August 4, 2016 - Dr. John David Summers, Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph, passed away August 2, 2016.
He completed both his BSc. and MSc. from the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) and completed his PhD. at Rutgers. Most of his academic career was spent at the University of Guelph, initially in the Department of Poultry Science and later in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science. His ongoing contacts with industry ensured direct application of his research into various aspects of poultry nutrition that was always timely and insightful. For example, his pioneering work of nutrition and fat deposition in broilers, which is still important today, was started in 1974. His research spanned all the major poultry species, and John could always be counted on to ask penetrating questions at poultry and nutrition meetings around the globe. John was truly one of the pioneers of the golden age of poultry nutrition.
Together with his esteemed colleagues, he helped to develop what has become the foundation of our modern strategies of poultry nutrition. John had a close working relationship with Shaver Poultry in Cambridge, Ontario, and in this capacity visited over 50 different countries. John gave numerous invited lectures around the world where his insightful knowledge was always greeted with great enthusiasm, from both students and other professionals in the poultry industry. John authored over 400 research papers and co-authored 5 books on various aspects of poultry production. John became Professor Emeritus in 1990 and received the Order of OAC in 2013.
A celebration of life for Dr. Summers is taking place Monday August 15 at the Village Centre at the Village by the Aboretum in Guelph, Ont. from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Clair Doan wears many hats – family man, banker, turkey farmer, and most recently, Nuffield Scholar.
Both raised on dairy farms, he and his wife Kathryn love working with people and in the agricultural industry – he as a regional Associate Vice President of Agricultural Banking for National Bank of Canada, and she as Director, Global Business Development and Technology at AgCareers.com.
Growing up, Clair says he always had chickens and “knew I wanted to invest in the poultry industry.” In 2009, he and Kathryn built their first turkey barn on their 90-acre farm property in Norwich, Ont., raising about 9,000 heavy toms for the further processed market per year. Turkey was chosen primarily because no minimum quota purchase was required and because of its reputation as a lean protein. “We viewed it as an opportunity for growth,” he says.
In 2012, they doubled their brooding capacity and now produce 18,000 birds per year. In 2014 they purchased another 100 acres of land, and hope to expand their grow-out capacity next year.
Their family has also grown to include three daughters – Camryn (6), Sophia (4) and Charlotte (2). With both a busy family life and careers, Clair says he and Kathryn are fortunate that their jobs allow them the flexibility required around bird placement, shipping and clean-out dates. The corn, soybeans and wheat grown on the farm are cropped by one of Clair’s brothers, whose farm (along with farms owned by another brother and his father) is located on the same road. “Our family philosophy is to have small farms, not just one big farm,” Clair says.
Although Clair says he is a “huge supporter of supply management”, he can’t ignore the relatively low return on investment. Working as a financial adviser to Ontario farmers for the past 12 years, he says he has noticed “debt levels continue to increase on farms.”
Despite the fact that supply management is stable and he and his wife made the decision to invest in new facilities and quota, Doan says he questions whether or not farmers in Canada are always meeting the needs of consumers. “Supply management may be failing us if we can’t produce what consumers want.”
He feels that farmers sometimes have a tendency to grow complacent, expect the supply management system to always remain the same and protect themselves first.
“We spend a lot of time looking inwards, not outwards. If we fail to look outside ourselves, we are falling short,” he says.
Several years ago, increasing political pressures and potential trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that may or may not be ratified formed a nagging question in Doan’s mind: How do other countries deal with the loss of regulated markets?
Around the same time, Clair says he and Kathryn were invited to a dinner hosted by fellow Canadian poultry farmers who are also past Nuffield Scholars, where poultry farmers from Australia were also in attendance. It was at this dinner that Clair began thinking about how the Nuffield Scholarship program could help answer the questions he had and provide an opportunity to learn about agriculture in other countries.
Doan says he loves learning and the opportunity for “self-directed learning was appealing to me.”
The Nuffield Canada Scholarship, part of Nuffield International, provides three Canadian farmers with $15,000 each, allowing them a minimum of 10 weeks of travel for the purpose of studying agriculture, with a mission of fostering agricultural leadership and personal development through international study.
After following other scholars closely for two years, and “getting my wife’s permission,” Clair applied for the scholarship last year and began his Nuffield journey, which will span a total of 18 months. His topic of study is “Evaluating poultry markets to ensure Canada’s supply management system is efficient and innovative.” Doan says he plans on spending more than 10 weeks travelling the globe, some of which will be self-funded and supported by industry partners “who see the value in what I am doing.”
He began with the mandatory Nuffield Contemporary Scholars Conference, held In Ireland, and then spent three weeks travelling within Ireland, Scotland, England, Holland and Germany.
He says part of the value of being involved in the Nuffield program is understanding how Europeans view transitions as opportunity, for example, how the Dutch, who only produce cage-free eggs that sell for a low price, see the potential in exports. In Canada, the possibility of low returns makes the industry much more hesitant to go cage-free.
Although he noticed a decline in turkey processing and consumption in the UK and Holland, Germany has invested in market development and processing. The primary turkey processor there processes 60,000 turkeys and doesn’t sell them as whole birds, which is a contrast to Canada’s market. Instead, the turkey is sold in portions no bigger than one kilogram in size, making it easier for families and single people to make turkey part of their meal, he says. He also observed that European customers aren’t as concerned as North Americans about how the turkey is presented, but they ask questions about what other values, such as animal welfare, the turkey they buy comes with. “It’s become more important,” he says.
Clair says the Turkey Farmers of Ontario have a levy for producers that is used for marketing and wants to know if it makes a difference. “It’s a question farmers should be asking,” he says.
Bridging the needs of production and what consumers want, and how farmers can play a role in that is one of the many questions Clair seeks to gain more knowledge about during his Nuffield journey.
“I think now is a good time to be looking at how other systems in the world are adapting to change, and understand that if we need to make changes down the road, how can we do it on our own terms,” he says.
