Baildon Colony was established in 1967 and is located just south of Moose Jaw, Sask. Colony members currently farm about 19,000 acres in a continuous rotation of wheat, barley, canola, lentils, chickpeas, peas and soybeans. “Our land is a little bit rolling, but some of it is very flat as we are near the Regina Plains,” notes layer manager Paul Wipf. “Some of our cereal crops are used for our livestock, as we have a large hog operation, dairy, layers and also some turkeys.” Feed-grade grain goes for that purpose, with additional feed grain purchased as needed, and higher quality grain is sold.
When the colony started in 1967, members built a barn for 7,000 layers and maintained that number of hens until 1983, when another Hutterite colony was established in the province. At that point, colony members bought a 20,000-layer farm and split the quota in half so, in total, each colony had about 12,000 birds.
“All the hens were housed in conventional cages at the time as this was the going trend,” Wipf explains. “However, in 2009 we decided we needed to build a new pullet barn as our existing one was not big enough to produce all the pullets for our layer operation, and we decided to completely rebuild the layer barns too. The question was what kind of a layer barn do we build, as the growing concern was about whether conventional cages will be good enough in the future.”
To answer this question, Wipf approached Star Egg in Saskatoon to see if they were in need of free-run eggs to fill provincial demand. The company told him there was only one small free-run producer and that, yes, free-run eggs were sometimes in short supply. After a lengthy discussion, all the colony members agreed to pursue the challenge. They also decided that they would convert the old layer barn to a free-run pullet barn, and selected Hellman Poultry for the equipment needed for this and the new layer barn.
Then, in 2016, Star Egg approached Baildon to ask if the colony would be interested in turning half their free-run barn into organic production. There was no commercial organic egg producer in the province and demand was growing.
“Again, after a lengthy discussion, we decided rather than convert half our barn that we would build a completely different barn, as we had some layer quota that we were having to lease out anyway,” Wipf recalls. “This January we started talking with Pro-Cert, an organic certification company out of Saskatoon, to find out what was involved to produce organic eggs and built the organic barn accordingly.”
The colony again went with Hellman, and decided to situate the new organic barn close to the free-run barn. He notes that a lot of the construction of the new organic barn is made out of stainless steel, which he considers a must in free-run production.
The heating system is a hot water delta tube design from Europe, which Wipf believes should be both very efficient and also easy to clean. The ventilation system is Hotraco from Holland, chosen because the colony already has this in the layer barn and it is working very well.
The lighting, however, is different. Baildon went with LED lighting for the organic building because of the higher energy efficiency it provides and also because the LED fixtures are placed on the ceiling. What’s more, chickens sometimes break fixtures that hang down by flying against them.
Barn design and placement aside, the colony also had to answer the question of where the organic layer feed would be sourced. The answer was considered in light of the fact that this spring, Baildon had also decided to replace its existing centralized hammer mill used to grind feed for the hogs, dairy cattle, turkeys and layers.
“It had always served the colony well, but we felt it was time to change over to a disc grinder mill, as they are now more common,” Wipf explains. “The organic regulations would have allowed us to use the new mill for both organic and regular feed, but we would have had to flush the system every time we switched from one type to another, so we decided we will produce organic feed with our old hammer mill. It’s still in good-enough shape, and we’ll be making our organic layer feed with purchased organic grains.”
Baildon will achieve organic certification in January 2018. The colony members had gone into the January meeting with Pro-Cert with plans to have their first organic egg layer pullets arrive in early May. However, Pro-Cert informed them of a new organic regulation that had come into effect in December 2016. The new rule requires that the free-range pasture attached to the organic layer barn be monitored for a year before certification is granted. Wipf says it was a bit disappointing to learn about this new regulation, but there is nothing that can be done to speed things up.
In terms of the biggest challenge facing egg producers today, Wipf names hen housing. “The egg producers here in Canada will have to spend a lot of money in the next 15 years to change from conventional cages to enriched housing,” he notes. “However, the system has been good to us in the last 30 years, so it makes it a lot easier to accept that change.”
