Meat - Broilers
With public pressure on the Dutch agricultural sector to address issues related to environmental sustainability and animal welfare, industry stakeholders came together to design a new broiler production concept called Windstreek. The concept not only addresses public concerns, but also improves economics at the farm level.
According to Statistics Canada (StatsCan), over the last several decades, the per capita consumption of animal protein in Canada has changed dramatically. Figure 1 shows the consumption of three different meats from 1980 to 2014.
September 14, 2016 - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has announced an investment of $690,000 to Éleveurs de volailles du Québec (ÉVQ) to help the Quebec poultry industry reduce the preventive use of antibiotics.

Under this project, the Poultry Research Chair at the University of Montreal's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine will assess various alternative strategies and their effects on flock performance. The latest research into anti-microbial resistance (AMR) builds on a previous project, also funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and will seek solutions that can be applied across the entire poultry industry.

This contribution has been made through the AgriInnovation Program under Growing Forward 2, a five-year, $698 million initiative.

AAFC supports the development and adoption of industry-led initiatives regarding biosecurity and animal care to support the prudent use of antimicrobials.

Pierre-Luc Leblanc, President, Les Éleveurs de volailles du Québec said in a release “the Quebec poultry industry is committed to developing cutting-edge farming methods while maintaining strict, rigorous animal welfare standards. Flock health and the quality of consumer products are top priorities. Working with the Poultry Research Chair, we are taking the necessary steps to preserve and enhance these priority areas by building on research and development."

In the poultry industry we discuss cost/profit/loss in terms of hundredths of pennies.  Those same pennies in a year equate to millions of dollars.  

Properly evaluating any input — such as breed choice, equipment or feed additives -- at the broiler level can only be done with a properly designed commercial broiler trial within your complex.

Basing decisions on data collected from another complex or research is only a part of the story.  In many cases it’s the beginning of the story, but can lead you down the wrong path for too long if not tested within your complex using your own system.

It might be tempting to follow the path of another complex, but more often than not there are nuances within your complex that will impact the end result.  Most of the time you only have part of the other complex’s success story.  You don’t have the same inputs or outputs.

A difference in live operations (inputs) and product mix (outputs) can greatly influence the profit/loss that might be generated by following the same path within your own complex.  You need to write your own story to make the best decisions for your complex.  That story is best told through a commercial trial.

The value attached to the decisions made based on the commercial trial results warrant a properly designed, communicated and executed trial.  

A properly designed trial takes as many variables out of the equation as possible, except those you are comparing.  For instance if you are testing different breeds, you want to have a farm with:

  • Identical houses in equipment and design
  • Two houses per treatment
  • Same breeder flock ages
  • Same hatchery and set date
  • Same light, ventilation, feed and water programs

If there is a variable that could have influenced your data there will always be questions and concerns regarding the validity of the trial.  The reason for at least two houses per treatment is that it allows you to choose one house from each treatment that closely mimics the other treatment in regards to mortality, morbidity and growing conditions.  This takes out more of the variables that may have occurred during the growing cycle.  Some of those variables that have been witnessed during the growing cycle are: running out of feed in one or more houses; environmental conditions; and chick quality

It is also recommended to repeat the trial or multiple trials for the same reason, but this is not always practical.  Multiple trials help make the end picture clearer.

A properly communicated trial involves including many departments within your complex in a planning discussion weeks in advance.  Having every department on board before the birds are set in the machines will result in the best outcome.  Departments that need to be involved include: breeder department; hatchery; feed mill and delivery; broiler department; live haul; processing plant; and government institutions.

Communication about the trial will help minimize one of the biggest variables to a trial -- human error.  Assign a trial point person or persons to follow the trial through the process.  All departments need to take ownership and understand the importance of the trial results.


A properly executed trial generates the quality data needed to make the right decision.  Typically the data needed is from live as well as plant performance.  To obtain accurate live data you should select a random sample of birds from one house for each treatment, as discussed previously, the day before processing.  

The weight samples should be kept separate by sex, and collected from three areas of the house: Back, Middle and Front.  Either record individual weights, or use scales with the capability to calculate the standard deviation.  Once you have your mean (average) and standard deviation for body weight (by sex), you can fill in the boxes that define the weight category cut-offs on either side of the mean (middle) weight (See image page 22).  You will need to find the appropriate number of males and females for each weight range seen in the histogram below.  In the end, you will have four males and four females that are between 1 and 2 standard deviations below the average weight, eight males and eight females that are between the average weight and 1 standard deviation below the average, etc..

These birds should be tagged and followed the following day to the plant.  At the plant the birds should be reweighed and this individual plant weight will be your live weight.  The birds should then be sent through your processing plant.  This allows for you to see what the treatments will achieve in your operation.  Typically, the carcasses would be removed from the line just before the chiller to take the variable of water uptake out of the equation.

The next step is to have a person that is well trained to debone the carcass and to collect the individual parts with the correct bird tag.  Another person will need to record the weight for each individual deboned or whole part for each tag/band number.  The data generated by your complex can then be analyzed.

Once you have the results from the well-executed trial, you can start working on the economics to help in your decision.  The economic model should help you answer questions on how the inputs you are testing influenced your bottom line.  These are some of the factors your economic model needs to consider:

  • Will the change result in more/less housing needs?
  • How did the change influence live performance? (FCR, mortality, growth rates
  • How did the change influence processing performance? (Meat quality, yield, condemdation)
  • Will the change result in updating your system? (Hatchery, feed mill, processing plant)

Take into account all the departments involved in the trial itself.  Sometimes decisions may result in a positive for one department and a negative for another department.  If you answer how each of those departments will be affected, your goal will have been met - the scenario that results in the most hundredths of pennies for your complex.