This summer, Clair is travelling with fellow Scholars in India, Qatar, Turkey, Singapore, France and the U.S. and also plans to visit South America in the future.
How will Clair measure whether his Nuffield journey has been a success? “If I can create a level of awareness of how things are being done elsewhere, and that farmers are adaptable and they can change, that’s how I will measure success.”
It’s important to Clair that he communicate what he sees and learns during his travels. In addition to using social media (Facebook and Twitter), he has also created a blog about his Nuffield journey, which is available at www.clairdoan.com.
Canada now has an official day to celebrate agriculture - February 16, 2017.
Canada’s Agriculture Day is a “time to celebrate and draw a closer connection between Canadians, our food and the people who produce it,” according to its creator, Agriculture More than Ever
The day marks the first time the industry has dedicated a day to celebrating agriculture and the people in the industry. It was announced on June 1, the final day of the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) Public Trust Summit in Ottawa.
Candace Hill, manager of Agriculture More Than Ever, said in a release Canada’s Agriculture Day complements the industry-led initiative that has attracted more than 470 partner organizations and 2,100 individuals committed to creating positive perceptions of agriculture. Agriculture More Than Ever’s goal is to encourage those involved in agriculture to speak up and speak positively about the industry.
“It’s all about showing our love, pride and passion for an industry that puts food on our tables,” Hill says. “We want to give everyone the opportunity to have a voice in the conversation and celebrate the industry that feeds the world.”
“We all eat food yet many people don’t automatically make the connection between what’s on their plate and the commitment and care that goes into raising livestock, growing crops or processing food,” says Crystal Mackay, CEO of Farm & Food Care Canada, a national charity committed to building public trust and confidence in food and farming in Canada.
“Every link in the food production chain – from the farm to the grocery store and restaurant – plays a vital role in bringing food to your table every day,” says Mackay, whose group organized the summit. “Canada’s Agriculture Day is an opportunity to get involved, celebrate and be a part of the conversation about food and farming.”
Hill encourages the industry, organizations and individuals to come up with their own ideas and activities to promote and celebrate Canadian agriculture. Resources and ideas on how individuals and organizations can do that are available on the Canada’s Agriculture Day website, www.Agday.ca
It’s a much-needed initiative, particularly given the lack of understanding by consumers on how their food is produced. At the summit, CCFI released the results of a survey that showed 93 per cent of Canadians say they know little or nothing about farming.
That’s a staggering statistic, but there is some hope — the research also showed that two-thirds of Canadians want to know more about Canada’s food system and where there food comes from. “We see a big opportunity ahead of us,” Mackay said in a release. “The time is now to open up more dialogue and increase opportunities for credible conversations about our food in Canada.”
She says the new CCFI will serve as a “critical hub to help the Canadian food system better understand the public’s questions and concerns and determine how to bridge the gap that currently exists between farm gates and dinner plates.”
Farmers can also play a part. Although I’ve heard numerous farmers say they are not comfortable being a public relations spokesperson for their respective industries, opportunities do exist for “agvocacy” that allow a person to stay within his or her comfort zone. Check out the resources available at www.Agday.ca and visit www.foodintegrity.ca for more information on the CCFI and the key findings from the Canadian Public Trust research – it’s sure to inspire.
While antibiotics and anticoccidials have been very effective in managing coccidiosis and clostridium, broiler growers are now faced with learning how to maintain production efficiencies without them.
It can be done, says Jefo technical services manager Derek Detzler. He grows about 90,000 birds/cycle in “normal” two-story barns in Ontario and started raising them without antibiotics a decade ago. But when he started the path to antibiotic reduction, there was no demand for antibiotic-free chicken. So why change?
Prior to joining Jefo, Detzler was manager of research and development of Fischer Feeds, a privately owned, independent feed manufacturer near Listowel. “We started to see coccidiosis outbreaks in some of the flocks I was working with,” he told growers in a well-attended seminar during the B.C. Poultry Conference in Vancouver. “The drugs we were using were losing efficacy and we expected we wouldn’t get any new products.”
Wanting to restore sensitivity to the anticoccidials that were being used, Detzler says in 2004 they opted to trial a coccidiosis vaccine, applied at the hatchery, for three continuous cycles, as U.S. data showed that would be enough to repopulate the barn with Eimera oocysts not resistant to the anticoccidials. The first flock, as expected, had reduced ADG and an increased FCR. The next two flocks “did OK, not spectacular, but OK,” Detzler says.
Surprisingly, when an anticoccidial was used again, lack of efficacy was observed due to persistent coccidiosis breaks. They wondered why, and then realized they hadn’t given the vaccine a fair chance. Mandatory clean-out of barns in Canada meant oocysts were removed from the barn, which could prove counter-productive to “seeding” the strains, and they didn’t change the nutrition – feeds were formulated based on the use anticoccidials, not taking in to account a potential challenging cycling period of the vaccine.
“We were very curious to know how the vaccine worked,” says Detzler. In theory, the four to six days after the vaccine is applied, the chicks should shed oocysts, pick these up again from the barn a few more times, and develop immunity to coccidiosis by days 26-30. But Detzler says they didn’t know if this was happening, so they made the “big commitment” to learn how to count oocysts.
For five years, feces were collected from each barn every three days from day five onwards and oocyst counts recorded. The data was “fascinating” and after two to three years, Detzler says they had a great handle on when and how coccidiosis would cycle in the barns based on standard management SOPs.
With complete control of coccidiosis, the next step was to try and reduce the use of AGPs, with the eventual goal of eliminating them, he says. They knew clostridium didn’t play a role until about day 12 (when they would start to see necrotic enteritis, or NE), so they first removed the AGP in the starter feed, and used an alternative product instead in what he calls “a strategically defined antibiotic reduction program” and achieved results that were equal to AGP use in the same period. With success in the starter, “we targeted the same strategy in the finisher/withdrawal phase and observed the same thing – no loss of performance.”
