Kristy Nudds

Kristy Nudds

The strong emphasis on increased breast yield in broilers has resulted in a broiler breeder that is increasingly difficult to manage.  Genetic selection over the last 50 years has resulted in the modern broiler being 200 per cent heavier than the typical commercial strain used 35 years ago. To maintain egg production, breeders cannot be “allowed” to express their incredible genetic potential for growth and thus their bodyweight and rate of body-weight gain must be tightly controlled.

The goal is to have a uniform bodyweight (BW) in the breeder flock at time of photostimulation, and this requires a detailed attention to management.  
Martin Zuidhof of the University of Alberta, speaking to a group of broiler breeder producers at the 2011 Saskatchewan Industry Poultry Conference, says the biggest complaint he hears from technical service staff is a lack of BW uniformity at time of photostimulation.  If the target BW is not there at time of photostimulation, “it’s like a race, and those birds with a lower BW get left behind and never catch up,” he says.

The difficulty lies in the fact that the birds are competing for a limited resource – feed. To control BW gain, a common practice is to employ skip-a-day feeding. However, this results in a scenario Zuidhof described as “like rice being dropped in a famine-stricken area.”  Although there has been criticism concerning feed restriction in breeders, its purpose is to manage follicle development, the precursor of egg production.  Feed (or specifically, the nutrients within feed) has a direct effect on the hormonal regulation of the birds. Ad lib feeding results in a loss of hormonal regulation, and the result is what’s known as a “double hierarchy,” or more simply, twin follicles (two eggs). If these follicles are ovulated together, there is not enough oxygen available for embryo survival.  If ovulated separately, one of the follicles is without a shell since the shell gland requires 18 to 20 hours to lay down a shell.

Although feed restriction will improve flock uniformity, Zuidhof says that there are trade-offs: University of Alberta research show that it increases the fat stores, decreases muscle weight and average egg weight, and doubles the size of the liver on non-feed days. It’s also a welfare issue.

In a study conducted by his UofA colleagues Prof. Frank Robinson and graduate student Erica Holm, skip-a-day, scatter, fibre-diluted and sorted feeding methods were studied. In terms of achieving flock uniformity at photostimulation, the sorting method was found to be the best. This involved separating the smallest birds, isolating them from the others and providing them with additional feeding space. Although this method may not be practical for producers, it has been done with success in breeder flocks in Brazil and India, says Zuidhof. Scatter feeding and skip-a-day also improved flock uniformity at photostimulation.

Zuidhof says there is much that a producer can do to manage BW uniformity and egg production with some basic principles that take the bird’s metabolism into consideration (see sidebar). Weigh the birds frequently; BW gain is an indicator of metabolic status and should be used to make decisions regarding feed allocation, he says. He says by weighing two times per week, a much tighter growth curve can be achieved. “We may have more flexibility than we think when manipulating growth curves,” he says. Slow and steady wins the race, he says.  Make feed increases as small and as frequent as possible. If the birds are growing on target, they are in a positive energy balance and will prioritize nutrients toward egg production. He also pointed out that producers should stimulate sexual maturity by changing daylength, and not the amount of feed. 

Zuidhof says he’s currently performing what he calls a new “paradigm” in feed research: feeding based on the composition of the feed.  For example, he questions whether or not the current recommendation for protein is too high, as it may result in a diversion of nutrients from egg production to breast muscle production.  By changing the protein:energy ratio, breeder hens may have better nutritional support for the growing embryo. He’s also working on a proprietary feeding system that manages individual hens by providing the right amount of feed to the right bird at the right time.

Zuidhof told producers to remember that with breeders, it’s follicles that are being managed, something that they can’t see. It’s also important to have feedback.  “Managing broiler breeders without it is like driving drunk,” he says.

 Breeder Management Top 11
  1. Know the actual weight of your birds.
  2. Weigh the birds at the same time each day.
  3. Flock uniformity is very, very important.
  4. Avoid high nutrient density diets.
  5. Make sure pullets are at the minimum threshold BW at lighting.
  6. Don’t make fast increases in feed intake coming into production.
  7. Know what you are doing in managing post-peak feed withdrawal.
  8. Keep an open mind – birds are changing every year (what worked the last flock may not work this year).
  9. Don’t put your flock on “auto-pilot.”
  10. Stay positive and keep learning.
  11. Manage birds according to body- weight gain instead of BW.

Unfortunately for producers, poultry barns provide the perfect environment to allow insect and rodent pests to thrive.  Inside the barn, it’s like summer all year round, and food sources and hiding places are plentiful. 

Insect and rodent pests are of obvious economic concern because not only can they cause structural damage to the barn, they harbour a multitude of bacteria, parasite and viral species that significantly affect poultry health and productive performance.  These include Salmonella sp., Marek’s disease, Newcastle Disease virus, avian influenza, Infectious Bursal Disease and Eimeria sp. and E.coli sp., just to name a few.

Although the barn environment remains relatively constant, the change in the outside temperature from season to season has an effect on the life cycle and behaviour of insect pests.  This can be very advantageous and provide producers with the opportunity for a strategic reduction of pest populations in the cooler months so that the populations are much easier to control in the more troublesome spring and summer months. 

Rodents may be small, but they can cause significant problems in a poultry barn.  Not only are they carriers of disease, they can cause significant structural damage by gnawing on live wires and insulation, which greatly decreases R-values, says Dave Van Walleghem, a biosecurity specialist with Vetoquinol.

Rodents are in constant search of food, so it’s best to provide control in the form of a rodenticide.  Rodenticides are more advanced than ever before, and are designed with the understanding of what rodents like and how the chemicals contained with them work in a rodent’s body, says Van Walleghem.  However, the chemicals can be damaging to birds as well (and also require a withdrawal period if ingested) so rodenticides are best provided to birds in a bait station. 

Location of the bait stations is key – they need to be placed where the rodents are moving in the barn. Rodents have poor eyesight and feel safest if they can be close to or touching a solid surface, such as a wall, says Van Walleghem.  They do have a very keen sense of smell however and to aid them and others in their travels, they urinate anywhere from 300 to 3000 microdroplets a night, he says. This is a tool that can be used – avoid washing bait stations so that they smell inviting to others.  If an entry point into the barn is found, Van Walleghem says it’s a good idea to spray the hole and the path to the hole with a solution of 10 per cent bleach before plugging it to confuse and scare rodents away.

