Profiles

Jan. 13, 2017 – After graduating from high school, Gary Baars hung up a shingle as TNT Agri-Services, offering “relief milking and much more.” “Much more” soon started becoming a reality and on Jan. 11th, the now 33-year-old Chilliwack, B.C. dairyman, hay salesman and cattle dealer and his wife, Marie (26), became the B.C. & Yukon Outstanding Young Farmers for 2017.In 2006, TNT Agri Services turned into TNT Hay Sales as Baars started selling hay, first to local horse farms and then to local dairy farms.“We sell a lot of hay to different dairy farms,” Baars says. Not long after, the young entrepreneur expanded TNT to include cattle sales. When Farm Credit Canada offered him a large loan with “no strings attached” in early 2011, Baars used it to start his own dairy farm.“I had enough money to buy quota for 15 cows,” he recalls.Two years later, Marie’s grandmother asked if they would manage her 160-cow 80-acre dairy farm in east Abbotsford. The Baars agreed on condition they could buy it.“We amalgamated our small herd with her larger herd and have been steadily improving the facilities over the past few years,” Baars reports.His entrepreneurship did not stop there. Last year, he purchased additional hay-growing acreage in Greendale and joined up with two partners to buy a 472-acre 100-cow dairy in Manitoba.“We have already grown that farm by 20 per cent,” Baars says.He has also served as a director of both the Mainland Young Milk Producers and the B.C. Young Farmers. Baars’ entrepreneurial spirit even extends itself to his recreational activities. Gary and his father-in-law have begun holding Cornfield Races twice a year, inviting friends and neighbours to race beat-up cars on the farm.To earn the 2017 award from judges Rick Thiessen (2004 BC & Canadian Outstanding Young Farmer), Mark Sweeney (retired B.C. Ministry of Agriculture berry and horticulture specialist) and Kurt Bausenhaus (KPMG), the Baars outpointed Jeremy and Tamara Vaandrager ofVaandrager Farms in west Abbotsford.After managing several egg farms for other owners, the Vaandragers obtained a 3,000 bird quota in the 2010 B.C. Egg Marketing Board new entrant lottery. In the six years since, they have increased their quota holdings to 6,000 birds and are in the process of converting their farm from a free-run operation to an aviary.“Aviaries have become common in Europe but it is still a relatively new system in North America,” Vaandrager notes.The BCOYF program is sponsored by the BC Broiler Hatching Egg Commission, Clearbrook Grain & Milling, Farm Credit Canada and Insure Wealth. To be eligible for the award, applicants must be under 40 and derive at least two-thirds of their gross revenue from farming. They arejudged on the progress in their agricultural careers, the sustainability of their farming operations and involvement in their industry and community.Gary and Marie Baars will represent B.C. at the national OYF competition in Penticton, B.C., in November. The national competition is supported by AdFarm, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Annex Business Media, Bayer Crop Science, BDO, CIBC, Farm Management Canada and John Deere.
Dec. 7, 2016 - Andrew and Jennifer Lovell of Keswick Ridge, N.B. and Dominic Drapeau and Célia Neault of Ste-Françoise-de-Lotbinière, Que. have been named Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2016. These two farm families were chosen from seven regional farm couples across Canada at OYF’s national event last week in Niagara Falls, Ont. Both families have dreamed of owning their own farm since they were young and were not afraid to make changes and embrace technology along the way. Their entrepreneurial spirits and adaptability has made them successful both on and off the farm. “All of this year’s regional honourees have shown us their incredible passion for agriculture,” OYF president Luanne Lynn says. “It was extremely difficult for the judges to make their decision, but ultimately our winners stood out for their state-of-the art thinking and commitment to the future of Canadian agriculture.” The Lovell’s story is different than most because neither of them grew up on a farm. In 2012 they purchased their farm River View Orchards with roots tracing back to 1784, and created a diversified u-pick farm market operation. It wasn’t an easy start as they suffered $100,000 in damage in 2014, but they persevered and adapted their plans until they were able to begin full production again. By offering fence and trellis construction services and building attractions which brought over 1,400 visitors to their farm they were able to carry on with the farm they have always dreamed of. Drapeau and Neault are third-generation dairy and field crop farmers who are not afraid to make changes and embrace technology. Raised in a farming family, Dominic got involved in the family business at a young age. When he was 16, he was performing artificial insemination on cows and developed his management skills by taking over the herd and feeding responsibilities.  In the barn they use genomic testing on young animals, motion detectors for reproduction, a smart scale on the mixer-feeder and temperature probes close to calving. In the fields, the farm uses a satellite navigation system for levelling, draining, seeding, fertilizing and spraying. With these innovations over the last four years, they have enabled the farm to increase overall yields by five to 10 per cent each year. “The national event in Niagara Falls this year was a great opportunity to showcase all of the great contributions to Canadian agriculture,” Lynn says. “All of the regional OYF honourees really went outside of the box and pushed the boundaries this year.” Every year this event brings recognition to outstanding farm couples in Canada between 18 and 39 years of age who have exemplified excellence in their profession while fostering better urban-rural relations. The Lovell’s and Drapeau/Neault were chosen from seven regional finalists, including the following honourees from the other five regions: Brian and Jewel Pauls, Chilliwack B.C. Shane and Kristin Schooten, Diamond City, Alta. Dan and Chelsea Erlandson, Outlook, Sask. Jason and Laura Kehler, Carman, Man. Adrian and Jodi Roelands, Lambton Shores, Ont. Celebrating 36 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.