The next step proved to be the toughest – removal of the AGP during the challenge time of coccidiosis cycling. They knew that the chances of NE were greater during the time of oocyst cycling, so they looked at how to optimize or limit cycling. They knew they had a low number of oocysts being shed in the barn at a time when it was critical for the bird to reingest them.
Even application of vaccine at the hatchery is key, he says. They also looked at adding moisture to the barn during brooding to help oocysts sporulate. Although they had no idea how much moisture to use, Detzler says they used existing misting systems to create a moist area. Chicks were also kept confined within brood guards to increase density while shedding. By doing this, they “saw a huge shift in oocyst cycle patterns,” he says. It was concluded that proper cycling of the vaccine was
“paramount” for removing AGPs.
To address other challenges associated with coccidiosis, they looked at the feed. Protein levels were reduced, and vegetarian sources increased, as there is evidence that undigested protein and animal proteins increase the risk of NE.
They tried playing with different density levels but Detzler cautions that whatever density is used, “don’t vary from it. If you do, it will affect vaccine cycling.”
If birds are breaking with NE, he says, it’s happening for a reason and what’s key is to observe, learn and benchmark. “It’s not easy to figure out, but persistence and commitment will get you through it.”
Supplemental feeding in the first five days is also used to promote gut and immune health. In addition to vaccination, probiotics, organic acids and essential oils are used instead of AGPs. “As of today, the mortality in our RWA flocks closely mirror conventionally raised birds,” he says.
Detzler admits the changes have added costs, noting his FCR can be four to eight points higher.
He says there is no “silver bullet, but if you’re committed, benchmark, and willing to learn to adopt new management techniques, it’s certainly possible.”
Concern over the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in livestock has been growing steadily, with consumer and healthcare groups pressuring livestock producers and food retailers to commit to raising animals without their use.
The rapid escalation in cage-free sourcing announcements from fast-food and quick serve restaurants in recent months has become concerning. The words “cage-free” have become a marketing gimmick, and less a about the welfare of laying hens.
Opponents of animal agriculture will look upon this tidal wave as a win for animal welfare, and continually claim that these restaurant chains are answering consumer concerns over hen housing. But, I suspect that most food businesses are, for the most part, bowing to pressure placed on them from animal activist groups.
Releasing a cage-free commitment announcement has essentially become an insurance policy for a company against having its name associated with disturbing undercover videos or other forms of negative press and social media backlash.
Until recently, this battle hasn’t affected individual farmers in Canada to a great extent. It’s provided an opportunity for some to expand or transition and supply what is still considered a niche market. However, when major grocery store chains follow suit, the entire egg industry is going to be affected — and so is the average consumer.
Restaurant and foodservice providers can make blanket statements about sourcing one type of egg because it’s too complicated for them to offer, for example, a breakfast sandwich made with either an egg that’s cage-free, conventional, organic, enriched or free-range housing – it’s confusing and a logistical nightmare for their supply chains. Whether a consumer is actively choosing a particular restaurant because the eggs are cage-free or not is a moot point when virtually every chain offers the same egg option. For a consumer, the decision of where to eat becomes a matter of convenience, price, and taste.
However, the grocery store is still where a consumer can make a conscious decision on what type of egg to buy. But that may change. In mid-March grocery members of the Retail Council of Canada(RCC), including Loblaw Companies Limited, Metro Inc., Sobeys Inc., and Wal-Mart Canada Corp., announced they are “voluntarily committing to the objective of purchasing cage-free eggs by the end of 2025” (see page 6).
No longer is the cage-free issue a way for a company to differentiate itself within a competitive marketplace, it’s now on a path to become the majority. There’s no doubt that cage-free housing offers improved animal welfare compared to conventional housing, however a multi-year intensive study by the Coalition for a Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) determined that when all factors of sustainability were examined, including important parameters such as food affordability and environmental impact, cage-free systems did not reign supreme. The CSES study determined that enriched colony housing offered the best for the hen, farmer and consumer – yet it’s a system that is rarely mentioned by restaurants and retailers.
The Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC) hope to change this. It’s not about pitting one system against another – it’s about providing the consumer and retailers with choices, and keeping eggs an affordable source of high-quality protein.
There’s still time to turn the tide – but it’s going to be a battle the Canadian egg industry will be fighting for the next several years at least.
March 17, 2016 - Safe Food Canada (SFC) is proud to announce the findings of its first research project, which provides practical insights into the current state of food safety culture in Canada. This exploratory study is the first of its kind into the level of spending on food safety training and education for food industry professionals.
SFC has a mandate to modernize the way food professionals in Canada learn about food safety and protection. The company conducts research as one of its four areas of business. The study explored how food businesses invest in food safety training. Factors of interest included actual spending by companies on food safety training, employee job satisfaction, and changes to employee competence and performance.
SFC President and CEO, Mr. Brian Sterling, notes that “Safe Food Canada is primarily focused on ensuring that food employees are trained using competency-based, consistent learning frameworks. This exploratory study points out that SFC can help food organizations by providing valuable information so they can assess the relative payback they get for their investments in training. This sentiment is highly supported by other strong players in the industry, who recognize the value that Safe Food Canada will bring to strengthening Canada’s reputation as a trusted source of food.”
Amongst the study’s most relevant findings include:
· Training for general employees typically is done onsite, with 65% of companies declaring that this further complemented by annual external training sessions.
· While the current state of food safety training itself is seen as acceptable, there is room for improvement on how to measure the change in performance and financial return on investments from training.
· Only half of the companies surveyed keep track of their expenditures on food safety training, while 35% either do not keep a record or do not separate food safety expenses from other training costs.
· The majority of participants, said they train from 80%-100% of frontline employees. These people all receive some type of food safety training annually, varying from classroom education to hands-on training.