The fall is a very important time to bait outside the barn as much as possible, says Van Walleghem.  At this time of the year rodents are looking to move indoors, so this will prevent as many as possible from finding their way in. Once winter does come, rodents that didn’t make their way into the barn are hibernating, but this does not mean that the  rodent control program within the barn should be abandoned. Rather, the fall is a key time to increase the intensity of the program, and then it should be maintained throughout the winter to decrease populations before spring, he says. “You need to get the population under control before springtime,” he says.  “Think of it as an investment in the spring; if you take care of your problem in the winter, you won’t have such a big fight with rodents inside and outside come the spring.”

The rodents that were in the barn already or made their way into the barn before winter are essentially “trapped,” as they can’t go outside, so the only source of food they have is what they can find in the barn. It’s also important to remember that populations can still exist even if you don’t see much activity because the environment of the barn is perfect for rodents, he says. “Mice don’t take a vacation.”

An area that is important to have bait stations as well is the attics, says Van Walleghem. Mice are great climbers and don’t need a water source because they can get enough water from food.

Cooler fall and winter temperatures may extend the life-cycle of insect pests and seemingly decrease their populations, it is not the time to reduce control methods, according to both Van Walleghem and James Skinner of Terregena Inc. On the contrary, it’s an optimal time to maintain control methods, particularly with respect to darkling beetles because it will help reduce the “explosion” that can occur in the spring.

“Why add to the problem in future if you can catch them in the meantime,” says Van Walleghem. “Fall and winter is not the time to stop treating.”

Beetle control needs to be a 12-month program, says Skinner. There is a misconception that insects die in the winter, he says.  Their growth may slow, but it doesn’t stop. 

The biggest mistake that producers make is reducing, or eliminating, beetle control in the fall and winter months.  “It’s not as if they just go away,” he says.  They are still growing in the walls, cracks and crevices and when the brooders are turned on for a new flock and the temperature in the barn increases, “what beetles were there come out again.”

Both Skinner and Van Walleghem advise using a beetle control treatment between each flock year-round. 

When applying a surface insecticide, “remember to apply up the walls as well as on the floor so that when the beetles are climbing to get into the walls to pupate, they absorb the poison.”

A biological control method can be applied both before flock placement and during growout, which can be beneficial for treating late-emerging larvae, further breaking the reproductive cycle, says Skinner.

The Resistance Question
James Arends, an entomologist with JABB of the Carolinas, Inc. has been studying this pest for 30 years. His research has shown that darkling beetles “accumulate” viruses and are an important vector for reintroducing disease from flock to flock. However, the beetle we are dealing with today (as well as other insects, particularly those affecting crops) is not the same beetle of the past, he says.

Arends says what we normally expect to see in an insect species is a set number of days from the time an egg is laid to larvae, pupation and adult emergence. On a graph, this appears as a steep bell curve, where the majority of beetles will complete the life cycle in the same amount of time.

Insecticide resistance has been observed around the world, but it does not explain the poor performance (i.e., not achieving the expected reduction in populations) that can sometimes occur, he says. He and other entomologists have discovered is that the beetles that didn’t “fit” into the bell curve explained above, which don’t make up a significant portion of a typical population, are now increasing in numbers. The reason for this can be explained in part by genetic modification, but Arends says it’s also due to “adaptive behaviour” modification.  Instead of having eggs that only take one week to hatch, he’s now seeing eggs hatching as late as six weeks after being laid. Emergence patterns have also lengthened, and this is happening in both cool and warm weather.

The biggest cause of this modification is that we are treating based on our schedule, and not on the bugs schedule, he says.  Ideally, treatment should occur when the beetles emerge, even if birds are in the barn.

To help mitigate resistance, if using insecticidal products, a rotation should be employed and it’s crucial to follow the label directions carefully for mixtures and application rates, says Van Walleghem. 

Although it may take several flocks to achieve, the long-term goal is to reduce beetle populations and keep them as low as possible, he says. 

Before implementing any type of pest control program, seek professional help from a qualified pest control company and follow product directions. It’s also important to confer with your processor and marketing board to ensure that you are meeting any guidelines set forth with respect to pest control and its relationship with biosecurity, disease and food safety protocols.

Although often critical of Canada’s supply-management system, the U.S. government has its own unique method of keeping supply in line with demand. Instead of using a regulated system, when there is a supply surplus, it simply subsidizes demand in the form of a government buyout.

In mid-August U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would buy up to an additional $40 million worth of chicken to reduce surplus production and storage stocks. The chicken purchased will be distributed among the U.S. government’s legislated food and nutrition assistance programs, including the school lunch program, the disaster relief program and food banks.

Each year, the U.S. government buys poultry products and many other agricultural commodities (such as fruits, vegetables and other meats) for these programs, at a total cost estimated at $70 to $80 billion. The recently announced chicken purchase is touted as a “special program.” In a USDA release, Vilsack said that the bonus purchase will not only provide extra assistance for families facing tough economic times, but “it will also provide support to the broiler industry and the many small independent poultry growers that depend on the industry for their livelihood. Broiler producers have already cut production substantially and this purchase will help them bring supply in line with demand.”

Trouble is, this is not the first “special program.” In fact, the USDA made the same type of purchase in 2008 ($30 million) and in 2010 ($42 million). Perhaps much of this “bonus” payout the U.S. government doles out regularly could be avoided through implementation of a regulation system, or at least by having tighter control on the supply-demand equation. For all the criticism our supply-management system faces from opponents, you don’t see the Canadian government having to subsidize our poultry and dairy industries on a yearly basis, or at all, in fact.

The problem with unregulated industries is that, when prices for a commodity are high, growers respond by over-producing, which gluts the market. This happened during the 2008 “dairy crisis” experienced by the U.S. and Europe. Unprecedented high values assigned to milk in international markets caused dairy farmers in many countries to increase production.

But the cost of feed also skyrocketed, and 2008 saw the world economy crash, lowering consumer demand. The result, according to a study prepared for the Dairy Farmers of Canada by Laval University’s Prof. Maurice Doyon, was that international governments were forced to provide subsidization to their farmers. According to Doyon, Europe spent 280 million euros and the U.S. spent $350 million in support payments. The Canadian government did not have to provide dairy farmers here with subsidization, and Doyon says, “It is clear that the supply management system in Canada enables the industry to avoid some of the difficulties that were encountered in other developed countries during the 2008-2009 period.”

Although it is efficient in responding to supply and demand, supply management has been criticized for being a “protectionist” measure by many other countries in the Doha round of talks at the WTO. Judging by some of the astronomical figures being paid out by countries who are struggling financially, critics of the system should take a good look at their books and determine for themselves just how economical their non-protectionist measures really are.