A link is provided below on how Cobb recommends performing a commercial yield trial:

March 8, 2016 - When you go to a restaurant for an expensive dinner, you expect that you’re going to get exactly what you ordered.

But what if the restaurant or its supplier substituted your sword fish for a cheaper product like tilapia and didn’t tell you? The products might be similar in taste and appearance, leaving you misled about what you really paid for.

The same problem can exist in poultry. Consumers and importers expecting to purchase fresh chicken raised by Canadian farmers could potentially be deceived into buying meat from older laying hens (called spent fowl) that are a by-product of egg production.

While birds called broiler chickens are raised for meat consumption and are the product most frequently found in meat counters, spent hens will also be processed once their egg laying productivity declines. Their meat, which can be tougher and stronger tasting, is used for processed products like soups, patties, nuggets, or deli meats.

More seriously, though, meat from spent fowl could pose a risk to someone with a severe allergy to eggs if it was improperly labelled.

Broiler meat entering Canada is subject to import controls and tariffs, but those limits don’t exist for spent fowl, resulting in a high potential for deception. And until recently, there hasn’t been a DNA test that could differentiate between the two.

It’s a problem believed to reduce the Canadian chicken industry’s contribution to the Canadian economy by an estimated $500 million annually in lost sales, jobs, and GDP contributions. Now there’s a potential solution thanks to a Canadian DNA-based analytical company called Sterisense.

Geoff Lumby is the owner and president of Sterisense.

Sterisense had already been working on DNA testing of products for grocery stores and restaurants when, in 2012, after meeting with Canadian meat processors, Lumby was asked if he thought a spent fowl test was possible.

He embarked on a successful partnership with researchers at the Natural Resources DNA Profiling and Forensics Centre (NRDPFC) at Trent University to do just that. And while the project is still being tested, the results are encouraging.

Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) and Canadian meat processors have been urging for years that the problem of mislabelled poultry meat should be addressed and are optimistic that this test could be the solution.

Lumby, Trent scientists, CFC and other industry representatives have met with federal government representatives to demonstrate their findings and are now working toward a deeper validation of the testing.

That will include working with legitimate American companies on blind samplings to ensure that the test accurately and reliably distinguishes between the two types of meat.

Yves Ruel is CFC’s Manager of Trade and Policy and says that the next challenge will be to determine how the testing is implemented.

“It’s a technology that both the industry and consumers are really interested in,” adds Lumby. “The tests will remove all risks of buying fraudulent product and give consumers added reassurance that what they’re paying for is what they’re getting.”

Water management is one of the most crucial components in a top-performing broiler flock.  Broilers have advanced to grow faster, become larger with more breast meat, eat more feed at younger ages and be far more efficient than their predecessors, increasing their demand for water.  The modern broiler house is also equipped with cooling equipment that utilizes large amounts of water during hot weather.  All this has put more emphasis on the need for ample water supply and storage so birds can perform successfully.  Chance Bryant focuses on water flow rates and water temperature – factors that sometimes get overlooked.  

How much water does a broiler need?  How much will a bird drink every day?  These questions are often asked by producers and are very appropriate in achieving high performance, as water consumption and feed consumption are highly correlated (Table 1).  In high performing flocks, at around 21 C, modern broilers on average will consume 1.8 to two times more water than feed, in weight.  Consumption is dependent on house temperature.  In hot climates, flocks can consume up to five times in weight the amount of feed they intake.

Water consumption will vary depending on environmental temperature, feed quality and bird health.  

  • Water consumption increases by six per cent for every increase in 1 C between 20-32 C.
  • Water consumption increases by five per cent for every increase in 1 C between 32-38 C.
  • Feed consumption decreases by 1.23 per cent for every increase in 1 C above 20 C

Any substantial change in water usage should be investigated as this may indicate a water leak, health challenge or feed issue.  A drop in water consumption is often the first indicator of a flock problem.

To evaluate flock performance properly we need to know how much water birds are consuming every day.  More advanced water meters record not only ‘daily’ consumption attainable, but enable an understanding of consumption at critical times of the day and critical times during the flock – both very relevant in assuring proper water intake.  

These critical times can include feed changes, turning birds out from the brood area to three quarters or full house, transitioning from power ventilation to tunnel, field vaccinations, etc.  If you monitor consumption during these periods, you can better understand if flocks are being properly managed.

Many of today’s high performance broilers are being raised in housing built for the broiler of the past.  Unfortunately these houses are undersized, with inadequate plumbing and pipe sizing that struggles to keep up with the needs of modern high-performing and fast growth rate broilers. Worsening this situation can be the demand of cool cell systems, which often require twice as much water as the birds drink.

With an inadequate plumbing system or pipe sizing water may be diverted from drinkers to the cooling system which will restrict water supply to the birds and so lower feed consumption.  Many broiler farms have multiple houses with large numbers of birds in each house.  Often, the lights come on at the same time in every house and without adequate water volume and flow rates some houses can experience a shortage of water during these high peak periods.

All of these factors can decrease weight, increase FCR, create uniformity issues and place undue stress on birds, which can lead to an unhealthy flock.

There are many options used to ensure water volume/flow will meet bird needs at high peak demand times.  Digital water meters connected to the house controller can monitor water consumption not only on a 24-hour basis but also in allotted time increments during the day.

This information can help determine if our water system is keeping up at critical ‘high demand’ times, as when the lights come on after a dark period.  Knowing this can be very helpful in tracking down performance issues on a farm, especially one with big, multi-houses.

As well as water quality and availability, the temperature of the water that birds are drinking needs to be considered.  During the first few days of brooding, consumption rates are low and the water flow through the system is minimal.  In a modern broiler house with very efficient heating systems the water temperature can easily exceed 35 C.

This water temperature is not as palatable to chicks and can lead to low intake and poor performance.  Excessively warm water can also contribute to increased bacterial growth within the drinker system which can lead to higher bacterial infection within the flock. The ideal water temperature should be around 10-14 C coming from the source.