Maple Leaf Foods is a leading sponsor of Safe Food Canada and serves on the company’s Board of Directors with other food businesses and academic organizations.
“Food safety should never be viewed as a competitive advantage,” says Maple Leaf Foods Chief Food Safety Officer and SVP, Operations, Randall Huffman. “We are strong supporters of Safe Food Canada and its mission to elevate food safety learning and benchmarking across our industry.”
The exploratory study by SFC is a first important step towards the goal of modernizing how people learn about food safety. The report recommends that SFC undertake a more thorough benchmark study so that individual food businesses can better understand how their investment in food safety training compares with industry norms and best practices.
About Safe Food Canada
Safe Food Canada's mission is to serve all food system stakeholders by strengthening food safety and protection excellence through learning partnerships. Its business is to develop research and knowledge and provide a focus on education and training that addresses gaps in performance and delivers practical expertise on food safety and protection for both private and public good. Visit safefoodcanada.com for more details.
March 17, 2016 - For the first time since 2013, Ontario’s kosher consumers will have the opportunity to once again purchase fresh, locally grown, locally processed kosher chicken for their tables.
Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO), the regulatory body that oversees the growing and marketing of chicken in Ontario, has approved the application of Premier Kosher Inc., to process kosher certified chicken. Premier Kosher Inc. is a unit of the Premier Group of Companies, an integrated poultry growing, transporting and food processing firm. The processing plant will be located in the town of Abingdon in the Niagara region of Ontario.
“We are extremely pleased that Ontario consumers will now have a local option for their kosher chicken purchasing needs," said Henry Zantingh, Chair of CFO. "The decision to accept the application of Premier Kosher Inc. is the culmination of tremendous effort on the part of both farmers and industry to find a suitable business partner to own and operate an Ontario kosher chicken processing plant."
“The Ontario chicken industry understands the importance of addressing the needs of all consumers in Ontario,” said Michael Burrows, Chair of the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors (AOCP). “We are pleased that Premier Kosher Inc. will be in a position to support the ongoing need of kosher consumers to have a locally grown and processed source of chicken.”
“This is an exciting opportunity and we look forward to working with the community to ensure that Premier Kosher becomes a trusted and preferred choice for kosher chicken,” said Paul Tzellos, President of Premier Kosher Inc.
The Kashruth Council of Canada (COR) will be working with the Premier Kosher processing plant to provide the kosher certification.
“Ontario’s Jewish community has been looking forward to welcoming the arrival of a new kosher processing plant for several years to provide local Ontario-grown, fresh, kosher chicken,” said Richard Rabkin, Executive Director of COR. “COR is pleased to be working with Premier Kosher Inc. to ensure that kosher consumers have a range of products in the marketplace to choose from.”
Chicken Farmers of Ontario will be working with Chicken Farmers of Canada for an allocation of additional supply to serve the kosher community.
"This has been a long process and this announcement is yet another signal that CFO and the chicken industry of Ontario are open for business and working to meet the needs of all core, niche and specialty chicken markets in Ontario," said Rob Dougans, President and CEO of CFO.
Premier Kosher Inc. is also being advised by Chuck Weinberg, former owner of Chai Poultry, the last processor to provide locally processed kosher chicken in Ontario. The Premier Kosher plant is expected to be operational by January 2017 and will have an initial capacity of 50,000 chickens each week. It is expected to employ up to 80 employees.
March 10, 2016 -A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. has announced a major commitment to become the first national quick service restaurant in Canada to serve eggs from hens raised in better cage-free housing. According to a company press release, the company expects to achieve this goal within two years. "A&W has already established its leadership role by being the first and only quick service restaurant chain to serve eggs from hens in enriched housing and raised without the use of antibiotics," the company said. "Currently, there are no open barn housing options available that meet A&W's supply needs and allow for an antibiotic-free environment."
A&W is committing to improving and redesigning housing for egg laying hens, and will source eggs from hens raised without the use of antibiotics while simultaneously advancing the best practices for egg laying hens.
March 10, 2016 - Chick Master is introducing a new tracking tool to monitor eggshell temperature in real time. The new tool, called Tempo, is now available with Chick Master’s Maestro Hatchery Management System on all Avida Symphony setters.
The information provided by Tempo can aid hatcheries to improve chick quality. The current needs of the industry demand better tools to obtain maximum hatch results. Chick Master’s proven Maestro System is an intelligent management system that ensures communication, data monitoring and control of incubation and ventilation equipment to maximize hatchery performance.
Robert Holzer, president of Chick Master said, “One of the key factors influencing high quality chick development is proper embryo temperature during the incubation period. Tempo now adds a new dimension by providing the user the ability to monitor egg shell temperature in each zone in the most uniform single stage setter today.”
Tempo provides precise eggshell temperature data via a Resistance Temperature Detector (RTD) which is used in healthcare services and medical research where precise accuracy is required. The temperature readings are not affected by the radiating heat that surrounds the targeted egg providing more precise temperature information allowing the user to better evaluate and monitor optimal embryo development.
Information provided by Tempo can be viewed as a graph on the Maestro Hatchery Management System or as a real time value on the machine’s touch screen. This feature will enable the user to modify the step program for factors including breeder flock age, egg size, fertility and season of the year to ensure proper temperature during the entire incubation process.
Janaury 14, 2016 - Rats can absorb disease agents from their local environment and spread them, according to a new UBC study. The results also indicate that the threat rats pose to the health of poultry and humans has been underestimated.
Researchers studied the feces of rats caught at an Abbotsford, B.C. poultry farm, and discovered they all carried avian pathogenic E. coli, a bacteria with the ability to cause disease in chickens and potentially humans. More than one quarter of the rats were carrying multidrug resistant strains of the bacteria. The findings support lead author Chelsea Himsworth’s theory that rats act as a “pathogen sponge,” soaking up bacteria from their environment. READ MORE
Sunny Mak and Paul McCarten.
