Profiles

Third generation poultry farmer Don Sundgaard says when it comes to succession, be patient, encourage off-farm experiences and welcome both formal and informal discussions.
Do you know a standout up-and-coming producer, vet, researcher, industry member or advocate in the Canadian Poultry industry? Canadian Poultry magazine’s Who’s Who issue is released every July with the goal of shining a light on stand-out members of the Canadian poultry industry.The theme for the 2018 Who’s Who issue is up-and-comers and we want your help in finding the best candidates.Nominate rising stars today to potentially have them recognized in our Who's Who issue this summer!
January 15, 2018, Sheffield Mills, N.S. - Dozens of eagles dot the branches of tall trees overlooking a snow-covered Nova Scotia farm field, a bitter wind cutting through their wings as they take turns leaving their perches to swoop through blue skies.A photographer snaps a photo from the edge of the quiet country road in Sheffield Mills, where roughly 150 eagles and other birds of prey convene to take advantage of the region's chicken farms, of which there are dozens.The rural farming community, located roughly 100 kilometres northwest of Halifax, has become a destination for shutterbugs, wildlife enthusiasts and tourists looking to take in the impressive sight.``The birds are gigantic and beautiful,'' said Megan Hodges, a member of the Sheffield Mills Community Association and a local councillor.``They really don't congregate like this in many other places, in Canada or the world, so it's very cool that they are here. They're so healthy and happy and inspiring.''Michael Gautreau, a local resident and member of the organizing committee for an annual bird watching festival, says it's the largest eagle population in eastern North America.Every day between late December and late March, resident Malcolm Lake picks up a bin full of chicken carcasses - left for him by area farmers - and brings the scraps to the field.He then flings them across the ground, far enough away from the corner of Bains and Middle Dyke roads so that the eagles are not disturbed by humans during their meal.The feedings - of which there are two or three per day - are one reason the eagles are drawn to the region, as well as the Annapolis Valley's slightly milder climate, which motivates birds from places like windswept Cape Breton to migrate there during the winter months.``Many years ago, all the farmers used to just chuck out the chicken scraps on their property, so there was all sorts of availability. That stopped largely because of scares of bird flu,'' said Lake, who moved to Sheffield Mills about six years ago.Feeding the eagles during the winter is a tradition that goes back decades, and one marked each year by the Sheffield Mills Eagles Watch, which throws the annual festival.This year's event, the 27th annual, is being held over two weekends - on Jan. 27 and 28 and on Feb. 3 and 4.More than 1,000 people from across Canada and the U.S. descend upon the sleepy countryside each year for the event, braving chilly temperatures to watch the majestic birds in flight, screeching as they snatch up the free food - sometimes clashing with each other over the scraps.``We're always praying to the weather gods that they will send us clear, cold weekends. The eagles love it when it's cold and they're really active at that time,'' said Hodges on the edge of the field, as eagles floated through the air behind her.Pancakes made with locally-sourced ingredients are served each morning of the event at the historic Sheffield Mills Community Hall, a century-old two-room schoolhouse.New to this year's festival is a partnership between the community association and the Glooscap First Nation, located roughly 35 kilometres southeast of Sheffield Mills.An eagle watch kickoff party dubbed ``Kitpu'' - the Mi'kmaq word for eagle - will be held at the community hall on the evening of Jan. 26, with local food, wine and entertainment, including the Eastern Eagle Drummers. Trevor Gould of Glooscap First Nation will be outdoors by a bonfire spouting Glooscap legends and lore.The birds are fed around 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. each day of the event.Gautreau noted that a common misconception is that chickens are being sacrificed to feed the eagles, but they're only fed the scraps that are leftover after processing.``They would scavenge for that no matter what, so we're just feeding them when the ground is snow-covered so they don't have to hunt,'' said Gautreau. ``It's a tradition and the eagles love it.''
January 3, 2018, Cambridge, Ont. – Canadian incubator company Jamesway was a key contributor to an innovative new hatchery in Guatemala. Incubadora Regional in the municipality of Escuintla opened its new hatchery last month. The facility will have an output of 362,880 eggs per week and, most notably, will be totally solar powered. Roberto Ordonez, owner of the family operated business, welcomed guests to the hatchery’s grand opening and proudly displayed the solar panels and Jamesway machines. In a press release, Jesus Campa, sales manager for Jamesway’s Latin American region, said, “This is a special project and we are really happy to be involved with it.” The facility includes 2,000 m2 of solar cells, which are anticipated to produce 100% of the hatchery’s electrical needs.
In March of this year, the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) released its new code of practice for layers. The code calls for producers to phase out conventional cage systems over the next 15 years. For many producers, this will mean big change at the farm level. In preparation, Canadian Poultry has gathered the stories of three Canadian egg producers who’ve already made the transition.
