industry relations. So instead of improving efficiency the delays in renovations have actually set us further behind just when we should be racing to improve our level of competitiveness.”

From an editorial by Tony Greaves in Canada Poultryman December 1995.


  • Free trade with the U.S. was put on the front burner once again and poultry producers worried that it would threaten supply management.
  • The Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was reached by negotiators for Canada and the United States on Oct. 4, 1987, and signed on Jan. 2, 1988. Supply management was protected.
  • The leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico met in San Antonio, Texas, on Dec. 17, 1992, and signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The agreement then went on to be ratified by legislative or parliamentary branches.
  • NAFTA involved Canada, Mexico and the United States. It came into force on Jan. 1, 1994, and superseded the Canada–U.S. FTA.
  • Tariffication under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), signed April 15, came into effect July 1, 1995, replacing import quotas that had protected Canada’s supply-managed industries.
  • In 1995, Lyle Vanclief, chairman of the federal-provincial task force on orderly marketing, said that Canada was only allowed to maintain high tariffs because of the national supply-management system.



  • CFO and AOCP agreed on supply-determination procedure. The new system addressed differences between small and large processors.
  • In late 1990s start to see more articles on poultry heat stress management and fly and beetle control.
  • October 2004 – Omega-3 eggs started to become a popular consumer choice.
  • In June 2005, biosecurity continued to emerge as a trend. and producers were encouraged to continue to keep it top of mind.

Keeping the Wolves at Bay
As in the previous decade, supply management was still the target of much criticism internationally. At the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, supply management was left virtually untouched, but the World Trade Organization talks were a more serious threat, with globalization of all goods, including agriculture and food, a hot topic.

Tony Greaves in his June 1998 editorial compared the world oil cartel, and its cutback of production, to orderly marketing in agriculture. “When oil is sold at below the cost of production, the working people bear the brunt of the recession.”

AAC Minister Lyle Vanclief pointed out that there was a Canadian dichotomy where some sectors want protection and some wanted liberalization of trade – which made it look as if Canada was talking out of both sides of its mouth at the WTO level.

Through the late 1990s and 2000s, food safety was a common topic in the magazine, taking on many acronyms such as OFFSAP (On-Farm Food Safety Program) in Ontario chicken circles. This was related to another issue that rose up ... that of crisis and emergency management planning.

In the early 2000s, succession planning and farming as a family business started to be covered in the magazine as lack of planning became an issue for producers across Canada.

In the mid-2000s, however, the most common article topic was biosecurity – spurred by the low pathogenic avian influenza outbreak in British Columbia, highly pathogenic AI in Asia and Eastern Europe, an infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) outbreak in Ontario, and the previous AI outbreaks in North Carolina and Virginia. Even advertisements showed the concern.


  • In February 1996, Canada Poultryman reported that major outbreaks of Marek’s disease had recently occurred in vaccinated flocks of chickens throughout North America. The symptoms and lesions differed from what had been normally seen prior to the advent of vaccination.
  • June 1996: The SAGE agreement was established wherein producers formally establish a new national marketing arrangement.
  • January 1998: Transgenic animals are here to stay, declared Dr. Ann Gibbons of the University of Guelph.
  • The Ontario Chicken Marketing Board became Chicken Farmers of Ontario on March 24, 1997.
  • The magazine published several articles on integration and how family farms need to look at doing this if they plan to survive in the rapidly changing livestock industry.
  • The new Poultry Program Team (PPT) was formed, with representatives from the Poultry Industry Council, the University of Guelph and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (memorandum of understanding). The idea behind it was to support sustainable production, health and welfare for poultry and speak to environmental and economical issues that producers may face.
  • January 1999: Articles on disease resistance, food safety and antimicrobial resistance appeared in the magazine.
  • Mid-1999: The Alberta Chicken Producers Poultry Technology Centre opened in Edmonton.
  • In July 2000, the magazine suggested succession planning is often overlooked until it is too late but producers need to give this a serious think.
  • In December 2000, a feature about Larry Martin of the George Morris Centre talked about globalization and its impacts on the poultry industry, saying success is derived from meeting customer needs and not dumping surplus product.
  • In February 2002, Canadian Poultry printed part one (excerpts) of the report into the Walkerton Tragedy, by Justice Dennis O’Connor. O’Connor concluded that the incident was not the fault of the owner of the cattle farm involved, but rather a result of lack of chlorine monitoring in the water supply. Improper operating practices were implicated.


  • The first Poultry Meat Outlook Conference was held in Ottawa in June 1996. It was jointly organized by national chicken and turkey marketing agencies, CPEPC, further poultry processors and national farm products council.
  • In September 1997, Hybrid Turkeys hosted an open house at the recently completed Mapleglen Pedigree Complex near Ayr, Ont.
  • In June 1996, Agricorp is created under the Agri-Food and Rural Business Bill, passed in June of 1996. Agricorp will deliver crop insurance and safety net programs.
  • Spring 1997 saw heavy flooding in Manitoba and producers banded together to provide storage space and growing premises. Flocks shipped early in unaffected areas so that birds in flooded areas could be relocated.
  • July 1997: FPVQ lobbied the provinces and CFC, saying that the national supply management system had broken up into individual provincial systems at the expense of the nationally co-ordinated agreement
  • In September 1997, the Poultry Industry Council was created by merging the Poultry Industry Centre for Research and Eductation and the Ontario Poultry Council.
  • We started to see talk of “technology transfer” and its importance in the industry – that is, sharing of knowledge, research results and technology that can better the industry as a whole.
  • May 1998: New co-op legislation in Canada was seen as potentially increasing farmers’ share of the consumer dollar, but work needed to be done on how to use the U.S. models.
  • In 1998, a national allocation agreement was signed for Canada (by each of the 10 production boards).
  • In March 1999, FightBAC was launched by the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety and Education, a collation of 48 of Canada’s major stakeholders in the food sector. The campaign sought to motivate Canadians to fight harmful bacteria by practising critical safety steps when preparing food in their homes.
  • In January 2000, Canada Poultryman reported that Ontario’s small processors have formed an organization called the Ontario Independent Poultry Processors Association to, in its words, fulfil a need to serve new and growing markets.
  • April 2002: Magazine name changes to Canadian Poultry
  • April 2002: B.C. chicken farmer Clint Heppell built a barn 88 feet wide to maximize the limited real estate available to him.
  • On May 29, 2002 (reported July 2002), the Canadian Poultry Research Council opened its doors – CPRC had and continues to have administrative capacity to provide a focal point for poultry research in Canada.
  • October 2002: The Krahn Brothers in B.C. were first to install an A-frame cage system for layers.
  • In March 2003, Clark Poultry Ltd. near Hamilton, Ont., built state-of-the-art broiler barns using latest designs and materials.
  • Spring 2005: Alberta Chicken Producers approved a new market development policy that would allow producers to grow additional chicken for market development when a processor requests the same.
  • August 2005 marked the first Merial Avian Veterinary Partnership Conference.
  • January 2006: Ontario Livestock and Poultry Council broke ground in its first year. It was formed to focus on animal health and risk mitigation.


  • In mid-1995, Alltech Inc. of Nicholasville, Ky., introduced Allzyme VegPro, which was designed to improve the digestibility of vegetable proteins in soybean meal, peas, beans and full-fat canola.
  • The idea of being able to sex chicks before hatch started to show up in research – this was seen as a benefit that would reduce hatch space and animal welfare concerns around disposal of the chicks.
  • In  1998, the magazine featured an article on ozone treatment of hatching eggs to improve egg hatchability and improve sterilization.
  • In September 1999, the magazine featured Tina Widowski at the University of Guelph and her research on the effects of new, energy-efficient lighting (high-pressure sodium lights) on chicken performance.
  • In fall 2000, a new state-of-the-art broiler barn was constructed by Mehrle Farms Ltd. of Manitou, Man. Unique to Western Canada, it was built with self-supporting ribbed, composite polyurethane panelling that had no steel or wood frame.
  • In March 2002, the Arch McKinlay I-Conveyor was featured. The system was unique in that it moved eggs in a continuous flow without transfer points and also around 90-degree corners.
  • September 2003: Quebec poultry producers experimented with alternative biological waste disposal methods. A stacked moving belt allowed maximum heat exposure for speeding up the dehydration process.
  • January 2006: Canadian Poultry explored a solar heating system installation on Ray Heyink’s broiler barn in Ontario meant to curb energy prices. A government program offset the cost of the installation by 25 per cent.


The Customer is Always Right
In the late 2000s and early 2010s “traceability” became a key word as food safety rose to the fore in the minds of agriculture’s governing agencies.  Consumers became increasingly aware of where their food comes from and began to want to support local producers as much as possible. Government programs to support this cause started to pop up across Canada, including the Canadian Integrated Traceability Program (CITP), which was worth $1.7 million in 2006.

The development of ethanol-based fuels also quickly created a dilemma in agriculture. Corn, otherwise used as feed, started to be diverted for use in ethanol production – thus driving up the cost of corn and hitting producers’ pocketbooks
very hard.

The magazine featured articles about how to save energy in poultry production, and touched on wind energy, proper insulation weather-stripping and proper ventilation.

Animal welfare during transport was also increasingly an issue.


In October 2006, British Colombia introduced specialty egg quota for organic, free-range and free-run production.
New research showed that poultry is not as tolerant to mycotoxins as previously thought. Results showed that certain mycotoxins could reduce immune response and result in depressed growth rates, productivity and feed consumption.

The Atlantic Poultry Research Centre opened in July 2007; at the time it was Canada’s most advanced research facility.
The British Columbia Poultry/Biosecurity Emergency response initiative promotes adoption of biosecurity practices and emergency response protocols for the poultry industry.

In late 2008, the Quebec egg producers’ marketing board offered a start-up program to people wanting to get into the industry that didn’t require they buy quota right way. Certain criteria had to be met, however.

A new pathobiology lab for the University of Guelph was completed and was expected to help improve the health of people, animals and the environment.

In November 2010, the first enriched housing system was installed in Manitoba.


  • There were some heat stress troubles in early summer of 2007 and producers were encouraged to be more prepared to deal with extreme heat in their barns, for example, by having back-up generators in place.
  • To this point, post-traumatic stress was often ignored after producers suffered great loss of animal life. Animal disease has a human toll that was slowly being acknowledged and talked about.
  • Recent consolidation among primary breeders (of layers, turkeys and most broilers) in the world meant that most genetics seemed to originate from two companies by the mid-2000s, and this was causing pricing and supply issues for those buying genetics. This concentration of global poultry genetics resources also had researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada concerned. In the last 65 years, the world had gone from 300 breeders down to just two, a situation that compromised genetic diversity.
  • In early 2008, grain prices seemed to be on the rise. World demand had exceeded production for five of the last seven years and supplies were expected to remain tight. This was a foreboding outlook for livestock producers.
  • Industry groups in Ontario began working together in 2010 to make the workplace safer for chicken catchers and haulers.
  • Farmers and other members of the agriculture industry were encouraged to be prepared to handle the media effectively and get the right messages out to consumers.
  • Farm succession planning started to become an issue in agriculture. Family dynamics were predicted to change going forward and there were likely to be different issues and concerns for future generations. Families were encouraged to sit down and talk about plans for their farms.
  • Food irradiation was introduced in the United States, but consumer acceptance was seen as the stumbling block in Canada, even though it had been deemed an effective tool for removing pathogens.
  • In 2011, a newly coined phrase, “biosecurity fatigue,” became an issue as producers began to tire of hearing about biosecurity.
  • Based again on ethanol, cost of feed becomes a rising concern in North America, to the point that it is brought to the attention of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture.
  • In 2012, new educational materials were released to help producers and catchers answer the question “should this bird be loaded?”