The numbers don’t lie.

September 15, 2011 - Sunnymel, the partnership formed by Groupe Westco and Olymel, has made an offer to lease the Nadeau Poultry (Maple Lodge) slaughterhouse in St-François-de-Madawaska and operate it from the time it closes in June 2012 until the new Sunnymel slaughterhouse is opened in nearby Clair in November 2012.

The company says this action will preserve as many jobs as possible in the interim before it's $40 million plant in Clair gets up and running.  This proposal follows the announcement by Nadeau of its intention to cease operations in St-François-de-Madawaska and concentrate them at its new plant in Nova Scotia.

The two companies have been in a commercial dispute over the processing of chickens in New Brunswick for the past two years. 

Groupe Westco President and CEO Thomas Soucy said in a release that "our proposal to lease the Nadeau slaughterhouse until construction of our plant is completed will allow our industry to continue operating and preserve jobs."

On several occasions since the summer of 2009, Groupe Westco said in the release that it has tried to reach an agreement with Nadeau to find a temporary solution until its new slaughterhouse was built, but the Ontario-based company refused all proposals that would have enabled it to continue to process Westco chickens. These attempts included the purchase of the slaughterhouse, a possible partnership agreement for joint operation, a draft agreement for slaughtering at fair market value during construction of the new slaughterhouse, or payment of a premium similar to what Nadeau offers elsewhere. All these offers were rejected by Nadeau.

"Despite Nadeau's repeated refusals to come to an agreement with us, we are  taking one more step today to protect the workers. It is time to put an end to  the hostility, and take action and promote the growth of our local economy by
 adopting measures to preserve jobs. This is what Westco has sought to do from very beginning," Mr. Soucy added.

In recent months, Nadeau has made unsuccessful attempts to block Groupe Westco from building its new slaughterhouse.  A judgment by the federal Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Competition Tribunal in Groupe Westco's favour , and Nadeau's complaint before the Chicken Farmers of New  Brunswick (CFNB) was also rejected. This decision has also been confirmed by the New Brunswick Farm Products Commission and the New Brunswick  Court of Appeal. In addition, an earlier order issued by the Minister of  Agriculture of the Graham Liberal government which designated the Nadeau  facility as the only chicken product processing plant in New Brunswick has been invalidated by the courts.

Managing the broiler breeder is often considered more art than science. Thankfully, the team at the Alberta Poultry Research Centre has succeeded in compiling their research efforts into a reference that brings understanding to the art as well as depth to the science. | READ MORE

August 30, 2011 - After months of producer consultations nationwide, the Pullet Growers of Canada (PGC) has drafted a detailed application proposal for the Farm Products Council of Canada in pursuit of Part 2 Agency status under the Farm Products Agencies Act.

“We are very pleased with the progress and support we have received to date in this process,” says PGC chair Andy DeWeerd. “However we need to keep the momentum going and see this through to the finish.”
Since sanctioning their mandate at their annual general meeting last spring, PGC has conducted a first round of consultations with pullet growers across the country to gather information on the expectations and concerns of producers. From this information a first draft of the Detailed Proposal was developed for the Farm Products Council of Canada to determine any gaps in the process of submission.
Another key document derived from the consultations is a draft of the Federal-Provincial Agreement. This document is comprised of a principles-based agreement outlining: the basis of the federal-provincial relationship on pullets; an operating agreement that provides the details of how the relationship might work; and, a quota methodology to set the stage for operating as an Agency.
A complete update on PGC activities will be presented to the national and provincial supervisory agencies at the October meeting in Prince Edward Island. And in the coming months PGC will continue their consultations with provincial agencies on the development of the Federal-Provincial Agreement so they may add value and work to identify and resolve any outstanding issues. At the same time PGC will continue working with the Farm Products Council of Canada to fill-in any gaps in required information and prepare the final copy for submission to become a Part 2 Agency.
“It is very important to both PGC and this whole process that pullet producers have a voice. PGC exists to express the wants and needs of the pullet producers of Canada,” explains Mr. DeWeerd. “So if anyone has any questions, they should feel free to contact anyone on the executive.”


Managing the broiler breeder is often considered more art than science. Thankfully, the team at the Alberta Poultry Research Centre has succeeded in compiling their research efforts into a reference that brings understanding to the art as well as depth to the science.|READ MORE

Two opposing parties recently reached an agreement that can be summed up in one word: historic. 

On July 7, the United Egg Producers (UEP) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released a statement saying that the two parties have agreed to work together towards the enactment of new, comprehensive federal legislation for the care and housing of laying hens in the U.S. The proposed standards advocated by UEP and HSUS, if enacted, would be the first federal law addressing the treatment of animals on farms. 

These standards will mandate labelling on all egg cartons nationwide to inform consumers of the method used to produce the eggs; prohibit feed- or water-withholding molting to extend the laying cycle; prohibit excessive ammonia levels in henhouses; and prohibit the sale of eggs and egg products nationwide that don’t meet these requirements. They will also include the replacement of conventional cages with enriched housing systems (that will include nest boxes, scratching areas and perches) that provide each hen nearly double the amount of space they are currently allotted (a minimum of 124-144 square inches per bird versus the current 48 and 67 inches).

The two groups plan to jointly ask the U.S. Congress for federal legislation which would require egg producers to increase space per bird in a tiered phase-in process, with the amount of space birds are given increasing, in intervals, over the next 15 to 18 years.

On the surface, it appears as though the UEP succumbed to the old adage, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” However, given the intense pressure that the HSUS has placed on egg production practices by appealing to voters to enact housing legislation in various states (the most devastating being California with Proposition 2), the UEP was pushed into a corner. As Bob Krouse, chairman of the UEP and an Indiana egg farmer, stated in a UEP release, the UEP is “committed to working together for the good of the hens in our care and believes a national standard is far superior to a patchwork of state laws and regulations that would be cumbersome for our customers and confusing to consumers.”

The benefit to the UEP is that the agreement, if passed by Congress, will supersede state laws including those that have been passed in Arizona, California, Michigan and Ohio. Both the HSUS and the UEP will ask Congress to require California egg producers to eliminate conventional cages by 2015 – the year Proposition 2 is to go into effect – and provide all hens with the space and enrichments that the rest of the U.S. egg industry will be phasing in over the next 15 to 18 years.

Also, planned ballots in Oregon and Washington by the HSUS will now be on hold.  Washington’s ballot would have dealt a more devastating blow to the U.S. egg industry than California’s Proposition 2, as it would have made both the rearing and sale of eggs in conventional systems illegal if passed.

