Canada
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 30, 2017, Hickson, Ont. - Weeden Environments is a global leader in providing new technology in products & equipment designed for the poultry and livestock industry to lower stress levels while improving performance and productivity. Weeden Environments is headquartered in Hickson, Ont., and the company recently hired more employees to support the growth of operations and expand customer services.

“We continue to experience strong growth as we drive forward with our efforts,” Kevin Weeden, President said. “We’re excited to welcome our latest members, as they will each take on essential roles in strengthening our service.

Bryce Bramhill, initially hired at Weeden Environments as purchasing manager in 2016, is moving into a role as operations manager/inside sales manager. Bryce joined Weeden after running his own business in Waterloo, Ont., for seven years. Combined, he has more than 15 years of agricultural experience both working and living on hog, and poultry operations. Additionally, he worked at a poultry equipment company in Listowel, Ont., for six years. In his role at Weeden Environments, Bryce will manage purchasing, shipping and receiving as well as oversee the internal operations and processes of Weeden Environments. Also, he will work collectively with the technical service support team to ensureall customers are completely satisfied.

Mark Lingard joins Weeden Environments as the service manager. Mark brings a wealth of experience to the Weeden team as he spent numerous years running his own company and working for Tim Horton Children’s Foundation as the property and asset standards manager for seven camps throughout Canada and the U.S. Mark attended post-secondary education in the United Kingdom for physics and completed a surgical instrument course. He then moved to building and renovating homes where he specialized in custom furniture and became a master cabinet maker. Mark’s in-depth knowledge of the agricultural and technical aspects of Weeden Environments, will allow him to maintain Weeden’s high quality customer service through installing, repairing and servicing poultry equipment.

Kevin Thompson will oversee Central and Eastern Ontario and the Niagara region as the territory sales manager for Weeden Environments. Kevin’s farming experience began early as he was raised on a dairy farm and eventually switched to growing broilers 14 years ago. In 2011, his family broiler operation successfully converted their broilers to antibiotic free. Kevin received his Honours Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from the University of Guelph and he also spent 4 years gathering data and administering protocols in poultry research at Maple Leaf Foods AgResearch, now Nutreco Canada AgResearch. With Kevin’s lifelong experience in farming combined with his deep educational background, Weeden Environments is thrilled for him to join the team.

For further information on Weeden products, please contact:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 1-800-552-1064, or visit: www.weedenenvironments.com

Published in Company News
August 28, 2017 - Join egg farmers and champions from across Canada to celebrate fresh, local Canadian eggs and the benefits the system of supply management delivers to Canadians and farmers alike.

Across the country, these champions are already sharing our industry’s story across their networks.

Join the celebration by adding your support for Canada’s egg farmers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #EhInEggs.
Published in Profiles
August 25, 2017 - Dairy may be getting all the attention in the upcoming NAFTA negotiations, but the chicken, egg and turkey boards aren’t letting their guard down as talks begin in mid-August.

“The government has been clear in its support for supply management and we are confident it will continue to support and protect supply management during the negotiations while finding a way to work with the United States,” said Yves Ruel, manager of trade and policy for Chicken Farmers of Canada. “It has been done before successfully and we believe it will be done again.”

The Canadian chicken sector believes the reason it’s not in the spotlight is that the existing NAFTA arrangement has provided stability and predictability to chicken producers on both sides of the border. READ MORE
Published in Trade
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.

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.”

Rough start

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.

Specialty turkeys
“(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.”
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
As we say goodbye to 2017 this December, Baildon Hutterite Colony in Saskatchewan will begin shipping out the first organic eggs produced in the province. It will be an achievement that is the culmination of much research, discussion and planning.

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.

Free-run transition
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.
Published in Producers
August 17, 2017, Guelph Ont. – Catching crews on poultry farms have made do for years when they needed an extra step loading full crates from the barn onto transport trucks. Using the tools at hand, they improvised and turned empty crates on end to get where they needed to be.

But there are two big problems with this practice – the obvious health and safety risks of standing on a slippery, uneven surface, and the damage done to the crate when used as a makeshift step.