October 24, 2017, Debert, N.S. – Vandals have destroyed a beloved, five-metre-tall sculpture of a bear, a Nova Scotia farmer's annual tradition promoting his family's poultry and pumpkin farms.Blake Jennings, who has fashioned a bear out of hay every fall for 14 years, said he awoke Tuesday to discover this year's sculpture had been burned overnight.``A ridiculous amount of people are contacting me to say how much it means to them and their children,'' he said. ``Everybody is so upset, and their kids are upset.''He posted photos to his Facebook showing the happy-looking teddy bear had been turned into a blackened, smoking ruin.Jennings' younger sister, who has special needs, is among those devastated by the vandalism.``My little sister – that's her pride and joy. She would name it every year after her favourite stuffed animal,'' he told Global News. `` She was quite upset this morning to find out someone burned it.''The bear was still sitting in its place in the middle of a field Monday night when he came home from delivering pumpkins at around 9 p.m. By 6 a.m. when he woke up, he could smell smoke.``My cousin texted me and told me, 'Someone burned your bear,''' he said. ``Because I had smelled smoke, it immediately dawned on me that I had been smelling burning hay.''Based on the tire tracks in the field, Jennings believes whoever started the fire came on a four-wheeler and attempted to leave quickly.Jennings has filed a report with police but says he knows there isn't much they can do.Meanwhile, he said he plans to keep the tradition alive next year.``I'll just keep putting it up every year, but it sucks how someone could be so disrespectful,'' he said.``There are a lot of families looking forward to taking their pictures in front of it. I've put a lot of effort in it for many years for the families coming to buy pumpkins. Last year, I left it up all through Christmas and decorated it and everything.''He was also upset at how dangerous the arson was, saying the ditches around the field are currently filled with dead grass, and conditions have been dry.
Dalaine FarmSector - BroilersLocation - Shakespeare, Ont.
Archer's Poultry Farm Ltd.Sector - Layer, hatcheryLocation - Trenton, Ont.
In September 2014, A&W Foodservices of Canada announced itself as the first national quick service restaurant chain in North America to serve eggs from hens fed a vegetarian diet. A month later, the chain became the first in North America to serve chicken Raised Without the use of Antibiotics (RWA). In terms of the response to the chicken and egg campaigns, Susan Senecal, the chain’s chief marketing officer at the time and now president and chief operating officer, stated in late 2014 that, “Canadians are voting with their stomachs and the response has been fabulous.”
January 9, 2018, Delft, Netherlands – Another global retail giant has come out with new chicken policies.
For recent university graduates and soon-to-be graduates who are eager to begin a career that makes a positive difference in the world of agriculture, Alltech’s new program could be a perfect fit.
Wetaskiwin, Alta. – As more poultry farms across Canada and the U.S. make the shift to antibiotic-free (ABF) production, a growing body of industry examples points to feed and nutrition as a critical factor in success.“Whether you are talking about health and welfare, performance and profitability, or quality and safety – the area of feed and nutrition is an important nexus point,” says Dr. Nancy Fischer, poultry nutritionist at Country Junction Feeds, an antibiotic-free feed manufacturer serving customers and partners across Canada and the U.S. “Feed and nutrition connects and strongly influences each of these outcomes. As a result, it is one of the most powerful tools to support successful ABF production.”There’s no silver bullet to achieving a sustainable ABF operation, she says. “You have to be an attentive manager and you have to be prepared to make some changes.” But in working with numerous operations and industry partners over the past several years, the Country Junction Feeds team has found that taking the time to develop a more sophisticated approach to feed and nutrition can go a long way to ensuring a positive transition. “It’s a big piece of the puzzle.”Big piece of the puzzleFor one thing, transparency and verification requirements are getting tighter, says Fischer. To meet new retailer and food company branded program standards, operations increasingly will need not only to prove no antibiotics use on-farm, but also to prove that feed is sourced from antibiotic-free feed mills. Country Junction Feeds is the first large-scale feed manufacturer in Western Canada, and one of the first in Canada and the U.S., to achieve verified antibiotic-free status for its facilities.In addition, shifting away from antimicrobial use means operations need effective diversified approaches to support animal health and welfare as well as performance. With advances in science, knowledge, technology, sourcing and bio-based additives, poultry operations now have a much wider portfolio of resources and strategies to draw upon. “The reality today is that you can get a lot more value and benefits out of feed than you did in the past. We have seen many advances over the past few years. It’s just a matter of taking advantage of them.”Shift to greater precision, customizationAlong with the spike in demand for ABF feed sourcing, among successful ABF operations Fischer and colleagues have observed a strong drive toward more individualized nutrition plans and greater use of the latest generation feed additives. Specifically, bio-based products that can get more out of feed and play a role as antibiotic-alternatives by supporting animal health and welfare along with performance. Top examples include pre- and pro-biotics and multi-functional enzyme formulations.“Precision is one of the keys,” says Fischer. “For example, we’re finding that even small tweaks to the types of protein used and protein levels can make a big difference for gut health. Additives can do a range of things from boosting nutrition density and supporting health to reducing stress. The key is to look at the feed sources and dietary strategies as a whole, and link that to the specific needs of the birds in a particular environment and production system. Getting an overall updated analysis done by a trusted advisor is a good starting point.”Anchoring an integrated strategyImprovements to feed and nutrition approaches can help anchor an integrated strategy supporting ABF production. Additional key measures include use of vaccines, enhancement of barns with improved circulation and temperatures controls, housing with more space, stringent disinfecting and cleanliness protocols, strict biosecurity measures, improved water quality and enhanced monitoring. Further essential measures include training programs and education efforts for producers and service technicians, along with strengthened veterinary relationships and oversight.Operations also need plans in place to allow for antimicrobial use when needed, says Fischer. “Even if you’re doing everything right to minimize the need for antibiotics, no system is bulletproof. Birds sometimes get sick and treating illness is a responsible part of animal care. When this happens producers can work with animal health experts and veterinarians to determine if an antibiotic is needed. For cases where antibiotic use disqualifies the birds from an ABF market, it's important to have a ‘Plan B’ in place to direct those birds to a different market.”Driving innovationBased on the examples Country Junction Feeds has observed, producers who combine these approaches have an excellent framework for achieving ABF while maintaining competitive performance, says Fischer. “The added bonus is that by taking a stronger hands-on approach to management – often you can see better results on all outcomes compared to a traditional system.”This stems from greater management attentiveness, as well as from upgrading areas such as feed and nutrition that may have been taken for granted. “With the right approaches, typically what we hear from our customers is there are much fewer health issues and the results are better than ever.”Any type of operation can benefit, she says. “Ultimately it’s about innovation. Anything you can do to get better is going to make it easier to farm more efficiently and more profitably. Improvements will also help poultry operations qualify for new programs coming down the pike from retailers and food companies. People make the difference. If you’re committed and willing to put in the work, that work will pay off whether you are ABF or conventional.”