Nov. 28, 2016 - On Nov. 24, 2016 the board of directors of Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) elected Benoît Fontaine of Stanbridge Station, Que. as its chair.Fontaine most recently served as the 1st vice-chair of the CFC executive committee. He initially joined the board of directors in 2013 as an alternate, and became Quebec’s director in 2014. Fontaine farms in the Lac Champlain area and raises chicken and turkeys. A 2nd generation chicken farmer, Fontaine has been heavily involved in the Union des producteurs agricoles since 1999. Fontaine has also served on both CFC's policy and production committees.The leadership turnover followed the resignation of Dave Janzen, who has stepped down from his CFC duties for personal reasons. Janzen represented British Columbia on the board of directors as an alternate in 2006 and served as the B.C. director from 2008. He joined the executive committee in 2010 and became chair in 2012.In a news release, CFC thanked Janzen for his many years of dedication, leadership and service.At the same time, the CFC board also welcomed Derek Janzen to its executive committee as 1st vice chair.With an eye to the future, Chicken Farmers of Canada says it will work with all its partners to ensuring clear, common goals for the future, and set a solid path and purpose for all stakeholders.
In 2014, Canadian farmers produced more than 595 million dozen eggs per year and had eight straight years of sales growth. According to a recent study by Egg Farmers of Canada, it takes 69 per cent less water and half the amount of feed today to produce a dozen eggs, while hens are producing nearly 50 per cent more and are living longer than they did 50 years ago. Layer operations across the U.S. and Canada are progressing, and this fact is evident when visiting the layer operation at McGee Colony, recognized by Star Egg Company in 2015 with a first place finish in Saskatchewan for reaching the dozen eggs per bird and cost per dozen eggs quota. As of 2014, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) listed the average Canadian flock size at 20,192 hens; however, Canadian egg farms can range from a few hundred to more than 400,000 hens. The average laying hen produces approximately 305 eggs per year (25.4 dozen). The Bovan standard is 353 eggs per hen housed at 78 weeks. The flock of 16,200 Bovan White managed by Jerry Mandel and his father John Mandel boasted a production of 370 eggs per hen housed, with 106 grams of feed intake per hen per day at 78 weeks, in 2015. The number of eggs produced was above the Bovan standard, while the feed intake per hen per day was below the Bovan standard. Jerry and John emphasize that they had great help in earning the plaque from Star Egg Company that was presented to them at the Saskatchewan Egg Producers annual meeting.   “Part of making this program work is good teamwork, with everyone making sure the hens get the best nutrition, health and management care,” said Jerry. McGee Colony, located near Rosetown, Saskatchewan, is named after the site of the old village of McGee. The poultry barn and associated equipment are fairly new and well-maintained. Even so, there are challenges that need to be met. The well water’s pH level measures around 9. This is closely monitored and adjusted to 6.5 via acidification of the water on a continual basis. As a result, chlorination of the water is achieved with a more acidic pH, as chlorination works at its optimum for water sanitation with a pH around 5–6.5. The flock is an integral part of the colony. The feed is produced on-farm in a computerized mill, and the grains are grown specifically for use by the flock. Being located in the Rosetown area means wheat is the cereal of choice, not corn. By milling their wheat, McGee Colony was able to change to a larger screen (a 1-inch screen) with several advantages: There are less broken kernels. This reduces feed separation as it goes through the travelling hopper feed delivery system. Whole wheat causes more feed grinding in the gizzard, so more endogenous enzymes are mixed with the feed. Feed passage is then slowed, allowing for better digestion and thus gut health. Less electricity is required. Faster feed throughput is achieved at the mill. The integration of the poultry unit on the farm means the field crop operation is influenced by the poultry operation and the poultry operation is in turn influenced by the field crop operation. Manure is handled so that it is dried as rapidly as possible and initial moisture content is observed constantly.  Incoming water, as mentioned above, is treated to optimize pH as well as with chlorine. This combination helps to avoid excessively wet droppings.   McGee’s rations do not contain meat meal, so their nutritionist at EMF Nutrition pays close attention to the osmotic balance of the ration, which also helps to reduce the fecal moisture. The inclusion of a yucca plant extract technology helps to reduce ammonia in the barn while also lowering the amount of ventilation required in the winter to remove ammonia, thus allowing for ease of maintaining daytime temperatures at 20 degrees Celsius and nighttime temperatures at 22 degrees Celsius in the winter.   The manure, which is removed to the storage room at the end of the barn, has heated air from the barn drawn over it as it is exhausted from the barn. This also helps to further dry the manure. The dry manure is then removed from the storage area and allowed to cure before it is applied as fertilizer on the fields.  From this process, less nitrogen escapes from dry manure. The less the nitrogen escapes from the manure and the better bound the nitrogen is, the higher the nitrogen content is in the manure that is applied to the fields.   McGee Colony also includes an enzyme technology in their rations to increase the digestibility of plant-based ingredients, thus reducing the need for supplemental phosphorus and decreasing the phosphorus levels in the manure. By lowering manure phosphorus and increasing nitrogen, McGee Colony can minimize the land required to accept the phosphorus while maximizing the amount of nitrogen applied from the manure. This nutrient management plan helps to reduce the nitrogen fertilizer required to meet the needs for next year’s crop. Next year, the colony will be using a foliar-applied source of micronutrients on the land growing wheat for the poultry unit. This micronutrient application helps to optimize plant growth and harvest yield. Higher yield means less land required to grow crops for the poultry unit and more land for cash crops. Higher yield also means more nutrients removed, and the poultry manure can be spread over the land with less time and less fuel. McGee Colony has also implemented some of the programs other successful layer operations have shared within the industry. Dave Coburn of Coburn Farms spoke about its “Best Flock Ever” (Canadian Poultry, April 2012), and mentioned including the Alltech Poultry Pak® program in addition to the use of large particle sizes to stimulate the gizzard. Both of these methods were implemented in the Coburn Farms program to improve gut health and ultimately egg production.   McGee Colony has also incorporated both of these programs to maximize their eggs per quota and feed efficiency. With these programs in place, in addition to improving soil management and yield with effective soil nutrient management, McGee Colony is successfully building a sustainable agricultural program.   “The eggshells are better, even with the older 70 week birds, and we have less eggshell cracks than before,” said Jerry. “The birds are keeping their feathers longer and they always appear to be active.”