The Poultry Service Industry Workshop (PSIW) celebrated 40 years of bringing the latest information and technology to poultry service personnel in Western Canada October 6-8, 2015 in Banff, Alberta.
The workshop has grown considerably since it was first held in the fall of 1976. Founded by Rod Chernos, a provincial poultry service person with Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (AARD), it began as the Alberta Poultry Servicemen’s Workshop. Its purpose was (and still is) to bring service personnel together to discuss and learn about the latest research and current issues, so that they may share it with farmer clients. The event quickly attracted interest from neighbouring Western provinces, and to reflect this change, became known as the PSIW.
In 1988, the PSIW began recognizing a poultry serviceperson each year for his or her contribution to the poultry industry. The 2015 Poultry Serviceperson of the Year Award was given to Dr. Victoria (Vicki) Bowes, Avian Pathologist with the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture. She was nominated by the poultry industry in B.C. for her outstanding ability as a poultry pathologist, enthusiasm, desire to do the right thing, and her honesty. She is known for always having the health of the industry and birds in mind, and she has been credited for helpong keep the B.C. poultry industry in business through two significant AI outbreaks.
To mark it’s 40th anniversary, the organizing committee decided to grant a Lifetime Achievement Award,
honouring an individual who has played an integral role in advancing the poultry industry in Western Canada.
Organizing committee member Paul McCartan said the committee received so many nominations that choosing the recipient, Sunny Mak, was easy.
Mak started his poultry career with Lilydale Inc. in 1985 as a leghorn salesman, and then moved into field service. He was chosen to be a hatchery manager in Lethbridge, and did such a good job that he was moved into a senior leadership position, and is now Vice President Live Operations & Supply Chain. McCartan noted that Mak is an insatiable leader and is always striving to encourage others in the industry to be the best they can be.
Service people who have been attending the PSIW for many years — in some cases decades — were also acknowledged during the banquet dinner. One attendee, Al Richards of Hi-Pro Feeds, has attended each workshop since 1976. He was the 2011 winner of the Poultry Serviceperson of the year.
Each time a poultry organization or group in North America releases the results of a consumer survey,
Results consistently show that the facts about chicken production are unknown to the average consumer, or at the very least, misunderstood.
The National Chicken Council in the United States recently released results from a survey it conducted with consumers in September 2015 (see page 6).
The survey found that the majority of respondents (78 per cent) believe chickens are genetically modified; 77 per cent believe chicken contains added hormones or steroids; 73 per cent believe antibiotics are present in most chicken meat; and more than two-thirds (68 per cent) believe most chickens raised for meat are raised in cages.
The myths surrounding hormone and antibiotic usage have been persistent, which is concerning. The fact that the majority of consumers polled feel that chickens raised for meat are kept in cages and are genetically modified is very indicative of how hot-button issues can permeate.
Despite efforts by industry over the years to combat such misinformation, it’s obvious that the message isn’t always hitting the mark.
Why is this happening? Is it the way information is being presented to consumers? The poultry industry in Canada and the U.S. have done a good job of providing more information on rearing practices and have increased transparency in recent years by “opening the barn door” and offering a glimpse of life on the farm.
The National Chicken Council (NCC) has expanded on this concept with it’s new website, ChickenCheckIn (www.Chickencheck.in.). The website offers more than I have seen in the past with respect to how chickens are raised, from farm to table. What’s interesting about it is that it doesn’t avoid some of the more difficult topics, such as transportation to slaughter, that other poultry groups have been hesitant to tackle.
Tom Super, spokesperson for the NCC said in a release that “we know it’s on us as an industry to do a better job of providing more information on how our food gets from farm to table” and the purpose of ChickenCheckIn is to “invite consumers with open arms to come and take a look at the work we’re doing to progress as an industry in providing safe, healthy and sustainable food.”
Consumers can easily navigate infographics showing how chicken is raised on the “farm to table” page, and can watch videos on the “day in the life” page on topics such as feeding, biosecurity and health, housing, and transportation to processing.
It’s an excellent effort, but the challenge now is to make sure that consumers know it exists. As Super explained when the website was launched, “food is an emotionally-charged topic, and with conflicting information readily available online and on social media, it’s understandable people
The focus of the poultry industry in 2016 should be to continue battling the myths of poultry production on social media, and perhaps take note of the NCC’s efforts and develop more transparent information that consumers want.
November 22, 2015 - In order to meet consumer demand for greater transparency in food production, Farm Forward, a non-profit anti-factory farming organization that wants to promote more conscientious food choice is launching BuyingPoultry, an online buying guide that will make it easier for U.S. consumers to learn about and find the highest-welfare poultry products available locally and nationally.
“We designed BuyingPoultry from the ground up to sift through confusing marketing claims and labels on eggs and other poultry products so that all of us can find products that are in line with our values,” explains Ben Goldsmith, Executive Director of Farm Forward. “Most shoppers report that they need a source of information about animal welfare that they can trust. That’s what BuyingPoultry is all about.”
Farm Forward cites a survey commissioned by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) by Edge Research that revealed that over 80 pe rcent of consumers believe that the welfare of chickens is important, but less than one-third of those surveyed trust the producers to treat chickens humanely. Labels like “organic” and “free-range” don’t guarantee that the birds were raised in better conditions than those of industrial farms, the organization said in a release. The purpose of BuyingPoultry, it claims, is to help conscientious consumers understand the facts behind welfare claims and certifications, and helps makes sense of this complex information by offering buying advice from leading animal welfare experts and farmers.
BuyingPoultry’s online buying guide is the first database of its kind and has an extensive national database of producers, products, and retailers. Products have been graded by BuyingPoultry’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee based on the claims and certifications that they bear and an understanding of animal welfare rooted in science, according to a release.
Funding for BuyingPoultry was provided by the ASPCA.
November 20, 2015 - An egg by-product processor and a specialty breed poultry producer are amongst the recipients of this year's regional Premier Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.