January 19, 2018, Kelowna, B.C. – As a leading Canadian expert in sustainability, Dr. Nathan Pelletier has been awarded a prestigious Industrial Research Chair by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The award will advance Pelletier's research activities focused on sustainability measurement and management, life-cycle thinking and resource efficiency, with a focus on the Canadian egg industry.Pelletier has collaborated with Egg Farmers of Canada since 2016 as their Research Chair in Sustainability, exploring opportunities to improve resource efficiencies and reduce the environmental impact of egg supply chains."Food systems sustainability is a subject of increasing importance. Egg Farmers of Canada strives to promote innovation and the continuous improvement of egg production through the latest scientific research," Tim Lambert, CEO of Egg Farmers of Canada, said in a press release. "Dr. Pelletier's work helps us understand the link between environmental sustainability and egg production, while developing processes and technologies with environmental and social impacts in mind."Only a handful of researchers are awarded an Industrial Research Chair from NSERC each year, making it a great honour for Pelletier. NSERC's support will allow for Pelletier to grow his research program as the first-ever NSERC/Egg Farmers of Canada Industrial Research Chair in Sustainability."NSERC's Industrial Research Chair program provides for dynamic R&D collaborations between Canada's brain trust and partners. "We are proud to support this Chair, which is developing the knowledge and supporting innovation necessary to advance the success of the sector and improve the sustainability of that production," said Marc Fortin, VP, Research Partnerships at NSERC. "The results this team will deliver could have broad benefits across Canada."Local MP Stephen Fuhr also wanted to highlight the significance of the partnership and the good work coming out of UBC Okanagan, saying, "Food systems and sustainability are two topics that are very important to our government. We know that partnerships like the one between UBC Okanagan's Dr. Nathan Pelletier and Egg Farmers of Canada, supported by organizations like NSERC, lead to discoveries that benefit all Canadians"."Pelletier is an assistant professor at UBC's Okanagan campus, working in both the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences and the campus' Faculty of Management. He has spent roughly a decade researching the science of sustainability, with a focus on food systems."I am passionate about the development of food systems that are environmentally sustainable, economically viable and that contribute to our health and well-being," Pelletier said. "Achieving this in modern food systems requires considering food supply chains in their entirety, from the beginning of production to the consumer's end use of a product – in other words, a truly holistic evaluation of sustainability risks and opportunities.""We are very proud that Dr. Pelletier is doing his innovative work at UBC Okanagan," Phil Barker, Vice-Principal and Associate Vice-President, Research at UBC's Okanagan campus, said. "His insights on sustainability and agriculture are benefiting industry, our community and the environment. This cutting edge and relevant research will have direct impacts on our region and also on global production methods. "Dr. Pelletier's work is a wonderful example of the outstanding and impactful research performed at UBC's Okanagan campus."
The Five Freedoms of animal welfare outline five areas of handling and care that have guided animal husbandry since their formalization in 1979. They were first written to include: the freedom from hunger or thirst; discomfort; pain, injury or disease; the freedom to express normal behaviour; and freedom from fear or distress.