  • By May 2007, the realization had hit agriculture that there needed to be better preparation for emergencies and highway traffic accidents where animals were being transported. First responders were generally untrained in this area and focus needed to be put on ensuring they know what to do, as  these situations were often
  • very public.
  • In June 2007, British Columbia launched a new mandatory producer biosecurity program.
  • On-farm windpower became more common to help reduce energy costs and produce a more “environmentally sustainable” product.
  • Demand for antibiotic-free chicken was growing, so St. Huberts restaurants wanted to serve it – but could growers supply the demand?
  •  Consumer needs were evolving and placing demands on retailers to differentiate products. Industry had a role to play in helping retailers ensure this demand is met.
  • After years of “shop ‘til you drop,” consumers were now looking for value, which was good news for poultry and egg producers. Farmers needed to operate in a way that was consistent with consumers’ ideas.
  • An increasing global population and a growing global middle class meant more opportunities for Canada’s poultry farmers but accessing these markets would be complex.
  • In early 2012, results of a United States survey showed that price was playing a greater role in the meat purchasing decision process.
  • In the fall of 2012, animal welfare specialist Temple Grandin said that farmers needed to be more observant of the animals in their care and truly understand them.
  • Jayson Lusk of Oklahoma State University proposed that animal welfare could be improved by having consumers purchase “animal well-being units” via their food choices.


  • A new Chore-Time Modular Manure Belt cage system had implications for reduced aromas and easier breathing in layer barns.
  • PDA devices allowed producers to control their poultry houses from anywhere, at any time.
  • A German poultry farmer built a layer barn with a layer of amorphous silicon solar cells on top of the regular roof to help offset energy costs.  
  • Composting started to go high-tech. The new BIOvator is an enclosed composting system composed of a long, hollow steel cylinder with steel paddles mounted on the inside walls, which both mix and slowly move material forward. Deadstock comes out as compost.
  • In November 2007, a story in the magazine reports the “crackless egg,” with a real-time wireless sensor, provides instant identification of trouble spots that cause cracking on egg farms.
  • Ciemme Apollo catching machines from Italy will allow birds to be caught using a crew of as few as three people, which can alleviate some of the stresses around of the most labour-intensive parts of chicken farming.
  • In February 2009, an article ran about a new flooring system that could help to curb ammonia, according to researchers at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore campus. The system consisted of interlocking squares, and air funnelling through the holes in the flooring help to keep fecal matter dry.
  • Food business data management became crucial when an incident such as a food recall happened. It was essential to have the ability so see clearly into product systems and to be able to coordinate data and communicate effectively between levels in the supply chain.
  • In February 2011, the magazine reports a new vaccine for Newcastle Disease developed by the USDA.
  • Insta-panel insulation for floors of poultry barns ensured drier floors, and more comfortable and healthier birds.
  • Live, in-barn cameras allowed producers to view what was going on in their barns from a computer or smartphone device.
  • LEDs, seen as the lighting of the future, have the potential to cut energy costs significantly and to have greater durability.
  • In January 2012, new Canadian bio-tech know-how could help to reduce deadly pathogens in raw and prepared meats and poultry products. The Sentinel Bioactive Paper network developed a system whereby phages attached to packaging paper could attack pathogens such as Listeria.
  • University of Manitoba researchers evaluated the efficacy of a new DNA vaccine for highly pathogenic avian influenza.
  • The Zephyr stun gun could provide a humane way to euthanize birds. A non-penetrative captive bolt stunner, it is driven by compressed air.
  • Vital Foods launched the Vita D “sunshine” egg, which provides 100 per cent of a daily dose of vitamin D via a proprietary, all-natural, plant-based feed additive rich in the vitamin.
March 05, 2013

My association with Canadian poultry breeding began early in 1967, when I moved from an academic position at Wye College – then the agricultural school of England’s London University – to working at Shaver Poultry Breeding Farms Ltd., as research coordinator. At that time, the breeding industry was evolving rapidly from relatively humble beginnings into an international business. The forces underlying the evolution of the industry were several: firstly, there was the capacity of breeders to harness the science of genetics for the improvement of commercial poultry. Additionally, the rapid expansion of both the egg and poultry meat fields transformed from relatively unimportant, disorganized, segments of agriculture into financially viable and successful consumer-oriented industries.

During the period from 1912 until the late 1960s, breeding had undergone significant changes and developments. With the emergence of Mendel’s pioneering studies of plant genetics (first reported in the 1850s and rediscovered in 1905), scientists began to investigate whether the same principles applied to animals, especially chickens, since they were plentiful and easy to work with.

Commercial breeding can be said to have begun when some farmers decided to make choices among the birds available for reproducing. These choices were, in the early days, almost exclusively based on appearance; physical characteristics could be emphasized and to some extent, modified so that a degree of uniformity could be established, thus differentiating individual farmers’ stocks.  With the invention of the trap nest, it became possible to obtain individual performance records, although these were not widely used until the 1930s and ’40s. Geneticists had found that variation in physical traits such as comb type, plumage and skin colour, could be explained using Mendel’s work, but they had difficulty explaining traits such as body weight, egg production and mortality, which were not divided into discrete classes, but varied on a continuous basis. However, the serious breeders developed progeny testing to a fine art, and
were able to make significant improvements in egg production and other commercial traits.

By the outbreak of the Second World War, many breeders, including Donald Shaver (aged 19 at the time), had established themselves locally as sources of baby chicks, and most sold hatching eggs, breeding pairs or trios, to other breeders. Across Canada, every small town or village would have had one or two hatcheries, some just using internal sources of hatching eggs, and others purchasing improved stock from outside sources. The process was labour-intensive and most of the hatcheries were small, inefficient and only operated on a seasonal basis. Customers were small, too, with few owning more than 100 birds.

In the late 1940s, the breeding industry began to develop more rapidly. When Donald Shaver returned from war service, although his original stocks were lost in a fire, he quickly re-established himself in the breeding business in Galt (now part of Cambridge), Ont. There were many similar breeders across Canada, and in most of the developed countries of the world, but developments were delayed in Europe due to the war, but serious breeding companies emerged in the United States. Prof. Goodale developed the Mount Hope strain of White Leghorn, which was widely sold and probably still contributes to some of today’s hybrids. Kimber Farms in California employed its first professional geneticist, Dr. W.F. Lamoreux, in 1943.  

By the 1950s, geneticists were beginning to understand how genetics worked with commercial traits, but the resources necessary for the useful application of this knowledge to a professional breeding operation were not cheap. They were quite beyond the capability of the average small-town breeder, and those who developed the complex breeding infrastructure knew that they needed more than local markets to support such an investment. Thus, the system of franchise, or distributor, hatcheries was born, in which the local hatchery obtained male and female parent breeders from a primary breeder, grew and mated them, and used the resulting hatching eggs for the production of commercial chicks.

 In 1967, Shaver Poultry Breeding Farms Ltd. had at least seven hatchery distributors in Ontario alone, plus others in most Canadian provinces and large ranges of franchised distributors were also spread across the United States. Many had originally had their own breeding programs, but chose to become distributors instead – one of these, Demler Farms in Orange County, Calif., was one of Shaver’s larger franchise hatcheries. It eventually merged with an egg production company and changed its name to Dairy Fresh, which in turn became part of Cal-Maine Foods, currently one of the United States’ largest egg companies.

Of course, competing breeders had similar distribution systems to support their ever-growing research and development programs. By the early 1970s, commercial poultry meat and egg production breeding in North America was dominated by approximately 20 primary breeders that initially specialized in one or two products. Shaver gained commercial prominence with its Starcross 288 breed, a White Leghorn cross. The company quickly expanded to both brown-egg layers and broilers, since the same sales force could, it was believed, support these different products. Many primary breeders specialized only in broiler stocks, and some bred exclusively either male or female strains.

Although meat stocks were selected primarily based on growth, conformation and feed conversion, egg layer stocks had to be subject to highly complex selection programs involving full pedigree breeding, individual identification, trap nesting and so on. The exact selection criteria and breeding methods became closely guarded secrets. No longer were breeders willing to sell each other stocks, and in fact went to great lengths to prevent competitors from acquiring their pure lines. When commercial stocks consist of two-way crosses, risk of strain piracy is high. Thus, the use of three-way or four-way crosses became common.

The 1960s were also the time when long distance air travel became economical, so that not only passengers, but also day-old chicks, could be transported halfway around the world in 24 to 36 hours, thus opening international markets to those breeders willing to go after them. Shaver was the only Canadian breeder to thoroughly exploit international markets: at their height in the late 1970s they were selling in more than 90 countries, and had company-owned (or joint-venture) breeding farms in the United States, England, France, Germany, Pakistan and Barbados. Both domestic and international sales were still supported by technical and veterinary expertise from their headquarters in Cambridge. These were the days when most breeding companies produced detailed, printed management guides for all of their products.

Until the 1960s most breeding companies were privately owned, but as capital demands expanded, there was a greater need for external funding sources. Shaver sold a part-interest in his company to Cargill Inc. in the early 60s and the balance when he retired in 1985. Other breeders, particularly in the United States, tended to sell out to larger companies to help facilitate their expansion. In the 1970s, a number were sold to pharmaceutical companies (Pfizer, Merck, Upjohn and others), but whatever synergies were expected failed to materialize and most of these relationships were later abandoned.

In this process, the number of primary breeders continued to shrink, through erosion or mergers. And the slow shift back to poultry-oriented companies having control of the breeding process began. The franchise system also gradually broke down, as breeder-owned or joint-venture hatcheries replaced them, although this did not happen in Canada, largely due to the system of supply management, which keeps commercial flock sizes lower than, for example, the United States.

In terms of Canadian activity, the Institute de Selectionne Animale (ISA) has a strong presence in the former Shaver facilities in Cambridge, Ont., where research and development continues on white-egg stocks, and from where grandparents and parents are shipped to the United States and other overseas markets. Lohmann has a grandparent farm and hatchery in Brantford, Ont., also the source of parent stock for Canada, the United States and other markets. Hybrid Turkeys continues to operate primary breeding and distribution facilities in and around Kitchener, Ont.  