While the agreement should prevent further ballot initiatives, the pork and cattle organizations in the U.S. feel that the agreement has set a “dangerous precedent” of government intervention for on-farm standards, which they feel should be based on the latest scientific-based evidence on what is best for both animal and human health. The trouble is that livestock organizations, while having increased welfare research in recent years, have largely ignored educating both government and consumers about rearing practices out of the fear that some of these practices will be scrutinized.

It is this neglect, in part, that has set the stage for such an agreement to occur.

This is the first book to be dedicated to the lighting of poultry.  The first section deals with the science of lighting and how poultry respond to light, and the second section describes the practical approach to lighting for growing pullets, laying hens, broiler breeders, broilers, breeding and growing turkeys, ducks and geese, and is written in a user-friendly style.

For more information on the book or how to get a copy, Visit the Annex Bookstore.

August 5, 2011 - This is the first book to be dedicated to the lighting of poultry.  The first section deals with the science of lighting and how poultry respond to light, and the second section describes the practical approach to lighting for growing pullets, laying hens, broiler breeders, broilers, breeding and growing turkeys, ducks and geese, and is written in a user-friendly style.|READ MORE

By his own admission, Kurt Siemens is a man who loves to learn. From every challenge, he says there is a lesson to be learned and he gains new skills that help him meet the next challenge and improve how he manages his egg farm.

But in 1983, Siemens said he felt he didn’t yet have the knowledge to manage his family’s cattle, grain and layer operation in Sanford, Man., after the death of his father. His elder brother had already left home and was working out of province, and his mother sold to a nearby Hutterite colony, keeping only 16,000 layers of the original 25,000 and relocating the family to a smaller farm in Rosenort.

 By 1993, Siemens and his wife Tami had purchased the farm from his mother and expanded the flock by another 4,000 birds. In 2002, they decided to re-cage the barn, installing three tiers of Hellman cages. The set-up in his barn provides Siemens with the opportunity to be part of research trials for his local feed company (Nutreco-owned Landmark Feeds), something he has a great interest in and a tradition that began with his mother.

Since he is able to collect eggs from individual tiers, this allows Nutreco to measure results from different trials without environmental factors skewing results, as the birds are housed in the same barn under the same conditions. Siemens says he knows when there is research being done only part of the time, and he likes it that way. “It’s good because I have no preconceived notions this way. Sometimes when you think something should happen, does it really happen? You really don’t know until you look at the data,” he says.

He is also currently working with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) to determine if there is an available technology that will allow him to have drier manure in his barn, a need driven by the upcoming ban on winter spreading of manure, which takes effect in 2013. Depending on the length and severity of the winters, Siemens says he needs to be able to stack his manure higher in his existing manure holding facility without having to add on to it. “It’s a theory of mine at this point, so I am looking at different options,” he says. With MAFRI, he has been testing a tube dryer system that will fit under his cages, but nothing has worked 100 per cent. Part of his theory is to add a fourth row, to reduce the number of birds per square inch, allowing for better drying of manure. He’s currently looking at different options (conventional cages vs. enriched) and plans to install a full row of furnished housing this fall.

“I always want to know what’s happening with technology,” he says. “I like to be on the leading edge of what’s best for the hens in my care.”

A director with the Manitoba Egg Farmers (MEF) since 1998, serving as chair from 2001-2009, Siemens has been a “guinea pig” for MEF trials in addition to his participation in feed and MAFRI research. He was one of the first producers in Manitoba to get a conservation permit for composting spent hens, and his farm’s proximity to Winnipeg allowed him to be a test farm for two avian influenza simulations conducted by MEF, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and MAFRI. The second trial involved in-barn gassing, with the operational part of the trial conducted in Winnipeg. Having 100 government and industry representatives in full biosecurity gear descend on his farm gave him a new appreciation for what his fellow producers went through during the avian influenza outbreak in the Fraser Valley in British Columbia in 2003, but he was also “proud to do this for my industry, and to fully realize all of the steps involved,” he says.

He says it also allowed him to get to know those who would be involved from MAFRI and the CFIA should a real-life situation present itself. “It’s good to build this type of relationship, so if a situation should arise, I can sit down with these people and have a real conversation and be involved,” he says.

Siemens has learned the value of building relationships and how to find common ground when faced with differing opinions during his tenure with MEF, and particularly as his former role as the organizations’ alternate to the Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC), and his current role as its EFC representative.

Siemens says that being an EFC representative is “a challenging role as well as rewarding.” One of the greatest challenges is having to represent not only the interests of Manitoba producers, but the MEF and the provincial government as well. “But at the table, you are representing Canada. You need to learn when to wear the provincial hat, when do you change the hat, and should you be changing the hat at all?” he says. “It’s a juggling act, and it needs to be done in a positive way.” He says that sometimes it might be best to vote for something that’s good for all of Canada, but it might not necessarily be in the best interest for Manitoba. “Ultimately, the aim is to do what’s best for supply management in Canada,” he says.

Siemens’ biggest challenge with the EFC occurred in the spring of 2010, when he had to face the EFC after the MEF’s decision to instill an animal care policy for laying hens whereby all regulated egg farmers in the province who build new facilities or undertake a major retrofit after 2018 must install a housing system that supports the Five Freedoms, as laid out in United Kingdom’s Brambell Report. Although the MEF board had been working on the policy for some time, they were forced to release it a little earlier than anticipated. MEF had planned to launch the news after discussing it with EFC and other provinces, but a leaked rumour fast tracked the announcement.

“The EFC was caught by surprise, but we did what we thought we had to do for our producers in Manitoba,” he says.

“Sometimes, being a director requires making difficult decisions”, says Kurt. However, this is an example of where having relationships in place is key, as “you can blow off steam, then go for dinner and talk about how to move forward, rather than let an issue become a stumbling block.”

The experience Siemens has gained from his time with the MEF and EFC has also served him well on a personal level. He lives in an area that is prone to severe flooding, and this experience has helped him deal with the stress of flooding in his area, as well as dealing with neighbours and municipal councils on flood-related issues. He says his experience with the poultry industry has taught him how to accept the ideas of others yet be able to discuss an idea he feels strongly about, and how to bring his viewpoint forward in a positive way. “You need to be able to adjust your opinion. If you can have the best possible outcome from four different opinions, it’s the best option,” he says.

