Kristy Nudds

Kristy Nudds

April 10, 2015 - The 2015 London Poultry Show has been cancelled due to concerns over avian influenza.  The decision was announced late today by the Poultry Industry Council and the Western Fair District.  More information available here.  

 

When broiler growers in the U.S. experience poor performance despite good management (and absence of disease), they often turn to water expert Dr. Susan Watkins, a professor and extension specialist with the University of Arkansas Center for Poultry Excellence.  

She gets numerous “Dear Dr. Watkins” letters outlining performance issues where an issue with the water could very well be the causative factor.  But she said that water is  such a wide-open topic, it’s important to know how to identify the problem.

She gets numerous inquiries from growers and poultry companies who suspect they may have a water problem when they’ve examined their operation and are at a loss as to the cause of performance issues. “Could it be the water?” is the question directed at Dr. Watkins.  She says the answer is always “absolutely it could be – but water is such a wide-open topic, it’s important to know how to identify if it’s the problem.”

To do this, she says start by evaluating and categorizing the symptoms.  She says there are two key areas to consider – health challenges and water availability. “If we are witnessing health symptoms, then it’s likely a water quality problem and we suspect contamination, whether it is microbial, something arising naturally in the water, or even something we are adding.” But if there are no obvious health symptoms, the birds look good and livability is fine (even great), “then we have to suspect water consumption issues – they don’t have enough, there are restriction points, or they don’t like it,” she says.

The water poultry drink is the “perfect carrier” of health challenges, she says.  Drinking systems are an ideal place for bacteria, viruses, protozoa, roundworms and other infectious agents to grow and multiply, because the water is slow moving, they offer many hiding places and pinch points, and we add substances to the water that help feed the microbes.

She cautions against assuming that water that is clear visually is of good quality.  In presentations to industry, she shows a photo of three water samples – one clear, one that is obviously very dirty (you cannot see through it) and one that has what looks like it contains some organic matter but is, for the most part, clear.  The sample with the least amount of microbial contamination? The one that was visually the dirtiest.

She also cautions against thinking that your water supply will not change.  Even if you have had your water source tested, events such as droughts or floods can change the dynamics of the supply. She says growers must also consider factors that could affect quality such as if there is chemical storage nearby, and the type of rock and soil the water is passing through.   

 “There will always be something dissolved in the water, the question is, what’s in it today,” she says.

She suggests growers go looking for a possible contamination problem by taking swab samples at the water source and at the end of the water lines.  To do this, insert a clean sponge, and swab the line 8-10 centimetres from the opening.  Then return the sponge into 25 millilitres of sterile water or BPD and have the sample tested for yeast, mould and bacteria.

This method is far more effective than the traditional method of drip sampling, she says.  Her research data shows that on many farms, drip samples can give a false sense of security. Often when drip samples indicate no contamination problems, a swab sample will show a very different picture (see chart on page 42). 

Waterchartmar15
Comparison of mould, bacteria and fungus counts vs. sampling method.

According to Dr Watkins, the key for success with water quality is a good  sanitization program. “There are some wonderful products out there, but it is essential that you use them right.”

Concentration of the product used, and perhaps most importantly the exposure time of the product, is critical for sanitation.  For example, tests by the University of Arkansas using a 3% bleach solution found that, even after four hours, there were still bacteria in the water at almost 1,000 cfu/litre, and this had come down little after 24 hours.

Monitoring is also crucial, both pre- and post-cleaning, to provide proof of effectiveness. “I see a lot of weaknesses where people say they are doing something, but there is no verification of it,” she says.  Medicators can malfunction and if you miss it, you will get problems, she says.  

Biofilms will always be a challenge, no matter what system or product is being used. Nasty microbes such as streptococcus, pseudomonas and E. coli thrive in biofilm so cleaning the lines properly is essential. Chlorine has been the go-to product for many years, says Watkins, and is a great sanitizer. But getting the pH level of the water is critical, because it will determine whether or not the efficacy of the chlorine.

Although chlorine works well, Watkins questions whether or not current cleaning programs are creating “superbugs” because contaminants may becoming resistant.

In the U.S. more broiler growers are turning to hydrogen peroxide as a daily sanitizer. Stabilized products give the best results and need to be delivered at 25-50ppm residual in drinking water.  

Chlorine dioxide is also gaining popularity, produced by taking sodium chloride activated with an acid. The product has a number of advantages, including that it is pH insensitive and is more selective than hydrogen peroxide, targeting pathogens even at low dose rates. But it has to be activated properly, requiring correct pH levels and enough contact time.

Watkins is also “cautiously optimistic” about new water sanitation technology that uses ultra-violet light to infuse electrolyzed air into water, disinfecting it via a process called advanced oxidation.  She thinks it may be helpful for sanitizing well heads and holding tanks, and is currently testing the technology.

As well as choosing the right product, poultry producers should pay close attention to their water delivery.

Watkins says growers need to understand the entire water system, and do an inventory. How many drinkers do you have? How long is the system? What are the distribution lines made out of? Do you have any dead end lines? How far is the distribution from the source to the barns? She notes that despite thorough cleaning of the lines in the barn, if you miss the distribution lines, “problems will keep coming back.”

Routine checking of injectors is also key.  Running a gallon of water through it is not sufficient – she says you need to run twenty to thirty gallons through, to allow the injector to get up and running and ensure you’re getting the proper dosage to the birds.

