Animal Housing
What came first, the chicken or the lettuce?

Iowa State University researchers are conducting experiments to determine what advantages may arise from integrating chickens into vegetable production systems.

The researchers must balance a range of concerns, including environmental sustainability, costs and food and animal safety. But Ajay Nair, an associate professor of horticulture and a vegetable production specialist for ISU Extension and Outreach, said finding ways to integrate vegetable and animal production may lead to greater efficiency and healthier soils.

The experiments, currently in their second year, take place at the ISU Horticulture Research Station just north of Ames. The researchers are testing what happens when a flock of broiler chickens lives on a vegetable field for part of the year.

The chickens forage on the plant matter left behind after the vegetables are harvested and fertilize the soil with manure. This integrated approach could reduce off-farm inputs and also provide producers with sustainable crop rotation options.

The researchers are testing three different systems on a half acre of land at the research farm. The first system involves a vegetable crop – one of several varieties of lettuce or broccoli – early in the growing season, followed by the chickens, which are then followed by a cover crop later in the year.

The second system involves the vegetable crop, followed by two months of a cover crop, with the chickens foraging on the land later in the year. The third system is vegetables followed by cover crops, with no chickens.

The experiment involves roughly 40 chickens, which live in four mobile coops that the researchers move every day. Moving the coops around ensures the chickens have access to fresh forage and keeps their manure from concentrating any particular part of the field. An electric fence surrounds the field to keep out predators.

Moriah Bilenky, a graduate assistant in horticulture, checks on the chickens every morning to make sure they have food and water. She also weighs them periodically to collect data on how efficiently they convert food into body mass. The researchers designed the trial to uphold animal health, and Bilenky said she keeps a detailed log on how foraging in the fields impacts the birds’ health and performance.

Nair said the researchers are looking at several facets associated with sustainability. Nitrogen and phosphorous deposited in the soil from the chicken manure could alleviate some of the need for fertilizer application, while working cover crops into the system can prevent the loss of nutrients into waterways. Economics must also factor into the research, he said.

“We might come up with results that really help the soil, but if the system is not economically stable, I doubt growers will be willing to adopt it because it has to work for their bottom line as well,” he said.

The trials also adhere to food safety regulations. For instance, all vegetables are harvested before the chickens are introduced to the fields, ensuring none of the produce is contaminated. The researchers consulted food safety and animal science experts at Iowa State while designing their experiments, and the work undergoes regular IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) inspection and documentation, he said.

The trials remain ongoing, so the researchers aren’t drawing any conclusions yet about the success of their integrated system. The project is currently supported through a SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) grant. Nair said he’s seeking additional funding to investigate the animal health and integrated pest management aspects of this research.

So why did the chicken cross the road? It’s too early to tell, but maybe so it could get into the lettuce and pepper fields.
Published in Environment
High stocking densities significantly impact the health, welfare and performance of tom turkeys. That’s according to newly completed research by Dr. Karen Schwean-Lardner and master’s student Kailyn Beaulac at the University of Saskatchewan’s department of animal and poultry science.
Published in Turkeys
High ambient temperatures mean detrimental performance and reduced profits for producers. Extreme cases cause suffering and death in all poultry breeds. Phytogenic feed additives in poultry diets help alleviate the negative impacts of heat stress by exerting an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect in birds.

Poultry producers commonly face the challenge of heat stress either seasonally or year-round. Poultry farmed in hot and humid countries are genetically derived from strains originally bred in, and selected for, the cool climates of Europe and North America.

Rearing birds outside of their thermal comfort zone could mean failing to achieve full genetic potential. Producers in warmer climates or those in cooler zones who adjust their shed temperatures to their own comfort levels, not to that of their birds, should consider the impact of heat stress on flocks. | READ MORE 
Published in Bird Management
Consumers pressure restaurants and food companies to make the practice mandatory, but who will pay the extra costs?