Siemens has also devoted his time and experience in his community. One of his favourite things as an MEF director is interacting and sharing his experience as an egg farmer with the public at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair in Brandon and the Red River Exhibition in Winnipeg, and showing them the “technology that goes into producing an egg.” He has also served as chairman of his local recreation association, coached hockey, served on the board of directors for the Rosenort Chamber of Commerce, and is on the board of his church.

He acknowledges that he would not be able to do what he does without the support of family: wife Tami, daughter Madisson (18), son Harley (15), and son Eyob (9), the newest addition to the family, having been recently adopted from Ethiopia in November.

Siemens says he is sure there will come a time when he will step aside and let someone else take over, “but I am sure I will find something else to do,” he says. “Everything is a learning experience.”

He says he was poultry when poultry wasn’t cool. In 1985 while still a Ph.D. student at the University of Guelph, Dr. Frank Robinson saw a job advertisement for a poultry researcher at the University of Alberta. Despite feeling he didn’t have enough experience, he was encouraged to apply for the position by a friend. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Upon arriving at the UofA for his interview, Robinson says that it only took five minutes of speaking with poultry researcher Dr. Bob Hardin to convince him that he wanted the job. He toured the poultry unit and realized that the technicians and barns were waiting for a research team to come in and fill the barns with research birds. “I saw a physical infrastructure waiting for people and poultry,” he says.

Since the university was unable to narrow the field of candidates to one, it decided to hire the top three: Robinson, Dr. Vicki Baracos, and Dr. Jeong Sim. They started their new positions in October 1986. The team spent their first several weeks trying to establish a greater poultry presence in the department of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Sciences (AFNS), a department that at the time was dominated by beef, swine and dairy research.

New Territory
The team had a unique idea – to host a “Poultry Day”, bringing poultry producers in the province to the research farm and talk to them about how the team wanted to work with them, and what kind of research should be taking place.

“We were really charting new territory,” says Robison. “Poultry was not the thing that it is today. No one had thought to bring producers to the research farm before.”

This “Poultry Day,” held in the spring of 1987, was the start of what is now known as the university’s Poultry Research Centre (PRC), an extremely successful model of research collaboration between the poultry industry in Alberta, the UofA, and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (AARD).

In the early days of the PRC, the team only had an office with a phone, and start-up funds were scarce. But this slowly improved, as industry recognized the value of research. Robinson also credits the invaluable assistance of retired poultry science professors Alex Robblee and Don Clandinin for making the PRC what is today, and helping find funds for some its first graduate students.

Today, the PRC supports 41 graduate students, 16 post doctoral fellows/research associates, 12 technicians and 10 undergraduate student assistants. The PRC has expanded its focus from primarily production-related science to include value-added research, meat science, and animal welfare. The primary research team has expanded to include Dr. Mirko Bett (meat science), Dr. Jianping Wu (high value egg utilization), Dr. Douglas Korver (poultry nutrition), Dr. Martin Zuidof (poultry science and bioeconomic modeling), Dr. Robert Renema (value-added poultry science). Collaborators include additional researchers from the UofA and AARD whose research focuses on animal welfare, food microbiology, feed, consumer sensory science and marketing, and economics.

The PRC has also become known for its excellence in teaching. Robinson says in his early teaching days with undergraduate students he began having a class research project, having students work in teams and coming up with their own ideas. “Over the years, these projects have become a key part of who we are,” says Robinson. Robinson, Korver and Zuidhof have all been the recipients of multiple teaching awards.

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the PRC hosted an open house June 2. PRC staff and students created educational displays to show elementary school children, industry guests and the general public to “show how our research supports the poultry industry,” says PRC Executive Director Iwona Pawlina. In the evening, a barbecue was held for invited guests, entertained by PRC technician Nigel Davidson’s bluegrass band Reaction.

Model of success
The following day, the PRC held it’s annual meeting at the Snow Valley Ski Club. Pawlina stated that the partnership between the UofA, AARD, and the province’s poultry industry has “a great spirit” and she thanked staff, students, researchers, and industry supporters. “Without you, we wouldn’t have such a great centre.”

PRC board of directors chair Don Copeland noted that the PRC’s success was in part due to the fact that the researchers recognize that “research for research sake is pointless. It must be shared with industry and producers.” Due to Frank Robinson’s work, Copeland says “broiler breeder management has changed throughout the world.”

Dr. Stan Blade of Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions (AlBio) says the PRC has what his group likes to see – a superb connection to the industry, and a great group of researchers. Alberta Egg Producers chair Michael Froese congratulated the PRC on its milestone and 25 years of partnership, and presented the PRC with a glass egg. “As producers we rely on the PRC researchers to tell us about research in plain language, and because of that we see the obvious benefit to us of what they do.”

Robinson says he has had a lot of fun at the PRC and he is very proud to be associated with it. At various meetings in Canada and throughout the world, he could see that the PRC was held up as the “gold standard.” He says about 10 years ago, he had many people ask why the PRC was doing so well, when other research units at universities in Canada were regressing.

He says he told them the following: “We have an industry that clearly supported research for the short-term and long-term. Our industry partners and the feather boards saw the value of knowledge generations and the training of high quality people that would serve the present and future generations. We also have funding organizations and a provincial agriculture department that recognized that collaborative work was better than university empires that were infrastructure heavy.”

“The formation of this centre happened due to people thinking outside the typical boundaries of thought,” he says. “I really hope we can say this in the next 25 years as well.”

When I first started my position with Canadian Poultry magazine, it didn’t take me long to realize that the University of Alberta’s Poultry Research Centre (PRC) was unique.

Not only did my colleagues and industry representatives tell me this, but I saw it first-hand in early 2006 during my first visit to the Alberta poultry industry conference. Every other year, the conference is preceded by a one-day symposium where presentations on research and issues of importance to the Alberta poultry industry are given. 2006 was one of these years, and many of these talks were given by PRC researchers and graduate students. The one thing that really struck me was the enthusiasm and passion the speakers possessed, and how easily this was conveyed to the audience.

The enthusiasm those involved with the PRC possess is infectious, and is always present at every other function held by the PRC, or featuring PRC research, that I have had the pleasure of attending in the past five years. Members have a true camaraderie, and a shared desire to instill passion for poultry research in their graduate students, and have long recognized that research results should be shared with industry and producers. The Alberta poultry industry has also played a pivotal role in the PRC’s success, from providing funding support, recognizing the value of research, and as one of the PRC founding members Dr. Frank Robinson said, “having producers who opened up their doors to students to use their farms as living labs.”