The Poultry Service Association – that represents the vast majority of poultry-catching and live-haul poultry business in Ontario – set out to design, build and test a better way.

With no commercially made loading steps available, the association engineered, fabricated and tested a lightweight, portable and safe poultry-loading step for the Ontario industry.

Developing a new, safe, loading step was approached as a sector initiative involving the main commercial poultry-catching companies in Ontario. This collaboration made it a much more economical and unified way to arrive at a solution that all companies could access.

Driving the need for a new safe step was two-fold – reducing slips and falls by crew, and reducing damage done to crates. It’s tough to calculate improved health and safety in dollars and cents. The savings in reduced crate damage is easier to estimate.

At $85 per crate, and an estimated 30 per cent discard rate of damaged crates, the annual savings to the industry with the new safe step is estimated at more than $2.5 million.

The new safe portable step is now in use by 85 per cent of commercial poultry-catchers in Ontario, and the industry is noticing the difference. Trucking companies have seen a reduction in crate damage and appreciate the safety aspect of the new loading platforms.

This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.
Published in Bird Management
August 17, 2016, Ottawa, Ont. - The Government of Canada is listening to Canadians from across the country and from all sectors and backgrounds about trade. This includes conversations with the provinces and territories, industry, unions, civil society, think tanks, academics, Indigenous peoples, women, youth and the general public.

"We recognize that trade policies need to respond and contribute meaningfully to Canadians’ economic, social, and environmental priorities. This is a key element of the Progressive Trade Agenda, which supports the Canadian middle class and those working hard to join it," read a Government of Canada press release. 

"NAFTA's track record is one of economic growth and middle class job creation in Canada and across North America. As we prepare for discussions with the United States and Mexico on the renegotiation of NAFTA, we are seeking your views. Are there areas of the agreement that could be clarified? Are there parts that should be updated? Are there any new sections that should be part of a modernized agreement?"

For more information and to submit your views on NAFTA, visit: http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-commerce/consultations/nafta-alena/form-formulaire.aspx?lang=eng
Published in Trade
When you look at the career accomplishments of fifth-generation farmer Peter Clarke, it’s clear to see that his dedication to agriculture runs deep. “I am passionate about agriculture and I am proud to be a farmer,” Clarke proclaims.

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.”

Industry involvement

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.”
Published in Producers
August 16, 2017, Alberta - Public trust is eroding in Canada, and farmers — along with others in the value chain — need to fight back, says the head of a new ag organization aimed at winning back confused consumers.

“The whole industry needs to know a whole bunch more about consumers,” said Kim McConnell, an Okotoks-based marketing expert and new chair of the The Centre for Food Integrity. “That’s what the primary focus of The Centre for Food Integrity is.”

The centre, based in Guelph, Ont., is holding its first “public trust summit” in Calgary from Sept. 18-20. The conference is designed to show members of the agricultural industry how to earn the trust of consumers. READ MORE
Published in Consumer Issues
Keith Robbins grew up on a farm just north of London, Ont. There were no feathers in the mix. Instead, his family raised cattle, pigs, some sheep and grew grains. But today he heads up one of the country’s most important poultry organizations.

Four years ago, Robbins became executive director of the Poultry Industry Council (PIC). He assumed the role after two decades in communications positions with Ontario Pork. “The only commonality was that they’re both monogastrics,” Robbins says in comparing the two industries.

The Centralia College grad, who holds an agricultural business management diploma, had to be a quick study, as he was tasked with leading PIC through a major transition.

As background, the organization was founded in 1997 when the Ontario Poultry Council and the Poultry Industry Centre merged. The move brought both groups’ responsibilities – education extension, event co-ordination, and research administration and co-ordination – together under the newly created PIC moniker.

Then in 2013 it took a different direction. Ontario wanted a one-stop centre to streamline the application process for livestock study. Thus, the Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC) was born and Tim Nelson, then PIC’s executive director, became the new entity’s CEO.

That’s when Robbins entered the fray. Supported by a small team of staffers working out of PIC’s head office near Guelph, Ont., and guided by a dozen directors, he was tasked with refocusing the council solely on education extension, events and project management. Its research responsibilities would be gradually transferred to the LRIC.