Water consumed by the birds should never be allowed to increase above 30 C.  If this occurs the drinking system should be flushed periodically to maintain cooler, fresher water.


Water is one of the crucial aspects of broiler flock management.  Understanding and managing water in broilers — providing them with fresh, clean, ample water when they need it — will help to achieve success flock after flock.


Chance Bryant ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), is technical manager - North America west region for Cobb-Vantress.

November 20, 2015 - An egg by-product processor and a specialty breed poultry producer are amongst the recipients of this year's regional Premier Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. 

Perth County Ingredients converts the waste from egg processing (inedible egg material called slurry or spinnings) into powdered, high-protein ingredients for animal feed and pet food manufacturers. With federal and provincial assistance, an egg processing plant in Perth County was brought back to life and retrofitted to process the by-product. Equipped with high-tech dryers, a pressurized membrane system and modified centrifuge technology, the facility has brought much-needed jobs to the area and supports local egg and hatchery operations, creating value from what would otherwise be landfill. READ MORE

As Ontario's Asian population grows, so does demand for silkies. And Lakeside Game Farm is happy to supply these black-skinned, dark-fleshed chickens, named for their distinctively poofy plumage. Jim Ebert started out producing 100 chickens a week. Now he's up to 8,000, and he has contracted three more producers to supplement his own production. Customers can't get enough of the birds, which Ebert supplies the traditional way: fresh, rather than frozen, with the head and feet still on. With no sign of market saturation, Ebert has installed a new incubator to boost the hatch rate of his chicks, and he is building a state-of-the-art growing barn. He's also mentoring novice silkie producers under the Chicken Farmers of Ontario's new speciality breed program - growing a sector with plenty of untapped potential.


MEALsource, the only non-profit health care purchasing group in the province (perhaps even in the country) is working hard to get more Ontario-grown food into hospitals, long-term care and other health care facilities. The agency, based in Brantford, Ontario and part of the St. Joseph’s Health System, has an active and ongoing goal to educate processors – and everyone else in agriculture – about health care institution contracts and help bidders prepare for the Request for Proposals (RFP) process.

“There are always Ontario companies bidding for turkey contracts,” notes MEALsource contract specialist Wendy Smith. “And they are successful. The turkey folks have a good understanding of how we do business and they want a piece of it.” Smith notes that all the raw egg MEALsource contracts are currently served by Ontario companies and that there’s regular Ontario participation for cooked egg items.

However, Smith says “We are not getting nearly enough Ontario bids for raw and cooked chicken. There were no Ontario-based bids for this year’s chicken contracts at all. The only Ontario companies we have ever had bids from are Pinty’s and DND Poultry. So that means it’s coming from the U.S. or out of province, but mostly the U.S.” (See sidebar for details on 2015 poultry meat contracts. These contracts are for two years, so the next round of bidding will begin January 1st 2017. However, some fully-cooked entre contracts which include poultry meat will be up for bidding in 2016.)

MEALsource staff spend a lot of time making local connections at food shows and trade shows and giving presentations before the RFP process for a contract begins (once the RFP is posted, they can have contact with no one). “Typically a food broker or supplier will call us in, and we’ll present on the contract specifications, the reasons why they exists, the process we follow and more,” Smith says. “We’ve gone to Local Niagara, FoodShare, Greenbelt, anywhere we’re asked to go, we will go. We haven’t had any requests from a poultry company to give a presentation.”

In addition to this ongoing work with industry and food groups, MEALsource has changed RFP’s to make the playing field more level. “It started in 2010 that food origin became a concern, a legitimate concern with regard to where tax dollars are going,” Smith explains. “We were invited to participate with the Greenbelt in a project to look at the origin of MEALsource contract food products in five categories: eggs, dairy, sliced whole meats and poultry (‘protein cooked’), cheese, and ‘other refrigerated products.’ We discovered a fair bit was local, but there could be a lot more.” Over the course of the 15-month project, $670 000 of contracts were moved to local companies through finding local vendors and inviting them to participate, equating to a 15 per cent local swing in all categories.

“In 2011, we changed the RFP so that food origin must be stated,” Smith adds, “and so that in the case of a tie, the contract goes to the local vendor. The Broader Public Sector (BPS) Procurement Directive [a provincial directive put in place around that time] also requires all BPS institutions and/or their representatives running a contract process to offer the option of a debrief for bidders, where they can get feedback on the process and find out why their bids failed.” Before and after bids, MEALsource educates as much as it can. “We can’t give anyone an edge, but we can educate,” says Smith. “The international firms are very savvy, with almost an assumption that they will be successful in all their bids. It’s great to see new faces bidding. We would be happy to talk to chicken processors.”

The Ontario Independent Meat Processors (OIMP) does not have an active relationship with MEALsource, says media relations lead Heather Mahachowitz, but supports more Ontario chicken going into Ontario health care institutions. “We communicate opportunities to our members if presented to us, and they will respond directly if interested,” she explains, clarifying that OIMP members are smaller independent operations. “We do not represent companies like Maple Leaf and Lilydale, who may have better resources to respond to RFP’s.” She adds that some MEALsource contract requirements may occlude OIMP members off the bat because of things like volume, delivery or HAACCP requirements. “That said, we would still like to share the opportunity and hopefully foster some connections between our members and MEALsource,” Mahachowitz notes. “[In addition], we would be happy to run/host an information session here at our Guelph office.” Smith says she is certain that MEALsource reps have met OIMP reps at many local food events over the past four years, and that she would be happy to meet with any and all interested vendors.

Mahachowitz asks whether some institutions will only purchase from federally-inspected plants, which puts provincially-licensed plants at a competitive disadvantage. The answer from Smith is no. She says MEALsource has looked into this, and that there are no issues with bids from provincially-inspected plants. “It is a common misperception though,” she notes, “and worth addressing.”