A steady stream of restaurant and food companies proclaim intentions to use eggs only from free-run operations in the future, but egg producers wonder who is willing to pay the cost of more expensive production methods.

Some barns have already moved to systems with enriched housing, defined as larger cages with nesting areas, dust baths and room for each chicken to spread its wings and generally express normal behaviour. | For the full story, CLICK HERE
Published in Layers
Residents in Crystal Lake, Sask., are upset about plans for a newly approved Hutterite-run chicken operation near Stenen.

“Both the farming community and the lake community are all very frustrated with this whole thing,” said Wilson Olive, a resident of Crystal Lake.

They are concerned about how the operation could impact the water supply, since the proposed site sits on top of an aquifer. | READ MORE
Published in News
A chicken farmer has been given a suspended jail sentence for falsely claiming that eggs produced in crowded henhouses were free-range.

Eggs from James Gigg’s farm in Dorset were sold to shops and delicatessens that marketed them to customers as free-range. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail but suspended it for 18 months because he accepted the farmer had not acted out of greed. | READ MORE
Published in News
Capturing at least some of the heat from stale or “old” air being exhausted from poultry and hog barns is one more step in developing intensive livestock operations with net zero energy barns. The net zero term means a barn is producing as much energy as it is using.

Two poultry barns in Alberta, for example, have installed heat recovery systems that capture heat from air being exhausted from broiler and layer barns and use it to warm cold fresh air that’s being vented into the barn.

The heat recovery ventilators (HRV), used primarily in winter months, take some of the cold edge off the fresh incoming air, helping to reduce heating costs inside the barn. It’s not so dramatic as being able to feel hot air going out, and then being replaced inside the heat exchanger with hot fresh air coming in, but the system can warm up cold winter air by 15 to 20 degrees. | For the full story, CLICK HERE
Published in Barn Management
Auburn University's College of Agriculture, in conjunction with other schools around the nation, will conduct a study to ensure that poultry litter does not pollute surface waters with excessive amounts of phosphorous.

The three-year study is being performed to combat the 1.8 million tons of waste produced annually in Alabama from its $15 billion poultry industry.

Phosphorous-rich poultry litter is a big concern in Alabama and other states where the litter is used to fertilize fields. If the nutrient leaks into waterways, it can cause toxic algae blooms which can lead to deficient oxygen levels and destruction of life in the water.

The study will look at the Sand Mountain region of North Alabama and a row-crop field in Wisconsin, two large agro-ecosystems that are currently having issues with managing their phosphorous levels. | For the full story, CLICK HERE.
Published in Environment
AGCO Corporation, a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agriculture equipment and solutions, will begin manufacturing Farmer Automatic egg production equipment in North America to better serve its largest market for these products.

The decision also supports Canadian producers transitioning to new Code of Practice standards for the care, welfare and handling of their flocks.

Farmer Automatic’s enriched colony housing and aviary systems will be produced at AGCO’s plant in Bremen, Alabama beginning later this year. The first products will be shipped from that facility in January 2019, with normal distribution to be maintained during the transition.

“Manufacturing in North America is a long-term investment providing enhanced service and support for North American egg producers and a signal to the market that Farmer Automatic will continue to deliver high quality and innovation for years to come,” said Scott Becker, director of North America Commercial Egg for Cumberland Poultry, AGCO’s poultry production equipment brand.

The state-of-the-art Bremen plant manufactures a broad range of Cumberland products used in poultry production facilities, including fans, heaters, tunnel doors, broiler nesting systems, power curtain machinery and environmental controls.

Becker said establishing production in North America provides several important benefits to Farmer Automatic customers, including reduced shipping time, faster response to meet their needs, currency advantages and a full-system solution enabling producers to access the breadth of Cumberland’s product offerings.

Farmer Automatic products were previously manufactured in Laer, Germany. Design and engineering functions will remain in Germany with the creation of the Farmer Automatic Engineering Innovation Center in the area later this year.