Once organic egg production is rolling in 2018, the colony will look at its degree of success and consider expanding and growing organic feed grain in the future.
After attending the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in the 1960s, Clarke returned to the family farm in Annapolis Valley, N.S., to work with his father, Harry, who was mainly a potato grower but was also involved in egg and pullet production.
In the late 1970s, Clarke and his father formed a partnership, until 1984, when he and his wife, Janet, took over the farm. They formed a limited company they named Southview Farms, which owns three farms on 750 acres growing corn, winter wheat, barley and soybeans.
Southview Farms is very much a family operation, Janet operates Clarke’s Trucking, which processes and distributes grains for the farm’s flocks.
Their son Jeff is the operations manager of Southview Farms, Clarke’s Trucking, plus another farm he owns separately. His wife, Kelly, is the farm office manager.
Southview Farms has three employees. There’s a full-time feed mill manager, Garry Rafuse. Matthew Tanner manages the layer facility. And Clarke’s nephew, Matt Petrie, is involved in most aspects of the daily operations, including feed distribution and product procurement.
The volume of production has risen greatly at Southview Farms over the last 13 years, from 16,000 layers and 40,000 pullets produced under license annually in 2004 until 2017 with an estimated 32,000 to 33,000 laying hens and “between Jeff and myself in excess of 100,000 pullets,” Clarke estimates.
He puts it all in perspective. “The average size of a family egg farm now in Canada is about 25,000 birds and there are approximately 1,000 egg farmers. These are family farms unlike in the U.S. where you can have flock sizes of several million birds. There are some U.S. operations that have more birds than all of the layers in Canada.”
Having family members highly involved in the farm business has enabled Clarke to devote more of his time off-farm to industry groups.
Throughout his farming career Clarke has been a regular on numerous industry organization boards, including in the role of director of Egg Farmers of Nova Scotia, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, chairman of ACA Co-operative Ltd., chairman of Agra Point, the provincial consulting body now known as Perennia, director of the Nova Scotia Winter Grains Marketing Board and Atlantic Grains Council as well as Atlantic representative on the Canada Grains Council.
Clarke also served as Nova Scotia’s representative to the Net Income Stabilization Agency and he was a member of the advisory committee of the Atlantic Veterinary College as well.
In 1995, Clarke was appointed to the Egg Farmers of Canada board as the Egg Farmers of Nova Scotia representative. Over the years, he chaired EFC’s budget, research and production management committees. He became first vice-chairman of the EFC in 2006 and chairman in 2011.
In that most senior role, Clarke helped guide the organization towards notable achievements. For example, during the international trade negotiations for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), his lobbying efforts helped secure continued support for supply management from every major Canadian political party.
Clarke is also proud of EFC’s role in helping to create several poultry research chairs. Universities across the country now have experts focused on issues such as egg industry economics, poultry welfare, public policy and sustainability.
The International Egg Foundation, a charitable arm of the International Egg Commission (IEC), was founded. Tasked with increasing egg production and consumption in developing countries, it worked with EFC on Project Canaan’s egg layer operation in Swaziland. In September 2014, it awarded EFC The Crystal Egg Award for outstanding commitment to corporate and social responsibility.
Clarke’s passion and dedication to agriculture has long been recognized. In 1990, the Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists presented him with its inaugural Outstanding Farmer Award. In 2007, the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia presented him with the Order of Nova Scotia and in 2012 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture.
Clarke’s acumen as a rural businessman was also saluted in 2006 with the Kings County Business Lifetime Achievement Award from the Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce.
After six years as EFC chairman, Clarke stepped down as a director last March, returning to the family farm and assuming the role as a controller for the IEC. “We review the finances of the IEC on behalf of its membership,” he says.