The Association of Ontario Chicken Processors (AOCP) does not get involved in the marketing and sale of chicken, says Mike Tertstra, AOCP Executive Director. “That function is left to each individual processor,” he explains, adding however that “AOCP members purchase approximately 95 per cent of the chicken grown by Ontario farmers and welcome opportunities to provide local chicken to Ontario consumers.” Tertstra did not say whether or not he had been in contact with MEALsource in the past when asked, but stated that “If you have information that I can give to members, I would be happy to do so.”

Overall, there could be many reasons why processors in Ontario aren’t bidding on MEALsource contracts for cooked and raw chicken. It could be that they are focused on other markets, don’t have the resources to look into this sales avenue, or don’t feel it would be worthwhile. Some may not have products that are suitable. If you’re a processor inside or outside Ontario with comments on the topic, please contact us. In addition, if there is a similar agency to MEALsource in another province, please let us know.

Other local food initiatives in Ontario
Turkey Farmers of Ontario (TFO) has worked with some healthcare facilities in the province by promoting the nutritional benefits of turkey and its versatility with a variety of turkey menu features being offered. “In addition to the menu items, says TFO General Manager Janet Schlitt, “past program activities have included posters, consumer contests, on-site staff to discuss the nutritional facts of turkey, and giveaways of promotional items and recipe booklets.”


Egg Farmers of Ontario reaches out to more than 1,100 food service operators annually through personal visits to independent restaurants, meetings at restaurant chain head offices, contact at trade shows and mailings. “EFO generated 85 customized egg promotions in 264 locations last year for food service operators,” says Public Affairs Manager Bill Mitchell. “Over 100 restaurants used our point-of-purchase materials, such as table cards, posters, balloons and buttons. EFO operates an online portal Egg Chef that provides enhancements to operators participating in EFO’s food service program, while reducing production costs of the program. Operators can use the password-protected site to create customizable menus and point-of-sale material to be printed and shipped directly to their restaurants.”

Chicken Famers of Ontario is focused on meeting all Ontario chicken markets, notes CFO Director of Communications and Government Relations Michael Edmonds. “CFO has developed and launched programs to encourage farmers and processors of all sizes to seek out and support currently underserved or emerging markets,” he adds. “CFO’s recently announced ‘Artisanal Chicken’ and ‘Local Niche Market Programs’ will supplement our traditional chicken and Specialty Breeds markets and will help provide additional opportunities for those looking to grow the Ontario market for locally-grown chicken.”

The Government of Canada has announced a series of new programs and initiatives for supply-managed producers and processors to support them throughout the implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

October 5, 2015 - The Government of Canada has announced a series of new programs and initiatives for supply-managed producers and processors to support them throughout the implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Canada-EU Trade Agreement. Under both agreements, the three pillars of the supply management system will remain protected.

The following programs will be implemented:

  • The Income Guarantee Program will keep producers whole by providing 100 per cent income protection to producers for a full 10 years from the day TPP comes into force. Income support assistance will continue on a tapered basis for an additional five years, for a total of 15 years. $2.4 billion is available for this program.
  • The Quota Value Guarantee Program will protect producers against reduction in quota value when the quota is sold following the implementation of TPP. $1.5 billion has been set aside for this demand-driven program, which will be in place for 10 years.

The Government also announced two additional programs:

  • The $450 million-Processor Modernization Program will provide processors in the supply-managed value chain with support to further advance their competitiveness and growth.
  • The Market Development Initiative will assist supply-managed groups in promoting and marketing their top-quality products. To support the initiative $15 million in new funding will be added to the AgriMarketing Program. 

In addition to the long-term $4.3-billion investment outlined above, the Government will intensify on-going anti-circumvention measures that will enhance border controls. These measures include requiring certification for spent fowl, preventing importers from circumventing import quotas by adding sauce packets to chicken products, and excluding supply-managed products from the Government of Canada’s Duties Relief Program.

Cheese compositional standards, introduced by the Government of Canada in 2008, have been maintained.  The Government remains committed to ensuring they are enforced, so the standards we have for Canadian cheese are fully maintained.

The Canadian Dairy Commission and the Farm Products Council of Canada will work with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to ensure the Income Guarantee and Quota Value Guarantee programs are delivered to producers in an effective and efficient manner.  The Government will continue to work closely with dairy, poultry and egg producers and the entire supply-managed sector to implement these initiatives.

These Cabinet-approved initiatives will support producers and processors throughout the implementation period of TPP and the Canada-EU Trade Agreement.

The TPP will secure new market access opportunities for Canadian dairy, poultry and egg exports. Dairy, poultry and egg producers and processors will benefit over time from increased duty-free access to the United States and all other TPP countries. This will include complete tariff elimination on some specialty cheeses, including several artisanal cheeses, entering the United States.

Despite significant and broad demands from several of our TPP negotiating partners, Canada has offered only limited new access for supply-managed products. This access, which will be granted through quotas phased in over five years, amounts to a small fraction of Canada’s current annual production: 3.25 per cent for dairy (with a significant majority of the additional milk and butter being directed to value-added processing), 2.3 per cent for eggs, 2.1 per cent for chicken, 2 per cent for turkey and 1.5 per cent for broiler hatching eggs.

Programs for Canada’s dairy, poultry and egg farmers
The Government of Canada is providing new programs for dairy, chicken, turkey, egg and hatching egg producers as the implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Canada-European Union Trade Agreement proceeds. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will secure new market access opportunities for Canadian dairy, poultry and egg exports. Dairy, poultry and egg producers and processors will benefit over time from increased duty-free access to the United States and all other TPP countries.