A few years in, Robbins is happy with how the transition progressed. “It became an opportunity for us to look at how we run events and manage profitability,” he says.

Indeed, as PIC celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, it has plenty to celebrate. Its events continue to draw, not just more producers, but more industry salespeople as well. These reps often become extension staff for the council by sharing the resources it develops. “They often ask, ‘Can I get a couple more copies of that handout?’ ” Robbins says. “That’s a great opportunity for us to put out other factsheets.”

The London Poultry Show, the council’s marquee trade event, drew record numbers two years in a row. Likewise, its annual golf tournament also saw its largest ever turnout last year. And PIC continues to add to its events portfolio, now averaging about two events per month. The council grew its presence in Eastern Ontario as part of that effort, including bringing its Producer Updates educational series to St. Isidore.

What’s more, membership has steadily increased, despite widespread industry consolidation that would typically mean fewer members. “The driver is the material they’re developing,” says Al Dam, poultry specialist with Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

“We try to ensure everything we do is driven by our members,” Robbins explains. “They ask and we provide what they need.” Take culling, he cites as an example. One of PIC’s most highly regarded initiatives in recent years was its Euthanasia Resources and Training Project.

PIC’s shareholders identified a strong need for consistent training in the area. Many family farms had developed their own euthanasia practices over the years that they’d pass down. “There may be three generations of you that were doing this in a less efficient manner,” Dam points out.

Thus, the council worked with a diverse range of experts to develop a three-part educational package. “The intent was to have everyone trained to the same level so that the industry has a defendable standard,” Dam continues.

Part one was the “Timely Euthanasia of Compromised Chicks & Poults” poster – a practical guide that helps producers identify young birds that should be culled. The second instalment was the “Practice Guidelines for On-Farm Euthanasia of Poultry” manual.

That document provided the basis for the third instalment – PIC’s Euthanasia Training Program, which is available to farmers in both classroom delivery and video format. Feather boards, organizations and producers across the country utilized all three resources.

PIC’s Poultry Health Day is another example of the council responding to industry trends. While events like Producer Updates and Poultry Research Day often included health-related topics, Robbins and co. saw value in dedicating an entire event to such issues.

Thus, it held its first Poultry Health Day August 2015 in Stratford, Ont. One of the main topics was avian influenza, naturally, as the London Poultry Show was cancelled just a few months before due to an outbreak. The inaugural event was a success, drawing 130 attendees. One of this year’s hot topics was infectious bronchitis, which has plagued Ontario poultry farms in a variety of sectors this year.

Dam expects poultry health to be an ongoing concern for producers and, thus, the council. On the layer side, for example, he sees old diseases the industry solved years ago resurfacing due to housing changes. “What’s old is new again,” he says.

On the broiler side, Dam sees brooding becoming a bigger issue in need of PIC’s attention. He points out that days-to-market continue to shorten each year. This means the brooding period becomes a larger percentage of a bird’s life in the barn. “You screw up that first few days it follows you all the way through,” Dam says.

Going forward, Robbins wants to see a more co-ordinated effort to address farmers’ concerns quicker. Currently, universities conduct the research, LRIC helps with administration and PIC plays that outward role. “That process has to be more interwoven,” Robbins says. “What can we do to solve that problem now?” He also hopes to start live streaming council events to expand its reach.

Looking back on his previous career, Robbins says one of the biggest differences between pork and poultry is marketing legislation. Supply management gives the industry the stability it needs to focus on finding innovative solutions to trends and challenges producers face. That’s where PIC fits in. “Our role is helping understand what those trends are and what they mean for farmers.”
Published in Farm Business
August 15, 2017, Winnipeg, Man. - The controversy over Manitoba Chicken Producers’ (MCP) new annual specialty quota program has been resolved with both sides satisfied they were treated fairly by a ruling from the Manitoba Farm Producers Marketing Council (MFPMC).