Multiplication and distribution of commercial stocks continue to evolve. Since the 1970s most integrated broiler businesses have established their own breeding farms and hatcheries. This is less so in the egg industry although several of the largest companies in the United States have their own hatcheries. More common is the establishment of breeder-owned or joint venture hatcheries, which have largely replaced the franchise hatcheries as the primary distribution method for egg-type chicks.  

Distribution systems for egg stocks in Canada have remained mostly as franchised hatcheries, as stated previously, due to relatively small commercial flock sizes resulting from supply management. Broiler hatcheries in Canada vary: some are independent; some, such as integrated production companies, own others.

Thus, in the past 100 years, poultry breeding in Canada has evolved from hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of small, independent farms that did very little in the way of selective breeding, to the point at which most breeding work is done by a handful of multinational companies whose products are distributed and multiplied on an international basis. Canada has both contributed to, and benefited from, this exciting evolution.

By the first decade of the 21st century, ownership of primary breeding poultry organizations had diminished to the point at which breeding work is controlled by very few companies, listed in the following table.


March 04, 2013

The chronology of supply management in Canada’s poultry industries seems straightforward and linear, but disguised are the challenges, controversy, drama and crises that set the clock in motion.

The legislative chronology began when the Farm Products Marketing Agencies Act was passed in December 1971, and given Royal Assent on Jan. 12, 1972.

The Act provided an essentially parallel structure at the federal level, which was intended to dovetail with existing provincial plans.

In conjunction with provincial legislation, the federal act enabled poultry producers to establish national marketing boards and utilize supply management. The Egg Farmers of Canada were first off the mark in December 1972 and began operations in June 1973, while the Turkey Farmers of Canada (TFC) followed in 1974 with the Canadian Turkey Marketing Agency (CTMA). The Canadian Chicken Marketing Agency commenced operations a few years later in 1979 and in 1986 the Canadian Broiler Hatching Egg Marketing Agency (CBHEMA) began operating under a supply-management system.

Canadian pullet growers are still working today to establish their own agency.

The journey to supply management in Canada’s poultry industry involved interprovincial wrangling, constitutional challenges, the collapse of markets post- war, internal confrontations and a series of false starts and dead ends. It was a journey in which Britain and the United States played significant parts.

Fred Beeson, then editor and publisher of Canada Poultryman (now Canadian Poultry), played a key role throughout the early years in defining the need for change, promoting (and perhaps originating) the idea of supply management and providing coverage of the long, strange quarter-century trip.

From the export-led boom of the war years, through the struggles to retain international markets, to the interprovincial confrontations and court and constitutional challenges, Beeson and his magazine were there.

Prior to the Second World War and during the Great Depression, the Canadian poultry industry was hardly an industry. Beeson once said that, “During the depression, ’30’s agricultural production costs were hardly considered. It was enough, the producer was told, that he could scrape up sufficient food for his family and keep off relief.” Producing eggs and chickens was for the most part a secondary industry on most farms. Small flocks were kept in small poultry houses and the eggs and birds were sold locally to generate some cash for the farm.

But when the war happened, it all changed. Struggling for survival, Britain went all in to the war and needed food – a lot of food. Canada rallied to the cause, not only sending its sons and daughters, but also organizing itself to supply food, with eggs being a key component. After the United States entered the war, it also found the need for imported food (particularly chicken). Responding to the dire needs, the Canadian government set up a top-down apparatus to stimulate food production and delivery.

And it worked. There was a dramatic shift from food grains to feed grain. Prices were stabilized, production surged and exports boomed.

In 1945, Britain took almost three million cases of eggs from Canada.

Then, the war ended, and no one was certain what would come next. Some argued that the egg export industry would be a permanent feature of the Canadian economy. Others insisted that the exports were a wartime bubble that would pop.

In January 1946, Beeson wrote: “With the war over, poultry producers find themselves at the crossroads. Will subsidies be maintained, will the overseas market continue and what price will it net producers?”

Later that year, Beeson penned that the shape of the crossroads was becoming clearer. Denmark, Canada was told, had begun to sell eggs to Britain at 14 shillings less per 30 dozen cases than Canada. He wrote in June 1946, “How then can Canada continue to hold her position in the British market when other European countries are getting into production also?”

It was a critical question because half of Canada’s total egg production was being exported to Britain.

S.C. Barry, associate chief of the Dominion Marketing Service, said at the hatchery services convention in October 1946 that the British market was the key to prosperity. He said that Canada “must hold a substantial portion of that market, that it is the main force which will influence the barometer of prosperity in the industry.”   

The stresses and strains of emerging from a long wartime economy were also being felt across agriculture.

In February 1947, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture met with the federal cabinet and its brief said, “We believe it is highly desirable to have order and system in our production and marketing programs all the way through from the farm to the world market.”

But calling for order was far easier than achieving it. Change was in the wind.

Many economists, businessmen, financiers and politicians wanted a quick return to the prewar-free enterprise system with the removal of controls and subsidies. For example, in May 1947, Beeson wrote of the prospect of the removal of feed subsidies and higher prices for grain without the possibility of higher prices for eggs or chicken. “To maintain production it is absolutely necessary to continue a stabilized price relationship between costs and selling prices.” He continued, “Removing subsidies on grain will crumble the poultry industry as surely as the stabilized price has built it up these last few years.”

A year later, the situation had deteriorated to the point that the B.C. Poultry Industries Council called for national action and Beeson called for the passage of a national Natural Products Marketing Act that would work in conjunction with provincial marketing legislation. This would allow the establishment of a national board so that “the industry can regulate and control its own future.”

While Canada dawdled its way to a national board, Australia acted. It faced a similar situation in terms of both the British export market and its legislative framework – there were state marketing boards, but no national body. But, in January 1949, the Australian government established the Australian Egg Board to co-ordinate with the state agencies and buy and sell eggs and egg products intended for export. The board was to have 10 members, six of whom were producers.

In June of that year, Beeson called for the formation of a national export board to handle surplus production.

But with the decline and collapse of the British egg market and the re-emergence of the U.S. as an agricultural power and exporter, the 1950s and 1960s were marked by unstable prices, uncertain supplies, and fluctuating producer and processor revenues.

The instability came at a time when, building on its wartime need for production and efficiency, poultry emerged as an industry utilizing scientific and industrial developments in husbandry, feed, housing, lighting and animal health. As Beeson wrote, the days of the barnyard flock and poultry as a secondary enterprise aimed at generating a few extra dollars for the farm were over. Poultry producers’ flocks now numbered in the thousands or tens of thousands and poultry was no longer a sideline for thousands of farmers.

Key in all this was rural electrification. This was a singular goal of provincial governments and agencies following the war and changed everything for farmers. For poultry producers it enabled the construction of modern barns with lighting, feed and ventilation systems that dramatically raised productivity.

The economist Paul Krugman wrote recently in the New York Times that “electrification, for example, was a much bigger deal than the Internet.” It was a singular force in driving economic growth deep into the 20th century, he said.

Despite all the advances, the Canadian poultry industry remained unstable. In 1961, the B.C. broiler industry was facing overproduction and shipping its surpluses to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Beeson wrote that none of the provinces wanted the products either, as it helped break their prices.

In January 1962, British Columbia formed a broiler board to rein in production and stabilize prices. It was the first and only poultry board operating in Canada at the time. “Here we were with no surplus broilers in B.C., none in the neighbouring provinces and a rising price,” Beeson wrote after the board’s establishment.

Beeson argued in April 1964 that the industry needed more than the marketing control allowed under some provincial laws. The editorial said, “One cannot help but feel that it is not marketing control that is needed, but production control. Our feeling is that it is this form of control that all other poultry groups need to ensure a continuing healthy marketing setup.”

“If an industry has a surplus,” the editorial continued, “there is no known method of maintaining a satisfactory price with or without a board short of destroying the surplus.”

In November 1964, with turmoil continuing and emotions at their peak, Beeson weighed in again in his editorial and pulled no punches: “Hoping the other fellow will go broke is a poor way of evaluating the profit prospects of a business. That’s the present state of affairs, let’s face it.”

He continued: “Don’t let us waste time pointing fingers at one another. Far better to face the fact we are not living in a period of scarcity anymore. We can, in any one season, quite easily double our production across Canada. In fact that’s the way we have been heading for several years; not making it because too many go broke each year.

“It may well seem that we harp on this problem of overproduction and consequent low prices eternally in these editorials. We don’t apologize because this is the number one problem of the industry.”

Through the 1960s, other provinces joined B.C. in forming provincial boards including Quebec and Ontario in 1965, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia in 1966, and Manitoba in 1968. The boards had authority to regulate pricing and production through marketing quotas but only within the province – often they faced cheaper product from other provinces or from the United States.

This culminated in 1970, with Ontario and Manitoba shipping large volumes of eggs to Quebec. In response, the Quebec government allowed the provincial egg marketing board to restrict the imports. In retaliation, the other provinces restricted the movement of Quebec chicken into their provinces, and the result was known as the “Chicken and Egg War.”

However, Manitoba devised a brilliant legal tactic to deal with the situation. Since it could not refer the Quebec legislation to a Manitoba court, it enacted identical legislation of its own, and then referred that legislation to its own Court of Appeal, where the legislation was struck down. This decision made it clear there were limits to what provincial boards and legislation could accomplish without co-ordination by both the provinces and the federal government.

A brief history of supply management on Agriculture Canada’s website says that Bill C-197 was introduced shortly thereafter. The bill “would have enabled a national marketing agency to control production through a quota system and allocated a portion of the national market to each province. It would have prohibited surpluses in one province from being sold in another province and set the price paid producers according to production costs.”

But that legislation died on the order paper.

It was reintroduced as Bill C-176 and was passed and enacted in January 1972, but only after substantial debate. From that, the National Farm Products Marketing Council was established and it paved the way for the creation of the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency, with the forming of the CTMA following shortly thereafter. Chicken took longer because of interprovincial disputes over shares of national production and quotas.

The establishment of a national agency should have put an end to the disputes, but the debates continued. In a February 1980 editorial, Beeson criticized chicken agency members for “jockeying for position in the pecking order,” adding, “…probably it will again take the Minister of Agriculture to put his foot down, heavily, really heavily.” Beeson added: “If it hadn’t been for such provincial bickering four or five years ago the Agency would have come into existence and annual imports would not have averaged more than 5 million pounds instead of fifty million plus a year as of now.”

In a 1975 debate in the B.C. Legislature, D.E. Lewis said: “I have to say quite openly that I feel that the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency is a disaster . . . . I don’t think that CEMA has been beneficial to B.C. or the farmers or the producers.”

“If the present CEMA system is allowed to continue, I can see nothing but chaos in the province,” Lewis said.

Similar debates were held and opinions aired across the country. Surprisingly, the federal Agriculture Minister, the late Eugene Whelan, long a strong supporter of marketing boards, agreed. “CEMA is not the success that producers want it to be. Nor is it the success I want it to be,” said Whelan. “The final verdict will come in the next few months. If the provincial boards live up to their agreements, our chief egg marketing problems will end. If they don’t, the next press conference I call on CEMA will be the last.”