The Income Guarantee Program and the Quota Value Guarantee Program have been approved by Cabinet and will be available the day the TPP comes into force.
Income Guarantee Program

What will it cover?

The Income Guarantee Program will keep producers whole by providing 100 per cent income protection to producers for 10 years. Income support assistance will continue on a tapered basis for an additional five years, for a total of 15 years. $2.4 billion is available for this program. Annual payments will be directly linked to the amount of quota a producer holds.

The Income Guarantee Program transfers with the sale of the quota, meaning that if the quota is sold at any point in the 15-year period, the remaining direct payments linked to that quota will transfer to the new quota holder.

What are the estimated payments producers will receive?

The following examples provide an estimate of the total compensation the typical producer may receive over the 15-year period. These amounts will vary by individual producer, depending on their level of production:

  • A typical dairy farm could expect to receive approximately $165,600
  • A typical chicken farm could expect to receive approximately $84,100
  • A typical turkey farm could expect to receive approximately $88,000
  • A typical egg farm could expect to receive approximately $71,500
  • A typical hatching egg farm could expect to receive approximately $191,700 

When will the program come into effect?

Annual payments will begin when TPP comes into force. There will be an application process designed to limit the administrative burden on producers which will be developed in consultation with the Canadian Dairy Commission and the Farm Products Council of Canada.

How are the income guarantee payments calculated?

The income guarantee payments will be calculated based on expected domestic production levels under conditions with TPP and the Canada-EU Trade Agreement in place.  A model will be used that takes into account detailed historic economic and farm level data, projected into the future.

Quota Value Guarantee Program

What will it cover?

The Quota Value Guarantee Program will protect producers against reduction in quota valuewhen the quota is sold following the implementation of TPP, and $1.5 billion has been set aside for this demand-driven program that will be in place for 10 years.

When will the program come into effect?

The Quota Value Guarantee will come into effect once TPP comes into force.

How will quota value be calculated?

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada along with the Canadian Dairy Commission and the Farm Products Council of Canada will work with industry to develop the appropriate mechanism to operationalize the Quota Value Guarantee Program.

Programs for Canada’s dairy, poultry and egg processors and industry

The Processor Modernization Program and Market Development Initiative will be available for agri-food processors in the supply-managed sectors.  These programs have been approved by Cabinet and will be phased in starting fiscal year 2015/16.

Processor Modernization Program

The seven-year $450-million Processor Modernization Program will provide processors with support to increase competitiveness through capital investments and technical and management capacity.

Who is eligible?

  • For-profit agri-food cooperatives and processors in the supply-managed sectors (dairy, poultry and egg), including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

What activities are eligible?

  • Purchase and installation of new equipment
  • Construction, renovation and expansion of facilities
  • Hiring of required expertise to complete the project
  • Development of new products/product lines
  • Improvement of manufacturing processes
  • Collaborative partnerships for research

What is the application process?

There will be a two-step application process:

  • A letter of intent with screening form
  • If eligible, a full application to follow

Assessment will be based on merit, feasibility and quality of business plan. Funding for activities will begin in advance of the implementation of TPP.

Market Development Initiative

The Market Development Initiative provides new funding over five years to the AgriMarketing Program to help the supply-managed sector to maintain, develop and expand their Canadian and international market share. The Initiative will add $15 million of new funding to the AgriMarketing Program.

Who is eligible?

  • Not-for-profit organizations working on behalf of supply-managed producers and processors
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises in the supply-managed sector

What activities are eligible?

  • Additional promotional campaigns and activities that position and differentiate Canadian supply-managed products
  • Marketing materials, events (e.g., attendance at trade shows) and research that supports the sale of Canadian supply-managed products

What is the application process?

  • An initial round of applications will be solicited prior to the implementation of the TPP and the Canada-EU Trade Agreement.
  • Applications will be reviewed and awarded on a competitive/merit basis
  • Eligible activities will be cost-shared on a 50/50 basis with industry


May 29, 2015 - Aviagen announced it has purchased the Morris Northstar Hatchery, in Watertown, New York. The purchase of the Morris broiler hatchery makes this the 7th commercial breeding stock hatchery for Aviagen in the US.

The Aviagen Watertown Hatchery in upstate New York lies approximately 31 miles (50 km) south of the Ontario border making it the company’s closest hatchery that will be able to serve Canadian customers.

“As demand for Aviagen breeding stock continues to grow around the world, we are always looking for ways to efficiently and effectively meet that demand,” said Kevin McDaniel, president, Aviagen North America. “With the Aviagen Watertown Hatchery, we can better serve Canadian customers and the close proximity to JFK airport makes it a logical location for exporting to other parts of the world as well.”

Aviagen plans to renovate the Watertown hatchery and equip it with the latest Jamesway Platinum Incubation Equipment. The hatchery is scheduled to come online in the first quarter of 2016 with a capacity of up to 530,000 eggs set per week. The hatchery is anticipated to employ up to 40 people.



November 20, 2014 - Chicken Farmers of Canada has announced the signing of a new allocation agreement that will see 55 per cent of future growth allocated based on provincial comparative advantage factors.

This landmark agreement has been over six years in the making. Challenges, starts & stops, and roadblocks were ever present but, at the end of the day, have been overcome through this new agreement. Negotiations were most intense from 2012 through 2014.

"The challenges over the years have been many, and have required the whole industry to pull together as a team to overcome the differences, realize the important similarities – our shared vision – and then move forward to completing this agreement," said Dave Janzen, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada. "This is great news for farmers, and indeed for the whole Canadian chicken industry as it shows, yet again, that supply management continues to evolve to changes in the marketplace."

"I am proud of us all for the efforts that have been made to ratify this new allocation agreement, and to modernize the allocation process for the coming years," said Janzen. "You have shown tenacity and perseverance in making these changes to show that supply management is indeed a modern, evolving system."