Nova Scotia broiler producer Nick de Graaf passed several significant milestones in 2008.First, he bought out his father’s share in the Annapolis Valley poultry farm founded by his Dutch grandfather in the early 1960s in Kings County, Nova Scotia, between Canning and Port Williams. Next, Nick bought more quota, increasing his flock production by 196,000 birds annually. This came just three years after the de Graafs bought additional quota in 2005, increasing their flock production by 102,000 birds per year. “We grow 660,000 chickens per year and we also grow 67,000 turkeys per year,” says Nick. He ships his birds to the Sunnymel poultry processing plant in Clair, Northern New Brunswick. Nick’s poultry production is audited for four food safety and animal welfare programs. For his broilers, this includes the Chicken Farmers of Canada’s (CFC) On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program (OFFSAP) and CFC’s Animal Care Program. He also follows two similar programs for his turkey production. Lastly, in 2008 he also built a feed mill to process poultry rations from his crops. He grows wheat, primarily for straw bedding for his flocks and he is 100 per cent self-sufficient in corn cultivation. Nick owns 700 acres of arable land and he also crops an additional 900 acres in scattered parcels across Kings County. He only grows 65 per cent of the soybeans he uses in his rations as he doesn’t yet have enough acreage for soybean self-sufficiency. However, he is looking for more land. Nick graduated in 1998 from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, now the Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus with a B.Sc. in  Agricultural Economics and four years later, in 2002, he became financially involved in the family farm. Nick is now a director on both the Chicken Farmers of Nova Scotia and the Turkey Farmers of Nova Scotia marketing boards. To date, he has served seven years on the chicken marketing board and two years on the turkey board. He is also a past-president of the Kings county Federation of Agriculture. He and his wife, Trudy, have three children. Their eldest daughter, Malorie, is married with two children of her own. Their next daughter, Vanessa, is 16 and their son, Tyler, is 14. Vanessa plans to attend Dalhousie University’s Agricultural Campus and seems interested in farming after graduation, de Graaf says. At age 40 he has not yet begun farm succession planning. Off-farm recreational interests of the de Graaf family include travel and de Graaf says he and his two youngest children enjoy the shooting sports of trap and skeet.
Sept. 26, 2016 - Adrian and Jodi Roelands of Roelands Plant Farms Inc. have been selected as Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2016. The winners were announced at the Ontario regional event in Stratford, Ontario on Sept. 13.Roelands Plant Farms Inc. is a greenhouse in south western Ontario where Adrian and Jodi custom grow premium cucumber, tomato and pepper seedlings for sale to vegetable production greenhouses. Since construction of the greenhouse in 2013, they have since expanded twice, bringing their total operation to 12 acres. The industry uses computer technology to automatically control almost every aspect of climate, and the increasing amount of automation available to growers enables them to produce extremely high quality vegetables while keeping costs competitive.“The Ontario OYF region put on a great event in conjunction with Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock to showcase the OYF nominees,” says OYF vice president East Carl Marquis. “Adrian and Jodi really demonstrated their passion for agriculture and I’m excited for them to represent the region at the national event this fall.”Both Adrian and Jodi have been involved in agriculture their whole lives. Adrian grew up on a farrow to finish hog operation, and Jodi grew up working alongside her family on their broiler breeder operation. Even before they got married, it was evident that farming together was in their future - it was just a matter of how and when.In 2012 Adrian and Jodi made the decision to venture out on their own, and by early 2013 they had started construction on four acres of greenhouse propagation space on a newly purchased farm. The operation started with just the two of them, and quickly grew to 60 full-time employees and another 100 staff seasonally. Managing a farm like this has meant learning a lot of new skills quickly, and adapting their management styles accordingly.One of the principles that guide Adrian and Jodi is to remain committed to their agricultural roots, and endeavour to be a leader into the changing future of farming. They see the future of the family farm being much different than the past - it will be larger, more productive and technology based, and will employ more highly-skilled staff.Celebrating 36 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2016 will be chosen at the National Event in Niagara Falls, Ont. from Nov. 29 – Dec. 4, 2016.