WATER QUANTITY
Research by the University of Arkansas shows that, compared with 10 years ago, broilers are now drinking 38 per cent more water in the first seven days of life, and 16 per cent by the time they reach slaughter weight – equivalent to 15 gallons more water. Ensuring they get enough is key. “You must be sure you are not creating restriction points.” Water lines must be of a suitable diameter to deliver the required volume at peak demand times, otherwise birds will fail to put on sufficient weight, will have higher mortality and layers and broiler breeder will have reduced egg numbers.

If pressure reducers are in place, these must be checked to ensure they are not becoming clogged. Since chlorine can harden regulator seals, these should be checked, and drinker flow rates should also be monitored.

Water temperature is also important, she says. Day-old chicks like cool or room-temperature water, but will shy away from warm water, and this can affect weight gain.

Since water can literally make or break an operation, Watkins stresses that determining what factors may be affecting quality or quantity needs to be constantly monitored and fixed so that chronic problems can be avoided.

This article is based on presentations given by Dr. Susan Watkins at the 2014 Poultry Service Industry Workshop and the 2015 Western Poultry Conference.

TOP SANITATION TIPS
Do a total bacterial plate count to identify contaminants

  • Use the right concentration and exposure time of product
  • Clean everything, including storage tanks and
  • distribution lines
  • Follow cleaning with a sanitizer that birds can drink
  • Swab the water lines regularly to monitor
  • Sanitize between flocks

 

 

 

 

Early last month McDonald’s U.S.A. ruffled some feathers when the company announced that it was making some changes to its chicken purchasing policy.

The fast-food giant said in a press company release that it will only source chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine, giving its suppliers the next two years to comply.  It will also cease purchasing milk from cows given the rBST hormone.

Given the company’s purchasing power, the announcement is significant and not unexpected.  The McDonald’s Corporation has seen declining sales globally, with the U.S. operations being hit the hardest, losing share to competitors who have positioned themselves as a healthier, more “wholesome” alternative.  This is echoed by Mike Andres, McDonald’s U.S. president, who said in the press release, “Our customers want food that they feel great about eating – all the way from the farm to the restaurant – and these moves take a step toward better delivering on those expectations.”

Unlike many of its competitors, who tend to vilify farmers, McDonald’s seems to have given much more thought to
its policy.

McDonald’s said in its press release that it has been working closely with its suppliers to reduce the use of antibiotics, and has sought guidance from its suppliers on the “thoughtful use” of antibiotics in food animals.  The company also brought together a team of animal and human health experts to help it develop the recently released Global Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Food Animals.  

Also unlike many of its competitors, the corporation is not making the claim of offering “antibiotic-free” menu items in future – it clearly states that farmers who supply its chicken could continue to use ionophores in a responsible way, as this type of antibiotic is not used in human medicine.  

I suspect the successful “Our Food. Your Questions” campaign launched by McDonald’s a few years ago also prompted the corporation to take a look at its sourcing policies, as well as its business model.  The phenomenal success of the company is the result of its cookie cutter production method, but the one-size fits all approach to fast food doesn’t mesh with the values of North America’s largest consumer group: the Millenials.

Millenials – those currently aged 15 to 35 – love to eat out and fast food and “quick-serve” style restaurants top the list.  But these discerning consumers want more than just a hamburger and fries.  According to numerous analysts who study the eating habits of this group, Millenials want food that has enhanced flavours and textures, tastes great and offers health benefits. They also want to know if it’s responsibly sourced and its “story” (ie. how it’s raised/grown and where it comes from).  Growing up in a digital age, they want to be connected to their food and each other, and consequently share restaurant information on social media sites.

Antibiotic use is something the poultry industry has been afraid to talk to consumers about directly. Perhaps the Millenials’ thirst for knowledge, coupled with McDonald’s desire to engage with them, will provide the context and understanding about antibiotic use the industry wants, without having to do the talking.

 

 

 

 

The realization that the food and farming sectors need to better communicate with the public has been growing for some time, and a lot of discussion has taken place on how best to achieve this. Some very creative and effective campaigns to engage consumers have been emerging — the Chicken Squad campaign by the B.C. Chicken Growers Association and the B.C. Chicken Marketing Board, plus the “Our Food, Your Questions,®” are good examples.

Individual farmers and farm groups have taken on the task directly on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, where they engage directly with potential customers and suppliers while dispelling myths, sharing facts, finding market information and sharing the ups and downs of farming life.  Social media has become a powerful and highly valuable tool for sharing information in real-time.  And it’s also brought farmers from across the country together on common issues. If you don’t already, follow the hashtag #plant15 this spring and you’ll get a good idea of the camaraderie that exists.

But I have yet to see a hashtag related to farming cause such a firestorm right out of the gate as #farm365 has.

Created by southwestern Ontario dairy and cash crop farmer Andrew Campbell (@FreshAirFarmer), the hashtag has certainly achieved the goal of bridging the gap between consumers and agriculture, albeit with some unintended consequences.

The hashtag accompanies a photo taken on Campbell’s farm that he posts on Twitter each day, beginning on New Year’s Day.  Inspired by other photo-a-day challenges on Twitter, Campbell wanted to show what goes on a typical farm, and hopefully start some conversations.  His seemingly innocent attempt has done just that — and then some.  