He believes firmly in the concept of social license. “We are producing a product for the consumers of this country,” he says. “We owe it to the consumers to be as open as possible about the production of that food.” He sees social license as encompassing the issues of animal welfare and care, codes of practice and sharing knowledge of what producers do on the farm. “By being transparent we will not encounter as much challenge to how we operate,” he says.
In 2016, the Canadian egg industry made a decision to transition from conventional cages to alternative housing. By 2026, Clarke believes Canadian egg farmers will be well along into the transition process, which has a deadline of 2036. He cautions, however, “when we do all of that; we have to consider both the health and welfare of our birds as well the people who tend our flocks.”
After going to university to take teacher training and spending a year in Japan, Kampen returned to the family farm, taking over management of the egg farm with his brother in 1996. “My dad believed in education,” he says. “He even offered me flying lessons.”
In 2000, Kampen bought his dad’s turkey farm. Four years later, he bought his present farm with the intent of moving both the turkey and egg production to the new location. It was not exactly the start he had imagined. “Four months later, I had a newborn child and Avian Influenza (AI) hit the Fraser Valley,” the producer says.
Although his flocks were not infected, he was in an AI hot zone and among the first wave of farms to be depopulated. Eventually, all commercial poultry farms in the Fraser Valley were depopulated, destroying about 18 million birds in the highest-density poultry production region in Canada. “I had a year of downtime,” Kampen states. AI has hit the Fraser Valley several times since but Kampen has not had to endure any further depopulations.
When he purchased his farm in 2004, he joined the Fraser Valley Egg Producers Association (FVEPA) and the BC Egg Producers Association boards, serving as FVEPA president for over eight years until stepping down in 2016. It was also when he started growing specialty turkeys for J.D. Specialty Poultry.
“(J.D. owner) Jack (Froese) had talked to me about growing specialty birds for him when I bought my dad’s turkey farm in 2000, but I wasn’t ready and he found another grower. When I bought my new farm in 2004, he talked to me again and I agreed.”
Kampen now grows about 8,000 birds per year for J.D. Although not organic, they are raised without antibiotics and fed an all-vegetable diet. “The flocks are grown for the four main holidays: Easter, the Canadian and American Thanksgivings and Christmas.”
In 2009, he built a new 190-by-48-foot turkey barn. The facility is big enough to grow his quota in two flocks – one for Easter and the other in the fall. “I think RWA (raised without antibiotics) works because I have so much downtime between flocks,” Kampen states, adding the key to such production is to maintain good water and litter quality.
With that in mind, he reduces the pH in his water to reduce challenges, adds Gallinet+ (an organic acid) to the feed and often top-dresses the litter to keep it dry.
Between flocks, the barn gets a full floor wash. When Kampen built the barn, he put a three-inch drop on the floor to the side doors so the rinse water automatically flows to the side. “I am so happy I did that because it reduces the work,” he says.
If turkey quota increases in future, Kampen hopes to grow a third flock in the summer rather than build a brand new barn.
High tech convention
Unlike the turkeys, his egg farm is a conventional caged layer operation. When he built a new egg barn in 2009, it was 15 per cent larger than he needed. However, with all the quota increases egg producers have since received, he has already expanded it to accommodate about 25,000 layers.
The new layer barn has tunnel ventilation, which Kampen says has made a huge difference. “On hot July days, birds were panting in the old barn but I’ve never seen an open mouth in this barn.”
It is also fully metered, with real-time data available on his smartphone. “I was at a meeting in Calgary and noticed lower feed consumption so I asked my worker to check the feed bin. It was plugged. Having that information available makes leaving the farm less stressful.”
He has not decided how and when, or even if, he will transition out of conventional cages but notes he did build an “adaptable” barn. “It was designed so the beams can be removed to create a floor system. It can also be divided into four zones so I can have an aviary in one or more zones.”