Differential growth has been a critical priority for Chicken Farmers of Canada for some time and its completion is consistent with the organization's 5-year strategic plan which calls for efforts to improve the efficiency of the value chain, while maintaining production in all provinces. Under the new agreement, all provinces will share in future growth.

The new memorandum of understanding covers the future growth and allocation process by factoring in 55 per cent of future production based on comparative advantage factors. Alberta, which had withdrawn from the federal provincial agreement last year, was the first to sign the new agreement and is launching their process at the provincial level to formally rejoin the national agency.



Heritage chickens are important for breeders and industry to protect valuable genes and traits over the long term. Heritage poultry breeds are breeds that existed prior to the 1950s and represent an important bank of genes for traits like disease resistance, unique egg and meat flavour profiles and increased stress tolerance and vigor. However, many heritage breeds are rare and increasingly threatened with extinction.

The University of Alberta’s Poultry Research Centre (PRC) has held heritage chicken strains since 1986. The rare breeds and random bred strains were partly obtained from the Agriculture Canada Research Station in Ontario and partly from Dr. Crawford’s experimental flocks at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Roy Crawford maintained these breeds as an unselected population since 1965, however, when he retired, these breeds found a new home at the PRC in Edmonton.

Like other institutions and organizations, recent budget constraints and physical space have put pressure on the PRC heritage chicken program. “There were more strains earlier on, but some difficult decisions have had to be made along the way due to space and budget concerns,” explains Dr. Valerie Carney, Adjunct Professor, Poultry Research and Extension Specialist, Alberta Agriculture & Rural Development. “Some of the original lines have been transferred to other institutions or eliminated over the past several years. The remaining heritage flocks are valuable and are like an insurance policy for industry,” says Carney. “Our current commercial lines only represent about 50 per cent of the genetic variation, so without these heritage flocks, a lot of variation would be lost. As consumer demands change or new market opportunities open, having access to the range of traits is valuable. One of the most reliable ways of preserving these heritage lines is by keeping live populations. There is research underway with cryopreservation techniques, however the methods are not yet fully reliable and should form only a portion of conservation techniques.”

Because these heritage flocks are costly to maintain and with budget cuts to provincial universities, the PRC flock came under the spotlight. PRC needed to find a creative way to cover the costs of maintaining this flock of 1,500 birds, which were costing about $75,000 per year. PRC received funding from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) to assist with a market research and development project to identify opportunities.

“We worked closely with our commercial industry partners to ensure that any strategies developed were in harmony with the commercial markets,” emphasizes Carney. “The egg industry for example has recognized that consumers would like to have a choice in the type of eggs they want to buy and have developed markets to address that choice. We were looking for creative ways to help fund the cost of keeping the birds at the same time as providing value to supporters. Our innovative “Adopt a Heritage Chicken Program” was created to do that.”

Program a Success
In 2013, the Adopt a Heritage Chicken Program was launched to promote the conservation of unique genetic lines of poultry at the University of Alberta. The program’s goal was to develop a community of supporters for the heritage chickens program. Through the five-month pilot, “Adopt a Hen’” program supporters paid $75 to adopt a hen and received local, free-run, nest-laid eggs every other week from the Plymouth Rock, Light Sussex, New Hampshire, White Leghorn and Brown Leghorn flocks. The pilot project, which started with 200 supporters and another 600 on the waiting list, was very successful and has been expanded in 2014.

“We conducted a survey of our supporters to find out the main reasons they were interested in adopting a hen,” explains Carney. “Over 80 per cent said they wanted to support the heritage stocks. Other top reasons were knowing where their eggs came from and supporting locally grown food sources.” The program has expanded in 2014 to 400 supporters, with another 400 on a waiting list. About 80 per cent of the original 200 supporters returned in 2014. The duration of the program has been extended to 10 months. Supporters pay $150 to adopt a hen and they receive a dozen eggs every other week.

“The biggest win for the program is it has allowed us to engage with an audience that we would never likely be able to connect with otherwise,” says Carney. “We have built a relationship with our supporters and have their trust. It has enabled us to engage them in learning about commercial egg and poultry production and to understand what it means to raise chickens. What started as a money recovery project has really turned into a community outreach program.”

For their 2014 PRC annual meeting, PRC expanded the invitation to include the Heritage Chicken program supporters to participate in “the science behind the henhouse doors” day. Carney notes that supporters come to the university regularly to pick up their eggs. However, because of biosecurity requirements, they are not allowed to come into the unit. This raises a lot of questions, so the day was a way to engage with supporters and help them understand how much science goes into the poultry industry. PRC researchers gave presentations and graduate students presented posters. In 2014, a new component was added where supporters were able to buy chicks hatched from the program. In collaboration with Peavey Mart at three locations near Edmonton, 300 chicks were sold to supporters. “The program was a huge success and we expect to continue,” says Carney. “With the whole movement to urban poultry production, this has given us an opportunity to educate people about backyard poultry biosecurity, practical production care and best practices. The chicks had to be pre-ordered and supporters had to agree to the terms and conditions of the program. When they picked up their chicks at the store, researchers and students were there to provide more information and answer questions.”

The PRC Student Club members have also been very involved in the project and are interested in becoming more engaged with the PRC. “One of the things we are considering is to develop ‘student-led agriculture’ where university students can become more actively engaged in managing these breeding programs,” explains Carney. “This would allow students to gain hands-on training with the birds. We hope to move forward on this concept and are working on some funding strategies.”

At the recent Poultry Science Association Annual Meeting in the U.S., Carney gave a presentation on the Adopt a Heritage Chicken program and received a lot of interest from other Canadian and U.S. universities and institutions. “We are working on funding to develop a package that would assist other institutions start a similar program,” explains Carney. “We have put a lot of effort into developing this program with the blessing of our commercial industry and learned a lot of things along the way that would be valuable to others. We believe it can be a sustainable and collaborative strategy to maintain our heritage flocks at the same time as engaging with community and increasing the understanding of our commercial poultry industry.”


