Animal Housing
Dalaine Farm
Sector - Broilers
Location - Shakespeare, Ont.
Published in Companies
Nesting behaviour in laying hens is complex, and according to poultry scientists such as Dr. Michelle Hunniford of the department of animal biosciences at the University of Guelph in Ontario, there’s a lot left to discover.
Published in Eggs - Layers
February turned out to begin very cold, more snow and windy. Any work that could be done inside the new barn building was done when temperatures were not frigid. Some days were too cold to get any work done.

Electrical lines for lights got installed on the ceiling and the baffle on the west side. Any work that had to be done on the ceiling or high areas had to be done before the scissor lift got picked up.

The arrangement with the scissor lift was that you pay a weekly rate, and when you have it for three weeks, you get the fourth week free. This is what worked for us.

From February 4 - 6, the insulation got put in the attic. The first day was very mild with the snow melting on the roof causing a steady stream of dripping off the steel roof. This job had two fellows who were experienced in insulating attics completing the work.

We had two overhead doors to be installed – one for the cooler for Burnbrae Farms to do their weekly pick-up of eggs, and the other as a big entrance to the main barn when the birds arrive and then depart after 51 weeks.

Timing for this had to be when the interior was completed so that the doors could be fastened to completed walls and ceiling.

Again, working in a freezing temperature environment had to be avoided.

Both doors got installed February 11 and finishing these up occurred the next weekend.

For the entire month, we were anticipating getting the concrete for the floor poured.


I have never watched the weather forecast so diligently, and part of frustrating February was that we wanted the concrete floor to get poured.

Nick chose a warmer stretch of weather later in the month to start using propane to run the heater to begin thawing the ground.

Preparation work to level the floor for concrete took place on February 23 and continued early in the next week. The weather forecast had sun and mild temperatures for that week.

Once again, loads of stone were brought in, a bobcat brought stone inside, and a roller flattened out the floor to make it level with the help of laser level that was set up on a tripod in the corner of the barn.

February 28 brought a 13-degree day, and the concrete floor was finally poured.

There were a dozen guys doing the pour, running the concrete pumping truck, and spreading and levelling the concrete.

The first concrete truck came by 8:00 A.M. and the last truck load was done by 12-noon. A truck came every half hour. All of this activity brought curious neighbors to sneak a peek at all the action going on.

The next couple days were filled with finishing the concrete with power trowels to give it a smooth finish.

March came in like a lion on the 1st with a snowstorm in Haldimand County, about 15 centimeters of snow, and the first snow day for school kids.... so, we were glad that this big job was done.

Cindy Egg Farmerette

CLICK HEREto read more about Cindy's experience transitioning from a conventional to an enriched layer barn.
Published in Blog
As the Canadian egg industry phases out conventional cages, most farmers will decide to install free-run or enriched cage housing. For its part, poultry housing maker Big Dutchman is presently seeing a 50/50 split on its Canadian sales of the two housing types, but sales lead Ron Wardrop says he’s recently seeing a little more interest from producers in enriched cages.
Published in Eggs - Layers
The updated National Farm Animal Care Council code of practice for laying hens contains many specifications for foraging, perches and nests – enrichments that allow the hens to engage in natural behaviours. These enhancements vary to some degree among housing providers. Here’s what some of them offer and why.
Published in Eggs - Layers
Footpad dermatitis (FPD) in broiler chickens is characterized by ulcerated lesions on the underside of the foot, and is associated with poor litter conditions – typically characterized by high moisture and ammonia levels. Broiler FPD presents itself within the first two weeks of age and increases in severity as bird body weight and footpad (FP) contact with litter increases.
Published in Broilers
Poor skeletal health in commercial laying hens was first documented as a production issue in the 1950s. It became an animal welfare concern in the 1980s, when scientists first documented a high prevalence of bone fractures after handling hens at end of lay.
Published in Layers
Feather pecking is not an act of aggression but repetitive pecking that is thought to be a result of stress, according to Dr. Krysta Morrissey, a postdoctoral researcher with the department of animal biosciences at the University of Guelph. “It can cause pain and injury and is an animal welfare concern.”
Published in Eggs - Layers
Animal Health Australia has received more than 100,000 submissions on draft national poultry guidelines, and cage eggs was one of the most contentious.