Supply management praise
Kampen is a fierce proponent of supply management, saying the future is bright for the Canadian poultry industry if the system is continued and producers can convince consumers of its benefits. He feels that is easier than many believe. “I was involved in a focus group with adult consumers a few months ago. They liked the camaraderie between growers and that we don’t have to compete with each other. They didn’t fully understand supply management but grasped that with it I wouldn’t be forced out of business by a bigger farm.”
He believes one way to sell supply management is to compare it to fair trade in coffee. “People understand the concept of fair trade and if we can associate that with supply management they will support us.”
Growing up, she lived with her family near an urban golf course in B.C. DeVries met her first husband, a dairy farmer, in high school, igniting a fire inside her for agriculture that has never gone out.
Shortly after they married, the couple left to seek their fortunes in the wide-open prairies of southern Alberta. “Although we would love to have farmed right away, financially it was not possible so we took our savings and started a manure-hauling and highway trucking company,” she remembers.
In early 2000, they had an opportunity to try their hand at chicken farming when the owner of a poultry operation had to unexpectedly go back to Holland. The realtor involved knew they wanted to be part of the poultry industry and asked if they would be willing to manage the farm for a time. “We were so thankful for the opportunity to get our feet wet,” she says.
Just before shipping out their first flock, however, deVries’ husband was severely injured in a farm accident. She found herself not only a wife and mother to their three young children, but a nurse and farmer as well. “We had committed to three cycles and, with help from friends, we fulfilled our commitment,” she says proudly. “Then, the new owners of the farm arrived and I was now teaching them. It was an emotional day when we realized we had to step away from something we had begun to love.”
In 2005, the couple was able to purchase a poultry farm in Coaldale, Alta. “We were so excited to be back at it!” she remembers. “As the years progressed, we built up a feedlot. I managed the poultry and, together, we managed the cattle and land.”
In 2009, tragedy struck. DeVries’ husband took ill, and by 2011, had died of cancer. It was only with the support of family, her local church and her farming neighbours that she was able to keep her family and her farm going. “Although the months after his passing were sometimes quite overwhelming, I was committed to running a successful operation,” she says.
“I learned more in those months about mechanics and furnaces, inlets and actuators, bearings and motors than I had ever known before. The feed salesman and local livestock service company were the top two numbers on my phone’s favourite list. They and others were always willing to come to my aid when I couldn’t find my own way through a problem.”
DeVries married again, and her new husband’s clients were all in Edmonton. So when a farm became available in the area, they purchased it with the intent of moving there after her youngest child graduated high school. It was a great fit, as her two older children had settled there with grandchildren already born, and her youngest deciding after his graduation that he wanted to move to B.C.
DeVries and her husband now farm 58,000 birds in three barns on the farm’s 25 acres. “I know this farm has been here for many years, alternating between turkeys and chickens,” she relates. “It’s about a 40-minute drive to Edmonton, and 15 of our acres are cropped by a neighbouring dairy farmer.”
DeVries and her husband – who is a graphic designer with a full-time career in his field, but also helps out daily in the barn – have upgraded almost everything. “Some of the bigger changes were adding computer systems in each barn, replacing furnaces and exhaust fans, and adding stir fans to be able to create a better environment for the birds,” she says. “It’s important to me that I am able to monitor what is happening inside the barns when I am not there.”
It’s also important to deVries and her husband that their children get a post-secondary education or trade outside of farming, and while both their older son and son-in-law are apprenticing in the electrical trade, they also help out at their parents’ farm with weekend chores, barn clean-outs and maintenance. “Words can’t describe how wonderful it is to work together as a family on our farm,” she says.
For 10 years while on the Coaldale farm, deVries had hosted a farm tour for second-year agriculture students from Lethbridge College. But at the new farm near Edmonton, she hadn’t done any tours at that point.
“One day a senior lady from our church mentioned she knew where we lived because she had driven through our farm,” she remembers. “At first the alarm bells went off, but then I got to thinking maybe she was just curious. I think it’s important to be transparent in our industry, so I thought what better way to educate people on where their food comes from than a farm tour.”