In a ruling in early July the council told MPC to postpone charging administrative fees for 10 years among those participating in the program, recognizing the financial impact the additional fees would have on existing participants. At the same time its ruling stated support for MPC’s move to adopt new policy seeing a need to modernize and update the manner in which chicken is regulated. READ MORE 
Published in Business & Policy
When you think about the connection between chickens and history you might think about how feed efficiency has increased or how birds have changed through genetic selection. But for Benoît Fontaine, his version of the connection of poultry to history goes a lot deeper than that.

Rooted in history

Fontaine, a second-generation turkey and chicken producer, was at one point in his career a Canadian history teacher. For 10 years after graduating from the Université du Québec à Montréal in 1998, he taught high school, rising to become the principal for two years while still actively farming.

This Quebec poultry producer is now the chair of the Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC), elected in November 2016, only the second chair to hail from La Belle Province.

Now, whether he’s at a poultry industry gathering or talking to politicians, he is able to connect by talking history and entertaining. As a history buff, he manages to find a local story to tell wherever he goes.

“Do you know why the carpets in the House of Commons are green?” he asked. The green carpet is the same as that used in the House of Commons in England for over 300 years, representing the colour of fields; a red carpet would symbolize royal power. “The MP’s appreciate this information,” Fontaine says.

Youth on the farm

That green carpet is a long way from his farm where he grew up in St-Ignace de Stanbridge. Benoît’s chores after getting off the school bus included feeding and watering turkeys at their home farm, cultivating an appreciation of both birds and work involved with farming. His parents had been raising turkeys since 1970. Thus, when he later found himself with an empty barn and an opportunity to obtain quota it was an easy decision to go ahead.

Thriving business

When Fontaine stepped down from his teaching job he began farming full time. Ferme Avicole B. Fontaine Inc. is nestled in the winery region close to Lac Champlain, an area Fontaine claims is the warmest spot in Quebec. One farm in Notre-Dame de Stanbridge, that Fontaine purchased in 2005, sits so close to the American border that he can see the U.S. from his window; another farm, purchased in 2010, is in nearby Pike River.

With the help of seven employees he will produce 1.8 million chickens per year and one million kilograms of turkey in a total of eight three-storey barns. With no family of his own, Fontaine relies on one 24-year-old manager, Pascal Monnier, to look after the farm while he’s on the road. “He has his diploma in agriculture and has his own quota,” says Fontaine, who rests easy knowing that the farm is in good hands while he may spend up to 150 nights a year away from home as the CFC chair.



Globetrotter

That may seem like a lot of time to spend on the road, but Fontaine does enjoy travelling. In addition to the CFC miles, this year he will visit Finland; last year it was Kenya for the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference, where he got to visit the house used in the filming of Out of Africa. Before that it was Hawaii on Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) business, allowing him to visit Pearl Harbor, an experience that helped him to understand the involvement of the U.S. in World War II. “Everything is linked with history,” says Fontaine, who is already eyeing up retirement trips that will involve the study of human history.

Back at home Fontaine will talk to his parents, his mentors, Marcel Fontaine and Lucille Gagné, once a week. Their answers will guide him in questions of what to say or not to say or how to   manage the farm. As he humbly admits, “You cannot buy experience. I have some, but my father has more.”

The farm issues they both face have changed, with Fontaine listing animal welfare along with the new ways of rearing chickens, with the ‘new norms’ involving issues such as changing bird density or new water systems.

Industry engagement

His rise through the ranks of industry boards began six months after he bought his first quota, starting with his local district, moving quickly through to first vice-chair, then provincially to second vice-chair in 2012. Fontaine has been heavily involved in the Union des producteurs agricoles since 1999 and has served on both CFC’s policy and production committees.

Now, as CFC chair, he knows he must remain neutral, speaking on behalf of all Canadians, not just Quebec. He also knows that policy discussions will always go down better with a good story. Fontaine’s command of the English language is already good but he continues to improve through taking courses. With his teaching background he brings communication and teamwork skills to his board positions; his two years as a school principal taught him leadership skills and how to bring forth new ideas with an open mind and an open ear.

At the national board level, he sees free trade as the number one issue. Fontaine points to 14 free trade agreements that have already been signed with 51 countries as proof that supply management is stronger than ever. “They haven’t touched supply management yet; even with the TPP we got a great deal. The government was listening to us.”