March 1, 2017, Dublin, OH – The Wendy's Company recently announced the expansion of its Supplier Code of Conduct, which now includes all U.S. and Canadian contracts managed by Quality Supply Chain Cooperative (QSCC) and suppliers that provide a significant stream of goods or services to Wendy’s on an annual basis. "We expect all of our suppliers to comply with the law and use best practices in all aspects of their operations, and to conduct business in a way that is consistent with the values of Wendy's and our franchisees,” said Todd Penegor, president and CEO of the Wendy's Company. “Further, it's important to us to reaffirm our past commitments and aspire to even greater accomplishments in the areas of environmental and social responsibility." The code focuses on topics important to the Wendy's brand and its customers, including food safety and food ingredients, farm animal health and well-being, human rights and labour practices, environmentally sustainable business practices, and business ethics and integrity. The company will now add approximately 100 additional suppliers to be covered by the code, including all U.S. and Canadian contracts managed by QSCC, and suppliers that provide a significant stream of goods or services to the Wendy's Company on an annual basis. The code will also require third party reviews related to the human rights and labour practices of certain produce suppliers. The decision to add third party reviews was due in part to the nature of agricultural work, its workforce, and an evaluation of various risk factors. The code's provisions apply to all suppliers. However certain sections may be inapplicable to certain suppliers. Wendy's Supplier Code of Conduct is accessible under the Responsibility tab in Supply Chain Practices section of its website.
February 24, 2017, Mississauga, Ont – Maple Leaf Foods Inc. recently reported net earnings of $181.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. This is up from $41.6 million in net earnings reported at year-end 2015. “We finished 2016 with a strong quarter sustained by solid commercial performance,” said Michael H. McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods. “With the combination of our increasingly competitive cost structure, and commercial strategies that intersect with important consumer needs and trends, we are well positioned for future profitable growth.” The company’s Meat Products Group, which includes value-added fresh poultry products, reported a 1.2 per cent increase in sales, earning $3,316.5 million for 2016. Fourth quarter sales alone were $824.4 million, a decrease of 5.1 per cent from the previous year.   Margins in prepared meats improved due to lower operating costs across the network. Earnings in fresh poultry declined slightly as industry processor margins receded from record levels in the fourth quarter of 2015.   Prepared meats sales declined slightly in response to a price increase in the first quarter but strengthened as the year progressed. Fresh poultry sales increased due to stronger volume and an improved sales mix.
Jan. 26, 2017 - Poultry genetics company Aviagen has reported that its new hatchery in Watertown, N.Y. is now fully operational and began shipping chicks to customers in early November.Located in upstate New York just south of the Ontario border, the Watertown hatchery is strategically situated to efficiently supply Canadian customers with broiler breeding stock. “Aviagen continually makes investments that result in better service to customers,” says Kevin McDaniel, president, Aviagen North America. “The new hatchery enables us to keep up with the region’s expanding demand for our products, while at the same time promoting the success of our customers by offering them the highest quality of chicks possible.”The Watertown facility has become Aviagen’s seventh commercial breeding stock hatchery in the U.S.With a hatching capacity of up to 135,000 high-quality chicks per week (7 million per year), the new hatchery is able to effectively keep up a growing demand in the region. It is equipped with advanced technology equipment such as Jamesway Platinum incubators and hatchers, which are designed for heightened biosecurity and energy efficiency. Sophisticated environmental controls ensure consistently exceptional hatch results and provide the highest level of care available for our eggs and chicks.The new hatchery boasts a favorable strategic location. Its nearness to Aviagen customer farms translates to minimal transport times, which safeguards the safety, health and welfare of day-old chicks. And, the close proximity to JFK airport in New York makes it a logical location to safely and securely export choice broiler breeding stock.The new hatchery also contributes to the economy of the Watertown community, by employing 40 local people.
Hybrid Turkeys, a division of Hendrix Genetics, has built a new breeder facility between Berkeley and Markdale, Ont. The name of the farm, “Berkdale” is a mix of the two.While construction of a new turkey breeder farm might not seem terribly newsworthy, this one is, firstly because of its location. The site was chosen at a significant distance from the company’s other operations in southern Ontario, mainly for biosecurity reasons. “Five years ago we wouldn’t have even considered a location so far away from our other farms,” says Hybrid Turkeys’ farm division manager, Marek Mirda. “To ensure secure supply to our customers, especially during disease outbreaks and establishment of quarantine zones, we looked for an area with distance from our own and other poultry farms. During disease outbreaks there can be an impact on healthy farms due to restriction of movement within quarantine zones, so we want to minimize or eliminate this potential risk.”Hybrid Turkeys began its search for a location by examining a Canadian Food Inspection Agency map of Ontario that pinpoints all types of livestock operations. “We evaluated this area on the map to choose a location with the least amount of poultry operations,” Mirda notes. “After working with real estate firms, we found this property between Berkeley and Markdale.”New designLocation aside, Berkdale has other important biosecurity aspects, with the most significant being a farm design that connects the barns. In the past, Hybrid Turkeys would have designed the farm so the egg house and lay barn (for example) were separate buildings, and staff would therefore have to change clothing and boots every time they would go between. “A system of separate entry and exit not only adds risk of picking up outside organisms, but is also difficult during winter months in Canada,” Mirda explains. “The new system has staff go through biosecurity procedures once and then they have safe access to the entire barn system.” Hendrix Genetics is in the final stages of upgrading a layer breeder facility in Ontario that will have the same design, he adds. In addition, Berkdale (and a Hybrid Turkeys pedigree facility as well) have a dry shower and other additional measures to keep foreign organisms as far away from the barn as possible - on both the brood/grow side as well as lay barn side. Upon arrival at the farm, staff and any visitors