The draft Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines for poultry will replace the 15-year-old voluntary regulations. The guidelines cover all aspects of poultry farming but cage eggs are a focus, with about 11 million hens housed in cages in Australia – more than half of all laying hens.

Animal welfare groups such as the RSPCA and Animals Australia want cages phased out and ultimately banned. They say battery cages are cruel and severely restrict movement, leading to bone and muscle weakness, and distress.

But the chief executive of Egg Farmers of Australia, John Dunn, said the “radical suggestion” of a ban or phase-out of cages would lead to massive loss of production and increase the price of eggs. He said 56 per cent of egg production in Australia involved cages and the industry “can’t just turn that off”. For the full story, click here.
Published in News
Ontario is supporting farmers and agri-food businesses to improve their energy efficiency, save money and fight climate change through two new programs from the Green Ontario Fund, a non-profit provincial agency funded by proceeds from the province's cap on pollution and carbon market.

Chris Ballard, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, was recently joined by Parminder Sandhu, Green Ontario Fund board chair and interim CEO, and Dr. Helena Jaczek, MPP for Oak Ridges-Markham, to announce the launch of the GreenON Agriculture and GreenON Food Manufacturing programs.

GreenON Agriculture will provide funding to help improve energy efficiency in climate-controlled production facilities such as swine or poultry barns, greenhouses and grain dryers.

Improvements include new or upgraded energy curtains and cover materials in greenhouses and building insulation in walls and ceilings of livestock facilities.

GreenON Food Manufacturing will help encourage food and beverage processing facilities to adopt innovative, cleaner technologies, with opportunities for low-carbon fuel use, waste heat recovery, improved air balance and upgraded refrigeration systems.

Supporting farmers and agri-food businesses in the transition to a low carbon economy is part of Ontario's plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.

“A competitive and sustainable agri-food sector is vital to Ontario’s economy. Helping our province’s covered agriculture and food and beverage processing sectors transition to a low-carbon economy will help ensure their long-term sustainability while supporting Ontario’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Published in News
The 2018 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) had more than 31,000 poultry, meat and feed industry attendees from all over the world, approximately the same as last year. In addition, the show has more than 521,000 square feet of exhibit space and 1,218 exhibitors. Sponsored by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, American Feed Industry Association and North American Meat Institute, IPPE is the world's largest annual feed, meat and poultry industry event of its kind.

“This year’s exhibit floor and attendee and exhibitor numbers are a compliment to IPPE’s extensive education sessions, invaluable networking opportunities and diverse exhibits showcasing innovative technology, equipment and services. The excitement and energy displayed by this year’s attendees and exhibitors will continue to ensure the success and growth of future IPPEs,” remarked IPPE show organizers.

The central attraction is the large exhibit floor. Exhibitors displayed the most current technology in equipment, supplies and services used by industry companies in the production and processing of meat, poultry, eggs and feed products. Numerous companies highlighted their new products at the trade show, with all phases of the feed, meat and poultry industry represented, from live production and processing to further processing and packaging.

The wide variety of educational programs complemented the exhibits by keeping industry management informed about the latest issues and events. This year’s educational line-up featured more than 140 hours of education sessions, ranging from packaging trends and technologies, to feed production education, to researchers presenting findings on poultry disease, quality and behavior.

Other featured events included the International Poultry Scientific Forum, Beef 101 and Pork 101 Workshops, Pet Food Conference, TECHTalks program, Event Zone activities and publisher-sponsored programs, all of which have made the 2018 IPPE the foremost annual protein and feed event in the world.