Writing in his blog “The Highs and Lows of Week One on #farm365” for Letstalkfarmanimals.ca, Campbell said he knew animal rights activism was powerful, but “this has been a new lesson in experiencing it.”  He says media attention about the hashtag made a few activists very angry and they banded together to “hijack” #farm365 to show people their views on animal agriculture. Advocates for veganism have been posting disturbing photos and anti-animal agriculture messages with the hashtag right from the start, and are still going strong more than a month since Campbell launched it.

But Campbell and other farmers from around the globe are rallying back.  As Campbell writes: “It’s turned into a great force of farmers sticking up for themselves and consumers getting a better idea of what it takes to send food out of the driveway.” It’s also creating conversations with a curious public, who don’t understand what takes place on farms, and have a healthy bout of skepticism not to be easily swayed by activists and need to get reassurances right from the perceived villains.  

In his blog, Campbell tells a great story of how answering questions about veal from a woman in Toronto put her at ease.  The woman, who had heard negative things about veal production, wanted to hear from a farmer, to search “for information with substance and fact.”

Campbell tweeted this message February 9: “I’ve got to thank my fellow farmers again. They continue to open their barn doors and farm gates to the public through #farm365. Thank you!”

 

 

 

February 20, 2015 - Great food and the chance to have all of your farm questions answered by Ontario’s farmers. That’s the premise of Breakfast on the Farm events in Ontario.

Farm & Food Care Ontario is proud to present the first Breakfast on the Farm event of 2015 on Saturday, June 6. This time, breakfast will be hosted at the Veldman Poultry and Grain near Embro – the home of Dan and Glynis Veldman and their four children. This is a third generation family farm that raises laying hens as well as veal calves and crops like corn, wheat and soybeans.

Farm & Food Care Ontario began hosting the Breakfast on the Farm program in 2013 and since then, has fed, entertained and engaged over 6,000 people at three different farms across Ontario.

After being treated to an all-Ontario breakfast featuring farm-fresh eggs, sausage, milk, pancakes and more, visitors will be able to see laying hens in both conventional and enriched housing systems, an egg packing facility, veal calves, and many aspects of the family’s grain farm –such as their grain elevator and feed mill. Each featured area will be interactive and have experts on hand to answer questions. Interactive stops around the farm will include many displays, activities and exhibits that showcase other types of farms in Ontario.

Breakfast will be served from 9:00 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. with farm tours wrapping up by 1:00 p.m. There is no cost to attend but pre-registration is required for breakfast attendees - the first 2,000 registrations are guaranteed breakfast.

Visit www.farmfoodcare.org to obtain your free tickets or to learn more about volunteering or sponsoring the event.  The event is supported by many national, provincial and regional farm organizations and agri-businesses, as well as many dedicated community volunteers.

Event Details:

Date: June 6, 2015; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Cost: Free. Complimentary breakfast tickets must be reserved online at www.farmfoodcare.org

Location: Veldman Poultry and Grain Farm - 317119 Line 31 near Embro

February 9, 2015 - The search is on for the next young scientist. Alltech has officially opened 2015-2016 registration for the largest global university-level competition that rewards scientific innovation and experimental research in agri-science.

This year marks a decade for the Alltech Young Scientist program, which saw more than 8,800 students register for the 2014-2015 term.

“In the last 10 years, we have seen students from across the globe exploring topics such as salmonella detection in meat and poultry to CO2-enriched wheat grain protein,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech. “These bright young minds are revolutionizing the way our industry approaches challenges, and Alltech is proud to promote these young leaders in their scientific pursuits.”

Regional winners will receive cash prizes and eight finalists will be invited to compete for top honors during Alltech’s annual international innovation conference in May 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. The graduate grand prize is $10,000 and the undergraduate grand prize is $5,000.

Students may submit scientific papers on topics such as animal science, crop science, food science, environmental science, food production economics, and aquaculture. Papers will be judged by a panel of industry professionals. Registration and paper submission is available online until Dec. 31, 2015.

In addition to direct student registration, the program now offers research organizations and university departments the opportunity to become Alltech Young Scientist affiliate partners. As an affiliate partner, the local competition winners are fast-tracked to the Alltech Young Scientist regional competitions and receive a range of academic and career-orientated benefits.

For more information and to register for the Alltech Young Scientist program, please visit: AlltechYoungScientist.com and stay connected through our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AlltechYoungScientist).

January 16, 2015 - A young man who was “born to farm” is the recipient of the 2015 B.C. and Yukon Outstanding Young Farmer Award.

Abbotsford chicken grower Kerry Froese and his wife Anita, both 37, received the prestigious award from outgoing B.C. & Yukon Outstanding Young Farmer program chair Jennifer Woike and judges Walt Goerzen, Lisa Taylor and Al Timms during a small ceremony in Abbotsford, Jan. 15th.

Froese’s parents began with a broiler breeder and raspberry farm, later adding a broiler farm. After Froese began managing the farms in his teens, the family converted the entire operation to broilers.

“Having multiple barns in multiple locations made management a challenge and cleanout of the barns after each eight-week growing cycle long and difficult,” Froese recalls.

In the early 2000’s, the family consolidated the quotas into Triple F (Froese Family Farm) Enterprises and built two new double-decker 500X52-foot barns on a new 20-acre property.

“We went from 15 floors with minimal automation in two locations to four floors with state-of -the- art automation on one farm,” Froese says.

Froese has since added in-barn cameras, weigh scales and innovative LED attraction lights to improve production and a large air compressor and thermal jet fogger to make cleaning and disinfection faster and more thorough.