In addition to seeing the value in research, Dr. Robinson noted in a speech he gave during the PRC’s 25th anniversary celebration on June 2, “our industry partners and the four poultry boards saw the value of knowledge generation and the training of high quality people who would serve the present and future generations.”

Instilling a passion for poultry science and communicating with the public about agriculture will be Dr. Robinson’s legacy. The enthusiasm of the students who hosted elementary school children, industry partners and the general public with interactive displays at the PRC during its 25th anniversary celebration open house is clear evidence of this (to read more on the celebration, go to pages 10 and 11).

I would like to congratulate the PRC on its milestone, and I am confident that its model of teaching and bringing industry and research together – a model envied throughout Canada and in other countries – will continue for another 25 years and beyond.

Passion for the poultry industry and dedication is what always stands out for me every year as I put our annual Who’s Who of the Canadian Poultry Industry issue together, and this holds true for this year’s issue. It’s not just groups such as the PRC that are passionate and dedicated to furthering the industry, but individual producers as well.

Whether it’s lending time to the operation of the provincial marketing boards and industry associations, dealing with the challenges of succession planning, or improving production, the passion that so many producers have for the poultry industry is what will allow it to keep moving forward and adapting to new challenges.

July 22, 2011 - Merck Animal Health, formerly known as Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, announced that it has embarked on the expansion of a vaccine manufacturing unit at its Biosciences Center Boxmeer campus in the Netherlands. The $18 million investment will result in a doubling of the capacity of its Tissue Culture Department, one of the departments where antigens for viral and parasitological vaccines are manufactured for international markets.

The new facility, which is scheduled to be fully operational by early 2013, has been designed to operate with optimal efficiency as well as to meet current and future requirements with respect to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Safety, Health and Environment (SHE). It will also allow for the anticipated globally growing demand for veterinary vaccines. In addition, the increase of the manufacturing capacity that will be realized anticipates for large-scale emergency production of veterinary vaccines when extensive amounts are needed within a short time period such as during outbreaks of emerging diseases.

The Tissue Culture Department Boxmeer is an EU-GMP licensed facility and produces viral and parasitological antigens that are used as active components of veterinary vaccines. The department specializes in complex biotechnological production processes that require high flexibility, using roller bottles, cell factories and other suitable cell and virus culture and purification systems. In 2010, the department produced 12 different antigens, totaling almost 300 million vaccine doses for cattle, horses, dogs, cats, fish and swine.

To address the specific regional needs for veterinary medicines, Merck Animal Health operates manufacturing sites in various countries distributed over the five continents. Of these, Biosciences Center Boxmeer is a global lead site in the company’s network and the animal health industry. It is the largest biotechnology site in the Netherlands. The company markets more than 350 licensed vaccines of which over 100 are manufactured in Boxmeer. The company continuously invests in its operations to accommodate growth and to ensure that it meets GMP and other standards as well as the most stringent environmental requirements.

July 22, 2011 - Novus International is proud to support the Poultry Science Association Foundation Legacy Project , which will create  an easily accessible digital record of the thousands of articles of Poultry Science Association journals published from 1908 through 1996.

The association’s current scientific journal, Poultry Science, was preceded by the International Association of Instructors and Investigators in Poultry Husbandry Proceedings (1908 through 1912) and the Journal of the American Association of Instructors and Investigators in Poultry Husbandry (1914 through 1921). The information and articles published in the pages of Poultry Science since 1996 are available online at the click of a mouse. But the massive archive of information published prior to 1996 – more than 105,000 pages in nearly 17,000 articles spread over 622 journal issues – currently exists only in hard-copy form.
“There is a massive body of science contained in these pages that is largely inaccessible because many of these volumes are buried in library stacks or – even worse – in off-campus repositories,” says Poultry Science Association Foundation President William Saylor. “The goal of the Legacy Project is to create an indexed digital record so that we don’t turn our backs on nine decades of data and classic papers that became the foundation of poultry science.”
Saylor says the price tag of the project is estimated at $60,000. Novus International has committed to underwriting half this cost through dollar-for-dollar matching pledges in its challenge grant.
“The importance of the Legacy Project – to the association, its membership and the poultry industry as a whole – cannot be overstated,” says Dr. Scott Carter, Novus Global Poultry Market Manager. “We believe in the vision of the Legacy Project – to preserve the knowledge of those who came before us to be used by those who come after. So we’re delighted to support an effort that is going to make a wealth of information and research data readily available to current and future generations of poultry scientists.”
Novus urges those interested in supporting the Legacy Project to visit
to learn more about the program.

Nutrition of the Chicken is the classic text covering all aspects of nutrition and metabolism of meat and egg-laying birds. This new edition represents a total update and revision of all the important aspects of nutrition and metabolism covered previously, together with new chapters on Digestion and Natural Toxins.|READ MORE

In many parts of Canada, urban encroachment into once-rural areas has been increasing rapidly for the last decade or so. While the loss of prime agricultural land to housing development is of concern, also significant are the burdens placed on agricultural operations from their new urban neighbours. These new neighbours, often ignorant and intolerant of farm practices, compete for resources such as energy, and could drive regulatory change, particularly with respect to odour and emissions.

Research that strives to understand the potential impacts poultry farming has on odour and emissions was presented at the Poultry Industry Council (PIC) Research Day, whose theme was Sustainability: Poultry and People Growing Together.

The presentation given by Dr. Bill Van Heyst from the School of Engineering, University of Guelph, outlined his and his research team’s current work on measuring emissions from broiler facilities and the dispersion of these emissions into the surrounding environment.

Air Quality
Van Heyst noted that air pollution has been linked to cardiac and pulmonary disease in humans, and that the Canadian agriculture sector accounts for upwards of 85 per cent of all human-made emissions of ammonia. Ammonia is a precursor gas of fine particulate aerosols (known as particulate matter (PM)). Both ammonia and PM are precursors of smog, making them of particular concern to Environment Canada, along with CO2 and methane. Ammonia, CO2, methane and PM10 (particulate matter with a diameter of 10 µm) are classified as toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), and thus “the government can place restrictions and/or regulations on their emission levels,” said Van Heyst.

Currently, not all pollutants have a set limit for exposure, but the current Canada-wide standard for PM10 is 30 µm, based on a 24-hour averaging time.

Van Heyst and his research team used the University of Guelph’s Arkell research farm, which houses swine and poultry and is located just southeast of the university, to try to determine what happens to atmospheric emissions from a typical broiler barn. This location was chosen because urban encroachment on this farm has been “significant” in the last two decades, and the “neighbours are not afraid to complain,” said Van Heyst.