Dr. Gregoy Bédécarrats, professor at the University of Guelph, Canada is the 2017 Novus Outstanding Teaching Award recipient. A successful academic career, innovative research and his dedication to encouraging the next generation of poultry scientists make Novus proud to honor Bédécarrats.Part of Novus’s goal to help cultivate sustainable animal agriculture is the encouragement of young people to succeed in the industry. Each year, Novus honors those who exhibit excellence in research, teaching and their contributions to poultry science at the Poultry Science Association annual meeting.“Receiving the Novus Teaching award at this year’s PSA meeting is a true honor. From being a student myself to my academic appointment, I had the opportunity to meet exceptional people who helped carve my teaching style, serve as mentors and be inspirational,” said Bédécarrats.He got his start in poultry science as a master’s student at the University of Rennes, France where he studied the effect of prolactin on incubation behavior in turkey hens. He continued his studies in poultry science pursuing his doctorate at McGill University. After three years of a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard Medical School, Bédécarrats joined the department of Animal Biosciences at the University of Guelph. He points to a great support system and industry partnership when reflecting on his success.“In particular, this achievement would not have been possible without the help of late Professor John Walton (University of Guelph) who made me understand the value of engagement in undergraduate teaching, and Dr. Donald McQueen Shaver who helped me connect the dots between research, education and the poultry industry. Constant engagement and exchange between these three pillars is key to success and, thanks to the support of Novus International, this is a reality for many students and industry partners,” said Bédécarrats.In addition to his research pursuits, Bédécarrats is also actively involved in undergraduate teaching and curriculum development, review and improvement. Bédécarrats works with both graduate and undergraduate students and does his best to support their interests and future endeavors. Bédécarrats encourages students, at any level, to attend at least one international science meeting per year, present their work often and get published as much as possible. “Dr. B is the best professor ever. He explains content clearly and with a sense of humor that actually helps a lot of us understand the complicated concepts and makes sure you know what’s important for your future work,” one student posted online. Most of Bédécarrats’ students have moved on to higher education and many have advanced into significant positions in the livestock industry. Bédécarrats is also the co-creator of the University of Guelph Poultry Club, which is an organization developed to expose students to the poultry studies and promote interactions within the industry.Bédécarrats is also passionate about improving reproductive efficiency in poultry and finding a better balance between production parameters, health, animal welfare and the environment. One of Dr. Bédécarrats’ biggest accomplishments has been the development of an innovative LED, known as AgriLux™, based on the discovery that different lighting sources had different effects on laying hens and that chickens find the red spectrum more favorable. This product intends to increase egg production in hens using the light without increasing their feed consumption, as a helpful tool for producers.Bédécarrats has proven to be an innovator in research and teaching and will continue to push himself and his students to make advancements in the field.“Above all, my utmost gratitude goes to my wife and children who have sacrificed countless hours of family time while I pursue my dream and goals,” said Bédécarrats.
August 2, 2017, Alberta - As a child, poultry researcher Sasha van der Klein didn’t beg her parents for a puppy, but for pet chickens. By eventually fulfilling her request, her parents put her solidly on the path that has led to a Vanier Scholarship, Canada’s most prestigious award for PhD students.Van der Klein’s award is one of 10 Vaniers earned by University of Alberta students for 2017, and the only one for the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, where she is studying under the supervision of Martin Zuidhof, an expert in poultry precision feeding.Her thesis is investigating how day length during the rearing period of broiler breeders and controlling their body weight affects their reproductive success and nesting behaviour.“When you give them too much light, it prevents the birds from becoming sexually mature and laying eggs in the year they are hatched,” said van der Klein.Broiler breeders, the parents of the meat-type chicken, have to get short day lengths when they grow up, to mimic the winter season, just as most birds get in nature, she said.“This helps the chances of survival of the offspring—it’s essential for the offspring to be hatched in favourable conditions. In nature, the parents sexually mature in spring, and that increases the chicks’ chance to survive. The cue is day length, as winter days are shorter than summer days.”By answering such questions as how long the hens who had light controls during rearing look for a nest, how long they sit on the nest, and how many eggs they finally produce, she hopes to offer the poultry industry solutions for an array of concerns. These include the high percentage of unusable floor eggs broiler breeders are prone to lay, the poor overall productivity of broiler breeder hens, and also how producers can be most efficient with feed.Vanier Scholarships are worth $50,000 per year for three years and are difficult to attain because selection criteria includes not just a student’s academic excellence and the research potential of their project, but also the leadership the students demonstrate in their community or academic life.Although van der Klein is an international student who moved from the Netherlands to pursue her PhD at the University of Alberta, she quickly became immersed in assisting with complex student affairs on campus. For the past two years, she has been the vice-president of labour for the Graduate Students’ Association, assisting graduate students with compliance issues in their research or teaching assistant contracts. This year, she will be negotiating a new collective agreement for graduate students at the university.The Vanier Scholarship definitely relieves some of the many challenges a PhD student must cope with, and that’s especially welcome when a thesis project involves responsibility for the welfare of more than 200 chickens, said van der Klein.“I’m thankful to have a great team and many volunteers that helped me during my experiments, but even then the commitment to being a farmer at the same time as being a student is an intense responsibility,” she said.Van der klein’s research will take advantage of a new feeding system developed at the University of Alberta that minimizes variation in broiler breeder body weights, said Zuidhof“By controlling this variable, we have already had important new insights into sexual maturation that have not been possible previously,” he said. “Ultimately, commercial application of Sasha’s precision feeding research could decrease nitrogen, phosphorus and CO2 emissions by the broiler breeders by 25 per cent, which is transformational for the poultry industry.”
July 24, 2017, Lexington, KY - Connecting the farm to the lab through research is critical for agricultural innovation. Illustrating its commitment to encouraging student research, Alltech presented the 34th Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award to Matthew Aardsma of Purdue University during the 106th annual Poultry Science Association meeting, held in Orlando, Florida, July 17–20.The Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award is given to a student who is the senior author of an outstanding research manuscript in Poultry Science or The Journal of Applied Poultry Research. Aardsma’s winning paper titled, Relative metabolizable energy values for fats and oils in young broilers and adult roosters, focused on developing a bio-assay where feed-grade fats and oils were evaluated for their relative metabolizable energy content quickly and accurately. The paper showed results for several fats and oils that are commonly fed in the poultry industry, and that the results obtained for adult roosters are the same with young broiler chickens."Research is an integral part of Alltech and the poultry industry's success to date," said Dr. Ted Sefton, director of poultry for Alltech Canada. "Alltech is proud to sponsor the Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award to encourage students to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals and communicate new technologies and discoveries being made in the lab that can have a direct impact on the farm."Aardsma grew up in Central Illinois, where his parents encouraged him to explore his interests in agriculture and animal production. He received his bachelor’s degree in animal sciences from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2013 and his master’s degree in animal sciences with an emphasis in poultry nutrition in 2015, working with Dr. Carl Parsons. After a summer internship at Southern Illinois University working in aquaculture nutrition, he began a Ph.D. program in animal nutrition at Purdue University. Aardsma is currently studying with Jay Johnson and focusing on nutrition-based stress physiology in poultry and swine.Alltech has sponsored the Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award since 2000, recognizing young leaders in scientific innovation for their commitment to publishing and sharing their work within the poultry sector.