While producing 1.9 million kgs of chicken/year might be enough for most, Froese’s passion is to be an “AGvocate” for supply management and for young people in agriculture. He is a founding member of B.C. Young Farmers and president of the Canadian Young Farmers Forum.

After serving as vice-president and president of the B.C. Chicken Growers Association, Froese was elected to the B.C. Chicken Marketing Board in 2013. His efforts to promote agriculture and willingness to poke fun at himself were clearly evidenced when he played the villain in the extremely popular You Tube “Chicken Squad” videos the BCCGA produced last year.

To be eligible for the Outstanding Young Farmer award, farmers must be between 19 and 39 years and derive at least two thirds of their income from farming. Nominees are judged on conservation practices, production history, financial and management practices, and community contributions.

The BCOYF program is sponsored by the B.C. Broiler Hatching Egg Commission, B.C. Egg Producers Association, B.C. Holstein News, B.C. Milk Marketing Board, Clearbrook Grain & Milling, Country Life in BC, Farm Credit Canada, Prairie Coast Equipment and Ritchie Smith Feeds.

Kerry and Anita Froese will represent B.C. at the national OYF competition in Edmonton in November. The national competition is supported by AdFarm, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Annex Business Media, Bayer Crop Science, CIBC and John Deere.

 

 

For the first time, pure lines of Lohmann Tierzucht’s laying hens are being raised outside of Europe, and the company chose Canada for the task.

The primary breeding company has built two production barns in the Caledonia, Ont., area.  The company has existing facilities at its home base in Cuxhaven, Germany, as well as in Denmark.

Not wanting to put all of the company’s eggs in one basket, Lohmann’s chief geneticist and managing director, Dr. Rudolf Preisinger, says it’s important to have a “homogeneous gene pool” outside of Germany in case Germany experiences a disease outbreak (such as avian influenza) and its border is closed to export.

Why Canada
“We’ve always had a warm welcome in Canada,” he says, and the company has had a growing presence here since 2000, when Lohmann first looked towards Canada to expand its production capabilities. That year the company purchased a large farm property in Ontario’s Haldimand County, where it established a grandparent and great-grandparent primary breeding facility. When describing the area, Khalil Arar, director of Canadian operations, says that “it’s important to us to be in a very biologically secure area” and that the company wants to ensure it’s a good neighbour. With this in mind, he says, they use the latest ventilation, heating and manure drying to eliminate odours and handle manure in a responsible way.  

The company added a single-stage hatchery in Brantford in 2007, which is conveniently located halfway between the U.S. border with Michigan (and Detroit International Airport) and Toronto International Airport for ease of shipping day-old commercial stock to customers in North America and around the world. The fact that the company already had a presence in Canada and “we showed them that we could keep the birds clean (free of disease),” encouraged it to set up its new pure line facility in Canada, says Arar.  

The new pure line operation is located on the opposite side of the same property as the primary breeding facility. It consists of two separate production barns. The first barn became operational in December 2013 and houses pedigree hens and roosters in individual cages (providing approximately 180 square inches per bird) as well as group cages to house hens from the same families. The second barn, which became operational in October 2014, houses birds in single-unit cages only. Day-old pure line stock birds are flown into Canada from Germany and housed in a nearby quarantine facility at another site until they are production age, at which time they are then moved into the pure line facility.

The purpose of having different types of housing is essential to the company’s breeding goals. Behavioural traits such as feather pecking and dominance can only be measured in a group setting, says Preisinger. However, gathering data on the most economically important traits of egg production, egg size and quality, and feed efficiency can only be done on an individual bird basis, which is best achieved in single-unit cages.

In fact, the ability to have birds in single-unit cages was another motivating factor for Lohmann to establish a pure line facility in Canada. “Here in Canada, you understand why the chickens must be kept in individual cages,” Preisinger told attendees at the pure line facility’s grand opening. He says that in Germany, it’s become extremely difficult to get research organized that requires chickens to be kept in cages, whether housed individually or in groups. All cages used in the German pure line facility had to be enriched with perches, nests and scratching areas to comply with welfare regulations in the country.

The grand opening of the pure line facilities took place Sept. 24, 2014, a date chosen to coincide with the company’s annual hatchery meeting, which was being held the same week in nearby Niagara Falls. Representatives from almost every country in the world Lohmann serves were given a tour of the second pure line barn. Guests were broken into groups by language spoken and led to different checkpoints, where staff from Lohmann’s head office demonstrated how technical staff on site will measure attributes such as body weight, egg weight, breaking strength, individual feed intake and individual egg weights. Attendees were also provided with information on biosecurity measures taken by the company and a general overview of how the barn operates.  

Genetic data
Each bird has a wing band with an individual barcode that is scanned by an employee using a handheld device each time a measurement is taken that is unique to a particular bird. Using Bluetooth technology, the barcode data is sent to a tablet where the employee can then input data such as egg weight or feed intake for each individual bird. Eggs produced are also given identifying numbers so that the company knows which bird laid which egg, a crucial step for measuring egg quality traits such as shell strength and colour within a family of hens.  

These measurements are then sent to Lohmann’s head office in Germany over a secure server where they are processed by the company’s genetics department and compared with data from its European operations.

The Canadian facilities will focus primarily on performance data from Lohmann’s white lines, as white eggs are dominant in several major worldwide markets including North America.