Perth County Ingredients converts the waste from egg processing (inedible egg material called slurry or spinnings) into powdered, high-protein ingredients for animal feed and pet food manufacturers. With federal and provincial assistance, an egg processing plant in Perth County was brought back to life and retrofitted to process the by-product. Equipped with high-tech dryers, a pressurized membrane system and modified centrifuge technology, the facility has brought much-needed jobs to the area and supports local egg and hatchery operations, creating value from what would otherwise be landfill. READ MORE
On October 5, 2015 an agreement amongst the 12 countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was finally reached.
The supply-managed agricultural sectors in Canada had been concerned since Canada joined the TPP in October 2012 that demands to gain increased access to these sectors from participating countries would pose a significant threat to the supply management system.
Not so, says the federal government, who stated in a press release “despite significant and broad demands from several of our TPP negotiating partners, Canada has offered only limited new access for supply-managed products.” This access, which it says will be granted through quotas phased in over five years, amounts to a “small fraction” of Canada’s current annual production: 3.25 per cent for dairy, 2.3 per cent for eggs, 2.1 per cent for chicken, 2 per cent for turkey and 1.5 per cent for broiler hatching eggs.
To support supply-managed producers and processors throughout the implementation of the TPP and the Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA), the Government of Canada announced a series of new programs and initiatives that will allow the three pillars of the supply management system to remain protected under both systems. These initiatives have been approved by Cabinet.
According to the federal government, the TPP will secure new market access opportunities for Canadian dairy, poultry and egg exports and that dairy, poultry and egg producers and processors will benefit over time from increased duty-free access to the United States and all other TPP countries.
To off-set the concessions it made to sign a TPP agreement, the Government of Canada said it will be providing new programs for dairy, chicken, turkey, egg and hatching egg producers as the implementation of the TPP proceeds.
Although when the TPP will come into effect is unknown at this time, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) will be working with the Farm Products Council of Canada to ensure that these programs are delivered to producers “in an effective and efficient manner.”
Income Guarantee Program
According to AAFC, this program will keep producers “whole” by providing 100 per cent income protection for 10 years. Income support assistance will continue on a tapered basis for an additional five years, for a total of 15 years. $2.4 billion is available for this program. Annual payments will be directly linked to the amount of quota a producer holds.
The Income Guarantee Program transfers with the sale of the quota, meaning that if the quota is sold at any point in the 15-year period, the remaining direct payments linked to that quota will transfer to the new quota holder. Annual payments will begin when TPP comes into force. The income guarantee payments will be calculated based on expected domestic production levels under conditions with TPP and the Canada-EU Trade Agreement in place. A model will be used that takes into account detailed historic economic and farm level data, projected into the future.
Quota value Guarantee Program
The Quota Value Guarantee will come into effect once TPP comes into force. AAFC says this program will protect producers against reduction in quota value when the quota is sold following the implementation of TPP, and $1.5 billion has been set aside for this demand-driven program that will be in place for 10 years.
In addition to producer programs, the Government of Canada has also developed two programs to assist food processors within the supply-managed sectors. These programs have been approved by Cabinet and will be phased in starting fiscal year 2015/16.
Processor modernization Program
This seven-year $450-million program will provide processors with support to increase competitiveness through capital investments and technical and management capacity. For-profit agri-food cooperatives and processors in the supply-managed sectors,including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are eligible to apply for this program.
The following activities are eligible for financial support: purchase and installation of new equipment; construction, renovation and expansion of facilities; hiring of required expertise to complete the project; development of new products/product lines; improvement of manufacturing processes; and collaborative partnerships for research.
Market development initiative
The Market Development Initiative provides new funding over five years to the AgriMarketing Program to help the supply-managed sector to maintain, develop and expand their Canadian and international market share. The Initiative will add $15 million of new funding to the AgriMarketing Program.
Not-for-profit organizations working on behalf of supply-managed producers and processors, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises in the supply-managed sector are eligible to apply for funding. The following activities are eligible: additional promotional campaigns and activities that position and differentiate Canadian supply-managed products; and marketing materials, events (e.g., attendance at trade shows) and research that supports the sale of Canadian supply-managed products. Eligible activities will be cost-shared on a 50/50 basis with industry.
While the Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC), Turkey Farmers of Canada (TFC), Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC), the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers (CHEP) and the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council (CPEPC) expressed disappointment that additional access to the Canadian poultry market was granted in the TPP, all national groups recognized the economic importance of the trade deal to other agricultural sectors and industries and thanked the federal government for its support.
In addition to program funding (worth $4.3-billion), the federal government stated that it will “intensify on-going anti-circumvention measures that will enhance border controls.” These measures include requiring certification for spent fowl, preventing importers from circumventing import quotas by adding sauce packets to chicken products, and excluding supply-managed products from the Government of Canada’s Duties Relief Program.
This is welcome news for CFC in particular. CFC Chair Dave Janzen said in a release that fraudulent import practices have plagued the industry for over five years that have cost the chicken industry thousands of jobs, millions of kilograms in production, millions of dollars in revenues and millions of dollars in GDP contributions to the Canadian economy.
“We are counting on the government to cease the practice of regularly issuing supplementary import allocations,” he said.
All of the national poultry associations have stated they will need additional time and analysis to fully understand the potential future impact of the TPP on their farms and the entire value chain, and that they will work with AAFC on the details of the agreement to ensure that the provisions agreed to do not jeopardize the Canadian Government’s commitment to maintain the integrity of the import control pillar of the supply management system.
Biosecurity is still key to preventing avian influenza from infecting commercial flocks, but we are still learning how to best manage outbreaks
The avian influenza outbreak in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley in 2004 was a game-changer for Canada and how it handles a large-scale foreign animal disease outbreak.