must enter the dry shower facility, which requires individuals to change out of street clothes into farm clothing and footwear. Next, individuals exit the dry shower into a neutral air pressure zone before accessing the completely enclosed wet shower rooms. After using the shower facilities, individuals change again into new farm clothing and boots, ready to enter the clean zone of the farm. Outside the buildings, there is complete separation of the clean and dirty zones. Dirty zone roads are for external suppliers to deliver fuel and other supplies without entering the farm area. Clean zone roads are only for internal clean vehicles that transfer staff or supplies between barns. All the buildings’ mechanical equipment can be accessed from the dirty zone so that contracted service technicians have quick access in case of urgent need. Hybrid Turkey employees have access to a storage garage in the clean zone with equipment only to be used within the clean zone, and one on the dirty side for use only in the dirty zone. Additional biosecurity was gained through filling any saw cuts on concrete with caulking to prevent particulates from settling in. “One of the project members suggested we used ‘an entire truckload of caulking’ to ensure no cut was missed!” Mirda reports. In addition, as part of the ventilation system, the farm features darkout hoods large enough for a person to fit inside, which makes it easier to ensure proper cleaning of these areas. There is also a wash station for vehicles on the ‘lay side’ of the farm.Berkdale also features an innovative truck-loading dock for the egg cooler, complete with dock-levelling equipment and seal for the truck. This system allows for the use of trolleys to transfer eggs from the storage room into the trucks rather than the traditional moving of eggs by hand. “Temperature shock is avoided,” explains Mirda, “and there is also no need for an outside connection, in that the delivery driver can stay in the cab while the eggs are loaded by internal staff. It’s a best-practices system that improves worker health and safety and minimize the handling of eggs.”Results so farBerkdale began operation in August and all systems are running smoothly with birds doing extremely well. Mirda says the winter season is when staff expects to see the new design of this facility to show its full benefits. This will be in part because use of the barns on the lay side (that are connected between egg house and laybarn) will begin then, and also, from a comfort and efficiency standpoint, workers will not have to go outside as much during the harsh weather.When asked what factors other poultry operators should consider in building a similar facility isolated from all other farms in the company, the Berkdale staff had good input. They pointed to the decision of whether to try and relocate current employees or search for new employees close to the new facility who may need a lot of training and support. They also pointed out that you have to be ready for staff and equipment from other company facilities to be dispatched as needed for hands-on assistance at the ‘orphan’ facility.Scott Rowland, general manager, Americas at Hybrid Turkeys says that although this facility came at a significant cost, the company leaders feel that the investment in Berkdale is the next step in biosecurity for both customers and staff. “The features of this facility were designed to secure the supply to meet our customers’ needs, while ensuring excellent health and safety of our workers,” he says. “This investment signifies our dedication to continuous improvement. By spreading out our operations, we are working towards the next generation of biosecurity.”Hybrid Turkeys also has production and research facilities in several other locations in Canada, as well as in the U.S., France, Poland and Hungary.
At a conference last month, I ran into a peer who I would dub an “agvocist” – someone very passionate about promoting agriculture to the point that it pours over into her personal Facebook posts.  This woman is, for lack of a more appropriate word, effervescent.But, when I asked her what she thought of two on-farm animal welfare breaches that made the mainstream news last fall, her shoulders sagged slightly and a small sigh escaped from her lips.  I was taken aback.“Sorry,” she said as she collected herself.  “It’s just that there’s so much good being done out there that doesn’t make the news but agriculture is a slave to its exceptions.”  We carried on chatting for a little while and by the end of the conversation, she was back to her usual bubbly self, but that one brief moment of resignation startled me – perhaps because it was so out-of-character.  I think any farmer who strives to do what’s right grimaces when an undercover video surfaces. We cannot deny that Code of Practice violations will occur from time to time on Canadian farms – and yes, poultry operations too.   What we can do, is acknowledge and correct those breaches.  We can train personnel, instil respect for the animals in our care, reprimand and penalize as necessary and learn lessons from what happened.But let us not forget that there’s another side to the coin.  As well as recognizing when things have gone wrong, it’s equally important to acknowledge things done right, and applaud the many shining examples we own in this industry of sustainable farming.  We congratulate not because they are exceptions, but because they are – happily – instances of the trending norm.  As an industry, it’s essential to remind ourselves of that.So, on that note, in this issue we are delighted to tip our cap to Farmcrest Foods Ltd. (Farmcrest) of Salmon Arm, B.C., recipients of the 2016 Canadian Poultry Sustainability Award.  As you read on, you’ll discover how Farmcrest is dedicated to continual learning and improvement, takes responsibility as stewards of a sensitive land area and works to ensure that employees are treated like family.  The operation is a true model of sustainability in all of its forms.Owners Richard Bell and Alan Bird will receive $2,000, and a farm gate sign as well as the award itself.  We congratulate them on their achievement.In closing, I would also like to take the time to first acknowledge all of the applicants for the award.  Your dedication and commitment to your own longevity and that of the industry is commendable. I would be remiss as well, if I didn’t acknowledge our Canadian Poultry Sustainability Award judges this year – former Canadian Poultry editor, Kristy Nudds; Valerie Carney, poultry research scientist and technology transfer coordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry; and Al Dam, provincial poultry specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  The quality of the applicants was exceptional and selecting our winner was no enviable task.  Your thorough review process and willingness to give time to the selection of our winner is appreciated. Recognition, also, to would-be sponsors of the cancelled Canadian Poultry Sustainability Symposium: Big Dutchman, Clark Ag Systems Ltd., Chicken Farmers of Canada, Cobb-Vantress, Egg Farmers of Canada, Farm Credit Canada and Walbern Agri Ltd. Thank you for your support.
