By Dan Woolley
Working towards self-sufficiency...
By Dan Woolley
Nova Scotia broiler producer Nick de Graaf passed several significant milestones in 2008.
First, he bought out his father’s share in the Annapolis Valley poultry farm founded by his Dutch grandfather in the early 1960s in Kings County, Nova Scotia, between Canning and Port Williams.
Next, Nick bought more quota, increasing his flock production by 196,000 birds annually. This came just three years after the de Graafs bought additional quota in 2005, increasing their flock production by 102,000 birds per year. “We grow 660,000 chickens per year and we also grow 67,000 turkeys per year,” says Nick.
He ships his birds to the Sunnymel poultry processing plant in Clair, Northern New Brunswick.
Nick’s poultry production is audited for four food safety and animal welfare programs. For his broilers, this includes the Chicken Farmers of Canada’s (CFC) On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program (OFFSAP) and CFC’s Animal Care Program. He also follows two similar programs for his turkey production.
Lastly, in 2008 he also built a feed mill to process poultry rations from his crops.
He grows wheat, primarily for straw bedding for his flocks and he is 100 per cent self-sufficient in corn cultivation.
Nick owns 700 acres of arable land and he also crops an additional 900 acres in scattered parcels across Kings County.
He only grows 65 per cent of the soybeans he uses in his rations as he doesn’t yet have enough acreage for soybean self-sufficiency. However, he is looking for more land.
Nick graduated in 1998 from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, now the Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus with a B.Sc. in Agricultural Economics and four years later, in 2002, he became financially involved in the family farm.
Nick is now a director on both the Chicken Farmers of Nova Scotia and the Turkey Farmers of Nova Scotia marketing boards. To date, he has served seven years on the chicken marketing board and two years on the turkey board. He is also a past-president of the Kings county Federation of Agriculture.
He and his wife, Trudy, have three children. Their eldest daughter, Malorie, is married with two children of her own.
Their next daughter, Vanessa, is 16 and their son, Tyler, is 14.
Vanessa plans to attend Dalhousie University’s Agricultural Campus and seems interested in farming after graduation, de Graaf says.
At age 40 he has not yet begun farm succession planning.
Off-farm recreational interests of the de Graaf family include travel and de Graaf says he and his two youngest children enjoy the shooting sports of trap and skeet.