DeVries started the day by serving 10 lovely senior ladies pastries and coffee and talking about the farm. “And then we headed to the barn to put on our coveralls and booties and have a look at the chickens,” she remembers. “They were so excited! They absorbed everything that I shared with them and when it was time to leave, they really didn’t want to.” Two days later, deVries got a text from a woman from another seniors’ group, requesting a tour. And so, she began regularly hosting tours.
DeVries has also hosted the Alberta Chicken Producers (ACP) booth at Aggie Days in both Lethbridge and Calgary and found it very enlightening. “I was naive when I thought everyone knows what a farmer does!” she says. “It was so good to be able to share our industry with everyone that came through both young and old.” Most recently in terms of advocacy volunteering, deVries worked alongside ACP staff at a three-day Amazing Agriculture event in Edmonton, where 1,500 grade four students learned about where their food comes from.
Transparency is a must, in her view. “There are widespread misconceptions of our farming practices in all sectors of agriculture and this places a lot of pressure on farmers,” she notes. “A recent consumer study conducted for the Alberta chicken industry, for instance, revealed that a vast majority of consumers believe that chicken in Canada is raised with hormones and steroids – both of which have been banned in Canada for over 50 years! The study also revealed that most consumers cannot differentiate between hormones and antibiotics.”
She believes that while many farmers are uncomfortable with social media and other forms of public communication, there are other ways every farmer can do his or her part. She says it’s been “an incredible experience” to see how the act of hosting a farm tour or participating in a trade show immediately transforms perceptions of farming.
In the fall of 2017, deVries hopes to join the Classroom Agriculture Program and attend more ACP seminars. She eventually would like to serve on the ACP board.
DeVries sees a current industry challenge to be the possibility of allowing more imports into the Canadian market. “Canadian farmers are local farmers and they have been providing safe, high-quality food to Canadians for years,” the producer notes.
“I know this because I grow chicken under audited, mandatory Animal Care and On Farm Food Safety Assurance Programs. Being audited every year by a third party means that I and all chicken farmers across Canada are accountable for our practices.”
She believes opening up the markets to more imports will also undoubtedly place the livelihood of Canadian farming families at a great risk as well as compromise the supply of fresh, Canadian grown-products for consumers.
“I’m proud to be a Canadian farmer and to be able to pass a strong and sustainable profession onto future generations,” she says. “We as farmers, along with all members of the supply chain, have a responsibility to tell our story and do our best to ensure Canadians understand how and why we do what we do and what’s at stake. If we don’t tell our story, others will.”
A strong advocate for the industry, she hopes her position will help her to improve the industry for producers and consumers alike.
Kroeker-Klassen is a fourth-generation egg farmer who grew up on her parents’ farm in rural Manitoba. She left for the city after high school and returned in 2002 when her father asked if she wanted to keep the farm’s books part time. Back then, she had two young children at home, so the part-time role fit her schedule well.
Gradually, she took on a bigger role on the farm, eventually looking to her brother, James Kroeker, as a potential partner. “We both recognized that we had certain skills and character traits that complemented each other,” she says. “When we approached mom and dad, they were quite happy to have another generation step in.”
In 2008, the siblings began to expand the family farm. “Up until that point it had been just one family, but now we were looking at supporting two or three families on one farm,” Kroeker-Klassen explains. Together, they bought more quota – both layer and pullet – and actively sought out more land to rent or buy. Eventually, the siblings took over the farm and their father took on the role of company president.
Today, the pair raise 16,600 laying hens and 34,000 pullets, and crop 1,400 acres of corn, soybeans, canola and wheat near Landmark, Man., which sits 30 minutes southeast of Winnipeg. The layers and the pullets are raised in conventional barns with the hens producing white omega-3 eggs for the Omega program.
On the farm, the duo is responsible for the day-to-day chores. Kroeker-Klassen’s husband, Ed Klassen, works for the Manitoba government, which takes him off farm and into the city of Winnipeg.