Basically, the problems stemmed from overproduction and the reluctance or inability of provinces and the provincial boards to control it. Compounding the difficulties was a continued rise in U.S. imports. It got to a point where Whelan told the provinces that if they instituted tough, enforceable provincial regulations and agreements to deal with domestic overproduction, he would deal with the Americans.

An example of tough new provincial rules came on April 18, 1975, when the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Amendment Act was signed into law. It gave the Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board, for the first time, authority to establish regulations to carry out effective production control utilizing quotas and providing for the inspection of premises (without a warrant) when it was believed the regulations were not being followed.

With provincial regulation in place, the federal government did its part by imposing strict import quotas for eggs and other supply-managed poultry and poultry products. The U.S. challenged these import quotas at the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, but they were upheld.

In 1978, the Supreme Court of Canada was called into the fray. The Court was asked by the Attorney General of Ontario for a ruling on the constitutionality of the provincial and federal rules and regulations, as well as the agreement between the provinces and the federal government.

In its ruling, the court said: “The provincial regulations in question were not aimed at such extraprovincial trade and in so far as it affects this trade it is only complementary to the federal regulations. This is perfectly legitimate, otherwise federal-provincial cooperative action in regulating a commodity in both intraprovincial and extraprovincial trade would be impossible.”

Chief Justice Bora Laskin, writing for the majority, wrote that the federal-provincial agreements establishing supply management were lawful, “even if it be an awkward way of overcoming a want of federal authority to regulate through an agency of its own the marketing of eggs throughout and beyond Canada, including local marketing.”

Taking that the Supreme Court settled the legal argument for supply management, William Stewart, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative minister of agriculture from 1961 to 1975, described the social and economic necessity of egg production as “a disaster course” at the London Poultry Conference in June 1972.  

And Eugene Whelan described the politics of the time, saying: “I went through hell to make sure you had supply

August 01, 2003

Michael McCain, head of Canada’s largest food company, Maple Leaf Foods, said Canada has a strong reputation around the world for food safety. This is a strength that the country should build on, he told the 53rd annual Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council convention in Halifax on June 9.

“Canada has a pristine image,” he said.

But Canada can’t afford to rest on its laurels. “We need to be world leaders,” he said.

“We need to do not just a good job, but a great job.”

Doing a great job will pay dividends because “consumers today care about food safety more than anything else.”

He also cautioned the audience that “Food safety is not about great science all the time. It’s about consumer confidence. Consumer confidence doesn’t come in a scientific bucket, it comes from what they believe in their hearts.”

For example, Maple Leaf has removed bone meal from pork diets because its Japanese customers demanded it be done. It wasn’t a science-based decision, Maple Leaf could have refused, but the Japanese customers would have quickly found another supplier who would meet the requirements of that market.

In the pork market, Maple Leaf works diligently to differentiate itself from its American competitors. It does this because it has to.

While Maple Leaf looms large in Canada and is this country’s largest food company, McCain said “We consider ourselves the little guy – we are the 10th largest in North America.”

“In the global arena, size matters,” he said.

But in the poultry business Maple Leaf doesn’t have a global view. “We have no global view in poultry because the system won’t let us,” he said.

But he accepts that and believes supply management should be supported. It is a system that can provide fair returns to all stakeholders provided it does its job, he said.

He also said he believes supply management is a social policy and that “it’s not my job to deal with that.”

But that doesn’t mean the system is working perfectly – far from it.

“We feel the current system is not working properly,” he said.

The company, which has built its Canadian poultry operations to service a supply-managed industry, wants to help fix what’s wrong.

“Our first choice is to shore up the system and make supply management actually work,” he said.

A critical current problem is oversupply. “We don’t want to face a downturn of this magnitude again,” he said.

He also said “supply management shouldn’t transfer price risk from one link in the supply chain to another link in the supply chain.”

It doesn’t serve the industry well when processors are squeezed by over-supply and wholesale prices collapse. It undermines the basic goal of supply management, which is stability.

“We feel the existing system is not working properly and needs change. We need to make those changes together collaboratively as an industry,” he said.

“Stability and profitability is critical for us all and the health of the system,” he said.

Maple Leaf is committed to working constructively with all industry stakeholders to further improve and strengthen the effectiveness of Canadian supply management, he said.

He said the problems facing supply management include domestic over-supply and the lack of credible (real-time) data, reactive versus proactive market response, and provincial boundaries.

“Canada is a national market. Canada is small enough as a national entity let alone trying to subdivide it into regional fiefdoms,” he said.

All of these problems can be fixed if the industry works together, he said.

But he doesn’t think trying to employ free market measures in a supply-managed industry can work. “The whole supply system could implode.”

“In or out is our belief,” he said.

McCain said that while Maple Leaf is prepared for any outcome it would prefer to make the existing system work.

 “If supply management went away we would survive and thrive. But that is not, I reiterate not, our first choice.”

Returning to animal health issues, McCain said the recent case of BSE in Alberta shows just how vulnerable an industry can be.

He also cautioned the poultry industry about complacency.

“You might think we’re protected from this by our supply management comfort zone in poultry; you cannot count on that.”

The keys are prevention through measures such as: HACCP; preparedness because “no matter what we can do we can never eliminate the possibility of food safety breeches”; and proof – we have to be able to prove we’re doing what we say we’re doing.


April 01, 2003

The World Trade Organization (WTO) proposals released Feb. 12 must be rejected, Phil Boyd, executive director of the CTMA, told the Ontario Turkey Producers’ Marketing Board annual meeting March 7 in London, Ont.

The draft proposals perpetuate the imbalances that came out of the Uruguay Round by proposing less than satisfactory changes to all forms of domestic support. They also call for the elimination of export subsidies over nine years, the reduction of over-quota tariffs by 40 to 60 per cent, no reduction of in-quota tariffs and increased access to 10 per cent of current consumption.

The proposal doesn’t benefit Canadian farm exporters, but does real damage to supply-managed industries.

It does “little to open markets but will do serious damage to supply management,” he said.

It increases access to our market, Boyd said, by 13 million kg and will result in prices that reflect the U.S. market.

Since 1988, Canadian live turkey prices have ranged from 25 cents to 50 cents per kilogram higher than U.S. prices.

Art Roder, chairman of the Ontario Turkey Producers’ Marketing Board, also said the WTO negotiations are worrisome.

“The current direction of the WTO negotiations are of great concern for Canadian supply-managed com?modities,” he said.

Boyd said every country has something to be unhappy about with the WTO proposals.

Canada had tabled proposals aimed at levelling the international trade playing field.

These included: lower regular tariffs, minimum access of five per cent, in-quota tariffs set at zero and effective over-quota tariffs.

Meanwhile, the U.S. called for a maximum tariff of 25 per cent after five years (compared to Canada’s current 154 per cent over-quota tariff). The U.S. is also calling for an increase of 20 per cent of current access levels. For turkey, that would represent an increase of about one million kilograms a year.

If tariffs are reduced to the level proposed by the U.S., imports could land in Canada at 50 cents a kilogram below the current Canadian market. Boyd said in his presentation that this is “not acceptable.”

The E.U. has called for average tariff reductions of 36 per cent with a minimum reduction of 15 per cent.

Under the E.U. proposal, Canadian tariffs would be reduced to 98 to 139 per cent. Imports would be a threat depending upon market conditions and changes in currency values, Boyd said.

The E.U. proposal is also “not acceptable,” he said.

March 01, 2003

Clark Poultry Farms Ltd. faced a decision. Some of its broiler barns required upgrading and expansion to provide the efficiency demanded in today’s broiler industry.

The question was whether to retrofit and expand on existing sites or build for the future on a single site. The decision was made to build for the future.

Clarks acquired a 180-acre farm, added 135 adjoining acres near Hagersville, Ont. – southwest of Hamilton – and put up four new state-of-the-art barns. The site is close to Clark’s head office in Caledonia, Ont. and offers three-phase power and natural gas service. The new barns were built 1,350 feet from the nearest house, and 1,300 feet off the road. The new barns are two stories, and 60 by 450 ft., collectively housing 240,000 broilers. There is also a separate building containing an office, generators, water treatment equipment and pumps.

Two construction firms were employed to oversee the project, each building two barns. Braemar Building Systems of York, Ont. and Cor Pannekoek Construction Ltd. of Burgessville carried out the construction, which took about four months. Harold Bundy of Braemar said that while it was a large project it was straightforward because Clark knew exactly what was required.

“Everything was decided before the barns were built,” he said.

Pannekoek agreed this was a big project, but that isn’t what makes it stand out. It stands out because of the demanding specifications Clark put in place.

“These barns were not built to cut corners, they are the best of the best,” he said.

Bundy added, “They employ the latest design and materials. They did everything to ensure the barns are easy to clean and operate. This included the use of fibreglass panels in each barn, which is a new concept in poultry production houses.” The panels are extremely durable and very easy to clean.

The barns also employ steel support beams, which means the supports can be spread over greater distances providing more space inside the barns. This makes for durability and easier cleaning, as well as a brighter, airier appearance.

Overall “the quality amazes everyone,” Pannekoek said. Even the insulation is the very best. The concrete foundation is “sandwich wall” construction with Styrofoam insulation. The framed walls are insulated using Roxel insulation, which is an extremely durable slag product that provides an insulation value of R 21.5.

W. Murray Clark Limited supplied and installed all of the production equipment to the same exacting standards. The Clark Poultry Farms facility uses Big Dutchman automatic pan feeding systems and Ziggity watering systems. It also uses the Thevco Proline system to monitor and control every aspect of production. The system provides readouts on feed and water consumption, barn temperature, humidity, and the weight of the birds. The heating system is also fully monitored and computer controlled.

An air inlet controller operates within three distinct zones and generates continuously variable settings based on temperature and humidity.

The Target Bird Weighing System tracks the average weight of the birds, the standard deviation and uniformity, and daily gain.

There is also a MISTer misting system, a Megola Scaleguard system and an ozone water purification system. The MISTer System manufactured by MEC Technologies and distributed by W. Murray Clark Limited provides cooling in hot weather. The system is designed to produce micron-size water particles that flash evaporate in hot air. This cools the air without wetting the birds or leaving residual moisture.

While the site has more than adequate water supply from a well, the water is hard. The Megola Scaleguard system provides a unique electronic water treatment that prevents scale buildup. Clark has tried the Megola system at other sites and decided to include it in the new barns. The system was developed in Germany in the early 1990s and not only prevents new scale formation, but also eliminates previous scale buildup. The system works by inducing scale to remain suspended in the water rather than coating surfaces in the water system. The system itself is small, consisting of insulated electrical wire wrapped around the incoming water line to form a series of closed coils. The wire is connected to a computerized control unit, which passes electricity through the coils generating magnetic fields that pass through the water at a pre-programmed frequency. The frequency of the signals resonates with the natural vibration frequencies of the water molecules and the dissolved ions. (An extensive review of the Megola system can be found in the July 2002 edition of Canadian Poultry.)