Using the AERMOD atmospheric dispersion model, one of the regulatory models used by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) to measure emissions from industrial sources, Van Heyst wanted to see if the PM10 standard would be breached.

In the model, Van Heyst and his team “inserted” a broiler barn where the swine facility is located at Arkell, and used PM10 as the pollutant. They input five years of MOE meteorological data and assumed that most of the facility was surrounded by cultivated land, except for the southwest quadrant, which had urban development. They used an emission factor of 8.9 kg/cycle of PM10, based on a case study with an average of 32.5 days to produce birds weighing 1.8 kg. 

The model generates what’s called a wind rose, a graphic representation of how wind speed and direction is typically distributed at a particular location. The wind rose showed wind dispersion on a 5 km x 5 km grid.  They found that the broiler barn did not come close to reaching the 30-µm standard for PM10.  However, when the farm was intensified to include four identical barns, each 20 m apart, the dispersion of emissions was much wider, covering a much greater geographical distance from the barns. Although the largest concentration of PM10 remained on the farm property, the level of PM10 was now up 16 µm, almost twice the standard limit.

Van Heyst cautioned that his model has limitations – for example, he only used five years of meteorological data – and he used a constant emission factor for PM10. The latter is not really valid, he said, because as the birds grow, so do the PM10 emissions. Litter moisture and the season will also have an effect. It’s also not easy to accurately model the initial dispersion of the pollutants, he said. Currently, Van Heyst and his team are working on methods to more accurately measure particulate matter, taking all factors into account, including manure storage. When asked by an attendee at Research Day how barn design could possibly mitigate emissions through the type of exhaust system used, Van Heyst said that roof-top ventilation would be ideal, as it would decrease the dispersion area compared to tunnel or side fan ventilation.

Reduced Ammonia
But what if we could decrease the amount of ammonia being produced in the first place? That was a question tackled by Dr. Steve Leeson, a professor with the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the University of Guelph. 

Ammonia released into the atmosphere affects air quality, but lowering ventilation rates is detrimental to bird and farm staff health. So, Leeson tried to determine if the precursor for ammonia production in birds, crude protein (CP) in the diet, could be reduced without affecting bird performance. Initial (unpublished) research by Leeson and his research team determined that by decreasing CP by 0.4 to 1.2 per cent, ammonia output can be reduced by 0.8 to 0.9 g per bird.

But decreasing CP levels in the diet is not a black-and-white solution. CP is essential to maintain the current production levels industry has come to expect as standard. 

He and his research team performed feeding trials that “phased” the inclusion of CP (starting with a high level, and then decreasing the CP level over time) in layers. They found it was possible to decrease ammonia output without significantly decreasing performance at an inclusion level as low as 14.5 per cent CP.

They examined the performance of Lohmann birds from 19 to 72 weeks of age, fed diets starting with 20.5 per cent CP, then decreasing two per cent each interval to a low of 10.5 per cent inclusion over the life of the bird. The lowest three CP inclusion level (14.5, 12.5 and 10.5 per cent) diets were supplemented with amino acids to maintain the birds’ level of performance throughout the trial. The amount of feed consumed and ventilation was the same for all levels studied.  The effect on ammonia production was “dramatic,” reducing it from 50 ppm at the highest inclusion level to 10 ppm at an inclusion level of 14.5 per cent CP.

Rate of lay was only significantly affected at the 12.5 and 10.5 per cent inclusion levels, unless two additional amino acids, valine and isoleucine, were supplemented. These amino acids are not as economically priced as the other amino acids supplemented, but if this were to change, Leeson said it would be possible to feed at these low rates of CP, which would further reduce ammonia output.

Overall, they calculated that by using a diet of 14.5 per cent CP, adequate performance could be sustained (although rate of lay was slightly lower than the current average of a commercially raised Lohmann bird), and ammonia efflux to the atmosphere could be reduced by 400 kg/100,000 layers per year.

Leeson also noted another important fact regarding ammonia emission – that as the amount of nitrogen in the diet increases, so does water intake by the birds. If we have to start paying more for water, or its use is restricted in the future, water will become an even more important driver to reduce ammonia, he said.

What about GHGs?
When considering what’s going into the air from a poultry operation, one must also consider the possible effect on climate change. That’s what Dr. Adrian Williams at the Centre for Environmental Risks and Futures at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom is trying to do. Research Day opened with a presentation on Cranfield’s work for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that examined the environmental impacts of 10 agricultural commodities (livestock and crop) using a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). He presented the poultry portion of this work. 

LCA is an objective process that evaluates the total environmental burden associated with a product, accounting for all inputs and outputs, from farm gate to processing, distribution, purchase and consumption.

The Cranfield study found poultry is the most “environmentally-friendly” of livestock sectors studied, having the lowest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, from primarily methane and CO2, due to increased feed efficiencies and rate of growth. The Cranfield study, however, also looked at global warming potential (GWP), which not only reflected the effect of methane and CO2, but also of eutrophication and acidification. These are both related to nitrogen of which poultry is a contributor via feed, manure, and fertilizer used on land to grow feed crops. GWP is also affected by the type of gases produced by energy consumption.

The study found that overall there was no significant difference in the GWP between the poultry systems examined (layers versus broilers, and organic versus conventional). However, feed was the dominant environmental “burden” due to the amount of land and fertilizer application required, and the resulting ammonia output. 

However, an interesting finding in the study was that the energy required to raise organic poultry and eggs was increased by 30 and 15 per cent, respectively, compared to conventional systems. This was in contrast to other livestock systems, where a decreased use in energy was observed for organic systems. Williams noted that, although less energy is required to make organic feeds, the poorer bird performance and subsequent increase in feed consumption offset any energy gains.

June 24, 2011 - Dr. Bruce Roberts has been named the Canadian Poultry Research Council's (CPRC) new Executive Director.

This is a full-time position based in Ottawa (please note CPRC’s new address below).

Bruce is a native of New Brunswick and has been involved with agriculture for over 30 years.  He received a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Mount Allison University, took special courses at Nova Scotia Agricultural College in preparation for completing his M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics at the University of Guelph, and has a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics and Business from the University of Illinois.  Bruce interspersed his education with employment in primary agriculture, agribusiness, and agricultural banking.  He ran a consulting company in Nova Scotia that provided services to agriculture and other rural businesses for ten years prior to accepting the Executive Director position with CPRC.

Bruce can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 613-566-5916.  Please note that Gord Speksnijder will remain with CPRC through this transition.