However, the Canadian facilities also have stock for all six of the company’s genetic lines and will be recording data for those breeds.

In Europe, where legislation has imposed mandatory colony and/or aviary-type housing systems and space requirements, data collection on traits such as nest acceptance and utilization of outdoor spaces is being measured, as well as individual performance when raised in floor housing (this is done using a transponder system rather than by individual barcode).

In its recent Poultry News, Lohmann says captured data from the pure line facilities combined with additional DNA analysis allows the company to collect broad-based performance data, which makes its layers “adaptable to varying housing systems, climate conditions and consumer preferences.”

Good for Canada
Scott Graham, chair of the Egg Farmers of Ontario, says the EFO is proud that Ontario offers the kind of environment to attract a breeding company of Lohmann’s calibre: “It’s gratifying to have a global company invest in Ontario’s egg industry.” The EFO also made a policy change in its pricing to make the province more attractive to companies, paying full price for surplus eggs instead of the breaker market price, says Graham.     

With the establishment of a Lohmann pure line facility in Canada, says Arar, egg producers here “now have direct access to both major layer breeders” in the world (Hendrix Genetics also has a pure line facility in Canada for its ISA brand) and there is security in having access to supply, he says.

 

 

 

 

I’ve been watching A&W’s recent advertising campaigns with great interest over the last several months.

The Vancouver-based fast food chain has developed a “guarantee” to provide its customers with “simple, great-tasting ingredients sourced with care.” This includes the launch late last year of beef raised without the use of steroids or hormones, and most recently eggs from hens fed a vegetarian diet and chicken raised without antibiotics.

When our writer Treena Hein asked how the campaign was performing (see page 24), the answer from A&W was the customer response has been “phenomenal.”

The company says it’s providing customers with what they say they want, according to private data it collected, and customer visits to the chain have since been up.

It is clear that they are essentially focused on beating out their competition on the “taste factor” by linking how the product is raised with its flavour. In fact, A&W was voted as having the best-tasting burger in a recent survey by BrandSpark and recent television and web advertisements show a company store manager (portrayed by an actor) telling customers that the chicken sandwich, egg breakfast or beef burger they are eating on-camera is “naturally” sourced. Perhaps I’m being cynical, but the customer reactions make me giggle a little — their eyes get big with surprise and they say things like “wow,” “really?” and “I’m pleased to hear it.” The biggest focus is on taste — all the customers are shown to really be enjoying what they are eating. Of course any restaurant wants to be known for having food that tastes great, but the ads imply that the taste and how the product is raised/fed are correlated, which represents a significant shift in how food has been traditionally marketed by quick-serve restaurants.

Does the campaign rely on customer ignorance and blurred lines? Definitely, but that’s just good marketing.

But as one customer pointed out in one of the company’s video advertisements when told the chicken she was eating was raised without antibiotics, “No one ever talks about that.” Whether you agree with A&W’s marketing efforts or not, this customer hit the nail on the head.

That’s why Canadian Poultry hosted its first annual Canadian Poultry Sustainabilty Symposium, to start a conversation about the issues (including consumer perception) that will affect the long-term sustainability of the industry (read coverage from the conference starting on page 16). A&W is only one purchaser of poultry, but it’s not the only one looking to show the customers it cares about how and where its products are sourced. This isn’t just another trend; it’s become a major component of the Corporate Social Responsibility plans of all major food companies.

 As Jeffrey Fitzpatrick-Stilwell, senior manager, sustainability with McDonald’s Canada told symposium attendees, although customers don’t understand more complex issues, they are very aware of how such a large company can affect change.

Crystal MacKay, Farm and Food Care executive director, says we need to start talking about farming in a real way. She pointed to the situation in the U.K. 20 years ago where farmers and industry didn’t want to talk to consumers about what they do and why (with respect to animal welfare). As marketers tried to out-label one another, no real improvement to animal welfare was realized.

“We need to have a better conversation,” she said. Indeed we do.

 

 

 

November 20, 2014 - Egg Farmers of Canada has been named by Waterstone Human Capital as one of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures. Now in its 10th year, the national program annually recognizes best-in-class Canadian organizations for having a culture that has helped them enhance performance and sustain a competitive advantage.

"It is such a great honour to be receiving this award. Our employees and farmers work hard every day to incorporate social responsibility into all aspects of our organization," said Tim Lambert, Chief Executive Officer of Egg Farmers of Canada. "We do that by constantly striving towards improving our communities, showing integrity and passion in our work, and by including social, cultural, health, environmental and financial aspects into all of our policy making to ensure our industry remains strong now and for future generations."

Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures™ is founded and presented by Waterstone Human Capital, one of Canada's fastest-growing retained executive search firms specializing in recruiting for fit and in cultural assessment.

"Egg Farmers of Canada is a remarkable organization," says Jennifer Mondoux, Managing Director, Ottawa, Waterstone Human Capital. "CEO Tim Lambert is leading a very sophisticated and innovative team, rooted in rural communities and sustainability, with a strongly aligned culture. Egg Farmers' work on the international front, and in other CSR initiatives here in Canada, is truly impressive. They are very deserving of this award."

Egg Farmers of Canada sponsors many national causes including the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure and Breakfast Club of Canada and Food Banks Canada. They also support the development of youth and the next generation of leaders within agriculture and more broadly through the Canadian Young Farmers Forum and the Forum for Young Canadians.