The ozone water treatment system consists of a generator and mixing tanks to ensure full treatment. Iron is oxidized when exposed to ozone and sulphur is reduced to sulphates. Ozone also effectively deals with pathogens.

While the combination of a descaler and ozone system is common in Europe, this is a first for Canada. Rob Chambers of Hunsingers, the Fisherville-based company that did the installation, said both the Megola descaler and the ozone treatment system were installed quickly and easily.

For ventilation, each floor has five 18-inch, six 24-inch, and eight 48-inch fans as well as 11 circulating fans. These Canadian-made Vic fans can operate at slow speeds providing “a beautiful flow of air,” according to Clark’s production director, Ron Shoup.

Biosecurity was also in the forefront in the planning. The barns are set well back from road and strict access protocols are utilized, Shoup said

Clark is also trying a bit of an experiment with the heating system. In one of the barns, the heaters are vented to the outside. In theory, this may improve the air quality in the barn, but to date it is just a theory and Shoup wants to see how it works in practice.

There are eight feed tanks with twin flex augers for maximum control. The Reliable Scale system is also set up to track daily consumption, deliver precise amounts of feed, immediately detect consumption problems and calculate feed conversion. “We can get a feel for everything,” said Shoup.

There are also two 350,000-watt Sommers generators, which provide a backup power system. This is a good idea in an area where an ice storm knocked out power lines and left many places without power for four days last February.

There are also wide gravel areas around the barns to ensure accessibility for feed and chicken trucks, and straw chopping service equipment.

The sensitive issue of manure disposal has been carefully considered. Clark Poultry Farms has created and implemented a comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan that will see much of the manure generated on this farm shipped to mushroom growers across Ontario.

Clark has built an efficient, state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly facility.

The four new barns are two stories each, and 60 by 450 ft., collectively housing 240,000 broilers.

The combination of the ozone system and the Scaleguard system, both from Megola, is common in Europe, but this is a first for Canada.

Ron Shoup, Clark’s Production Director

November 01, 2001

The two largest Montreal universities: de Montréal (UdeM) and McGill, combine their resources and agricultural departments in initiating a Montreal Poultry Research Centre, and they are also getting together to launch a fund-raising drive to collect the additional capital needed to materialize their project. That was the object of a public presentation held at the St-Hyacinthe campus of the UdeM’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, on September 21, 2001.

The joint project is estimated to cost 6.72 million dollars and the planning stages were completed through the hard work and energy deployed by UdeM’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and by McGill U’s Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The Canadian Fund for Innovation, with the cooperation of Quebec’s Ministry of Education, has already announced a 4.22 million-dollar grant, which will serve to subsidize the facilities and sites exclusively dedicated to research activities. The rest of the money will have to be raised from private funds and the universities. The silent fund raising efforts already under way since last spring have produced one million dollars.

The guests present at the launching of the fund raising drive were greeted by the two faculty deans: Raymond Roy of UdeM and Deborah Buszard of McGill. The project’s initiators: Dr. Martine Boulianne (UdeM), D.M.V., PhD., Dip.ACPV, and Dr. Roger Buck-land (McGill), B.Sc., M.Sc., PhD., moderated the multimedia presentation.

One of the two joint fund raising drive presidents, Jean-Pierre Léger, chairman and head of Rôtisseries St-Hubert, spoke on behalf of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and made public his company’s commitment. The Quebec Federation of consumer egg producers, Michel Gauvin, recalled how united the poultry industry was over sponsoring the Aviary Research Chair some three years ago, and he then announced his segment’s commitment.

The other cochairman of the fund raising drive -AT&T Canada’s Board Chairman and legal advisor with Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt- manifested his faith in the importance of creating a Centre whose innovative research will produce disease resistant birds, less dependent on antigens, thus improving the product in terms of both quality and healthiness.

The Complex

The Centre will consist of a two complementary units research complex. The first unit will be on McGill’s MacDonald campus at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, end the other at UdeM’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine campus at St-Hyacinthe.

The complex’s importance leaves no doubt as it “will reassure the consumer by making available a top quality product nutritionally and contributing to better public health by reducing food toxicity in poultry.”

The initiators of the Montreal poultry Research Centre need 1.5 million dollars to realize their project.

The two units will work as a team

The MacDonald campus unit will develop and maintain lines of birds bred for their resistance to disease based upon the production of antibodies in response to non pathogenic antigens, large scale evaluation of DNA selection, development of probiotic based treatment, on the reproduction of specific traits and the production of quality products.

The other unit, at the UdeM Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, will consist of a vivarium for the housing of birds, to be used in the study of pathogens responsible for food toxic infections, poultry infectious diseases and the efficiency of some genetic lineage, or of preventive and curative treatments against the multiplication of these microorganisms.

The Centre will be managed jointly by the two universities. Dr. Roger Buckland of McGill will be the first manager and will be assisted in his duties by two associate directors: Drs. Urs Kuhnlein of McGill and Martine Boulianne of UdeM.


The creation of this Centre will be beneficial in several ways:

A) The two faculties will have access to the last word in technology, which will facilitate research and a multi-disciplinary approach.

B) the two universities will come together to ensure a better positioning as leaders in the field.

C) The industry will have a strong ally in the reassuring of consumers.

D) The donor society will

December 01, 2000

The closing speaker at the Poultry Service Industry Workshop was Dr. Larry Martin, CEO of the George Morris Centre in Guelph, Ontario and an Agricultural Economist who has done extensive research on international trade policy. He is pro-globalization and provided information on its potential implications for Canada’s poultry industry.

First of all, Martin described globalization as the internationalization of information, markets, products, and commodity prices. Access to information about market requirements in other countries will allow Canadian busi-nesses to adapt accordingly. He emphasized that success in international marketing requires responding to customer needs, not dumping surplus product.

Martin described several factors, which have influenced the trend to globalization.

  • The internet has changed everything for the agri-food sector. It can be used as an information source and to order products and services.
  • Transportation costs are declining with the advent of charter airlines specializing in airfreight.
  • Packaging technology has extended the shelf life of products to as much as 60 days.
  • Trade barriers are declining
  • Consumer incomes are rising in many customer countries.

One consequence of globalization is that animal products will be produced where there is enough land base to absorb the nutrients.

No discussion of globalization would be complete without understanding the World Trade Organization (WTO). Martin described the WTO as a multilateral treaty that addresses and makes rules for:

  • Market access, which considers tariffs and import quotas
  • Domestic and export subsidies
  • Sanitary regulations
  • Rules and processes for resolving disputes about the previous three issues

Canadians should care about the WTO because it provides market access. This means production will occur here if we have a competitive cost advantage. It will harmonize and prevent non-scientific areas from being used as non-tariff barriers to trade. International rules will eventually mean no country can manipulate the international treaty intent under their own biased laws and will give everyone some equity in dealing with these matters.

Martin described some of the key points of the last round of negotiations:

  • Agriculture finally came under the same regulations as the rest of the economy, when quota protection was converted to equivalent tariff protection
  • Export subsidies were reduced by 36%
  • Sanitary regulations were defined
  • Tariffs were reduced by 36% over 6 years which is especially important for value added products
  • WTO decisions in disputes were made binding.

There are several myths surrounding globalization, which Martin was eager to refute.

Myth – Globalization is bad for developing countries

Fact – If poor farmers in the developing world are allowed to produce for the export market they will receive more money for their products and improve their standard of living. Food aid is equivalent to dumping and drives down prices for producers in developing countries.

Myth – WTO is anti democratic and gives up sovereignty

Fact – This is a favourite statement by non-governmental organizations that are unelected and unrepresentative. It is made about a process that is voluntarily entered into by people appointed by elected governments.

Myth –  trade is bad for Canadian agriculture

Fact – We have the largest arable land base and the fewest people of any country in the world. An increase in export of value-added products would benefit Canadian producers.

To be successful in responding to globalization, Martin believes Canadian agriculture must:

  • Be more responsive to customers with less emphasis on getting rid of excess product
  • Develop more value added products
  • Provide more service
  • Use more identity presentation which allows trace back to the source
  • Place more emphasis on the supply chain or vertical co-ordination

Globalization will provide huge new opportunities because the world will be the market place instead of just the population of the local town, province or country. Removal of trade barriers will eliminate distortions caused by inefficient competitors.

The movement towards globalization is not without risks to Canadian agriculture. First of all, according to Martin, there is direct exposure to economic downturns in other countries. Without real free trade there is also exposure to protectionism and unfair trade practices of other countries. Canada will have to compete with strong and recognizable U.S. brand names. This will be a major disadvantage if we don’t also use branding for our products.

Martin predicts there will not be significant changes for 5 to 10 years but eventually quota will have no value. The slower we are to make structural change the more difficult it will be to adjust. Finally, Martin believes the future success of the Canadian poultry industry in a globalized world will depend on whether major changes are made to Canadian tariffs, how fast they decline when they fall and whether the industry has a competitive advantage after the adjustment.


October 01, 2000

Conventional cages for laying hens (battery cages) have many disadvantages for behavior but also advantages: aggression and cannibalism (or the need for beak trimming to prevent these) are usually less than in other systems. Enriched cages reduce the disadvantages while retaining the advantages. The Edinburgh project on modified cages recommended increased area and height compared to conventional cages, and inclusion of a perch, a nest box and a dust bath. Collaboration with groups in England and Sweden followed and in 1999 the new European Union Directive on welfare of laying hens was passed, which will phase out conventional cages: all new cages from 2003 and all cages from 2012 must provide 750cm2/hen, nest box, perch and a litter area for scratching and dust- bathing. This will result in improvements in welfare, and more reliably so than by introducing other alternative systems such as percheries and free range. It is likely that most EU egg producers will adopt enriched cages in the medium term.


Although they impose many restrictions on behavior, laying cages also have advantages for the behavior of hens. For example, aggression and cannibalism (or the need for beak trimming to prevent these) are usually less than in other systems, benefiting both the birds and the farmer. Projects in Edinburgh and elsewhere set out to reduce the disadvantages while retaining the advantages (Appleby, 1993; Sherwin, 1994). This paper will discuss the development and current status of enriched cages, their advantages and disadvantages for hens and producers and their future prospects.

The Edinburgh Project

Our project in Edinburgh adopted a stage-by-stage, systematic approach to cage design, in a series of trials that examined facilities separately, to consider their use by the birds and their effects. It concluded by recommending increased area and height compared to conventional cages, and inclusion of a perch, a nest box and a dust-bath. These prevent many of the behavioral problems of conventional cages - problems for farmers, birds or both. Welfare is improved, and more reliably so than in other alternative systems such as percheries and free range.

A final design was produced, for 4 or 5 birds, designated the Edinburgh Modified Cage (Appleby and Hughes, 1995; Appleby, 1998). There were several trials of this design in Edinburgh, with few production problems and with benefits for behavior and welfare compared to conventional cages. For example, mortality was extremely low, with no cannibalism ever recorded in modified cages.