As he looks to the future he predicts the greatest challenge will be for chicken to remain a Canadian favourite with consumers. With Olympic enthusiasm, he says he wants poultry to remain on the top step of the podium. “Keep the flame burning; keep the love of Canadian products. As long as we stay there, we succeed.”
Published in Marketing Boards
August 14, 2017, Washington - Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland released Canada's list of key demands for a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as talks get set to begin in Washington.

Freeland's list, which is much shorter than the U.S. wish list of more than 100 items, includes:



  • Protect Canada's supply-management system for dairy and poultry. Canada does not have free trade in these areas, and regulates imports and prices.
  • A new chapter on labour standards. The original NAFTA included a labour section as an addendum, inserted into the agreement after Bill Clinton was elected and insisted on a few changes. Some officials in Canada and the U.S. have identified a goal of tougher labour rules: Increasing Mexican wages, to make auto plants in the other countries more affordable.
  • A new chapter on environmental standards. This was also added as an afterthought to the original NAFTA, placed there after Clinton's election. Freeland says she wants a chapter that ensures no country can weaken environmental protection to attract investment. She also says it should support efforts against climate change.
  • A new chapter on gender rights.
  • A new chapter on Indigenous rights.
  • Reforms to the investor-state dispute settlement process. Specifically, Freeland referred to Chapter 11, which involves companies suing governments. She said she wants reforms so that ''governments have an unassailable right to regulate in the public interest.'' This is not to be confused with Chapter 19, which regulates disputes between companies over dumping, in cases like softwood lumber, and which the U.S. administration might seek to eliminate.
  • Expand procurement. For years, Canada has wanted to kill Buy American rules for construction projects at the state and local level. It could be a tough sell. U.S. lawmakers are demanding even more Buy American rules, which is something President Donald Trump campaigned on. Freeland said: ''Local-content provisions for major government contracts are political junk food: superficially appetizing, but unhealthy in the long run.''
  • Freer movement of professionals. NAFTA includes a list of professions where people can easily get a visa to work across the border. It's an old list, it mentions land surveyors and range conservationists, but not computer programmers. International companies want this list expanded to make it easier for employees to move between offices.
  • Protect cultural exemptions. Canada insisted on protections in the old agreement for cultural industries, like publishing and broadcasting. The U.S.'s annual report on international trade barriers lists this as an irritant.
  • Maintaining a process to regulate anti-dumping and countervailing disputes, like the one over softwood lumber. Freeland noted that Canada briefly walked out of the original talks in 1987, as this was a deal-breaker. The U.S. says it now wants to get rid of the resulting Chapter 19. Some observers say it might simply be modified.
Published in Trade
Half of Canadians are unsure about whether our food system is going in the right direction. It’s with this as the backdrop that the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) launched last summer. Its goal is to help Canada’s food system earn trust through research, dialogue and forums.

Understanding consumer concerns and questions is the important base everyone in the food system needs to set benchmarks for success in communicating with Canadians about our food and how it’s produced.  

Success will only happen if there are shifts between consumer expectations and industry practices – the two must be more closely aligned.

New public trust research by CCFI aims to help bridge that gap. It shows the rising cost of food and access to healthy, affordable food as two top concerns for Canadians, above concerns for health care or the economy. But with 93 per cent of Canadians saying they know little or nothing about farming, determining fact from fiction about our food continues to be a growing issue.

The study, which polled 2,510 Canadians, shows two-thirds want to know more about how their food is produced. Overall impressions of agriculture and trust in farmers and researchers are high.



However, when asked specific questions on topics like antibiotics, environmental stewardship or GMOs, the support shifts significantly from positive to close to half being unsure.   

When people are unsure, it’s easiest to be against something. Advocating for scientific advancements in general requires significant planning, strategy and resources to be effective. Advocating for scientific advancements related to food requires even more effort and investment.   

After studying lessons from losing social licence and public trust in other sectors like oil and gas and forestry and agri-food sectors in other countries, we clearly need to be proactive and transparent about how our food is produced in Canada. The CCFI research shows it’s an opportune time to open up more dialogue with Canadians. Let’s bridge the gap between farm gates and dinner plates!