July 7, 2017, Saskatchewan - Most agricultural research is aimed at improving crop yields and making animals healthier. Sometimes, however, work intended to make farms more productive can have consequences that reach far beyond the home quarter.One such example is Roy Crawford, a longtime University of Saskatchewan poultry scientist whose discovery of a mutated gene that caused epileptic seizures in chickens helped guide research into the seizures suffered by many humans.Crawford is also credited with developing poultry products for consumers, which according to Saskatchewan Agriculture: Lives Past and Present increased demand for birds and returns for producers on farms across the province. READ MORE
At end of February, we had just surpassed what proved to be a big stumbling block and holdup for us...the big pour of the concrete floor.After letting the concrete floor cure for almost a week, the pads were poured.We decided to put cement pads under each row of hen housing and these were one-and-a-half inches in depth on the edges and two inches in the middle. This is to make it easier when the barn is cleaned each year so that the water runs away from under the housing. Also, floor drains were put in place on the far end of the barn.A few days of curing occurred for the pads, and we were eager to get the construction of the Farmer Automatic Enriched Housing started.We had a couple different work stations—constructing frames, assembling plastic housing doors, and all of the webbing inside the frames was put together.We have lead man, Dennis and another employee, Josh from Clark Ag Systems.Nick has been the general contractor for the building of the barn and has good knowledge of the conventional housing that is in our present barn. He has been an asset with his experience. We also have the rest of the family to help when available and some other workers.The construction of the housing is a huge job and there are many layers to the process. Frames are constructed and assembled with vertical braces that end up being the skeleton of the row. The dividers between each colony are put place and the floor clips and perch holders.The wires for the cage doors, middle divider, and thicker cage floor support wire are fitted out next. Our nephew Jason was wired for these tasks. We decided to use stainless steel wire instead of the galvanized that was supplied, as Nick found that this was a weak area in our present conventional housing.The cage floors, white PVC perches, white PVC waterlines, water cups, re-plastic scratch pads, and nesting boxes with curtains are installed a systematic order. I nicknamed our daughter Stephanie, “Scratch Pad Steffy” as she efficiently put in all the red plastic scratch pads in the first and second levels of rows one and two.Farmerette can proudly say that she put all the perches in for the first and second levels, with some help from daughter Stephanie and Jake, and glued the joints and caps for the ends. I prefer to leave the third and fourth level work to others!We were able to get lots of work done on the Saturday and Easter Monday with it being a school holiday.I hung red nest curtains around the next boxes. There are four nest boxes back-to-back as the nest areas have no lights. The hens prefer to lay their eggs in a dark, sheltered area.   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.canadianpoultrymag.com/index.php?option=com_k2&Itemid=73&lang=en&layout=latest&view=latest#sigProGalleria28185ca18e Manure ends are of course extremely important as the removal of manure keeps the air quality good for the hens and ourselves, keeps the eggs clean, and provides a good environment for the hens. The Clark guys handle these areas.Another area that is a little more complicated is the egg elevators that will take the eggs from the egg belts and transfer them to a conveyor that will go into the egg packing room.There were still a few skids of equipment outside and these would have to be brought in the barn when needed. Also, there is room in the barn for a fourth row of housing, but this is not being done now, and is there for any future growth of the egg business. This area has actually turned out to be very beneficial for storage and assembly of parts before they are installed on the housing.Construction of parts also occurs as many of these parts come in pieces that need to be put together. For example, the cage doors have a white plastic centre, then a red left and red right hinge that must be hammered in with a mallet. We need approximately 1,800 of these. Our daughters Nicole and Charlotte did many of these. I also put together the 24 egg belt rollers that go at the far end of the barn.We took black plastic waterline connectors to the house and put a clamp on each end in the evening with the TV to break up the monotony of the job. The warmth of the house made the plastic more pliable when putting the clamps on.March turned out to be a very busy month. We were relieved and happy to see the construction team finish off a back area beyond the main barn that is manure storage as they were here since November. Yippee!!!We have made it to Easter with the hen housing well underway and will hop into April being able to see the finish line for this stage of the process.CLICK HERE  to read more about Cindy's experience transitioning from a conventional to an enriched layer barn.