Up until that point, Canada’s Foreign Animal Disease emergency plans had been largely unchanged and untested since the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in 1952. Consequently, when H7N3 AI hit the Fraser Valley in the spring of 2004, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the industry was unprepared, and the virus spread quickly. When the outbreak was finally over, flocks from 42 commercial farms and over 500 backyard flocks had been destroyed.
A 2005 report from Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food revealed that the CFIA recognized its shortcomings in the handling of the 2004 outbreak and set a path for it to move forward with the development of more effective FAD plans, and most importantly, the recognition that it needs to work with industry stakeholders and provincial governments in order for these plans to be executed successfully.
The fall-out from the 2004 AI outbreak and lessons learned has been beneficial for the Canadian poultry industry to be able to effectively contain subsequent AI incidents, and this was obvious during the H5N2 AI outbreak in North America in late 2014 and the spring of 2015.
H5N2 came to North America last year in a highly-pathogenic form (HPAI), rather than mutating into a HPAI from a low-pathogenic AI (LPAI), as happened in the 2004 B.C. outbreak.
The virus breached 11 farms in B.C. in December 2014 before it was contained, and three farms in Ontario in April 2015. The U.S., however, did not fare as well. By July 2015, over 200 farms in 15 states had been infected and 49 million birds were dead or destroyed. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) was admittedly overwhelmed and has been doing its own analysis on what went wrong and how it can move forward. Considering the magnitude of the U.S. outbreak, how did Canada fare so well? “The U.S. had never had a dress rehearsal,” says Dr. Sandra Stephens, a Veterinary Program Specialist with the CFIA, who spoke at the recent Poultry Service Industry Workshop (PSIW) in Banff. “It helps to have had to live through [an outbreak].” As Canada did in 2004, she says the U.S. underestimated the virus.
In an initial “lessons learned” meeting after the virus was contained, the USDA recognized that emergency response planning is critical and that communications are critical at all levels, and appropriate contacts must be established prior to any organized response.
Since 2004, Stephens says the CFIA has had a mandate to actively engage with all stakeholders. It’s adapted an Incident Command system to coordinate emergency response, and it’s paid off. The B.C. poultry industry noted a much improved working relationship with the CFIA as compared to 2004, which further helped to contain the outbreak to only 11 farms.
Edward Malek, CFIA Ontario Operational Specialist – Animal Health told attendees of the Poultry Industry Council’s Health Day that having a CFIA Incident Command, in addition to the Feather Board Command Centre (a centralized emergency response for the Ontario feather boards), was instrumental in helping Ontario minimize the effects of HPAI.
However, despite having made much improvement in responding to AI outbreaks since 2004, there is still much to be learned from each subsequent outbreak.
One of the biggest challenges revealed from the Ontario outbreak, says Malek, is data sharing, says. “So much electronic data is not transportable, shareable, or moveable.” Nearly every stakeholder involved was using a different data system, and firewalls also presented challenges, he says.
Despite this, Malek says the CFIA had a commitment from the feather boards that if it needed information, they would provide it. Considering the first infected farm was identified on Easter weekend, “this is what got us through the process very quickly,” he says.
However, Malek says the data sharing process needs to be more streamlined. The data on farm locations, for example, needs to be analyzed and is used by the CFIA to determine which farms are within a quarantine zone. In several instances the CFIA was given incorrect information, and properties they thought were within the five kilometre quarantine zone were actually within a 20 kilometre zone and not under quarantine. This was not discovered until CFIA staff drove out to the farms. “This is part of validation process, and it takes time,” he says.
Data also needs to be updated frequently, he says. Its important that the CFIA knows what products are coming in or leaving the farms in real time.
Document control was also identified by Malek as an area that needs improvement. During an outbreak, numerous documents are circulated amongst stakeholders, and yet often it was found that not everyone was working with the same version of a document at the same time. Malek says a document number system needs to be in place so that “everyone is on the same page.”
Malek also suggests the development of templates, particularly for license applications to move products. He says there has been discussion post-outbreak of developing a multiple application process, so that each sector fills out one application to apply for multiple licenses.
It’s helpful that the marketing boards have written procedures for enhanced biosecurity situations, but Malek says that they must be effective and followed. “There is no use having written procedures if only half of your producers know what it is and can understand it,” says Malek.
According to Malek, “much more work” needs to be done with regards to cleaning and disinfecting (C&D). In Ontario, it only took four weeks to perform disposal and destruction, but seven to eight weeks to do C&D. The biggest hurdle to C&D, says Malek, is that no one wants to go in and do the cleaning. “Well guess what? The whole industry suffers when it takes another three to four weeks to get back to business.”
Ontario was able to limit the outbreak to three farms for a multitude of reasons, but that doesn’t mean if HPAI strikes again the province will fare as well, says Malek. “We got lucky,” he says.
A lot of it had to do with self-declaration. “We had really great farmers that called when they noticed their birds were not right,” he says. The virus also struck in a low-density poultry area of the province, and examination of the flight patterns of migratory waterfowl revealed that the majority of these birds had already left the area by the time the first premise tested positive.
Ontario, like B.C., also has a “top-notch” animal health laboratory that expedited testing of samples, he says.
Fortunately for the Ontario poultry industry, no hatchery, processing plant, or breeder/pullet farms was within the avian influenza control zones, but it has forced the industry to consider a lot of “what ifs”, says Malek. “There are so many.”
For example, the Ontario poultry industry needs to be able to answer questions such as what the implication would be if a feed mill, hatchery, or poultry processor were in a restricted zone, and how, or if they would be able to supply customers.
A question that’s never had to be asked before, says Malek, is how to move product and import product if the U.S. experiences another massive AI outbreak. This past spring, the number of mid-western U.S. states with restricted zones was so vast Western Canadian provinces were forced to transport breeder chicks from U.S. hatcheries via Ontario. Fortunately, the hatcheries were located in states unaffected or minimally affected by the outbreak, but plans need to be in place in case this is not the reality in a future outbreak. Mexico is not a viable option, as AI has been endemic there for the past four years.