Crystal Mackay is president of the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, which represents a coalition of farmers and associated food and agri-businesses proactively working together to provide credible information on food and farming. She is a dynamic presenter who has delivered hundreds of presentations to a broad range of audiences from farmers to university students to CEOs across North America. Visit www.foodintegrity.ca for more information on the organization’s work and a summary of key research findings. Look for new work on public trust in food and transparency to be released at the CCFI Public Trust Summit Sept. 18-20, 2017 in Calgary.
Published in Consumer
One of the things I’ve been most impressed by during my first few months with Canadian Poultry is how invested the industry is in animal welfare. Researchers pour countless dollars and resources into ensuring birds are treated as humanely as possible.

Farms, the vast majority of which are family owned, adhere to rigorously developed welfare standards. And producers often pack educational events to learn how to better care for their livestock. “The true welfare advocates are the farmers,” one egg producer told me.

It’s understandable, then, that many producers are fed up with being unfairly demonized by activists whose main agenda is to eliminate animal agriculture altogether. It’s particularly irksome when  they use misleading footage.

Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) called out one such case of deception this spring. After careful analysis, CFC concluded that one activist organization was using footage from a U.S.-based propaganda video to misrepresent Canadian farming practices.

“Canada’s chicken farmers are appalled by the inaccurate and irresponsible portrayal of Canadian chicken production that is being used to target retail and foodservice companies,” CFC said in a press release. It then detailed factors that set Canadian chicken producers apart. Namely, that farms must adhere to a third-party audited Animal Care Program.

The messaging is part of a broader communications effort the organization recently launched. “It’s a new approach for us where we’re facing accusations directly to ensure people know the truth,” says Lisa Bishop-Spencer, CFC’s manager of communications.

By educating partners and the public about its Animal Care Program, the organization wants to avoid unnecessary regulatory duplication. “We started working with our partners to make it clear – you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to animal care,” Bishop-Spencer says.

As part of that effort, CFC also created a brochure that discusses “replacing gossip with facts.”

What’s more, CFC hosted a Facebook live video from a farm where a producer defended Canadian farmers and talked about the Animal Care Program. The video received over 100,000 views. In addition, CFC recently launched letstalkchicken.ca, a website that educates the public on how birds are raised.

The organization now wants producers to get involved. “It’s important farmers and families play a role in promoting their own practices,” Bishop-Spencer says.

Consider Tara deVries, for example. The Alberta-based chicken producer is a transparency advocate, regularly hosting barn tours and teaching youth at agriculture events. We’re exciting to share her inspiring journey (see page 30) and that of several other producers in this our annual Who’s Who issue!

A few bad actors
While it’s important to confront unjustified complaints, it’s also necessary to speak out firmly when there’s evidence of wrongdoing. That’s what CFC did when a disturbing video surfaced in June allegedly showing members of a contract chicken-catching crew abusing birds inside a B.C. broiler barn.

The secretly recorded video, which made national headlines, led Elite Farm Services to fire five employees. A barn supervisor was let go as well. “We are strongly supporting the BC SCPA in their efforts to bring justice and pursue the people who’ve allegedly committed these acts,” Bishop-Spencer says. “It’s not just about standing up to activists; it’s also about doing the right thing and taking a leadership role for the birds in our care.”
Published in Bird Management
August 2, 2017, Alberta - As a child, poultry researcher Sasha van der Klein didn’t beg her parents for a puppy, but for pet chickens. By eventually fulfilling her request, her parents put her solidly on the path that has led to a Vanier Scholarship, Canada’s most prestigious award for PhD students.

Van der Klein’s award is one of 10 Vaniers earned by University of Alberta students for 2017, and the only one for the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, where she is studying under the supervision of Martin Zuidhof, an expert in poultry precision feeding.

Her thesis is investigating how day length during the rearing period of broiler breeders and controlling their body weight affects their reproductive success and nesting behaviour.

“When you give them too much light, it prevents the birds from becoming sexually mature and laying eggs in the year they are hatched,” said van der Klein.