February turned out to begin very cold, more snow and windy. Any work that could be done inside the new barn building was done when temperatures were not frigid. Some days were too cold to get any work done.Electrical lines for lights got installed on the ceiling and the baffle on the west side. Any work that had to be done on the ceiling or high areas had to be done before the scissor lift got picked up.The arrangement with the scissor lift was that you pay a weekly rate, and when you have it for three weeks, you get the fourth week free. This is what worked for us.From February 4 - 6, the insulation got put in the attic. The first day was very mild with the snow melting on the roof causing a steady stream of dripping off the steel roof. This job had two fellows who were experienced in insulating attics completing the work.We had two overhead doors to be installed – one for the cooler for Burnbrae Farms to do their weekly pick-up of eggs, and the other as a big entrance to the main barn when the birds arrive and then depart after 51 weeks.Timing for this had to be when the interior was completed so that the doors could be fastened to completed walls and ceiling.Again, working in a freezing temperature environment had to be avoided.Both doors got installed February 11 and finishing these up occurred the next weekend.For the entire month, we were anticipating getting the concrete for the floor poured.   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.canadianpoultrymag.com/index.php?option=com_k2&Itemid=73&lang=en&layout=latest&view=latest#sigProGalleria2000b1d26d I have never watched the weather forecast so diligently, and part of frustrating February was that we wanted the concrete floor to get poured.Nick chose a warmer stretch of weather later in the month to start using propane to run the heater to begin thawing the ground.Preparation work to level the floor for concrete took place on February 23 and continued early in the next week. The weather forecast had sun and mild temperatures for that week.Once again, loads of stone were brought in, a bobcat brought stone inside, and a roller flattened out the floor to make it level with the help of laser level that was set up on a tripod in the corner of the barn.February 28 brought a 13-degree day, and the concrete floor was finally poured.There were a dozen guys doing the pour, running the concrete pumping truck, and spreading and levelling the concrete.The first concrete truck came by 8:00 A.M. and the last truck load was done by 12-noon. A truck came every half hour. All of this activity brought curious neighbors to sneak a peek at all the action going on.The next couple days were filled with finishing the concrete with power trowels to give it a smooth finish.March came in like a lion on the 1st with a snowstorm in Haldimand County, about 15 centimeters of snow, and the first snow day for school kids.... so, we were glad that this big job was done.Cindy Egg FarmeretteCLICK HEREto read more about Cindy's experience transitioning from a conventional to an enriched layer barn.
My fifth blog starts off at the New Year.Christmas gives those of us in agriculture time to enjoy faith, family, friends and farm. As holiday festivities took over between Christmas and New Year’s, we had minimal time to make any progress.Many businesses have limited holiday hours, and employees take time away from their jobs, including our construction crew. It ended up being too cold to work anyway.But we continued to care for our hens 24/7. Our kids, Charlotte and John, returned home for the holidays and they helped out as well.Back to our new enriched housing project.Last April, we met with Harold Meadows of Clark Ag Systems. Together, we decided to go with the Farmer Automatic Enriched Colony Housing system for our new layer barn.At that time, you must decide on a date to have the equipment arrive at your farm.It comes from Laer, Germany packed in Maersk containers, travels by ship to Montreal, by rail car to Brampton, Ont. and then goes through customs. Finally, it arrives at your farm via transport truck.We had originally (optimistically and probably naively!) picked a delivery date in December, but later changed that to January 2nd.In November, we realized that we would not need the layer housing equipment until perhaps February and wanted to postpone the date.This was impossible. The company in Germany is very organized in filling the order and the container had already been loaded and was en route on the high seas.Rarely are they wrong about timing, unless Mother Nature interferes!We received one day’s grace and the first container arrived January 3rd.Of course, this turned out to be one of the deep freeze weeks, with temperatures plummeting below -18°C.Our loader tractor was first used to take each box, which sits on a pallet, to flatbed trailers that Nick had arranged to temporarily put the various packages on.The loader tractor was having trouble working, and we started using the “Gradall” machine that B. Jorna Construction had on site to move lumber, etc. for the construction tasks.The second container arrived in the late afternoon.   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.canadianpoultrymag.com/index.php?option=com_k2&Itemid=73&lang=en&layout=latest&view=latest#sigProGalleriacd5774338b Between loads, the Masterfeeds truck brought feed and Nick came in for a break. I told him he was talking funny and asked him what was the matter. He said, “My face is frozen!” A hot chocolate helped to warm him up so he could smile again.Charlotte and John cleared out what will be the new cooler in order to make a temporary holding place for all of the parts. This also gave the equipment a place to be protected from winter weather.The various skids then got moved on January 4th to the cooler area.The week of January 8th brought many visual advances: the Tile Red steel getting put on the east and west sides; insulation and white plastic was put on pack room walls; the scissor lift arrived to be used for high jobs; a vapour barrier was put on the barn ceiling below trusses and walls; and hurricane clips installed (did you know that each clip can withstand 1,100 pounds of uplift pressure?).Our daughter Nicole helped install them – at least eight nails each on the base of the barn, lots of squats and no blue fingers when she was done.During the rest of the month, insulation was placed on all walls, white vinyl planking was installed everywhere except the cooler and three to five lighting rows were installed.As I write this blog, the facia, soffit and some electrical are in the works.With insulation and walls of the large main barn almost completed, we moved all of the skids and boxes of housing equipment from the cooler to the back of said barn.This was done on a warm, sunny day before snow returned near the end of January. The cooler still needs to be insulated, and its walls finished.I repeat a previous comment that the animal care and egg gathering must still be carried out in the old barn.Additionally, yearend arrived and this brings extra bookwork. I got a good start on the last quarter at the beginning of December, but then had to finish in January. I also am keeping track of the new barn costs separately for our own records.I finished this on January 22nd and filed my HST rebate at 2:50 pm. This filing included the many barn build expenses thus far and was, of course, more work for me in a quarter than ever before. Our rebate was $17,000-plus higher than our usual filing with Revenue Canada.We were having afternoon break and at 3:20 a Canada Revenue HST office employee called to inquire about the large jump in our rebate filing.I explained what we were doing, and I believe initially he would have wanted me to forward some proof to him of our venture.However, I also told him about the coming changes in the egg industry with respect to the deletion of conventional housing by 2035.I told him he could read about what we were doing in my blog! He was very interested and was going to check it out. No further documentation was required of me. Yippee!So, with Jack Frost nipping at our noses, we hope February sees less of Old Man Winter – not holding my chilly breath!CLICK HERE to read more about Cindy's experience transitioning from a conventional to an enriched layer barn.