Through the International Egg Foundation, which seeks to increase egg production and consumption in developing countries, Egg Farmers of Canada is supporting Project Canaan, an initiative that helps address food insecurity and feeds orphaned children in Swaziland by sharing Canadian expertise on sustainable farming.

 

November 11, 2014 - The University of Saskatchewan and its partners officially opened the Canadian Feed Research Centre (CFRC) in North Battleford October 24, highlighting the many research and training opportunities this unique facility will provide for Canada’s crop and livestock sector.

The $13.9-million feed research centre is a major Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)-led project and a partnership with the Saskatchewan government, Cargill’s animal nutrition business, and Western Economic Diversification. The centre will research, develop and commercialize new and better high-value animal feeds derived from low-value crops and co-products of bioprocessing and biofuels industries.

Estimates are that increased feed processing from CFRC activities will contribute more than $2M to Canada’s gross domestic product through direct benefits to the crop and livestock industry and indirect benefits through employment.

“Thanks to our partners in government and industry, this national feed research centre is one of the most advanced and diverse in the world—the only one with both pilot-scale and high-volume commercial processing production lines,” said Karen Chad, U of S vice-president research. “This means that promising lab discoveries can move quickly from pilot-plant testing to industrial-scale research—a major advantage in attracting commercialization activities and engaging industry.”

Building upon the university’s signature area of research titled agriculture: food and bio-products for a sustainable future, CFRC researchers will add value to low-quality crops, improve nutrient availability to animals, reduce antibiotic use, and develop enzymes and other bioactives or nutraceuticals to maintain animal health and improve feed efficiency.

Both graduate and undergraduate students will participate in the research, gaining advanced training for careers in the feed and livestock sectors.

The centre is the first of its kind in North America to install new seed-sorting technology that promises to maximize value, quality and safety.

“Feed accounts for 60 to70 per cent of the production costs of animal protein such as meat, milk and eggs,” said Tom Scott, U of S Research Chair in Feed Processing Technology.  “The centre will research the use of processing to improve conversion of low-quality and highly variable ingredients, such as feed grain or co-products of bioprocessing, resulting in safe, high-quality animal feed and providing value to both producers and consumers.”

Funding includes $5 million from the Government of Saskatchewan, $4.88 million from the CFI, $2.46 million from Cargill, $911,544 from Western Economic Diversification (including the seed sorter), and $600,000 from U of S and its suppliers.

More information on the project and Tom Scott can be found here

November 13, 2014 -  Chore-Time Group, a  division of CTB, Inc. recently announced its plans to expand its manufacturing operations at its headquarters in Milford, Indiana.  
        
Chore-Time will invest $7.11 million to construct and equip a 45,000-square-foot (4,180-square-meter) addition to its existing 350,000-square-foot (32,500-square-meter) facility in Milford.  The addition, which is expected to be operational by the middle of next year, will allow Chore-Time to increase its manufacturing operations and add storage to support growth in global demand for Chore-Time’s poultry, egg and pig production systems.

The last expansion to Chore-Time’s Milford operation was in 1994, though CTB has had other expansion projects in Milford in recent years, including an expansion to CTB’s Brock Grain Systems division plant in 2007 and the purchase of a manufacturing and office facility for CTB’s PigTek Americas division in 2012.  Chore-Time also has facilities in Alabama, the Netherlands and Poland.

 

While I was putting this issue together I couldn’t help but wonder what the founders  of the Canadian Poultry industry would think about how far the industry has come in terms of production efficiency and organized marketing.

Even if you’re not a turkey farmer, I encourage you to read our cover story (page 11) as it’s an excellent reminder to all producers and those working in the industry just how advancements in scientific knowledge and technology have allowed the industry to progress from a “sideline” to the success it is today — not only in terms of production efficiencies, but also with its popularity with consumers and, most importantly, its development into a stable market for farmers.

Our cover story also provides readership with a little “refresher” course on the history of supply management, something I feel everyone involved in supply-managed commodities needs to be reminded of from time to time.  As Eugene Whalen, esteemed former federal agriculture minister, famously said, “supply management is always under attack.” Indeed, as I write this, U.S. trade representative Michael Froman and four cabinet secretaries, including Secretary of State John Kerry, are travelling across Canada telling audiences that Canada’s (and Japan’s) farm protections, are “a remaining hurdle to a major trade deal,” referencing the desire of the U.S. to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and, indirectly, access our market.

Mr. Whalen is correct; history has shown that the poultry industry needs to constantly be on watch for threats to the supply management system.  But like its fellow supply-managed and non supply-managed commodities, the greatest attacks at the moment are not those based on trade deals, but those based on trying to affect public opinion on how food is produced.

I’m not overly concerned that tactics by animal rights activists are going to persuade a significant number of consumers into vegetarians or vegans, but I’ve been with this magazine long enough now to see a definite trend in how much more media-savvy and educated these groups are getting.

A decade ago, activist groups, for the most part, were using shock tactics and graphic images to try and get their messages in the faces of consumers. But then, for example, the Humane Society of the United States began utilizing the democratic system to evoke change (think of Proposition 2). Although not a new tactic, Mercy for Animals has been utilizing undercover videos to its advantage.  The difference is the group has been working with national media groups to disseminate the videos, which helps to sensationalize and has a much further reach (and unfortunately credibility) than it could on its own.  

The result is that companies that produce food and buy from farmers are under the microscope. No one wants to be portrayed in a negative light and in some cases the videos have made companies re-visit existing animal care policies or implement new ones — that is never a bad thing (see page 38).  