Broiler breeders, the parents of the meat-type chicken, have to get short day lengths when they grow up, to mimic the winter season, just as most birds get in nature, she said.

“This helps the chances of survival of the offspring—it’s essential for the offspring to be hatched in favourable conditions. In nature, the parents sexually mature in spring, and that increases the chicks’ chance to survive. The cue is day length, as winter days are shorter than summer days.”

By answering such questions as how long the hens who had light controls during rearing look for a nest, how long they sit on the nest, and how many eggs they finally produce, she hopes to offer the poultry industry solutions for an array of concerns. These include the high percentage of unusable floor eggs broiler breeders are prone to lay, the poor overall productivity of broiler breeder hens, and also how producers can be most efficient with feed.

Vanier Scholarships are worth $50,000 per year for three years and are difficult to attain because selection criteria includes not just a student’s academic excellence and the research potential of their project, but also the leadership the students demonstrate in their community or academic life.

Although van der Klein is an international student who moved from the Netherlands to pursue her PhD at the University of Alberta, she quickly became immersed in assisting with complex student affairs on campus. For the past two years, she has been the vice-president of labour for the Graduate Students’ Association, assisting graduate students with compliance issues in their research or teaching assistant contracts. This year, she will be negotiating a new collective agreement for graduate students at the university.

The Vanier Scholarship definitely relieves some of the many challenges a PhD student must cope with, and that’s especially welcome when a thesis project involves responsibility for the welfare of more than 200 chickens, said van der Klein.

“I’m thankful to have a great team and many volunteers that helped me during my experiments, but even then the commitment to being a farmer at the same time as being a student is an intense responsibility,” she said.

Van der klein’s research will take advantage of a new feeding system developed at the University of Alberta that minimizes variation in broiler breeder body weights, said Zuidhof

“By controlling this variable, we have already had important new insights into sexual maturation that have not been possible previously,” he said. “Ultimately, commercial application of Sasha’s precision feeding research could decrease nitrogen, phosphorus and CO2 emissions by the broiler breeders by 25 per cent, which is transformational for the poultry industry.”
Published in Researchers
August 2, 2017, Lucknow, Ont. - The optimally balanced feed and current environment are often not sufficient to satisfy the animals' need for activities during forage and feed intake. This leads to restlessness in the barn and misguided pecking activities.

Restlessness, plumage damage and injuries or even cannibalism are commonly the result. "Manipulability materials" are intended to give the animals the opportunity to live out their natural behavior. Such activity materials have an effect when the treatment of the beaks is given up.

PECKStones provide laying hens, turkeys and broilers from the first day of life, the possibility and the incentive to deal with the material. They work on it by picking and wearing out the beak tip in a natural way.

When using PECKStones, stress-triggering interactions between the animals can be avoided and the risk of feather pecking can be minimized. In addition, the animals have the possibility to add to their diet, magnesium and sodium according to their individual requirements. As these elements play a role in nerve activity, this can help to calm the animals.

PECKStones are also an added, individually accessible source of calcium. This is particularly important in the evening hours when filling the calcium storages for egg formation at night.

Application:
  • Chicks and broilers from the first day of life – place the stones directly on the ground
  • Pullets and young turkeys, laying hens – place the stones on the inverted bowl
  • Larger turkeys depending on the age – place the stones at the activity level by means of the hanging element (can be supplied)
  • For 500 to 800 animals, at least one PECKStone should be provided
  • PECKStones can also be stored, they have a long shelf life when kept in a dry and rodent-free storage

Key points:
PECKStones...
  • Reduce stress-triggering interactions between the animals
  • Secure active preoccupation by consuming the material
  • Prevent behavior deviations
  • Promote activity and agility
  • Satisfy the animals' need for individual intake of minerals
  • Contribute to calcium supply for a strong egg shell
  • Support natural beak wear
The stones are manufactured in Germany by VILOFOSS
Published in New Technology
It’s difficult to sum up Tara deVries’ involvement with the poultry industry. That said, one thing is certain – her passion for farming and for supporting agriculture is strong.

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.



Ag-vocacy
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.”
Published in Producers
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