Also, remember to save the date for the 2019 IPPE. With the Super Bowl coming to Atlanta in 2019, the IPPE show dates have been moved to Feb. 12 – 14, 2019.
Published in News
Abbotsford, B.C., October 2, 2017 – New range standards mean consumers can be confident that when they buy free-range eggs, they know the hens must have access to a good quality, outdoor range. B.C. is the first province in Canada to set standards for free-range birds.

The new standards state that hens must have access to the range at least 120 days a year – and a day is a minimum of six hours. Farmers must document the number of days and hours a day hens have access to the outdoors.

“BC farmers have always given their free-range hens access to the outdoors on a regular basis; however, we did not have a verification system in place,” Katie Lowe, PAg, executive director of BC Egg, said in a press release. “These new standards mean that farmers have to document outdoor access and we will audit them to ensure they are meeting these basic standards.”

The standards, which were developed with the assistance of animal care specialists and farmers, state that hens must be given outdoor access when the temperature is between 15 and 30 degrees Celsius. If a farmer restricts outside access, he/she must have a letter from a vet stating why the access is restricted.

A common reason might be an illness in the flock that could be passed on to neighbouring farms if the hens were outside. Similarly, if B.C.’s Chief Veterinarian determines that the risk of a disease like Avian Influenza is too high, she may require that hens are kept inside.

The standards also dictate that the range must have grass, be free from debris, and not have anything that can attract wildlife (like food dishes). These standards are in addition to the standards outlined in the new Code of Practice of Care and Handling of Laying Hens.

“We are very proud to be the first in Canada to set these standards and make them mandatory for all free-range farmers in BC,” Lowe concluded. “Our farmers want to provide the best possible care for their hens and they know these standards will help them do just that.”
Published in Eggs - Layers
August 30, 2017, Abbotsford, B.C. - Nestled in the red Farm Country livestock barns is a display set up by B.C. Eggs, the provincial egg-marketing board, of a new cage system for non-free-range or organic birds.

Within the next two decades every caged chicken on a B.C. farm will be re-housed. Just over five per cent of chickens in B.C. are already in the new cages, while 23 per cent of B.C. chickens already live cage-free, in free-run or certified-organic conditions. The board says B.C. has the highest percentage of cage-free hens in all of Canada. READ MORE 
Published in Eggs - Layers
August 28, 2017 - Cage-free egg farming experts suggest ways to avoid negative behaviors that reduce bird health and productivity.

With more egg producers switching to cage-free production, farmers now need to understand and manage the dynamics of hen socialization and behavior in order to consistently achieve the healthiest and most productive flocks.

Keeping birds in cages limited activity and allowed the establishment of a social hierarchy inside the cage. Now, birds are free to interact with a larger group and are exposed to a wider range of conditions, which can cause antisocial behavior and lead to lower productivity.

Bird experts say the transition requires farmers to spend more time observing the flock’s behavior, understand what conditions are causing negative behaviors, and make the necessary adjustments to the environment.

Egg farmers are faced with three key behavior challenges: hens laying eggs outside of the nest, hens piling in one area or smothering one another, and generally aggressive behavior.

These negative behaviors often don’t manifest, or can’t be observed and understood, when walking the house during routine management. Farmers need to sit and watch for a few minutes to see how the birds behave and interact on their own. That way, farmers can better understand the specific challenges, what in the environment may be causing them, and how they can change the conditions to control them. READ MORE
Published in Eggs - Layers
For as long as he can remember, Dan Kampen has been in poultry barns. “My mom introduced me to the barns before I was two years old,” the Abbotsford, B.C. turkey and egg farmer recalls.
Published in Producers
August 18, 2017, Vancouver, British Columbia – The governments of Canada and British Columbia are working under the AgriRecovery disaster framework to determine the type of assistance that may be required by British Columbia’s agriculture sector to recover from the impact of wildfires.