But the worry is that producers and companies will face a myriad of rules and regulations set by retailers out of fear of losing consumers, and that is a bad thing.

I bet having farming practices questioned was not something that even crossed our ancestors’ minds.  Looking after animals was just good practice and farmers and their neighbours alike were just happy to have food on the table. ■

 

 

 

Levi Hofer of New York Colony is the grand prize winner and winner of the table egg category.  Jamie Brock (L) accepted for Four Corners Poultry Ltd., winner of the broiler breeder category.

October 31, 2014 - Canadian Poultry Magazine is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Canadian Poultry Sustainability award.

The awards were given out at the Canadian Poultry Sustainability Symposium, held at the Hanlon Convention Centre in Guelph, Ont. October 29th.

 

The award was created to recognize Canadian poultry farmers for their commitment to sustainability.  Farmers were encouraged to apply and his or her operation was assessed based on the three pillars of sustainable farming: the use of practices that protect and improve the health and welfare of animals, protecting and minimizing the impact of farming practices on the environment, and advancing the economic and social well-being of the farm family and their surrounding communities.

To be eligible, a farmer or business has to have quota and have an up to date nutrient and manure management plan developed in accordance with applicable provincial programs. An individual farmer could nominate him or herself or be nominated by a third party and at least two letters of recommendations had to accompany the application.  One of these letters had to be from an agricultural or environmental professional, and the other from a neighbor, fellow producer, community leader or organization.

Applicants were also encouraged to submit supporting documentation to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability practices.

A panel of judges reviewed the applications received and decided on the winner of the award as a group.  These judges are poultry professionals from across Canada and farms were assessed for their use of innovative and efficient technologies, dedication and adherence to animal care, financial viability and community outreach.  The judges were looking for farms that understand that sustainability is the “whole package” of looking after the birds, farm, and people to maintain both the viability of the farm and the industry as a whole.

Five category awards (table egg, broiler, broiler breeder, turkey and pullet) were available and the overall grand prize winner was chosen from the category winners.

Although applications were received for the broiler and turkey categories, the judges felt that these applicants did not meet eligibility requirements or did not provide enough information for them to feel comfortable making a decision on stated sustainability practices.

Mr. Hofer is the egg manager at New York Colony, located in Lethbridge, Alberta.  Jamie Brock accepted the award for Four Corners Poultry Ltd., which he co-owns with his father David. The operation is located in Staffa, Ont. 

Each winner received $1000, a plaque and a farm gate sign.  As grand prize winner, Mr. Hofer also received an additional $1000 plus a wall plaque. 

More information on the winners will be available in the December 2014 issue of Canadian Poultry. 

 

 

October 30, 2014 - Olymel is investing over $10 million in an expansion and modernization of its poultry processing plant at Ste-Rosalie in St-Hyacinthe. The investment is intended to increase the production capacity of the cooked products facility in order to meet a growing demand on the Quebec and Canadian markets for this category of product.

The construction work required by the expansion project began in October and will add 15,000 square feet of work and storage space to the facility. The work, which should be completed in April next year includes installation of a third cooking line, construction of a spice warehouse, the addition of two loading docks and redevelopment of the individually quick frozen (IQF) section.

The Ste-Rosalie processing facility employs more than 420 persons. In addition to its boning operation, the facility fabricates cooked and breaded chicken products such as wings, breast morsels and breast strips to serve its own brands, mainly Flamingo, as well as for private labels. The plant in Ste-Rosalie sources its fresh products from Olymel's poultry slaughter facilities.

Ste-Rosalie plant manager Claude Chapdelaine said in a release that once construction is completed, operations can be reduced by seven days to five while still retaining all staff, and production volume will increase by nearly 40 per cent.

October 30, 2014 - Faromor Ltd. has joined forces with VAL-CO, a global manufacturer of high-quality systems and components for commercial poultry, pig and egg production.

Through VAL-CO, Faromor will now be able offer its clientele solutions for feeding, watering, heating/cooling, flooring, as well as many other industry needs for the poultry and swine sectors.

 The two companies offer more than 200 years of collective manufacturing and agricultural expertise.

For further details contact Faromor at 1-800-960-4002 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

October 16, 2014 - Lors de la tenue du dernier conseil d’administration de la Fédération des producteurs d’œufs du Québec (FPOQ), la directrice générale de l’Union des producteurs agricoles, Mme Guylaine Gosselin, fut invitée à procéder au tirage du gagnant du Programme d’aide au démarrage de nouveaux producteurs. Par conséquent, M. Alex Turcotte-Lauzier, de Val-Brillant au Bas-Saint-Laurent, est le récipiendaire 2014 du Mérite Philippe Olivier et, par le fait même, se voit octroyer un droit d’utilisation de 6 000 unités de quota de poules pondeuses. M. Turcotte-Lauzier en était à sa troisième participation au Programme.

Rappelons que la Fédération commémore le décès de M. Philippe Olivier, ancien employé de la Fédération responsable du Programme, par la remise du Mérite Philippe Olivier à tous les  récipiendaires.

October 15, 2014 - Elanco Animal Health and Concordia University have announced a three-year project collaboration to develop new enzyme combinations for Canadian pork and poultry producers. The goal of the project is to create commercial enzyme products for pork and poultry feed that significantly improve feed conversion, thus improving producer profit margins.