For more information on the program, visit:





September 17, 2014 - Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) has given final approval to its new Specialty Breeds Chicken program. The program was designed to support the increasing Ontario consumer demand for alternative breeds of chicken, and CFO says it will "create exciting opportunities for the specialty chicken value chain", which includes hatcheries, farmers, distributors and retailers of specialty breeds of chicken. 

CFO's Specialty Breeds Chicken program was developed to bring Ontario into alignment with the national Chicken Farmers of Canada specialty breeds policy.  The new program specifies that two common breeds of specialty chicken will now be included under this program: Frey's Special Dual Purpose chickens and Silkie chicken. These breeds are processed with "head and feet on" and are popular with many of Ontario's growing ethnocultural consumer communities.

CFO chair Henry Zantingh said in a release that the program will "provide a significant growth opportunity for the Ontario chicken industry" and meet the growing demand for different types of chicken from Ontario's changing demographics.

Although Silkies and Frey's Special Dual Purpose chicken breeds have been available for sale in Ontario for some time, CFO president and CEO Rob Dougans noted that the market for these products has been underdeveloped. 

Under the new system, those interested in becoming a specialty breeds chicken farmer will submit an application to CFO for the opportunity to grow a certain allotment of chicken.   Farmers and processors and other value chain partners involved in marketing specialty breeds chicken will receive the benefits of operating under a new regulated system.

Those interested in participating in the program must be a Canadian citizen and permanent resident of Ontario and be the beneficial owner of lands and buildings suitable for the production of specialty breeds of chicken. If an applicant is approved requires time to build such a facility, they have a period of 12 months from the date their application is approved to complete the construction and as an interim measure, may produce specialty chicken in a non-owned facility that meets CFO policy and regulations.

Approved applicants will become farmer-members of CFO.  Applicants can include those interested in growing designated specialty breeds of chicken; those already growing specialty breeds of chicken who are interested in becoming a farmer-member of Chicken Farmers of Ontario; and existing farmer-members who are currently growing designated specialty breeds of chicken breeds or who are interested in growing these breeds of chicken.

CFO will be holding information briefing sessions for individual farmers and industry value chain participants in communities across Ontario in the near future and applications for growing specialty breed chicken are now being accepted for 2015.

For more information on the application process, please visit



With Canada’s Muslim community forecasted to triple by 2031 plus a growing demand by non-Muslims for halal foods, food industry observers predict this to be a bright spot in Canada’s meat market.

Statistics Canada reports that in 2011 about one million Muslim-Canadians made up 3.2 per cent of Canada’s population; making it the fastest-growing religion in Canada.

According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the market value for halal food products in Canada today is estimated to be about $1 billion. For those unaware, halal foods are foods that observant Muslims are allowed to eat or drink under Islamic dietary law. The criteria specify both what foods are allowed, and how the food must be slaughtered and prepared. Halal addresses mostly meats and meat by-products of which a significant portion is poultry. Over 30 federally inspected plants in addition to provincial plants offer halal slaughter in Canada.  

Halal products are appealing to non-Muslims too.  In many countries, halal products are not seen as a religious product but as a product of higher quality with consumption becoming more commonplace amongst non-Islamic demographics. According to Canadian Grocer Magazine, “the concept of halal has extended far beyond a religious choice, also attracting consumers who are environmentally conscious [and] health conscious.” The magazine explains that, “Halal is perceived to be a more humane and ecological way of processing meat, resulting in a perception that the product is also of higher quality, safer and cleaner.”  

In the U.K. for example, halal meat makes up 11 per cent of all meat sales, compared to a UK Muslim population of just 3 per cent. According to other market research reports, in Russia only 25 per cent of halal meat consumers are Muslim.

As Canadian retailers seek to cater to the growing demand, halal products are becoming more widely available. At one time, halal food products could only be found in specialty stores in large urban centres, but this is starting to change. More large retailers, such as Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro and Wal-Mart are starting to carry halal poultry products in select locations.  Much in the same way as specialty eggs and organic products were first introduced by retail chains, halal poultry products are slowly gaining space in the meat counter. Unlike specialty eggs and organic however, halal does not require any different growing practices by the conventional poultry producer.

A recent visit to a Toronto Loblaws Super Store found a selection of fresh halal chicken from whole chicken to skinless and boneless pieces as well as processed products including chicken hot dogs, chicken bacon and chicken bologna.  All were locally processed. All were priced comparably to other specialty chicken lines. All were labelled certified.

And halal goes beyond the grocery store. A website search finds more than 300 halal restaurants in Toronto and 250 in Montreal alone. These include popular fast food chains and even Asian, Portuguese, and Italian cuisine.  

Sargent Farms, which is Canada’s only plant devoted 100 per cent to hand-slaughtered halal chicken, specializes in the food service trade. According to company sales manager Gary Roffel, customers are willing to pay a premium for their traditional hand slaughtered chicken.  But it’s not who you might think. Roffel referred to a recent survey the company has undertaken saying, “I was surprised to learn that it’s the younger generation that is most interested in purchasing our hand slaughtered products (vs mechanical halal slaughter) not the older, more traditional generation as one might expect.”  The company is now beginning to supply traditional supermarket chains, and while he wasn’t able to confirm a growing demand by non-Muslims, Roffel did agree that domestic demand could support a wider market.     