It’s been a year since Synergy Agri Group Ltd. (Synergy) in Port Williams, N.S. installed HatchCare – the first in Canada and the fourth company in the world to do so. And now, the company is currently producing 200,000 HatchCare broiler chicks a week.HatchTech of the Netherlands developed its ‘HatchCare’ incubation and chick care system to better benefit chicks, the environment and poultry farmers. The company conducted years of testing on HatchCare before rolling it out to market in 2014. The total number of chicks now being reared under the system per year is over 680 million, in Australia, China, Europe, South America, the U.S. and Canada. With HatchCare, the fertility of eggs is first checked using new lighting methods so that only 100 per cent viable embryos are incubated. Chicks are vaccinated while still in the egg. In a standard hatchery, chicks are shipped after emergence and receive their first food and water after they settle in on the farm a day later. In the HatchCare system, chicks are immediately able to drink and feed, which  – several research studies have shown – results in higher body weight and breast meat yield. HatchTech also cites research findings showing HatchCare chicks to be 1 cm longer at hatch due to their incubation conditions.HatchCare involves a unique and advanced handling system called HatchTraveller, where the chicks stay in small individual crates from hatching until delivery to the farm. The crates are then cleaned and disinfected for re-use. HatchTech representatives say this provides every chick with ongoing uniform conditions in terms of temperature, airflow and relative humidity. The highly energy-efficient HatchCare system also includes several features that enhance biosecurity, such as sealed incubators with filtered entry and exit air. Synergy's ExperienceDoug Kaizer, Synergy’s chief financial officer, is very positive about their decision to go with HatchCare. “We were expecting improvements in chick health, mortality, weight gains and feed conversion, but we did not expect the large improvement in early farm brooding,” he notes. “The chicks arrive ready to grow. We use lower initial temperatures, put less feed out on paper and generally treat the chicks as if they are a couple of days older than their age. This has shown to be a tremendous help in the older barns, where it was harder to get the proper conditions for the day-old chicks.”Kaizer says the system has also helped the company’s less-experienced barn managers. “The chicks aren’t as demanding, arrive with no hatchery infections and already have a built-in pattern for eating, drinking and resting,” he explains. “It has really levelled the playing field among different-aged facilities and experience levels of the farm operator.”With HatchCare, Synergy has also been able to significantly lower antibiotic use. Before the installation, an average of over 20 per cent of flocks had to be treated due to issues from the breeder flock/hatchery. With HatchCare, to date that’s less than five per cent, and in most cases, Kaizer says, the reason for the treatment has been identified and the issue removed at the hatchery level. He adds that their HatchCare hatchery will be the key component in their move to RWA (raised without antibiotics) broiler production. BiosecurityIn terms of biosecurity, Kaizer describes the system as “very” biosecure, partially because the entire setup - from egg delivery to chick delivery - takes place in areas isolated from each other, and because every process has built-in biosecurity aspects. “One of the best features is the ability to clean and disinfect after each batch of eggs and chicks are processed,” he says. With respect to fluff filtering, Kaizer notes that within the HatchCare setup, their processing room (take-off room) is extremely clean and by using a special storage area, they have reduced the size of the hatchery. Kaizer says they are adding to HatchTraveller by designing their own transport trailer, which will enable chicks to have feed throughout delivery, regardless of time or distance to the farm. “All chicks stay in the same box where they are hatched and do not undergo any of the stresses in traditional hatcheries related to handling by humans or machines,” he says. “The goal is to have an almost seamless transition for the chick from hatch to barn under perfect conditions.”On the energy efficiency front, Kaizer says it’s hard to make comparisons with their previous setup, as HatchCare systems are very automated and also require a lot of fresh air to maintain the perfect environment for the hatchlings. He believes they are just beginning to understand all the benefits of the system. Continuous improvement “Every aspect of the hatchery will see continued improvements over the next few months and years,” he notes. “We are working on specific incubation parameters for young and old breeder flocks as well as specific setups to enhance the hatchability and health of eggs kept over longer periods of time. Our hatching egg farms saw an immediate gain of four per cent hatchability, but we know that this can be improved by another two to three per cent with flock-specific incubation.”“We are continuing to experiment and adjust growing procedures in the barn as well the feed inputs for the broiler rations,” Kaizer adds. “Basically, we are examining every single aspect from the hatching egg farm to live transport to the processing plant to see how things can be improved for the chicks with the HatchCare system. The possibilities are almost endless.” Besides the initial cost of the system and needing to keep a good inventory of spare parts, the biggest drawback of the system in Kaizer’s view, is digesting the amount of information that’s becoming available and almost being overwhelmed by the number of future trials they want to do.Facility toursIn the past year, Synergy has hosted a lot of interested people who want to look at HatchCare in action. This has included staff from hatchery companies all over North America, South America, Europe and Australia. “As we say to all who have toured our facility,” Kaizer notes, “This is not an easy or cheap hatchery, but it produces the best chicks for the broiler farmer. If your organization’s goals are focused on health, animal welfare and broiler performance, this system is for you. But if your goal is least-cost hatching, you are better to look at the traditional hatchery systems.” However, he believes anyone thinking of building a new hatchery has to consider animal welfare and be concerned with traditional hatchers that don’t allow newly-hatched chicks access to food and water for many hours or days. He says all personnel at Synergy firmly believe HatchCare is the future of hatching for both animal health and animal welfare reasons. “When this system was unveiled,” concludes Kaizer, “we actually stopped our hatchery construction and redesigned the entire project to allow for the HatchCare system. Looking back, this was the best decision our company has ever made.” Return on investmentAsked about the return-on-investment timeline, Kaizer says that as an integrated system, when they add the profitability of the hatching egg farms and broiler farms to the hatchery profits, they are very satisfied with the rate of return. “Our customers [farmers and shareholders] not only benefit financially, but take great pride in knowing that the chicks they grow are the healthiest and most humanely-hatched chicks in North America,” he says. “There is no better return as a farmer than when you go home each day and can tell your ten year-old daughter that we hatch the healthiest, happiest chicks in the entire world.”
