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Aviagen hosts young Canadian farmers


September 25, 2015
By Aviagen

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Aviagen recently hosted three young Canadian farmers at its headquarters.  From left: Mark Henricus Van Dieten, Paul James Groen, Mark Belanger, Rachel Jayne Malda

September 24, 2015 – Aviagen welcomed three young Canadian farmers to its global headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama during the week of Sept. 13-20.  The young farmers were offered a glimpse of the world’s most advanced poultry-breeding operations. Ranging in ages from 19 to 25, the young farmers were selected by the Canadian Broiler Hatching Egg Producers Association (CBHEPA) to participate in its Young Farmer program based on their desire to broaden their knowledge of the global hatching industry.

Started in 1996, the CBHEPA’s Young Farmer Program provides financial assistance for young Canadian farmers who are 18 years or older to participate in a tour of a leading-edge poultry breeding facility in another country. Candidates for the program must have less than 15 years of experience working in the hatching industry or work on the farm of a parent in the industry.

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This year’s participants in the Young Farmer program included Paul James Groen of Freelton, Ontario; Rachel Jayne Malda of Barrhead, Alberta, and Mark Henricus Van Dieten of Bayfield, Ontario. Aviagen Canada’s Technical Manager Mark Belanger hosted the tours and meetings.

During their week-long visit, they explored critical topics with Aviagen experts, including biosecurity for disease prevention and food safety, production planning, shipping and export processes, Ross® brand broiler/breeder traits and development, and sustainability and animal welfare. They also toured the Aviagen egg depot and a farm in Elkmont, as well as a hatchery in Talladega and the research and development facility in Albertville, all in Alabama.

“The CBHEPA’s Young Farmer program provides an invaluable opportunity for up-and-coming professionals to investigate the multiple facets of the industry, the obstacles and issues it faces, as well as the advances it has made,” says Scott Gillingham, Canadian Regional Business Consultant for Aviagen. “Our goal was to expand the knowledge base of these young farmers, exposing them to a company that is committed not only to obtaining the highest possible product performance, but also to advancing the industry in the areas of disease prevention, animal welfare and environmental sustainability.”

Gillingham adds that hosting the Canadian Young Farmers was an enriching experience for Aviagen. “Groen, Malda and Van Dieten embody the creativity and energy of the people who will shape the poultry industry of tomorrow. It was a privilege to share our operations and exchange knowledge and ideas with these impressive emerging industry leaders.”

When they return home, Groen, Malda and Van Dieten will be provide a report to the CBHEPA relaying their experiences to other members of the association.

“Working full time with my parents on our vegetable and pullet farm in Ontario, my goal is to one day take over the family farm and own and operate my own production flocks. This week at Aviagen has given me a greater understanding of the changing genetics and capabilities of modern breeding birds. I will use this knowledge to benefit my family business.” — Paul James Groen, flock manager, Groen Acres; volunteer fire fighter and hockey player

“Born and raised on our hatching farm in Alberta, I now work full time on the family’s pullet and lay farms, which have a 31,764 hen quota. The insights gained this week will help me become more efficient in my duties and responsibilities, which range from monitoring poultry health and egg quality to training staff and new hires.” — Rachel Jayne Malda, assistant manager, Malda Farms and Hatchalot Farms

“At home in Ontario I operate and manage our family broiler breeder operation, consisting of approximately 11,000 hens and 1,600 cockerels. Also growing up on my family’s farm, I have been involved with farming operations my entire life. Although fairly new to the hatching industry, I’ve learned that the industry is vast, complicated and ever-changing. Touring the Aviagen facilities this week has given me a better understanding of how to grow a successful operation in this dynamic industry.” Mark Henricus Van Dieten, farm manager, Van Dieten, Inc.