Under NAFTA, Canada is obligated to bring in a certain about of table eggs, yet the AI outbreak caused a shortage in the U.S. leading to elevated prices. “When we found eggs, we couldn’t afford them,” says Malek.
Having plans is important, says Malek, and the industry has had, and is continuing to have the necessary conversations to address the “what ifs.” “The key is we have to keep working on this, and thinking of how we can do better.”
BIOSECURITY IS KEY
As Dr. Stephens told attendees at the PSIW, preventing AI from hitting a farm in the first place or spreading from farm to farm is “really about biosecurity, biosecurity, biosecurity.” In her opinion, the B.C. poultry industry demonstrated this well during the 2014 outbreak. “Producers took it seriously. They really upped their game.”
She says that there also needs to be “recognition that there is no such thing as enhanced biosecurity. You must be at superenhanced biosecurity”, because, she says, we don’t fully know where the virus is coming from. “It’s dropping from the sky.”
Keeping accurate, up-to-date premises log is essential for helping understand where the virus may have come from, and where it may go. It allows the CFIA to do traceback and becomes “a critical component in determining what our next steps will be,” says Stephens. “I can never overstate how important premises logs are,” she says.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) finally came to an agreement on Oct. 5, and the supply-managed sectors of Canadian agriculture could be heard breathing a collective sigh of relief.
Since Canada joined the TPP in October 2012 there was much uncertainty regarding the future of supply management. Several TPP member countries, notably the United States and New Zealand, were gunning for increased access to Canada’s dairy and poultry markets. Former prime minister Stephen Harper was steadfast on his desire to remain a part of the TPP, leaving dairy and poultry farmers wondering if their livelihoods would be sacrificed in order to appease demands from member countries.
Although the federal government maintained that it would not surrender supply management in the TPP talks, as talks intensified during the summer it became apparent that the government would have to make some concessions if Canada was to be part of a final deal.
Supply management did not come out of the agreement untouched, yet changes were much less worse than its pundits estimated and the industry feared.
Despite “significant and broad demands” from several of its TPP negotiating partners, the Government of Canada said in a press release “it has only offered limited new access for supply-managed products” — 3.25 per cent for dairy, 2.3 per cent for eggs, 2.1 per cent for chicken, 2 per cent for turkey and 1.5 per cent for broiler hatching eggs.
Although considered a “small fraction” by the federal government, it was nonetheless disappointing to the four national feather boards and the Dairy Farmers of Canada to have to lose domestic share. However, all of the groups understand the importance of the TPP conclusion to the economy of the country, and to other sectors of agriculture.
TPP member Japan has vowed to cut tariffs over the next several years on wheat for human consumption (by 45 per cent) and on beef exports (these will decrease by nearly 30 per cent), and canola oil (15 per cent). Tariffs will also be reduced on Canadian pork exports. It’s been estimated that exports to Japan alone could triple from the deal.
The Government of Canada had to perform a juggling act for agriculture. Although export commodities seemingly came out on top, the supply management system remains intact and has a stable path for moving forward.
To support supply-managed producers and processors throughout the implementation of the TPP the federal government announced a series of new programs and initiatives that will allow the three pillars of the supply management system to remain intact (see page 22).
Canada’s new Liberal government and the other 11 countries involved still have to ratify the agreement so changes will occur gradually in the coming year or two. In the meantime, the Canadian poultry sector must continue engaging with consumers as to the benefits of the supply management system and its importance to rural Canada.
November 2, 2015 - The Department of Animal Biosciences is pleased to announce Elijah Kiarie has been appointed as the McIntosh Family Professor in Poultry Nutrition. Kiarie will join the department as an assistant professor effective January 1, 2016.
“We are very happy to welcome Dr. Kiarie into this important role for the department and the poultry industry,” shares Jim Squires, chair of the Department of Animal Biosciences. “He has experience in both academia and industry, which will be vital in supporting his success.”
“His superior understanding of industry needs and priorities showcase he is a great match for the demands of the new position,” Squires adds. “He will be working collaboratively to develop a world-class program that address the research opportunities presented in poultry nutrition.”
Kiarie will focus on the digestion of feed and absorption of nutrients, which will help improve efficiency. For example, feed still represents the main cost of production in the Ontario poultry industry. Global changes affecting corn, soybean and other ingredients have increased feed prices, a trend expected to continue.
Kiarie attained his Ph.D. at the University of Manitoba, where he was also most recently an adjunct professor. He has been a research scientist at DuPont Industrial Biosciences since 2011. Both his master’s and undergraduate degrees are from the University of Nairobi.
A donation from James and Brenda McIntosh, owners of McIntosh Poultry Farms Ltd. in Seaforth, Ont., established this new professorship position.
October 24 - A leading poultry welfare expert from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was invited to address a conference of processors earlier this month.
Dr. Marc Cooper, from the RSPCA's farm animal science department, was invited to speak about the use of carbon dioxide controlled atmosphere systems for killing meat chickens at the Canadian Meat Council’s 8th Technical Symposium, which focused on advancements in livestock and poultry health and welfare in the supply chain.
Dr .Cooper, who is responsible for the development of the RSPCA welfare standards for both meat chickens and ducks, was invited to speak because of his wide-ranging and detailed research into gas killing systems which has seen him travel across the UK and to France, Germany and Austria.
Cooper noted that currently, only one poultry processor in Canada uses a gas killing system. The majority of birds are slaughtered using conventional water bath stunning systems - which is essentially the opposite to the situation in the UK where most birds are killed using gas systems.
The presentation focussed on the key areas that need to be considered to help achieve the most humane kill possible when using carbon dioxide gas killing systems.
There were about 90 representatives from all the major poultry processors in Canada as well as Canadian government officials.
Since his return from the symposium, Dr. Cooper has been contacted by a number of processors asking for more information about the most humane gas killing systems.