The announcement was made following the first meeting between Federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay and B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.

"The AgriRecovery response will help B.C. ranchers and farmers recover from their losses, and return to their land and their livelihoods. Our governments are working with producers, local officials and stakeholders, and the results and spirit of resilience is collective and clear, we will work together to respond to this emergency until the job is done," Lana Popham, B.C. Minister of Agriculture said. 

Government officials are working together to quickly assess the extraordinary costs farmers are incurring and what additional assistance may be required to recover and return to production following the wildfires.

The types of costs under consideration include:
  • Costs related to ensuring animal health and safety.
  • Feed, shelter and transportation costs.
  • Costs to re-establish perennial crop and pasture production damaged by fire.
"Our Government stands with producers in British Columbia who are facing challenges and hardships because of these wildfires. Together, with our provincial counterparts, we will work closely with affected producers to assess the full scope of their needs and help them get back in business as quickly as possible," Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food said.
Published in Farm Business
August 18, 2017 - Perches are a necessity in cage-free housing systems, but changing them may be necessary, too.

As cage-free egg farming is expanded around the world, some in the field are asking if the current round, metal tube perch design is the best for bird performance and welfare. On the welfare side, perches fulfill the hen’s natural desire to perch and give less dominant birds a way to escape more aggressive ones. From a management standpoint, including perches reduces aggressive behaviors and gives the farmer more usable space inside the layer house.

At the Egg Industry Center’s Egg Industry Issues Forum, the attendees asked whether the perch is as beneficial as it can be for the hen and the farmer, and discussed innovations that could improve the devices. The conference took place April 19 and 20, in Columbus, Ohio. READ MORE
Published in Layers
July 28, 2017, Shakespeare, Ont. - Faromor Ltd and Faromor CNG Corporation have announced the recent commissioning of one of the first energy independent poultry facilities in Canada.

In affiliation with Toyota Bushoko and YANMAR Micro Combined Heat and Power Systems of Adairsville Georgia, Faromor Ltd and Faromor CNG Corporation have completed the new facility for Steeple High Farms of Tavistock, Ontario Canada.

“This is a timely and welcomed development, distributed generation micro CHP systems deliver high onsite efficiency. They are able to generate the correct amount of power at the right time, making them much more efficient than the electrical grid," said Nicholas Hendry, President of Faromor CNG Corporation.

YANMAR has been perfecting its products and business practices for over 100 years. With units in service in Europe for more than 15 years, YANMAR micro CHP systems have been recognized globally. By utilizing a highly efficient engine and capturing nearly all the remaining energy as heat, the YANMAR micro CHP system is up to 2.6 times as efficient as your current centralized power.

With ease of installation, high reliability and functionality, a reduction in C02 emissions and low operation noise, the YANMAR micro CHP system delivers an energy balance by constantly monitoring power demand and output.

As electrical prices continue to increase, you can gain significant utility bill cost savings by switching to propane or abundant natural gas micro CHP electrical generation for your farm.
Published in Company News
July 20, 2017, Toronto, Ont. - A new poll conducted by NRG Research Group shows nine out of 10 Canadians want food companies to commit to greatly reducing the suffering of chickens in their supply chains, even if it results in higher prices.

To view the poll results, visit bit.ly/CanadaChickenSurvey.

The poll surveyed consumers on improving each step of a broiler chicken's life, from genetic selection to slaughter. Key findings include the following:
  • 90% oppose using chickens bred to grow so fast they often become crippled under their own weight and support switching to breeds with higher welfare outcomes
  • 88% support ending live-shackle slaughter in favor of less cruel systems that eliminate the suffering caused by shackling, shocking, and slitting the throats of conscious animals
  • 88% oppose extreme crowding by which each chicken is provided with less than a square foot of floor space
  • 86% support banning these conditions even if per-pound cost of chicken meat increases
Respondents also strongly support measures such as keeping chicken litter clean enough to prevent eye sores, flesh burns, and respiratory distress; providing environmental enrichment, such as straw bales and pecking objects, so chickens can engage in natural behaviors; improving lighting standards, including at least six hours of darkness each day to avoid further accelerating the chickens' growth; and implementing third-party auditing programs to ensure laws and commitments are not violated.