The couple has two children, daughter Talia and son Adam. Talia and her husband, Jeremy, have an egg farm as well. Jeremy was one of the Manitoba new entrants winners, an award that gave the couple 6,000-layer quota. They’ve been in production for just over a year now.
Adam is still in high school. He spends a lot of time on the farm and has a lot of mechanical skill, his mother says. Although he talks about one day farming as well, he has plans to take a welding program in the fall.
As most producers will attest to, working with family on a daily basis can sometimes be tough, and farming is often isolating. Occasionally, time off the farm rejuvenates the spirit and offers a fresh perspective, which is why when it was first suggested that Kroeker-Klassen would be a great fit as director on the Manitoba Egg Farmers board she strongly considered it. But, when the idea first came up, she admits that she was not ready. “At the time, discussion here on the farm was that it wasn’t the right time – that I was still too hands-on involved in everything that was going on with the farm,” she says.
A year later, another opening came up on the board, a shorter, one-year term. Although the timing still wasn’t perfect, the board’s requirements were reasonable enough that she felt she could take on the role. “My husband was probably my biggest encourager to pursue something outside of the farm,” Kroeker-Klassen says. “In his words, he thought I was kind of stagnating a bit and not using some of the skills that I had gained from my other career choices and other jobs that I had had.”
Those accomplishments include administrative skills gained through work at one of Winnipeg’s largest hospitals, and the social finesse that comes with working as a real estate agent. “I guess he thought that I should probably try to branch out a little bit,” she continues. “A farm can be isolating. He was a good encourager on that.”
It turned out he was right, as Kroeker-Klassen found she enjoyed working on the board. Since then, she has taken on an even more active role. In March, she was elected vice-chair of Manitoba Egg Farmers with the idea that she could possibly fill the role of chair in the future.
“We work very much for Manitoba’s egg farmers, as far as developing policies and procedures to ensure that our Manitoba egg and pullet farmers are kept up to date with changing markets and consumer trends, and making sure that we are staying at the forefront of that,” she says.
Those who serve on the board must be active farmers. “Because we are all active farmers the decisions we make impact us as well,” she said. “I think that’s important.”
Manitoba Egg Farmers also promotes eggs and agriculture to the general public through events like the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair in Brandon, Touch the Farm at the Red River Ex in Winnipeg and Agriculture in the Classroom throughout the province. “All of these are places where we can actually talk to the general public and consumers about eggs and how eggs are produced in Manitoba and Canada, and put a face to farming,” Kroeker-Klassen says.
“I find that very rewarding to be able to have a conversation with somebody and show them how farming is done,” she continued. “If we can open people’s eyes to that, that’s a win in my books.”
As the only woman on the board, Kroeker-Klassen brings with her a unique perspective. Her earlier, off-farm employment also comes in handy, as it enables her to see a bigger picture – one that includes both producers and consumers. It also helps that she is an active farmer at the forefront of the farm operation. “I guess I would be in a unique position in that my husband has nothing to do with the farm,” she adds. “It’s my thing. It’s my job, my career.”
As someone who is goal driven, Kroeker-Klassen finds her role on the board to be deeply fulfilling. “To be able to sit in a room where we can brainstorm and plan together and see a plan executed – for me, there’s huge satisfaction in that,” she says.
Keeping in line with her personality, she has also set goals that she’d like to accomplish while on the Manitoba Egg Farmers board. “I would very much like to see a national pullet agency,” she said. “Being both an egg producer and a pullet producer, I just see so much value in having a regulated agency for pullets.”
Perhaps her most important goal, though, is to make the industry as good as it can be. “Not just for farmers, but for all of Canada,” Kroeker-Klassen says. “We need to protect our food supply and anything I can do to help that along, I want to try and do that.”