The project will be funded by Elanco ($3M), the Ministère de l’Économie, de l’Innovation et des Exportations du Québec through Genome Quebec ($1M) and the government of Canada through Genome Canada ($2M).

“Today, up to 25 per cent of the components in pork and poultry feed remain unused because the animals lack the enzymes required for digestion,” said Allan Boonstra, director of Elanco Animal Health. “Feed costs make up about 70 per cent of the cost of producing pork and poultry, so this project has the potential to generate significant value for producers.” 

Dr. Adrian Tsang from Concordia and Dr. Paul Matzat from Elanco will lead the project. The work will involve screening proprietary enzymes for digestibility of common ingredients found in Canadian pork and poultry feed. Commercial products suited for the Canadian feed market are expected to result in significant improvements in feed conversion.

“Upon successful completion, this project is expected to provide benefits in the form of lower production costs, increased global competitiveness for swine and poultry producers, and more competitively priced meat and eggs,” said Marc Lepage, CEO of Genome Quebec. “In terms of feed production, we can also expect reduced land use and increased use of Canadian grains such as canola.”

Dr. Pierre Meulien, President and CEO of Genome Canada, added, "This project is one of several academic-industry partnership projects receiving funding under Genome Canada's new Genomic Applications Partnership Program, which was designed to facilitate industry engagement in Canadian R&D. Companies such as Elanco are seizing the opportunity to leverage Canada's strong genomics science and technology capacity for the benefit of their business and the Canadian economy." 

The project complements Elanco’s mission to help the global food chain deliver a safe, affordable and sufficient food supply. Boonstra continued, “We believe innovation in sustainable food production is one of the most important mechanisms to feeding a growing global population. Elanco anticipates this project will lead to expanded research and development in Quebec and throughout Canada.” 

 

October 16, 2014 - Alltech has appointed vice president Aidan Connolly as Chief Innovation Officer, connected to the company’s global research department. Working closely with Dr. Karl Dawson, vice president and Chief Scientific Officer, Connolly will be involved with Alltech’s innovation pipeline and lead the commercialization of the company’s research programs.

In his new role, Connolly will put together a team within the company’s research department that will primarily focus on developing innovative, nutrition-based technologies. Their new product development will capitalize on the insights gained through the company’s considerable investment in nutrigenomics, the science of how diet affects gene expression.  

Connolly brings a strong commercial background to Alltech’s research team. He graduated from University College Dublin with a master’s degree in international marketing. He has been with Alltech for nearly 25 years, initially in Ireland, and then in France, Brazil and the United States. From 2002 until 2008, Connolly held the position of vice president of Europe and was most recently based in Washington, D.C., as vice president of corporate accounts.

Connolly is an adjunct professor of marketing at University College Dublin and a professor of agribusiness at the China Agricultural University in Beijing. He is also an executive board member of the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF), the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation, and a former board member of the European Union Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures (FEFANA).

Based at Alltech’s Center for Nutrigenomics and Applied Animal Nutrition at Alltech’s corporate headquarters near Lexington, Kentucky, Connolly will also maintain his current responsibilities as vice president, corporate accounts at Alltech. Connolly is well-known as the architect of Alltech’s annual global feed survey, which assesses global feed tonnage in more than 130 countries.

 

November 4 marks the seventh anniversary of the passing of Proposition 2, a ballot referendum in the state of California initiated primarily by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Farm Sanctuary to prohibit the confinement of certain farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.

Prop 2, officially known as the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, requires that California farmers end the use of conventional “battery” cages for laying hens, as well as the use of crates for veal and sow gestation, by
January 1, 2015.

The language of Prop 2 was vague with respect to what housing standard was acceptable and the ambiguity of the law set off a complicated legal minefield that is still being navigated  — with only two months until its implementation.

In a 2012 news release the Association of California Egg Farmers (ACEF), a statewide trade association representing California’s egg farmers, said they were filing a lawsuit in an attempt “to gain a clear understanding of how to comply with Proposition 2.”

Earlier that same year the ACEF had supported the congressional effort by the HSUS and the United Egg Producers (UEP) to establish national standards on egg laying hen enclosures, including dimensions and other key elements that are not found in Proposition 2 (for more go to page 24).

While the so-called Egg Bill was not passed, the ACEF was able to get clarity on space requirements from the state — birds must have 116 square inches, which can be satisfied with enriched or aviary systems. However, according to industry estimates, there will be a significant shortfall in the number of eggs produced that meet Prop 2 standards.  This shortfall can be filled by producers meeting the requirements in other states, as outlined in a 2010 Assembly Bill (AB 1437) where the California legislature tried to level the playing field, requiring that all eggs consumed in the state meet Prop 2 housing standards, regardless of where they were produced.  Earlier this year the state of Missouri, along with five other states, filed a federal lawsuit claiming that attempts to regulate egg production outside of California violated the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

It will be interesting to watch what unfolds in January and how California’s consumer egg needs will be met.  Regardless of what happens, one thing is clear — Prop 2 was a wake-up call for the egg industry in North America to start seriously addressing layer hen housing concerns and provided activist groups ammunition to pressure retailers into requiring housing standards from suppliers.  

But left out of the discussion is what is truly best for the hen, not just what we have assumed is best.  That’s why research such as that featured in our cover story (page 10) is so important.  Are we really improving welfare by
placing hens in systems that may cause them undue injury and stress? 

 

 

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