New Address for the Canadian Poultry Research Council:

350 Sparks Street

Suite 1007

Ottawa, ON   K1R 7S8

On April 13, the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) published an early release of an editorial entitled “Food in Canada: Eat at your own risk.” In the editorial, available on the CMAJ website, the authors state: “Canada’s public and private sectors are not doing enough to prevent food-borne illnesses.” Among Canada’s failings are inadequate active surveillance systems, a lack of incentives to keep food safe from farm to fork and an inability to trace foods along that pathway.

As a result, more than 11 million episodes of food-related gastroenteritis occur in Canada every year, a “crude” estimate given that fewer than one in 200 cases are reported. This puts a huge cost burden on our health system: given that our population is aging and the elderly are at the greatest risk of serious health complications from food-borne illness, pressure from health advocates on our food system to be more transparent and traceable is sure to remain at the forefront. 

The editorial also points to Canada’s poor standing with respect to traceability in the “World Ranking: 2010 food safety performance” report released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. This report rated Canada’s food industries and government agencies 15th out of the 16 countries featured in the report on traceability.

But it’s not all bad news. Canada ranked number 1 when it came to food recalls and governance. So, once a contaminated food is discovered, we are good at limiting continued risk to consumers, but less vigilant about tracing its exact path throughout the food chain. With respect to produce, we have been fortunate not to have had an outbreak of the same magnitude as those recently experienced in Germany and the United States, to test just how bad – or not so bad – our existing traceability system is. 

The federal government has recognized that traceability is a key component of ensuring a safe food supply, mandating a national traceability system to be in place by 2011, although it seems doubtful that this will be achieved. The Weatherhill Inquiry focused on improving government processes. As the CMAJ editorial states, we have more inspectors, but we still lack uniform national standards or process benchmarks. 

In the Ontrace report “An Appetite for Traceability,” the result of a conference held by the not-for-profit, non-government Ontario corporation whose mandate is to champion traceability, participants overwhelmingly felt that full agri-food traceability needs to be a shared initiative between industry and government, and that industry should operate any national traceability system. The government’s role should be to oversee enforcement of the system.

And this is where one of the biggest hurdles to implementing a national system lies – in co-ordination between all sectors. Also, who is responsible for funding – government, industry, or both? The Ontrace report also pointed out that the agricultural industry needed to leverage the opportunities (such as enhanced consumer confidence, export opportunities and competitiveness) in addition to mitigating risk and controlling animal disease outbreaks, which have been the primary drivers of traceability initiatives so far.

Despite our shortcomings in traceability, Canada is still seen as a food safety leader. However, discussions among agricultural sectors and the government must ramp up and become a priority if Canada is to maintain and deserve this reputation. Let’s not let an outbreak of food-borne illness or the human health industry force us into a traceability system that hinders instead of helps progress.

Nadeau Poultry today announced that it will continue to actively pursue a solution to the chicken supply management crisis in New Brunswick through a heightened appeal to the provincial government and now the public.

"Our battle to protect a safe and secure chicken food supply in New Brunswick - and secure local jobs based on 50 years of history in the St. Francois community - is by no means over," says Yves Landry, General Manager and 34-year employee with family-owned Nadeau Poultry.

On the heels of a failed appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal, Nadeau Poultry said in a release that it will now re-focus its attention on convincing the New Brunswick government to resume regulation of the province's poultry supply management sector. The company said the provincial government has consistently maintained that they lack the legislative power to do so even though each and every other province in Canada has, in similar circumstances, upheld their supply management regulatory function in the interests of farmers, processors and ultimately, consumers.

Nadeau Poultry is reviewing the recent court decision and considering its options, including the possibility of seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Nadeau Poultry was forced to lay off almost half of its workers in 2009 when Groupe Westco, who had 80 per cent of the province's chicken, decided to divert the chickens to their Quebec-based partner for processing. This proved devastating for Nadeau Poultry, who was left without a stable alternate supply, given the amount of chicken allowed to be grown in each province is capped through a nationally controlled supply management system.

Landry says the New Brunswick government failed on three fronts. First, it allowed Groupe Westco to gain a monopoly over almost 80 per cent of New Brunswick chickens despite regulations limiting control to approximately 10 per cent of the provincial quota for any one producer. Secondly, they failed to intervene when Groupe Westco started diverting these chickens to Quebec for processing, causing the loss of 165 jobs at Nadeau and economic devastation in St. François. Finally, they have refused to implement any of the solutions used in other provinces to ensure supply management stability.

"The government has essentially abandoned the St. François community and Nadeau Poultry," says Landry, "despite the company's commitment to the community for more than 50 years."

Former Federal Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Lyle Vanclief, says the recent federal court decision and New Brunswick's refusal to stabilize supply management does not bode well for the future of supply management in New Brunswick and possibly in Canada.

"Supply management protects our domestic food security, ensuring accessibility of product at a reasonable cost and with the quality we want for our milk, poultry and other commodities," says Vanclief.

However, for the system to work, the interests of all players have to be balanced and protected, he said. "That's because supply management is like a three-legged stool - producers, processors and consumers all have to be treated fairly. When one leg is broken, there is no stability. That's what is happening in New Brunswick.

"Without supply management," adds Vanclief, "Canada could quickly become a country reliant on cheap imports that could put health, environment and Canada's food sovereignty at risk."

Nadeau proposed multiple solutions to the government that would ensure, as intended in legislation, that all processors in the province have a predictable share of New Brunswick-grown chickens. Fair allocation is an essential part of the system and is observed in supply-managed sectors in every other province.

"The recent Court of Appeal decision clearly puts the ball back in the provincial government's court," adds Landry. "And that's where it should be given that regulating supply management is a provincial responsibility."

Landry pointed out that when supply management is functioning as intended, a producer would never be able to put a processor out of business. "But that is just what Groupe Westco intended when it sent the chickens and our jobs to Quebec," says Landry. "And the New Brunswick government, as a result of inaction, is helping them do just that."

Despite the fact that at a federal level, Canada continues to stand firm on supply management, New Brunswick Premier David Alward - a staunch defender of supply management at the Doha round of talks in Hong Kong in 2005, a former Minister of Agriculture and a farmer himself - and his government have so far not responded to Nadeau's repeated requests for meetings to further discuss the supply management crisis.

Nadeau Poultry is launching a website to build awareness of the issue and its impact on New Brunswick's poultry processing sector, jobs, the long-term implications for supply management in Canada and the threat to Canada's food safety and sovereignty.

For more information, visit:

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