The poll was conducted just days after the release of an undercover investigation exposing sadistic animal abuse at more than a dozen Lilydale chicken supplier farms. The investigation revealed workers ripping chickens' legs off, hitting and kicking chickens, and performing crude sex acts with the birds.

Many leading food companies, including Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Boston Pizza, have already adopted meaningful welfare standards to address these issues. But the nation's largest restaurant conglomerate, Cara Foods, which operates brands such as Harvey's, Milestones, and Kelsey's, has yet to commit to a comprehensive broiler welfare policy like its competitors.

The online survey of 500 Canadian consumers was commissioned by Mercy For Animals and conducted by NRG Research Group June 15–20, 2017.
Published in Consumer
July 13, 2017, Toronto, Ont. - Some Toronto residents with a hankering for their own fresh eggs could soon be in luck if city council approves a pilot project that would lift a ban on backyard hens.

Four Toronto wards would be part of the project and comes as part of a motion to review the city's list of prohibited animals, which currently includes chickens.

A survey included in a city staff report filed in May suggested that lifting the ban on chickens could be a popular move.

''There's a lot of benefits, for sure,'' said Coun. Justin Di Ciano, whose west-end ward will be part of the pilot project. Home-raised chickens are a healthier alternative to store-bought eggs, he said, and they keep away pests.

He also characterized them as a ''cruelty-free'' alternative to factory-farmed eggs.

Toronto resident Andrew Patel, who has raised hens in his backyard since 2011 despite the ban, said he's pleased at news.

''I think a pilot project is probably the best way to pass a safe and effective bylaw,'' Patel said, adding that such a bylaw wouldn't be difficult to implement.

''We're talking about a couple of people raising a few hens, for non-commercial purposes on private property,'' he said.

Meanwhile, several municipalities in Ontario, including Kingston, Brampton, Niagara Falls and Caledon, all allow residents to keep chickens in backyard coops.

In Brampton, for example, current bylaws surrounding chickens state that coops must be no less than eight metres from any dwelling, store or adjacent property, and at least two metres from the side boundary of the property where it's kept. Bramptonians also can't keep chickens inside their home, and must keep any chicken waste in airtight containers ''in a manner that will not create a public nuisance or health hazard.''

But chickens in Toronto could attract, and be at the mercy of, other critters known to haunt Toronto, a local expert said.

Dan Frankian, a bird and animal control specialist, said that leaving chickens to roam free in a backyard during the day could attract the attention of scavengers.

''Once the chickens are running around, the food is, too,'' Frankian said, which could attract raccoons and coyotes.

Raccoons in particular love eggs, he said, and can break into locked boxes or cages with ease.

''Standard chicken wire is not strong enough to hold those guys,'' Frankian said.

But Patel said he has never had a problem with urban wildlife.

''Raccoons aren't brain surgeons, they can't pick a lock or open a hackproof door,'' he said. ''So I don't think it's an issue that can't be navigated.''

He said his six hens are stored in a coop protected by hardwire, which has smaller holes than a chicken-wire coop.

A survey from a recent city staff report says chickens are among the most complained-about animals on Toronto's prohibited list, alongside sheep, snakes and birds. Objections range from noise to smell.

But Patel said when hens are cared for properly and their bedding is changed, there is not smell. And he added that roosters, not hens, crow.

The pilot project was originally supposed to have been proposed at City Hall on Friday, but was deferred after news came of deputy mayor Pam McConnell's death.

It will be re-introduced at council's next meeting in October.
Published in Business & Policy
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