November 21, 2016 - Libro Credit Union (Libro) and the University of Guelph (UofG) have announced Ryan Gibson, PhD, as the Libro professor of regional economic development for southwestern Ontario. The professorship is a partnership between Libro and the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), focused on building economic development and innovationacross the region, through research, teaching, outreach and collaboration.Gibson joins the UofG from St. Mary’s University in Halifax, N.S. He’ll be working through the OAC’s school of environmental design and rural development.“Ryan’s expertise and experience are a perfect fit for this new position,” says Rene Van Acker, OAC dean. “His focus on community-engaged scholarship combined with his enthusiasm, assures me he will do great things while working with the communities of southwestern Ontario.”Gibson’s research examines issues related to the future of rural communities and regions, and topics such as governance, immigration and revitalization. He is also president of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, a national organization committed to strengthening communities by creating economic opportunities that enhance social and environmental conditions.Originally from rural Manitoba, Gibson has a deep respect for rural communities, rural people and the events that shape their futures. Growing up witnessing the transformations in rural development, agriculture and their influence on communities instilled a fascination and commitment to rural issues.Libro has committed to endow the professorship with $500,000 over 10 years, which will be matched to existing donations, for a combined gift of $1 million.Overall goals of the professorship include: Establishing southwestern Ontario as a defined economic region of the province and identifying strategies to shape the future vision of economic development Strengthening links between rural and urban communities to establish solutions for an integrated regional economy Building a network among Ontario’s post-secondary institutions and research facilities to collaborate on initiatives to grow regional economic development The professorship will be hosted at the UofG within the OAC, bolstered by the Ridgetown campus.
Elijah Kiarie hasn’t lost sight of the fact that the poultry industry is a business. He knows farmers want to maximize their income and they want their farms to be sustainable. As the newly appointed assistant professor in poultry nutrition in the department of animal biosciences at the University of Guelph, he intends to lead the establishment of a world-class program in poultry nutrition with a focus on improving feed efficiency to help that important bottom line. As farmers know, feed is more than 60 per cent of the cost of production. In Ontario alone, Kiarie estimated that with 200 million 2.4 kg broiler birds, improving feed efficiency by just one per cent would save the farmers in Ontario about $3 million. Across the country that would translate to $10 million in savings over half a billion birds per year. But when Kiarie uses the term “feed efficiency,” it’s not just your typical feed to gain ratio. Feed efficiency can mean so much more than that. What if birds could get more from their feed? The typical excretion rate on a corn/soy diet is up to 15 per cent. What if that could be reduced to 10 per cent? That would be more efficient. As hens are housed in larger spaces, will more nutrients be directed to activity rather than productivity, reducing feed efficiency? Bone health is also a huge issue: the early nutrition received by the chick plays an important part in the strength of the skeletal system. That is part of a field called epigenetics – a field of research investigating how genes are expressed, right from pre-hatch. Can the chick get a better start? What about antimicrobial use? Both governments and consumers are looking for alternatives. Can probiotics provide a solution? While Kiarie acknowledges manipulating the gut microflora involves more than just nutrition, with management factors also coming into play, what if slight changes in feed can reduce the need for antimicrobials in the first place? These are just some of the questions to which Kiarie will be seeking answers. So far he has defined several issues that may be implicated in sub-optimal production, from variability in feed ingredients and the ability of the bird to digest their food, to water quality issues, high gut microbial loads, subclinical and clinical disease, leg problems, and environmental stress from ammonia. For both eggs and meat, these issues may represent areas where commercial production can be brought closer to genetic potential through nutrition. All of these issues can be traced back to gut microbes. There are more than 400 species of bacteria in the gut – how can we make them happy? When you feed the bird you feed the chicken but you’re also feeding the gut microbes: improving efficiency means you want to only feed the bacteria the chicken needs. As Kiarie says, “If you’re feeding the wrong microbes, you’re wasting feed.“ The chicken is affected in a 360-degree cycle, he explains, starting with the fundamentals: a strong gut and skeletal system to perform. If you don’t have a good gut and skeleton you’ve missed an opportunity to deal with what he calls an “addressable gap.” In this cyclic pattern a chick grows on maternal nutrition, so the mother needs to be healthy; we can’t just look at the chick in isolation. With this cycle in mind, Kiarie is looking at the broiler breeders to address egg size and body weight management. Kiarie earned his PhD at the University of Manitoba and his undergraduate and masters degrees at the University of Nairobi. He has been a research scientist at DuPont Industrial Biosciences since 2011. In his new role at the University of Guelph he will pull together students, researchers, and funding from industry and government for projects and ultimately develop industry workers, bringing all these minds together to work as a team to help to place Ontario as a leader in collaborative, world-class poultry research. The current specific areas of focus for the poultry nutrition plan include neonatal nutrition, immunity and epigenetic responses; dietary factors that affect gut function and health, performance, and product quality; feed additives to improve gut health and feed utilization; researching alternatives to anti-coccidials and antibiotics; and looking at feedstuffs and processing methods. Kiarie continues to work closely with monogastric and gut microbiology colleagues from the University of Manitoba where he researched different feeding strategies to improve gastrointestinal health and nutrient use in pigs and poultry. During the first several months of his new job, Kiarie has met with producers at regional meetings, with industry groups and has spoken with feed company representatives and nutritionists to establish what issues are relevant to the Ontario and Canadian poultry industry. From here he will begin to generate letters of intent for research projects while continuing to publish his own research. While his task is complex, he says his greatest joy still involves answering questions from producers and training students.   His professorship position was made possible thanks to a donation by Ontario poultry farmers James and Brenda McIntosh to the university in 2013.