International Development

Collaboration with groups in England and Sweden followed (Appleby et al., 1994; Abrahamsson et al., 1995) and in 1997 Sweden passed legislation requiring all cages to be enriched; enriched cages are now being introduced there, produced by a Swedish company (Ragnar Tauson, personal communication). Other cage manufacturers are also developing models.

On 15th June 1999 the new European Union (EU) Directive on welfare of laying hens was passed, which will phase out conventional laying cages (battery cages) by 2012. It is likely that this development was seen as acceptable because of the availability of enriched cages as an alternative. The requirements of the EU Directive are similar to the recommendations of the Edinburgh and Swedish projects: all new cages from 2003 and all cages from 2012 must provide 750cm2/hen, nest box, perch and a litter area for scratching and dust-bathing.

Practical Implications

Egg production costs more in enriched than in conventional cages, because of capital, labour and materials such as litter, but still less than in other systems such as free range. The selling price of eggs will increase; this is a matter of concern for consumers, but only partly offsets the considerable decline in price that has occurred over many years and is unlikely to reduce sales significantly. Design problems remain, particularly with the litter area, which needs a door to exclude birds during the nesting period and should preferably allow automatic provision of litter. However, such problems can and will be overcome.

Whether enriched cages will be a prevalent system of production in the long term is unclear; one factor that could affect this is progress in producing strains of birds that do not show cannibalism (Craig and Muir, 1996; Jones and Hocking, 1999), which would increase the viability and welfare status of non-cage systems. Meanwhile it is likely that most EU egg producers will adopt enriched cages in the medium term.

The modifications considered here do not all have to be adopted together. For example, if the cage area is increased and a perch is added, birds have more freedom of movement, show more synchrony of behavior between individuals, roost on the perch both in the day and at night, are more settled and are likely to show less fearful behavior. Nest boxes allow normal nesting behavior, restriction of which has been emphasized as one of the major problems in conventional cages, and are easier to provide than dust- baths.

Some of these modifications could be introduced at relatively little cost to producers and yet have significant impact on behavior and welfare of hens. It is therefore to be hoped that they may be considered in countries outside the EU and not subject to its legislation.

Acknowledgements - The Edinburgh project on modified cages was supported by the UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

September 01, 2000

Dr. Paul Aho, a consulting poultry economist based in Connecticut, gave poultry processors some perspective of the world poultry meat industry at a Poultry Session during the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council convention in mid June.

He pointed out that the 20th century was really the first century for the poultry meat industry. And the most important factor was the drop in price of chicken meat during the last half of that century. “The inflation adjusted cost of chicken meat changed from $2.12 per pound in 1944 to 26 cents per pound in 1994.” Aho added that the price would probably fall another cent, to 24 cents per pound by 2004.

He said the credit for this can be shared between the chicken breeders, the seed breeding companies, by improved disease control, by nutrition and by improved management practices. “But probably the most important factor was the genetic improvement achieved by the poultry breeders.” He then displayed a chart summarizing that change in performance (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 - Historical Differences in Chicken Live Weight, Feed Conversion and Days to Market

 Live weight (kg)    FCR    Days to Market   
1925  1.0  4.7  112
1985 1.9  2.0  49 
2005   2.3  1.8  42 

At the start of this period, Pullorum disease was rampant, there was little information on nutrition and the importance of vitamins, and the available breeds had “miserable” performance compared to today’s birds. In fact, basic nutritional information was often discovered by poultry scientists, Aho said. He added that progress in the poultry industry will continue, “But we have already achieved the easiest gains.”

The development of hybrid corn was a big help to the poultry industry because during the first two decades of the 20th century corn was valued at U.S. 75¢ per bushel, which in today’s terms converts to $600 per metric ton. Now the price is around U.S. $175 per tonne. “Can you imagine what chicken meat would cost today if we had a feed conversion ratio (FCR) of 4.7 using $600 per tonne corn?”

Internet Impact

Aho stated that the development of the Internet in the 1990s will have a large impact on business in the next five years. “Some say if you’re not an Internet business, five years from now you won’t be in business,” he said.

World chicken production is changing dramatically: From 23 million metric tonnes in 1985 to 40 million tonnes in 1995 and probably 62 million tonnes by 2005. Aho displayed another chart comparing changes in national chicken production, in thousands of tonnes every half decade from 1985 to 2005 (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 - Increase In Eviscerated Chicken Production 1985 - 2005

  1985    1990  1995   2000  2005 

Increase 1995-2005

China     900  1400  4400 5600 8800 100%
Russia  1000  984  340 320 680 100%
India  200  312  500 665 1000 100%
Central Eur  1510 1200 1250 1750 2500 100%
Indonesia 295 410 850 850 1500 76%
Brazil 1490 2356 4050 5240 6650 75%
Other Asia 1261 1760 2455 2600 4200 71%
USA 6242 8360 11261 14042 16000 42%
Canada 472 572 695 870 975 40%
Argentina 310 305 700 800 975 40%
Africa 950 875 1050 1240 1500 40%
Thailand 393 575 780 1000 1100 40%
Mexico 735 990 1435 1730 2000 40%
Middle East 1485 1885 2350 2775 3125 33%
E.U. 3780 4493 5333 6307 7100 33%
Japan 1270 1332 1171 1100 1100 -6%
World 23218 29124 40230 48282 62005 54%

In outright tonnage terms Aho expects China to increase chicken meat production by far the most–from 0.9 million tonnes in 1985 to 8.8 million tonnes in 2005. However in the 10 years from 1995 to 2005, Russia, India and Central Europe will join China in the group of countries that will have doubled production. He forecast that Indonesia, Brazil, and many Latin America and Asian countries will increase production in the 70 per cent range. The USA, Canada, Argentina, Africa, Thailand, and Mexico are expected to increase production in the 40 per cent range during this same decade.

Expansion In China

According to Aho the growth in chicken production in China is fuelled by increased incomes and an elastic demand. In other words, chicken is one of the first things they will buy as income improves. In contrast, Russian production in 1995 was only a third of what it was in 1985. “For them, everything has gone wrong. Management, vaccines, genetics—all of them are not up to scratch. But their production will have come a long way back by 2005.”

India has almost the same population as China but vegetarianism will cause chicken production increases to lag behind. Central Europe—once called Eastern Europe—is going through the same restructuring process as is Russia, but it is doing it faster. Central Europe was once the breadbasket before the fall of the Iron Curtain, with feed ingredients cheaper than in Western Europe. “I expect them to be a major poultry producer in the future,” Aho said.

For religious reasons most Indonesians don’t eat pork, “But they love chicken and as in China extra income will allow additional protein in their diets and chicken will be the source.” Aho said he expected Indonesian income and chicken production to grow rapidly after some current problems are resolved. Brazil has the biggest advantage for chicken production in Latin America and he suggested that very rapid growth will continue there.

The U.S. and Canada are “Maturing” countries and while consumption will increase, it will do so at a lower rate. However, Aho stressed, “But that doesn’t prevent significant increases in profits through additional value added production.” In contrast Argentina is “saturated” with meat. “They are still eating 60 kgs of beef per capita,” Aho said, “And the poultry industry will have a tough time increasing consumption of their product there.”

Aho virtually dismissed the potential for growth of the poultry industry in sub-Saharan Africa because of rampant political problems on that continent. Thailand prod-uction is being held back by high tariffs on imported grains. In Mexico, growth in chicken consumption may be 40 per cent, but Aho suggested some of this will flow in from the U.S. Like much of Africa, political problems in the Middle East will limit growth there. And like North America, the maturing poultry economy in the EU and competition with other meats, such as pork which is such a favourite in Germany, will slow their growth in chicken production. Japan, which is at the bottom of Aho’s chart has tremendous annual labour costs—as much as Can $70,000 for a poultry farm worker—plus very high land and grain costs. “So I expect a drop in production there of 6 per cent during the ten years ending 2005.”

“But overall I’m forecasting an increase of 54% in world chicken production between 1995 and 2005, and in both rich and poor countries.”

To forecast the trend in the wealthier countries, Aho suggested his audience look at what happened in the U.S. over the last 40 years. “The ratio of whole and cut up chicken changed drastically, adding value. Whereas virtually 100 per cent of chicken was sold in “whole” form in 1960, by 2000 only 40 per cent is sold whole.”

Aho added that since 1960 there has been little increase in the retail sale of whole chicken—which was around 20 lbs per capita. “The biggest increase in chicken consumption is from sales of further processed, which has climbed by 10 kgs per capita—a tremendous increase.”

World GDP Growth

The downturn in the world’s economy in 1997-98 reduced global GDP to 1.9 per cent. But it recovered to 2-1/2 per cent in 1999 and to 3% in 2000. This improvement was because Asia’s economy rebounded faster than expected. “Even Japan’s economy grew 1 per cent last year,” Aho said. “South Korea’s economy grew by 12 per cent in 1999 and although some doubted China’s ability to recover quickly, its GDP grew 7 per cent last year.”

Aho suggested that the growth in the Asian economies will continue in 2000. The economies of the U.S. and EU are also expected to grow. Aho said that it was conceivable that a “stock crash” could interfere with U.S. growth but suggested that a “soft landing” would be engineered by the Fed’s Green-span.

The Internet Economy

“No matter which country we’re talking about, the Internet will have a significant effect on the poultry industry. It won’t go away and it will affect agriculture as a whole.”

Aho characterized the Web-based value chain as a partnership between distinct segments of the production/ supply chain. Each member of the supply chain pursues their own business objectives but until now have ignored the efficiency of the chain as a whole. He also stressed that this could be just as true for segments within an integrated company as for a value chain made up of a series of separate corporate entities.

In the future, Aho said that the performance efficiency of the entire chain must be optimized and interaction over the Internet would be the tool of choice. “Companies will make radical shifts as they realize it is better to cooperate than to go their own way.” Aho added, “This could conceivably cause some de-integration in the U.S.”

He described the adoption of internet technology as allowing individual companies to take advantage of the benefits of “virtual integration”.

Dr. Paul Aho closed his presentation by predicting the world economy will grow 3 per cent in 2000, poultry consumption will show rapid growth and that the Internet will have a lot to do with this.

In the question and answer session that followed, Aho said that the consolid-ation in the poultry industry will continue as economies of scale are as important if not more important than ever before. “In 1959 the University of New Hampshire stated that a processing plant would need to handle 7 million birds per year to capture economy of scale. By 1980 that had grown to 16 million birds.” By 2000 Aho suggested an efficient plant would require 1-1/4 million birds per week or 65 million birds per year. He suggested that by 2025 the U.S. may need eight complexes of 130 million birds per year for economic survival. “That would force tremendous industry concentration,” he said.

He said that industry consolidation had been slow recently but suggested that succession problems in the family-based businesses may even-tually trigger changes.