“I like being a farmer and knowing that we’re providing safe, nutritious and economical food products, and I want to protect that for the whole country because I think it’s important for everybody,” she concludes.
Hawley is a graduate of the Prince's Operation Entrepreneur program, one of Charles's charities in Canada that helps veterans transition to civilian life. In Hawley's case, that transition has led him from the battlefield to the farmer's field — his own organic poultry and vegetable operation.
Hawley and his wife, Carolyn Guy, were among the beneficiaries of the program who met the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in Trenton, Ont., during the royal couple's three-day tour of Canada. READ MORE
Griffith is an egg and crop farmer from Lambton County and a past chair of Egg Farmers of Ontario. Throughout her career as an egg farmer, she has answered thousands of consumer questions about eggs and egg farming at various events such as the Canadian National Exhibition, Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Western Fair, local events and schools. She was also instrumental in helping to establish the Who made Your Eggs Today? Campaign.
As a past chair of FarmGate 5, Carolynne represented farmers on a global level in numerous trade negotiations around the world including meetings in Geneva, Hong Kong and Brussels.
Harry Pelissero, General Manager of Egg Farmers of Ontario, applauds Griffith for her strong agricultural advocacy through all positions. “Carolynne dedicates herself to all undertakings, and she shows her genuine passion and pride for farming with grace and quiet elegance. She consistently commits her time, knowledge and experiences to engaging industry members, students and Canadians in general.”
Lambton Federation of Agriculture spokesperson Al Langford says Griffith has been instrumental in the agriculture sector, having supported many local and provincial farm organizations in a wide variety of ways – from organizing events and serving as a board member and past Chair of Egg Farmers of Ontario, to actively engaging the Canadian public. “
The Champion Award has been presented annually, since 1999, to worthy agricultural advocates.
Farm & Food Care Ontario is a coalition of farmers, agriculture and food partners proactively working together to ensure public trust and confidence in food and farming.
For more information visit www.FarmFoodCareON.org.
Competitive poultry pageantry is not only a highly entertaining hobby—it’s an obsession. For members of Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club in New Zealand, it’s also way of life.
Senior member, Beth Inwood, and president, Doug Bain, have tasted the glory of raising perfect rosecomb cockerels and rumpless pullets, while newbie teenagers Rhys Lilley and Sarah Bunton enjoy the good clean fun. But feathers start to fly when infighting breaks out in the club during the run-up to the 2015 National Poultry Show.
As energetic as any sport film and as comedic as you’d imagine Best in Show chicken pageantry to be, Pecking Order serves up an endearing look at poultry passion.
Pecking Order is set to premiere at the Hot Docs International Film Festival in Toronto, Ont., on April 29.
For more information, visit: Pecking Order - Hot Docs International Film Festival
“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 of
Vaandrager 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 are
judged 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.
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.
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.
For Susan Schafers, the choice to go cage-free in 2007 was obvious. “At the time, my father still owned the quota, and he downsized from 30,000 to 7000 layers,” she explains. “For that smallish flock size, free-run made sense financially. And also, my brother, Martin Kanehl, was selling poultry barn equipment, and we saw the writing on the wall with cage-free. Everyone would be moving that way. I think we were second in Alberta to do it.”
Schafers’ operation, STS Farms, located in Stony Plain (outside Edmonton) supplies Burnbrae, which is the sole provider of eggs to McDonald’s Canada. Schafers is pleased that the retail chain sources eggs, meat, potatoes and more from Canadian farms, a practice some other chains don’t choose to employ.
STS Farms was started by Schafers’ parents Manfred and Elke Kanehl, in the early 1960’s. They were immigrants from Germany who met and married here. “My Dad did everything from working the railroads to being a cowboy to running a hatchery,” Schafers explains. “At one point, he got a few hundred chickens and then grew from there. He grew grain as well, and had a broiler-breeder operation and then went to layers. As their layer flock downsized and they stopped cropping, their pullet operation grew and STS Farms now produces 150,000 pullets a year. “We started with free run housing with the pullets, then went to caged and now we’ll be switching to loose housing again, which might mean downsizing,” Schafers says. “The next renovation will be aviary free-run, with birds having the opportunity to learn how to fly.” She notes that in 2007, she would have gone to an aviary system for the layers, but they weren’t around at the time. “Now there are better styles,” she says. “They’ve done a lot of development work, and now you have the ability to place more birds.”