Supporting new guidelines
Farmer Automatic systems currently meet new guidelines in the Canada Code of Practice introduced last year requiring all laying hens to be housed in enriched or cage-free systems by July 1, 2036.

“Our Canadian dealer, Clark Ag Systems, works closely with its customers to ensure their systems have enough space, feed, water, nest area and scratch surface to meet the Code of Practice requirements for their production method,” Becker said.

The Eco II System from Farmer Automatic provides all of the required enrichments and easy access to the flock with its large access doors. Farmer Automatic’s Combi II provides a solution for customers who may transition from enriched to cage-free in the future. The Combi II can be operated as both an Enriched Colony System with the doors closed or as a Cage-Free Aviary System with the door open.

For those producers ready to transition to cage-free production today, the Loggia system offers excellent access to the flock, nests and egg belts with walkable floors and low system heights for easy inspection and management. The slight slope of the floor allows system eggs to roll onto the egg belt. The Loggia line was recently expanded to include the new Loggia 3 Plus, providing additional living space with a third tier allowing for greater bird density in many operations.

Pullet rearing is easier with the Combi Pullet, capable of preparing birds to be housed in either enriched and/or aviary systems in the future. Multiple floor mesh sizes for the lower tier allow producers to tailor the system to their operation, and additional half levels create more space for greater stocking densities.

Farmer Automatic systems can be installed in new egg production facilities or retrofitted to existing operations. For additional information, producers can contact Clark Ag Systems or visit www.farmerautomatic-inc.com.
Published in Companies
It seems like every second conversation about installing new equipment in barns eventually leads to boilers. Now I’ll grant, it may be because I have a tender spot in my heart for boilers due to my plumbing and gasfitting background. They have become so much more technical over the past few years.
Published in Barn Management
Sustainability has been a topic of discussion globally for quite some time now. It is a term that we have all heard, but what exactly does it mean? How can we responsibly apply this concept to the poultry industry from the ground up?
Published in Barn Management
Pols Enterprises has always been committed to bringing the best and latest available equipment technologies to the Canadian agricultural market.

Some of our latest products include the highest performing cage free housing system from Vencomatic, state-of-the-art barn management systems by Maximus and high efficiency fans from Dacs.

Please feel free contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  for any inquiries regarding these, or other, products and new technologies.

For more information, visit: www.polsltd.ca
Published in Companies
Bill Van Heyst grew up on a mixed farm near Grand Bend, Ont. He remembers looking after 500 laying hens – that was the maximum amount allowed under quota at the time. He also remembers switching over the old tunnel ventilated 1960s vintage poultry barn to battery cages from free-range. If he’d only known then that free-range would be fashionable once again…
Published in Barn Management
Broiler litter is a mixture of poultry manure, bedding, feathers, and spilled feed. The actual nutrient content of a manure sample varies. Nutrient concentration of broiler litter is variable due to age of bird, composition of the diet, how the manure is handled, and the number of batches of birds raised since the last house clean out.

The average nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) content of broiler litter is 62, 59, and 40 lbs/ton, respectively. Having your manure analyzed for its actual plant nutrient content is recommended. Armed with this and appropriate soil test information you can decide on the best plan of action to use poultry litter for specific cropping needs. | READ MORE
Published in Manure Management
In a chicken industry that is minimizing the use of antibiotics, our ability to provide an optimal clean environment is paramount. This can be achieved through cleaning and disinfection (C&D) and strict biosecurity.
Published in Ask the Vet
Dealing with the high cost of food in the North is a constant challenge for producers and consumers. Through innovation and new thinking, Choice North Farms in Hay River is hoping to make a difference by undertaking the PoultryPonics Dome Project, supported with over $80,000 of CanNor funding.

The announcement was made by Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament (Northwest Territories) on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for CanNor.

Choice North Farms is a private egg producing company in Hay River. Their pilot project will integrate vertical hydroponic units and poultry production in a small geodesic dome. This combination will reduce the amount of nutrients and energy required for production, while providing a good supply of quality local fresh produce and meat substitutes.