Still responding to questions, Dr. Aho said that China would consume all the chicken that they could produce plus a whole lot more, but would be involved in arbitrage, because they are a great trading culture and would both import and export product. He said that some poultry production in Russia had been located north of the Arctic Circle. This industry is now being moved south, closer to the country’s grain belt. Aho suggested that Russia’s northern cities might import chicken while chicken produced in the southern part of the country could be exported south through the Caspian area, “So, they too may be involved in the mix of both imports and exports. Overall, I suggest that international trade in poultry will be in the region of 10% of total world production, so most chicken will still be eaten within the country of production.”

August 01, 2000

In the final session of CEMA’s summer meeting, held at the Fort Gerry Hotel in Winnipeg July 9 to 12, the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency reached an agreement to deal with Manitoba’s overproduction of eggs.

At issue was the production from 130,000 too many birds that was slated for industrial processing under the Grow For program.

The issue had been a stumbling block for the agency - forcing them to defer other issues like the federal-provincial agreement, and future quota allocation.

It was believed a deal had been reached during a public meeting on July 11, however when the meeting resumed after a recess, it was announced that the deal was “a dead duck.” Apparently the delegates had been confused over the timeline for the elimination of the 130,000 birds. As it now stands, Manitoba will eliminate the 130,000 birds by not replacing flocks as they come out of production. The process is to be completed by about October 17, 2000.

“We were back and forth with our staff (throughout the meetings) because it’s fine to pick a date, but you have to be able to make it happen. Our staff felt confident that by not replacing flocks that are coming up - and we had one or two producers that volunteered to take their flocks out early - they felt we could meet the date,” said Harold Froese, chair of the Manitoba Egg Producers.

In spite of the CEMA’s success at reaching a deal, emotions were running high at the meeting. On the evening of  July 11, at a formal dinner, Manitoba’s Agricultural Minister gave a speech that inflamed the passions and caused a walkout by delegates and their families from New Brunswick, Quebec and British Columbia. Some thought that not only was a deal an impossibility because of the nature of the speech and the mindset of the delegates, but that the supply management system for eggs was in peril.

“You don’t strip away $700 million (the Crow rate) and expect the status quo to remain,” said Rosann Wowchuk, Minister of Agriculture, to the dinner crowd. “Unfortunately, our vision of an expanding egg industry is not held by everybody.”

She went on to say Manitoba isn’t asking other areas to give up quota to Manitoba.

“The demand for processed eggs has put pressure on the supply manage-ment system. I have to tell you (the National Products Council’s decision on Manitoba’s quota appeal) is perplexing and bewildering. I’ve had discussions and written to the federal minister about it.”

The final statement by the minister, made as the delegations were walking out, was seen by some as a direct challenge to Ontario and Quebec.

“Our vision for the future in Manitoba is being able to meet the growing market demands, whether they be the Canadian or export markets,” she said. “Supply manage-ment has served your industry well in the past and should continue in the foreseeable future. However, we need to remind ourselves that supply management, whether it is provincial or federal is a privilege, not a right.”

Asked why he walked out in protest, chair of the British Columbia board, David Taylor said, “I was disappointed (the minister) would make such inflammatory remarks. We are seeking resolution not further entrenchment of the positions. I think CEMA has gone a long way towards accommodating Manitoba.”

While the minister claims to have not known that delegates walked out of the formal dinner, she was unapologetic for her remarks.

“It was a message we wanted to get out. It’s important to Manitoba. By working together we can come to an agreement.”

One CEMA director, who asked not to be named, said it wasn’t the content of the minister’s speech that caused the uproar, but it was the setting she chose to speak out.

At the dinner, he said, there was no opportunity for the delegates to respond. Had she made the statements at one of the organized meetings, it would have been more acceptable.

But Laurent Souligny, CEMA chair, said the comments might have helped break the deadlock on the over-quota production issue.

“I would say the comments made (at the dinner) had a positive effect on the results of the meeting (July 12). As a matter of fact, I would say it added pressure (to get a resolution). This is the way I wanted it to go in the first place, too bad yesterday there were some misunderstandings.”

In an earlier speach, prior to a deal being reached, the agri-minister outlined her government’s position more fully.

“I’m very concerned (with the inability of CEMA to reach an agreement in the afternoon session). People have to recognize we’ve had changes here with the Crow (rate change). We need the chance to bring some opportunity to this province. I’m disturbed to hear that the discussions are around reducing flocks not increasing quota. We have to be given the opportunity.”

She added that while the former conservative government of Manitoba was reportedly considering removing the province from the supply management system, her government has no such plans.

“Supply management is a very good system, but we do want fair treatment. We want to take advantage of the present system. When you look at supply management and the income level, you realize the value of it.”

The next step

Following the deal to eliminate Manitoba’s overproduction of eggs, both Laurent Souligny, CEMA chair, and Harold Froese, chair Manitoba Egg Producers, feel the next step is to develop a secure system to administer future Grow-For allocation - while still maintaining a financially sound marketing agency.

“If you look at the financial report from CEMA, the cost of using the levy system to supply processors with additional production just doesn’t make sense any more,” said Froese.

He said the Manitoba Egg Producers would prefer to see a system developed where eggs for processors are administered by CEMA, but not funded through the levy system.

“I’m not sure all the provinces are ready for that yet. But, based on a financial assessment of CEMA any future allocations should be done on a Grow-For basis, which means CEMA and the provinces would still control the inventory, but it would be outside the levy system. We can’t absorb the (levy system) cost anymore. It has to be a user pay system.”

Souligny tends not to look at just future allocation when he considers Grow-For, but rather at the need for a new, more comprehensive federal-provincial agreement.

“We intend to deal with (the new FPA). We hate to delay it, but we had to get the over-allocation out of the way first. If we come up with a new way of controlling future allocation and how to finance it, then that has to be part of a new or revised FPA. That is why we can’t move faster on that issue.”

He said CEMA is also waiting to see how the Chicken Farmers of Canada shape their new FPA agreement, so CEMA can avoid any of the same pitfalls.

He commented that the issue with Manitoba did slow down the process, he is confident that since it has been dealt with, progress will be made on other challenges.

“It is just like you are in a canoe and you have eleven paddlers - and one of those paddlers is rowing the wrong way. That’s what we have to convince the board - that we have one common vision and that is for the producers of Canada.”

January 01, 2000

The broiler chicken industry has grown consistently over its 40-year history. Today 40 million tonnes of eviscerated chicken carcasses are produced annually. This represents 29 per cent of meat production from farmed animals. The growth is based on strong consumer demand for products that are perceived as affordable, safe and healthy. Improving economic efficiency has been driven by rapid genetic change. this is delivered through a short and efficient multiplication process. Genetic improvement in growth rate of up to three per cent per year requires major adjustments to how the birds are managed to benefit from the extra genetic potential.

The industry has experienced periods of increased incidence of defects in skeletal development  and heart and lung function. Genetic and management solutions have been applied to these problems. Systems have been developed to anticipate adverse genetic-correlated response in the future, allowing early genetic management changes.

Genetic Change

The current broiler male grows to 2.6 kg in 42 days with a feed conversion ratio (FCR) of 1.66. The live bird yields 1.85kg (71 per cent) as eviscerated carcass and the total meat yield is 875g (33.7 per cent) and breast meat yield is 460g (17.8 per cent).

Annual improvement rates are an increase of 60g of live weight to 42 days (2.4 per cent), a reduction of FCR by 0.02 to 2 kg (1.2 per cent) and an increase of breast yield of 0.25 per cent (1.4 per cent).

Progress is measured by actual field performance, performance in trials facilities and also relative to lines established 1972 (broilers 1976). Live weights at 42 days have more than doubled in the last 23 years (from 1050g to 2600g) and are projected to reach 3 kg by the year 2007 at current rates of progress. The time to achieve 2kg (a common killing weight) has been reduced from 63 days in 1976 to 36 days. This will decline more slowly in future because of high daily growth rates. By 2007, birds will reach 2kg in 33 days. FCR to fixed ages and weights continues to improve with growth rate but must eventually be limited. Breast meat yields continue to increase as a percentage of live weight at a wide range of killing ages and weights. A 2kg male in 1976 yielded 250 g of breast meat whereas today it yields 340 g and is projected to yield 380 g by 2007. The economic impact of these improvements can be illustrated by the ratio of the weight of feed required to produce 1kg of breast meat. This was 20kg/kg in 1976, but has been reduced to less than 10kg/kg at present and will approach 7kg/kg by the year 2007.

Adverse Effects of Genetic Change

Genetic change of such a magnitude inevitably has an impact on all aspects of the birds’ physiology. These have to be accommodated by improvements in many aspects of the management of birds kept for reproduction or growth.

For example, the industry has evolved sophisticated and successful methods of managing growth of breeding stock to optimize livability, immune function and chick production. The impact of rapid growth on two aspects of physiology—skeletal development and heart and lung function—has come under particular scrutiny.

An increasing incidence of lameness in the 1980s was mainly due to tibial dyschrondroplasia. This is a dysfunction of the growth plate of the tibia and its incidence was affected by many factors in the environment, especially mineral nutrition and lighting programs (Whitehead, 1992: Thorpe, 1994). These findings have led to significant changes in management practices.

Continued research is aimed at establishing the changing mineral requirements of genetically improved birds. A number of improvements have been made in selection programs to reduce the incidence of defects in the growth plate.

These include better use of family information and the detection of subclinical lesions in the growth plate by real time X-ray technology. It is essential to improve heart and lung function as growth rates increase. Ascites was first observed in birds grown at high altitudes but the incidence began to increase at all altitudes during the 1980s.

It is due mainly to pulmonary hypertension, cardiac pathologies or cellular damage caused by reactive molecules (Currie, 1999). A wide range of environmental factors affects the incidence. The most obvious of these are poor ventilation, high dust levels, high diurnal temperature variation, infectious agents, toxins and deviations from optimum nutrition.

All of these issues have been addressed in research and have been applied very quickly to production flocks. The genetics of ascites resistance has been an active research area in all breeding companies. A range of technologies has been applied including improved family selection, selection in a predisposing environment, pulse oxymetry and other measures of heart and lung function.

The intention in both cases is to improve robustness of the genotypes to the variations of the environment and to make producers aware of the important environmental variables.

Future Strategies

Continued selection progress will include closer monitoring of phsyiological systems to ensure a closely integrated response to multiple traits. These already include aspects of immune function and reproductive performance.

Feedback systems are in place that give early warning of performance, welfare, environmental impact or food safety issues from producers in a wide range of environments.

Presented at the Poultry Industry Council Poultry Health Conference in Kitchener, Ont.

January 01, 2000

This presentation is in two sections. First, there are things which, at least to me, seem certain to happen. That is because in many they can be predicted from present trends, or the factors controlling them are already in place. Secondly, there are things which may happen, given certain prerequisites which are conceivable, though quite uncertain at this point in time.