This is my fourth blog in regard to our journey from conventional housing to enriched housing.Of course, each week brought deadlines and we always had to keep an eye on the weather forecast. We were hampered once mid-December with lots of snow that stayed for a week, but that all disappeared until December 22.We completed the cooler and pack room concrete work and framed these areas. The vast size difference between the new barn and our present one is now obvious.The enriched colony system has a few unique features. First, there can be up to 35 hens in each living area. We will likely have around 30 due to our quota and leasing numbers, leaving us with room for future expansion.Second, the larger area allows for a few different things. The hens can roam about within their living quarters. There’s space for a curtained nesting area for privacy when the hen lays the egg. It also has two perches that run the entire length of all housing units and scratch pads to cater to a hen’s natural instincts.When explaining this system to consumers and urbanites, we tell them that this would be like you going from your average car to a limousine! Then and now Then and now The whole gang The whole gang Checking things out Checking things out   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.canadianpoultrymag.com/index.php?option=com_k2&Itemid=73&lang=en&layout=latest&view=latest#sigProGalleria203f4ea3c6 Because the space for the hens is so much larger, the barn is, thus, larger too.The barn needed more stone around it, and after we framed all the walls it was time for the trusses to go up.This occurred on December 12, and although it was not sunny, it was nicely above freezing and not cloudy or rainy.A crane operator from Vic Powell Welding proved to be an expert at moving the trusses and the main barn had three-quarters of them up before the workers’ lunch break.They did the remainder of the main barn quickly after lunch and then the smaller trusses for the cooler and pack room at the front.The shape of the barn structure was now easily visible to us, and I can better visualize what I will see from my kitchen window.Once all of the bracing was put in place, the steel went on the roof next. It took two days with no wind. All of the screws were put in place and the ridge cap was installed.We put particleboard on the front of the barn and installed the windows so that it was at least closed in for the winter weather over the Christmas holidays.In December, Nick sought more pricing and quotes. This included getting a price on a scissor lift for the packing room. This will be used in the pack room and will be level with the floor.That said it could be lowered below floor level to make it easier for taller people to place stacks of eggs. Nick is 6′1″ and I am 5′1 ½″ (sorry, but to me that extra half inch is important!) so this will come in handy.We wrestled a bit with whether we needed the scissor lift or not. In the end, this is a family egg business and we considered the next generation in making it more convenient to operate the packer.We know two other egg farmers in our immediate vicinity that want to order scissor lifts too.Therefore, we had a meeting at our place with a salesman from the Kitchener area to go over size and weight specifics, our needs and pressed for the best price with having a quantity of three in such close geographical proximity. This decision was still pending at blogging time.As the year-end approached, the deadline to pay invoices that came in came as well. We want to split the expenses between the two calendar years to spread this out for our tax situation.We’ll plod through and are aiming to have the entire barn insulated and concrete floor poured in January. Hopefully the weather cooperates!Till next time,Cindy Egg FarmeretteCLICK HERE to read more about Cindy's experience transitioning from a conventional to an enriched layer barn.