August 11, 2016 - Twenty-one U.S. land-grant institutions and partner organizations are collaborating to provide researchers, Extension professionals, regulators, feed industries, and producers with up-to-date, research-based information on the nutrient needs of agricultural animals. Since forming in 2010, the National Animal Nutrition Program has created a database of animal feed ingredients. The database is a vital tool to inform cost-effective production decisions, animal welfare policies and procedures, and to guarantee the safety and nutritional value of consumers' food. "Feed is the largest livestock and poultry production expense, and better information on animal nutritional needs and feeding strategies is key to making livestock production sustainable and effective," stated Merlin Lindemann, project leader fromUniversity of Kentucky. Activities conducted by the program aid in the development of feeding strategies and research to enhance animal health, which allows for better productivity and lowered costs. Consumers will also benefit from safer, more nutritious meat, dairy, and eggs. "The significance of this data is vast," says Phil Miller, project participant from University of Nebraska. "It shows how we can use the byproducts from biofuel grain production in animal feed more economically.  It also reveals how modified animal diets can reduce the emissions from livestock that contribute to global warming." So far, the program has collected and sorted 1.5 million feed ingredient records to create a reliable database that is used by organizations in over 30 countries, including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.  The National Animal Nutrition Program is a National Research Support Project supported by the Agricultural Experiment Stations with funds administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The feed database is only one of many accomplishments of the NANP since its inception in 2010. For more information, visit https://nanp-nrsp-9.org/ The participating land-grant universities include: Auburn University University of California, Davis University of Connecticut University of Guelph University of Illinois  Iowa State University University of Kentucky Michigan State University  Louisiana State University University of Maryland  University of Nebraska North Carolina State University  Ohio State University  Pennsylvania State University Purdue University  Texas A&M University  Texas Tech University  Virginia Tech University  Washington State University  University of Wyoming  USDA-ARS/Wisconsin
August 11, 2016 - Earlier this week Yum Brands investors filed a shareholder proposal requesting that it phase out antibiotic use in its meat supply, with a particular focus on the company's Kentucky Fried Chicken chain. READ MORE  
August 5, 2016 - As they prepare to take on the world in Rio, members of the national swim team were sent sent off with the best wishes of Canada's chicken farmers. These competitive swimmers, along with their coaches and support staff, have each been given a special edition 2016 Lucky Loonie, in recognition of farmers' and athletes' partnership for healthy living. "We are proud to be the official protein of swimming in Canada and to support Canada's athletes," said Dave Janzen, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada. "With the team equipped with these Lucky Loonies, we're cheering them on as they compete for Canada in Rio." "Swimming Canada's partnership with Chicken Farmers of Canada has grown every year, and continues to evolve," said Chris Wilson, Swimming Canada's Director of Marketing. "Our swimmers appreciate the support they get and understand the amount of work thatCanada's 2,800 chicken farmers do to put a healthy product on Canadian tables. This good luck gesture is a fun way for the farmers to remind the athletes of all the supporters rooting them on from back home." Last year, farmers' ongoing support for swimming in Canada was recognized with the 2015 Corporate Excellence Award from Aquatics Canada. The award specifically highlighted the farmers' wide range of support, from high performance athletes to the grassroots levels. The Lucky Loonie, a specially-minted coin from the Royal Canadian Mint, has been issued for each Olympic and Paralympic Games since a loonie was buried beneath the hockey rink for the 2002 Winter Games. It worked then too as both the men's and women's teams won gold that year.  
July 20, 2016 - The National Chicken Council (NCC) recommends revising or clarifying several key aspects of the proposed rule  from the National Organic Program (NOP), announced in April, to enhance bird health, protect food safety, and maintain a viable organic program. "NCC is concerned that the proposed rule imposes unreasonable costs and requirements of doubtful benefit on organic farmers, presents grave risks to animal health… and undermines ongoing international efforts to develop poultry welfare standards," said Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., NCC Senior Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, in comments submitted yesterday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The proposed standards are assumed to increase the mortality rates for laying hens and broiler chickens from 5 to 8 percent, a 60 percent increase. Mortality rates are a key indicator of animal welfare and flock health, yet the proposed changes would increase mortality, significantly decreasing bird welfare and farmer economic viability. The proposed standards are also in direct opposition to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recommendations for biosecurity. In light of the recent, devastating outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), it is vital farmers retain the ability to make timely preventive measures to protect their flocks. Under the current proposed rule, a "documented occurrence of a disease in the region or relevant migratory pathway must be present before outdoor access can be restricted," with unclear definitions of what constitutes a region or documented occurrence. Dr. Peterson also noted the proposal drastically underestimates, or neglects to estimate, the cost of the requirements and the impact of those costs. "NOP does not include the cost of an avian illness outbreak, the likelihood and magnitude of which is materially increased through the proposed outdoor access requirement." In other words, avian illness outbreaks like the 2015 HPAI outbreak will be more likely to occur, and the effects will be more likely to be greater, under the proposal. The direct economic consequences of the 2015 HPAI outbreak were estimated to be approximately $3.3 billion, far overshadowing the anticipated maximum benefit of $62.6 million per year in the proposed rule. The full comments can be accessed by clicking here.

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