The certainties

1. Per capita consumption of eggs will stay flat. While there may be some variations around this theme, at least in the developed world there is no major likelihood that egg consumption will take an upward trend. The carry-over of the cholesterol and salmonella scares is still a factor. Lifestyle changes have resulted in many consumers rejecting breakfast as a meal occasion. Shell eggs are regarded by many as inconvenient; they require preparation and cooking, and this takes time which the average consumer appears not to have.

2. Consumption of further processed eggs will continue to increase. While there is a temptation to fight this trend, the history of the past two decades shows that it is inevitable. Use of further processed eggs meets some of the demands resulting from lifestyle changes which have reduced the consumption of shell eggs.

3. The efficiency and resistance to disease of our commercial egg flock will continue to improve. Breeders have adopted the most efficient methods of selection using the latest technology. Disease resistance may be enhanced by the application of new genetic technology. However, breeders are cautious about this because of the backlash against genetic modification of plants in Europe. The technology is developing rapidly and may result in useful application within a decade. Selection for such traits as docility may be accelerated if animal welfare advocates have their way and beak trimming is discouraged or prohibited.

4. More eggs will be required for non-food uses such as antibody production. This trend is clearly accelerating and seems acceptable to a suspicious public, or is being used in such a way that the public “doesn’t mind.” Direct consumption of eggs with special antibodies may become a factor, but would likely be restricted to a small, niche market.

5. We should expect a continuing development of new markets for specially produced eggs. These will include nutritionally modified products, of which omega-3 enriched eggs are a good example. Egglands Best, a U.S. product originating in Japan, has demonstrated the power of promoting a quality product with special attributes, even if the benefits are poorly defined. In Europe, at least 10 per cent of the eggs are produced outside of cages to meet this particular demand. On this continent, the level is much lower, but growing slowly, and these eggs are usually profitable because they are outside the “commodity structure” which often causes very low prices in the U.S.

The Possibilities

1. Genetically modified eggs meeting a consumer or industrial demand. Given consumers’ aversion to genetically modified foods, this may seem far-fetched. However,  an egg with proven and demonstrable health or other benefits could go against the trend. For industrial use, eggs with increased quantity or quality of lysozyme, for example, would be very valuable. Such a product is by no means unlikely.

2. Hens laying 330-350 eggs per year. At the recent Poultry Science meeting, an Australian scientist claimed to have developed techniques for reducing the interval between successive eggs below 24 hours, so that even with a few breaks between clutches, hens could be bred to lay many more eggs than currently thought feasible.

3. Hatch only females for egg production, males for meat. This has been the “holy grail” since egg and meat type chickens first diverged to form mutually exclusive populations, about a half-century ago. There are scientists active today who believe that such a technology may be within reach. Even the identification and elimination of eggs containing the “wrong” sex, prior to incubation, would be a benefit.

4. The animal welfare/animal rights campaign becomes really successful. The European Commission has announced a policy under which conventional cages as we know them will be prohibited after Jan. 1, 2012. Will this present a huge opportunity for those outside the EU to supply eggs to the large population in Europe who are indifferent to the method of production? The EU members are betting it won’t. If the egg industry follows the path of some of the grain exporters, the EU is right. 

5. The animal/welfare rights campaign remains a minority view. The EU position on cages is based strictly on politics and emotion, not science. Science shows a little or no benefit to the hen (and some serious dis-benefits) being removed from the cage. If this view prevails, then the egg industry will continue to produce eggs from a variety of environments to meet consumer demand. These will include non-cage, organic, nutritionally enhanced, and perhaps other types of egg yet to be developed.

Presented at the Poultry Industry Council Poultry Health Conference in Kitchener, Ont.  

January 01, 2000

Genetic selection has had a huge impact on the size of the modern domestic turkey. During the 1930s, superior heavy meat type turkeys were listed at 18 kg for toms and 12.7 kg for hens, weights reached after nine months. Today,  the same weights can be reached in 18-20 weeks. Across breeds, at 18 weeks feed conversion for toms improved from 3.1 to 2.6 from 1979 to 1999. During this same time period, across breeds body weight for 18-week toms has increased from 7.8 to 14.5 kg. With some breeds, feed conversion for toms at this age is consistently as low as 2.5 with a body weight of 16 kg. As more and more body weight is developed through genetic selection, hip and leg bones and joints have become weakened. Without addressing this problem through management and genetic selection, large turkeys have become deformed, lame and unable to walk. Subsequent mortality has led to serious economic losses for producers.

As a result, breeding companies have changed their approach to selection for body weight by also focusing on leg strength. Whether it is qualitative or quantitative feed restriction of toms and hens, better hatchability and egg production and thus more poults can be realized by controlling body weight. Maintaining production goals through body weight management will be even more important in the future.

Probably the least understood aspect of genetic selection in turkeys is its effect on immune function and disease resistance. There are many diseases prevalent throughout the industry and these are managed through strict biosecurity, isolation and immunization. Tremendous advances in immunizations have been made with improved vaccines and vaccination programs. After flocks become virally challenged, secondary bacterial infections are treated with an assortment of antibiotics. The use of antibiotics is highly controversial and may very well be restricted in the future. Also, probiotic feed additives have been used to enhance growth and performance, and these too may be subject to severe restrictions in days to come.

Advances in programs for lighting, ventilation, stocking densities, brooding, control of field rickets and good poult starts, to name a few, have added immensely to the efficiency of production. However, because of the conservative nature of the turkey producer, advances have been slower than in chicken production. One of the main advances in production technology was the introduction of the automatic nest. This has been a tremendous labor saving for the egg producer. Feed formulations and feed programs are also constantly challenged to obtain greater output of eggs or meat and to reduce cost.

Many of the advances for the turkey industry of the next millennium are already on the drawing board. One of the biggest challenges of primary breeders  is to develop and maintain production of salmonella-free breeding stock. There are over 2000 serotypes of salmonella.

Obviously, this is a huge task.

With strict biosecurity, line security, proper facilities, bacteriological monitoring from people—this is possible, but it is a very expensive venture. Due to consumer pressure for safe food products, governments are requiring producers to deliver a packaged meat product that is free of bacterial contamination. With commitment to HACCP and ISO requirements, producers can and do deliver safe products to consumers. However, they look upon the primary breeder as their supplier, to begin this process. There is such a demand for this from primary breeders, that if they do not comply they will be driven out of business.

Consumers are also demanding their products be grown in “animal friendly environments”. Much of this has originated from animal rights movements in Europe. In some European countries, legislation has been passed to restrict densities, confinement style, housing style, debeaking, desnooding, toe trimming and use of certain antibiotics and probiotics. One may only hypothesize that these restrictions are coming to Canada, especially if we export our products to Europe. Because of this, organically fed and free-range turkeys may become more prevalent in the future. However, this will only complicate the salmonella-free process for end producers. Growing turkeys in open range with exposure to the outside bacteriological environment will counter efforts to have strict biosecurity for the salmonella-free process. This will certainly be a new challenge for the future.

Consumers and processors are also demanding that meat quality be improved. This will be one of the biggest genetic challenges of the next five to ten years. Whether it is from the Marker Assisted Selection or conventional genetics, the quality of meat that is provided to consumers must improve. We get this message loudly and clearly from our customers. Similar to pork meat but less in frequency, a small portion of processed turkey meat is pale, soft and exudative—that is, the meat colour is light, does not maintain proper muscle structure and the moisture in it drips or weeps. Age and sex of turkey have an impact.

Also, from the diet, to how gently the turkeys are loaded, to electrocution time, to scalding temperature, to time in chilling—all impact the incidence of PSE. Even within breeds there are line differences. So certainly there is a genetic component to PSE—and as primary breeders we must develop products with less incidence of PSE. Along with the challenges for the primary breeder, there is also intramuscular fat. Although not as big a problem as PSE since turkey meat is relatively lean, it is still an issue for the health-minded consumer. And then there is meat colour, flavour, texture, juiciness and tenderness. All of these factors will be challenges for the turkey primary breeder of the future.

There may be a trend to go from the large turkey of today (44 lb./20 kg) for cut up packages, back to smaller whole bird packages (8 lb./3.6 kg). As the turkey competes more with chicken in combination with smaller North American family sizes, the size of the whole turkey for the Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas meal will become smaller. North American cooks (men or women of the next millennium) do not want to deal with a lot of leftovers after the main family feast. “Eat It and Be Done With It” is now the message from consumers. The days of stretching cooked turkey for two weeks after Christmas are over.

In the chicken industry, use of autosexing in the hatchery has been commonly done since the late 1950s. This too, is needed for turkeys. No turkey primary breeder produces an autosexable product at this time. However, two primary breeders are actively researching and developing this for the future. Vent sexing is a big stress to poults. There is an opportunity to introduce bacteria by vent sexing and to break internal yolk sacs. This leads to high mortality in the first five days post hatch. Vent sexing is also expensive and requires that contract sexors adhere to individual company biosecurity programs. Scarcity of vent sexors also complicates the ability to adhere to biosecurity programs. With autosexing such as colour sexing or feather sexing, poults could be delivered with cheaper poult cost, less stress, improved poult starts and less early mortality. This would have a big positive impact to end producers.

One of the most exciting aspects of the new millennium will be the impact of DNA technology and MAS on the future of breeding. For instance, say that in the next 10 years we can identify markers for genes responsible for feed efficiency. Within our program based on blood assay, we could select the good candidates and dramatically and quickly improve feed conversion in our stocks. This would eliminate the need to test such such large populations of birds at the pedigree level. This technology would result in financial savings for us and make our breeding program more accurate.

This improvement would then be more quickly passed on to our customers. DNA technology would not only be used for production characteristics. Its biggest impact is thought to be for selection for disease resistance.  We can only hope that resistance to E. coli, respiratory diseases and enteric diseases could be developed. Another aspect of DNA technology may be the development of single sex production. It could be that either males or females could be developed to hatch in a controlled way. For end producers who prefer one sex to the other, this would have a tremendous impact.

Since 1996, the North American turkey industry has downsized production and gone through a correction for supply and demand, the market shrinking by an estimated 20 per cent. Companies have merged and been forced to produce more efficiently at minimal cost while small producers are vanishing. The European market, meanwhile, is at its peak and downsizing is now the rule. We must learn not to repeat the mistakes of the past; that is, becoming too greedy in the good times and oversupplying the market.

With the downsizing of the world turkey market—it begs the question—do we still need three turkey primary breeders? Looking at the trend of 42 breeders in the 1950s to just six in the 1960s and three in the 1980s, the trend is certainly less for the next millennium. Who will cut? the primary breeding business of turkeys is extremely competitive, time-consuming and costly. Only those primary breeders who do the best job looking to the future will be the ones to survive.

Consumption of turkey meat has changed from a holiday food to a food used year round. Currently, the North American turkey industry is in a very good position relative to the world turkey market. But every time there is a change, Mother Nature fights to maintain balance in the world order. Thus, when geneticists improve one characteristic it is often at the expense of another. If there is one message that overrides all others today, in the next millennium we must work with Mother Nature to maintain balance in turkey through balanced breeding programs. 

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