If the pilot project is successful, this innovative clean technology could be scaled and adapted in other Northern communities, promoting economic diversification, reducing the cost of living, and enhancing the quality of life in remote communities.

"The Government of Canada has long supported the development of the agriculture sector in the North. We are pleased to support innovative technologies that not only grow the economy of Hay River, but also have the potential to provide affordable food to Northern communities," McLeod said. 

CanNor has invested $80,497 in the project through its Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development (SINED) program, with Choice North Farms contributing $67,910, the Government of the Northwest Territories injecting $6,586 and the Aurora Research Institute providing an additional $6,000. Total funding for the project is $160,993.

"We are thrilled at North Choice Farms to be able to pilot this green technology, thanks to the support of CanNor. We are confident it will allow us to produce more food locally while reducing our carbon footprint and production cost. This is great for our business, for the agricultural sector in the NWT and for Northern consumers, " said Kevin Wallington, business development manager, Choice North Farms.


READ CP's related feature article: Chickens in the greenhouse
Published in Producers
With farms, woods, wildlife and fresh air, rural residents cherish the charm and beauty of the countryside. Many people move from cities seeking peace and a pristine environment in the country.

Most people understand that a rural community includes farmers and that farming is a business. Ontario’s agriculture and food sector employs 760,000 people and contributes more than $35 billion to the province’s economy every year.

This means that certain activities take place according to a production schedule; and some affect residents living close to farms. In almost all cases, farmers and their rural neighbours get along well together. However, there are some exceptions.

For the year of 2015- 2016 the ministry received 107 complaints related to farm practices. Of these, 45 (40 per cent) were about odour, while the others were mainly about noise (26 per cent), flies (19 per cent) and municipal by-laws (nine per cent).

Odour complaints are generally related to:
  • Farmers spreading manure on fields
  • Fans ventilating livestock barns
  • Manure piles
  • Mushroom farms
To manage conflict about farm practices, the Ontario government enacted the Farming and Food Production Protection Act (FFPPA).

This act establishes the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board (NFPPB) to determine “normal farm practices”. When a person complains about odour or other nuisance from a particular farming practice, the board has the authority to hear the case and decide whether the practice is a “normal farm practice”. If it is, the farmer is protected from any legal action regarding that practice.

When people make complaints about farm practices, a regional agricultural engineer or environmental specialist from OMAFRA’s Environmental Management Branch works with all parties involved to resolve the conflict.

The board requires that any complaint go through this conflict resolution process before it comes to a hearing.

Each year, through the conflict resolution process, OMAFRA staff have resolved the vast majority of complaints. In 2015-16, only twelve of the 107 cases resulted in hearings before the board. Of these, only two were odour cases involving multiple nuisances such as noise, dust and flies. Thus, while odours remain the biggest cause of complaints about farm practices, OMAFRA staff working through the conflict resolution process has proved very effective in dealing with them.
Published in Consumer Issues
Owners Jeff and Joleen Bisschop produce Country Golden Yolks brand eggs with four other Fraser Valley farms, including organic (7,400 hens) and free-range (27,000 hens), with a pullet barn and egg packing on site.
Published in Companies
Big Dutchman provides equipment to farms around the world and has been the worldwide leader in poultry, egg, and pig production systems since 1938.

They offer practical, economical and environmentally-friendly solutions geared to your future needs. Big Dutchman stands for long-lasting quality, service, and unsurpassed know-how, and as the industry leader, our innovations will continue to positively impact the industries they serve.

For more information, visit: http://bigdutchmanusa.com/

Video produced at the 2018 National Poutlry Show by Canadian Poultry magazine. 
Published in Companies
Although research into the effects of LED lighting for poultry is ongoing, data often appears inconsistent. In addition, experts have focused less on behavioural and welfare aspects as compared to production.
Published in Welfare
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