Blog number three follows what turned out to be a very busy November. I knew things were ramping up when I heard my husband Nick tell a salesman that he “wished there were two of him”.First, I think I should elaborate on why we chose to convert to an enriched colony system. We looked at free-run and free-range, but our gut is telling us that the consumer will still want to purchase the cheapest eggs available in grocery stores.Our son works at Food Basics and sees the specialty eggs passed over. Actually, they have to be shipped back as they are on the shelf to the expiry date.As a family, including our children (all of whom are in their twenties), we decided we did not want to work in an environment where our hens would greet us openly upon entering the barn.We also think an enriched system will give us more control with respect to animal care, our routine and the amount of time we spend in the barn.In addition, we would probably have to have a bigger barn for free-run or free-range. That being the case, our present building site would have been compromised by size and perhaps would have had to be moved to a different location on the farm.We decided to stay with Clark Ag Systems partly because they are only a half-hour away. Being nearby has aided in service calls for repairs to our conventional system.What’s more, the Farmer Automatic system includes many interesting add-ons. I will discuss these more when we are at the housing installation phase of the build.A busy monthIn the last month, concrete work finally began. We built the forms for the concrete walls in the cooler, packing room and front area of the barn in a few days.The first cement truck came on November 6th. This was exciting and relieved some stress for both of us, as we could see the barn build finally physically taking shape.We had to bring in loads of stone. Also, the barn floor had to be levelled and packed with a roller to make a smooth floor for the concrete that would be poured on top in the future.We used the services of Chris Best to haul in stone, move it, roll it and pack it. They also helped with excavating a new electrical line.In the week of November 20th, three contractors were working on the same day.Two were doing the concrete walls. Three were moving stone from the dump pile to a dump truck to the back of the barn site, spreading it on the floor and rolling/packing the stone to make a level floor.And three men from Jorna Construction had started the preliminary work for building the first wall.Nick is being the general contractor for the barn build project. He was overseeing all aspects, such as making sure the present water line from the deep well to our existing layer barn was buried beneath the floor, doing drawings for fan placement so the builder made the correct size of opening in the side walls and getting anything else that was needed.Building a cistern under the cooler was a last minute decision. There was such a large hole under the cooler that it made more sense to use it as a cistern, instead of filling it in with gravel.In that week, we also had the electricians come and install underground conduit for the electrical service. I think at least 10 truckloads of stone were brought in, and three loads made by the cement truck.On Wednesday, November 22, the first west framed wall was up, and the size difference of the new barn compared to the present conventionally housed barn is quite impressive.The opposite east wall was up two days later and we had the weekend to gaze upon all of the week’s efforts.Saturday, Nick called upon a former worker to help him take down more of the existing pig barn so the carpenter has more working space at the south (far) end.We are going to hold on to our hats for December, as it looks like we will need good weather to get everything enclosed before winter.Even with all of this activity, barn chores still must get done. I find myself in the barn alone more, but know it is important for Nick to be present when building work is being done.I can hear lots of extra banging, vehicles beeping, engines revving and hammering from inside the barn. I do think the chickens are getting used to this!CLICK HERE to read more about Cindy's experience transitioning from a conventional to an enriched layer barn.
Since my first article, I’ve come up with my “author” name – Cindy Egg Farmerette. Like it?This time, I’ll add a little more about our present set up, task sharing and, of course, discuss what we’ve accomplished in the last month for the new site.As a reminder, this blog is all about our journey from conventional housing to building a new Farmer Automatic enriched housing facility.My husband Nick and I contribute fairly equally to the present workload for our egg business.We gather eggs by hand at the front of the barn, with the cooler right beside where we make stacks of trays of eggs and, eventually, the full skid of 60 stacks of eggs.I do probably 95 per cent of the record keeping, animal care checks and all of the bookkeeping.I absolutely refuse to do the manure – that’s Nick’s job. With the majority of our equipment being 21 years old, the manure removal apparatus has several quirks that only he knows how to operate.He monitors the amount of feed to order with the help of our salesman Neill Vroom from Masterfeeds. We’ve stayed with this feed company since the beginning.I also work one morning a week for a lawyer and “retired” last year from teaching piano one day a week at Dunnville Christian School after doing this for 25 years.Our two youngest children attend post-secondary schools and help on the weekends that they’re home. Our two oldest moved out in July to Hamilton, Ont. They have full-time jobs and will help when we need them. Digging away Digging away Solid base Solid base   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.canadianpoultrymag.com/index.php?option=com_k2&Itemid=73&lang=en&layout=latest&view=latest#sigProGalleria4e241156cc In the last month, Nick has had to find workers willing to clear the barn site with him. His hired man was in a motorcycle accident and could not work while he healed.He found a couple of guys to help for a few days here and there and managed to get everything cleared from the former farrow-to-finish pig barn that we’re converting.The backhoe operator he had lined up was busy. It seems everyone in the construction industry is busy as well!He was going through his contacts on his cellphone and remembered that his long-time friend Bill that we visited in the summer showed him the backhoe he had bought.He asked him if he was interested in picking up some extra work and he agreed. He is a helicopter pilot, former dairy farmer and is sometimes home for weeks at a time.We caught him when he had just gotten home for a good chunk of time. He started with digging the trench for the new driveway.Next, he broke concrete into pieces that could be put in the driveway “trench” as a base for the new driveway.Nick also moved pieces with his loader tractor, managed any helpers and split concrete pieces with a sledgehammer. He also ordered loads of crushed stone for under the concrete floor and for rodent control along foundations.And Nick hired a bobcat with a jackhammer on the front to break thick concrete into smaller pieces. Lots of this was done in the beautiful stretch of weather that we had, but when the rain came one October day, we got soaked with four inches. Everything just had to sit for a few days!The concrete contractor was supposed to be here the beginning of October, but we are still waiting for him. This is holding up the start of the actual building. The builder had called two months ago to warn us to order trusses right away, as there is a backlog.The photos I've included are of the new driveway with concrete pieces and the backhoe and tractor working at the old pig barn site.I hope you continue to follow along and see what happens in the next month.CLICK HERE to read more about Cindy's experience transitioning from a conventional to an enriched layer barn.

Subscription Centre

 
New Subscription
 
Already a Subscriber
 
Customer Service
 
View Digital Magazine Renew

Most Popular

Latest Events

PIC Research Day
Wed May 02, 2018
Westvet 2018
Tue May 15, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
BC Poultry Symposium
Wed May 16, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
PIC Human Resource Day
Wed May 16, 2018 @ 8:30AM - 03:30PM
PIC Health Day
Wed Jun 20, 2018