In recognition of the growing market, Ottawa announced tighter rules for halal label claims this past April. Halal claims on food labels, packaging or advertising material must now include the name of the certifying body. “This will provide consumers with assurances that the food meets a certifying body’s standard,” the government said in a press release, “and will allow them to obtain specific information about the standards the food has met.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) won’t be establishing federal standards for what can be labelled as halal, nor will it establish requirements for becoming a halal certifying body. That will be left to the Muslim community to sort out.  But all recognize the importance of this enforceable labelling change. “Potential benefits include increased consumer confidence in halal-labelled products, fewer consumer complaints, increased demand for halal-claimed food products and increased demand for certifying services provided by halal certifying bodies,” the CFIA said.  

Those within the community agree. Omar Subedar serves as the secretary general and official spokesperson of the Halal Monitoring Authority, (one of several certifying bodies). He says that the inability of meat processors to meet the rising demand for halal meat, coupled with a lack of oversight, had opened the door for exploitation.  He recently told the Toronto Star that the new labelling laws will help protect and inform consumers and help give them confidence when purchasing labelled foods.

At Eastern Halal Meat in Toronto shoppers tend to agree. Amin travels weekly to the shop because he trusts the sourcing of their products. He was unaware of the recent change to the labelling law but welcomed it, saying it may encourage him to buy his meat at a more conveniently located supermarket chain.   “I am willing to pay more, but only if I can be certain that I am getting what I am paying for,” he said.

While The Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Association and the Chicken Farmers of Canada were not able to provide specific market data, Pam Kellogg, vice-president of marketing at Maple Leaf Foods, has previously said retail sales growth for halal is outstripping other market segments.  She cites Nielsen sales volume figures that show the halal segment of fresh chicken is growing at six per cent per year, which is greater than the total fresh chicken growth at one per cent.

In 2012 Maple Leaf Foods launched Mina, a line of certified hand-slaughtered chicken. The fresh line currently offers six varieties. Then in 2013 the company added several frozen products including chicken strips and a whole frozen turkey. Kellogg explained to Canadian Grocer Magazine that: “Only a small portion of halal shoppers [buy] halal chicken at traditional grocery and mass stores because it’s difficult to find halal offerings that are zabeeha by hand,” referring to the slaughtering process. “Offering products such as Mina is an easy way to attract and retain an influential consumer population that’s seeking a trusted halal product in a convenient way,” she said.

Halal food certification is increasingly sought for Western-influenced meat products too.  Products including sausages, luncheon meats, canned, chilled and frozen chicken, turkey and beef products and ready meals are becoming available. These offerings are in keeping with a 2005 Canadian consumer survey that found that half of the participants reported purchasing ready-made meals, and the majority wanted to see an increased availability of processed meats.

Although not nearly as many halal-certified products are launched in North America compared to the UK and elsewhere, there is still a small but blossoming market in Canada. The Halal Foodie blog regularly reports on new products. And the market has even matured enough to warrant its own annual food show attracting over 30,000 visitors a year in the past two years. The Halal Food Fest is designed to link halal suppliers with restaurants, retailers and consumers.

The export market is also seen to be an important one for Canadian food makers. Maple Lodge Farms, a federally registered facility, has been shipping its prepared halal products to the Middle East and Southern Asia for years. This is ahead of Canada’s cattle industry which is just now looking at halal export potential with more serious interest.

With consumer demand for halal meats predicted to grow substantially both within and outside Canada, together with stronger consumer interest in halal certified prepared foods, Canadian retailers and food service outlets are responding. Canada’s poultry sector has an opportunity to capitalize too.



Oct. 16, 2013 - With the closing of Ontario's Chai Poultry earlier this year, only one Canadian kosher chicken processor was left in all of Canada. But, with increasing demand for kosher chicken every year, any processor would find it extremely difficult to keep up.

According to the National Post (, the owner of Chai looked for five years to find a suitable Jewish company to buy his plant and quota, but when none appeared, he sold the 25-year-old to Sargent Farms, a Halal company.

Richard Rabkin, the director of marketing and business development for the Kashruth Council of Canada (known as COR), a non-profit kosher certification agency, said that the closure left the Montreal-based Marvid to meet the demand. "Initially, Marvid made its best efforts to meet the increased demand, and they worked very hard to ramp up their production," said Rabkin. "But at the end of the day, they are simply not able to provide the amount of kosher chickens that kosher consumers are demanding."

Because Chai supplied approximately 2.5 million kosher chickens per year to Ontario and the surrounding areas, and Marvid cannot currently meet the demand, prices are steadily climbing and customers are complaining that shelves are bare. COR has received complaints from other groups as well. "Retailers themselves have complained to me that they are not getting the product they ordered, the right cuts on the right schedule," adds Rabkin. "And we are receiving the same complaints from kosher restaurants, caterers, hospitals, retirement homes – all saying that they are not the right either quantity, cut, specification, etc."

He has also received complaints that the shortage is affecting the ability to find specific cuts of chicken, such as thighs, which is causing people to look elsewhere for kosher chicken products. "There definitely is a need right now for more kosher chicken in the greater Ontario community."

As it stands

Rabkin says that consumers should be aware that people are working on a resolution to the problem, especially the Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) and the Association of Chicken Processors (AOCP).

In mid-September 2013, the CFO approached the Chicken Farmers of Canada with a request to grow more chickens to help meet the demand, as well as classify kosher chicken as "specialty" chicken. However, both requests were denied.

"Our hope right now is that right now, as we work together with the AOCP and CFO, that we will be able to present a compelling case to the CFC in the hopes that we'll come out with a more favourable decision."

While the problem has yet to be solved, the AOCP have provided a temporary solution. They have provided the company Perl's, a kosher wholesale manufacturer in Toronto, with a supply of chicken over four quota periods. But it is only a short-term solution at best, said Rabkin.

"I think the ideal solution would be for the CFC to grant kosher as a specialty exemption in the quota system. That way, the barrier to entry for kosher processors would be lifted, and that way, potential kosher poultry processors would be able to step forward and commence operation."
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