While Schafers supports producers using aviary, enriched cage or free-run systems, she notes that when you go from cages to one of the looser housing systems, there is an increase in the environmental footprint of the farm – a fact which many consumers may not realize. “You have to build more barns, which takes up more space and uses more resources and adds to the cost,” she notes. “That’s the reality. It will take time for industry to make those changes. I think consumers should have the choice of buying eggs from hens living in different housing systems, but it’s different when retailers and some consumers dictate a single choice to egg farmers and to all consumers. Going to all free-run barns across the country will mean the price of eggs will go up substantially. But there is a silver lining in that there is excitement and enthusiasm in the industry along with some fear and uncertainties. We have a very strong and positive industry. Eggs are considered healthy again, and we’re in growth mode. I’d like to build a second barn in time.”
Schafers has five full-time employees and several part-time employees, some of whom have been with her over 20 years. She has a farm manager, but does lots of hands-on daily tasks such as gathering eggs and loading pullets as she enjoys it, it keeps her in good touch with the birds and it provides good balance. Her parents live next door to her and her children on the farm, and her Dad Manfred still enjoys helping out and sharing his wealth of knowledge. Schafers’ children Isaac (14 years old), Elisabeth (17) and Glen (19) have always helped out on the farm. “I’ve always encouraged them to get post-secondary education and to have that experience away from the farm,” she says. “They will know when and if they want to come back.”
Importance of Associations
Like Schafers’ father, who served on the Egg Farmers of Alberta (EFA) and Egg Farmers of Canada boards for many years, Schafers also has held association positions. She’s the current EFA Vice Chair and former Chair and has also served on the Pullet Growers of Canada board. “Unless you’re on a board, you don’t realize how important it is,” she says. “At some point, every producer should be on the board. You see how what you do on your own farm relates to what is happening in your own province and nationally, how the provinces need to work together on national issues and also international ones. I really enjoy the board service.”
Schafers has a degree in Agricultural Management, and does both public speaking and blogging on the EFA website. “Ag education is one of the things I love the most,” she says. “It’s many things. I enjoy being part of the conversation and talking to people about their views. I love teaching people about where their food comes from in the schools, at events, on television, and I think it’s very important as an entire industry because interacting means you’re able to develop your industry and reach people. We are well on our way to educating people about food and animal husbandry but we can always do more.”
She adds, “I think egg producers are living in a great time, in a very strong growth mode where eggs are viewed as nutritious, fresh and economical for consumers. Yes, there are challenges, the biggest one being the housing situation, but we will meet those. I am very happy being on the EFA Board, with the current focus on planning and supporting producers to find solutions.
“Producer education and awareness are very important so that producers are prepared for the future and aren’t left scrambling.”
Who's Who: Alberta – Tara deVriesIt’s difficult to sum up Tara deVries’ involvement with the…
Energy technology company to significantly impact poultry industryJuly 26, 2017, McKinney, TX - Global Re-Fuel is an…
Egg production on the riseJuly 31, 2017 - Canadian egg production has risen 4.4…
Canada's top ten NAFTA demandsAugust 14, 2017, Washington - Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland…
PIC’s fundraiser golf tournamentWed Sep 06, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
The West Niagara Fair and Poultry ShowThu Sep 07, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Canada’s Outdoor Farm ShowTue Sep 12, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Farm & Food Care Ontario's Breakfast on the FarmSat Sep 16, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, Public Agriculture SummitMon Sep 18, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
100th International Plowing Match and Rural ExpoTue Sep 19, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM