Livestock Production
Considering the average carbon footprint of chicken around the world, Canadian chicken has one of the lowest carbon footprint of all.

This is a key result coming from a recent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) conducted by Groupe AGÉCO, a consultation firm specializing in corporate social responsibility and economic studies; the study was designed to measure the environmental and social performance of Canada's chicken sector, from hatching egg to processor.

The Environmental Footprint – Key findings
  • Since 1976, environmental performance significantly improved because of major productivity gains and significant improvements in feed conversion ratio.
  • Per kilogram of protein, the carbon footprint of Canadian chicken is lower than that of other livestock commodities produced in North America based on FAO's assessment of global livestock emissions.
  • In the last 40 years, the carbon footprint of the sector was reduced by 37 per cent.
  • Water consumption has been reduced by 45 per cent in the same timeframe.
  • 62% of the entire sector's total energy use comes from renewable sources, with chicken feed accounting for the bulk of renewable energy consumption.
The Social Performance
Canada's chicken farmers are committed to food safety & animal care: Canadian chicken farmers are certified on the mandatory Raised by a Canadian Farmer On-Farm Food Safety Program (OFFSP) and Animal Care Program (ACP), both of which are 3rd party audited.

After eliminating Category I antibiotics (the most important for human medicine) on the farm, Canada's farmers have committed to eliminating the preventive use of Category II antibiotics by the end of 2018 and a goal had been set to eliminate the preventive use of Category III antibiotics by the end of 2020.

Dedicated social license: Over 90 per cent of Canadian chicken farmers are engaged in their communities by providing free services to community members or by being engaged in municipal or regional organizations.

Competitive working conditions: Over 90 per cent of Canadian chicken farmers pay their workers a salary over the provincial minimum wage and about 70 per cent offer their employees benefits such as insurance and bonuses in addition to other benefits in kind.

A Pledge for Continual Improvement
For Canadian chicken farmers, sustainability means protecting animal health and welfare, ensuring worker and community wellbeing, preserving the health of the land and of Canadian farms and contributing to the Canadian economy by providing affordable food to Canadians.

Benoît Fontaine, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada affirms that, "Our sustainability journey is a process of continual improvement. We have come a long way with the implementation of on-farm programs, and with the growth in our industry which has contributed to the Canadian economy and helps support rural communities. But we'll always have more work to do and we will continually evolve to improve our practices and deliver on the expectations of Canadian consumers."

Background
An LCA is an internationally recognized approach to assess the impacts associated with all of the stages of a product's life – in this case chicken. There is a well-established protocol for LCA subject to an ISO standardized methodology. LCAs can help an industry determine which aspects of their production are most efficient, and where they can improve efficiencies, reduce environmental impacts, or improve social interactions along their entire value chains.

The LCA provides the chicken industry with benchmarks for its impact on climate change, natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystem quality, and human health, while the social LCA provides a qualitative assessment of the industry's socioeconomic performance.

Conducting an LCA is part of our strategy to support our industry's work in maintaining consumer and buyer confidence that supply chain risks are adequately addressed. It can also improve industry's social licence and assurance to consumers that chicken is safe, and produced in an efficient and responsible way.

People care deeply about their food, about knowing where it comes from and that what they are serving to their family and friends is of the highest quality; our farmers and their families are no different. So when we say that the Canadian chicken industry is good for Canadians, it's because we know that we're raising our chickens to the highest standards: yours.

To find out more about our LCA results, check out this new infographic: https://www.chickenfarmers.ca/resources/sustainability-assessment-of-the-canadian-chicken-value-chain/

Published in Broilers
There’s no better way to learn than getting your hands dirty… something Alberta turkey and broiler producers, Marc and Hinke Therrien know all too well. Being adaptable and learning on the job has played a major role in the young couple’s success.
Published in Producers
The Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) for Canada and OIE Delegate for Canada, Dr. Jaspinder Komal, welcomes the evaluation of Canada's veterinary services that was published recently by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the global standard-setting body for animal health and welfare.

The OIE has found Canada to be a top performing country and a leading example for meeting international veterinary service standards, with no major weaknesses. The full CVO's statement is available in its entirety on the CFIA's website.

The evaluation, conducted at Canada's request, was coordinated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and involved federal, provincial and territorial governments and representatives from the private veterinary sector, academia and veterinary regulators. The full Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) Evaluation Report is available on the OIE's website.

The CFIA will be working with federal, provincial and territorial partners as well as representatives from the veterinary sector and the animal industry to further strengthen veterinary services across the country.

The CFIA continues to lead on other initiatives to improve animal health, veterinary public health and animal welfare in Canada.

"With the majority of Canada's veterinary services getting the top five out of five rating based on the OIE's international standards, and with the implementation of the OIE's recommendations, Canada will further strengthen its position as a global leader in promoting the health of animals and protecting the public from animal disease. This will also help strengthen international trade and economic opportunities," says, Jaspinder Komal, Chief Veterinary Officer and OIE Delegate for Canada.
Published in Welfare
Maple Leaf Foods recently announced it is investing approximately $28 million to transition its Edmonton poultry processing facility to world-class controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS) technology, reflecting its commitment to building on its leadership in animal care, the poultry sector and value-added branded fresh chicken.

Maple Leaf will convert its transportation, lairage and receiving area and handling systems to optimize rest-time and create a climate-controlled environment as it implements this technology.

The new lairage system will enhance lighting, air quality and temperature control, allowing chickens to rest comfortably and significantly reducing stress.

The CAS technology selected is a very humane system that will ensure birds are fully insensible prior to processing. The conversion will result in a 26,000-square foot expansion at the Edmonton facility, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

"We are on a journey to become the most sustainable protein company on earth and being a leader in animal care is a cornerstone of this vision," said Michael McCain, president and CEO, Maple Leaf Foods. "We are deploying world-class technologies and best practices that support our goal to eliminate stress and pain and provide humane treatment of animals in our care, while enhancing employee health and safety and food quality. With Canada's leading poultry brands, we are advancing many dimensions of sustainability, from eliminating antibiotics, to best practices in animal care and dramatic reductions in our environmental footprint."

"CAS provides many advantages to animal welfare, ensuring chickens are fully unconscious and humanely euthanized, while greatly reducing stress," according to Dr. Greg Douglas, vice-president, animal care. "This technology, which we have also installed at our pork processing facility in Manitoba, is acknowledged as a best practice around the world," Douglas added.

Maple Leaf Foods is also installing Remote Video Auditing at this facility, a powerful training and auditing tool that supports rigorous monitoring and compliance to best practices of animal care.

This will be the ninth implementation as part of Maple Leaf's commitment to incorporate Remote Video Auditing across its network.

Poultry is the most consumed protein in Canada and Maple Leaf Foods has the leading national brands and market position in value-added poultry, which continues to experience significant growth.

To support its leadership, Maple Leaf has added a second shift at this facility to keep pace with demand and recently invested approximately $16 million to expand capacity at its hatchery operations in Wetaskiwin, Alberta.

Maple Leaf has additionally reached an agreement to acquire two poultry processing facilities and related supply, with significant value-added capabilities, from Cericola Farms.
Published in Company News
Raising broilers is much like building a house. A good deal of effort goes into planning and constructing the structure, but one also needs to be a bit of an artist to create the ideal end result. Experienced and knowledgeable growers are similar in that they follow recommended procedures while also being proactive in identifying issues before they can cause a problem.
Published in Broilers
Perdue Farms Inc., one of the world’s biggest producers of organic chicken, wants to bring the premium meat to the masses.

The Salisbury, Maryland-based company will convert its Simply Smart prepared chicken brand to organic later this year, chief marketing officer Eric Christianson said in an interview.

The line, which includes frozen products such as nuggets, tenders and breasts, will be sold at about half the price of comparable organic products at retail, which often go for about $15 a pound, he said. | READ MORE
Published in News
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
For the first time, HatchCare chicks have been born in the United Kingdom. Specifically, these first chicks were hatched on July 16 in Boston, Lincolnshire, U.K., and were directly provided with feed, water and light post-hatch.

HatchTech commissioned the HatchCare hatchery together with Annyalla Chicks, a family business that runs independent hatcheries in Ireland and the U.K.

Following the positive results of several field trips to HatchCare hatcheries and farms, equipping this hatchery with HatchCare was selected for Annyalla Chicks.

John Mawer, CEO of Annyalla Chicks says, “The evidence I’ve seen shows improvement in many areas, including enhanced hatching results, superior technical performance at broiler level and reduced medication requirements. Above all, the biggest attraction for us is the much-improved welfare it brings to our chicks.”

The hatchery will produce 500,000 day-old chicks in the first phase, with the possibility of extending this to 2.2 million day-old chicks within the existing building. HatchTech delivered the whole package of incubation solutions – from setters and HatchCare units to heating, cooling and ventilation equipment.

“We’re very pleased with this successful startup and the entrance of HatchCare chicks into the UK market. We’re proud to be able to provide Annyalla Chicks with all the benefits of early feeding, such as improved welfare conditions, undisrupted development of the birds and better technical performance at broiler farm level. We’re really looking forward to a successful rollout,” says Michiel van Veldhuisen, international sales manager with HatchTech.

Besides building a HatchCare hatchery, Annyalla Chicks also commissioned a HatchTraveller. This enables the chicks to eat during transportation, which will enhance chick quality and positively contribute to their development. The HatchTraveller will be supplied in September.
Published in Company News
A team of investigators have isolated colistin-resistant Escherichia coli from a commercial poultry farm in China. Colistin is an antibiotic of last resort against certain bacteria. The research is published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

In the study, as part of ongoing surveillance, the researchers from Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Sichuan University collected rectal swabs from randomly selected chickens in multiple commercial chicken farms in China.

The researchers found that E. coli from the chickens often carried multiple resistance genes, including one copy of the colistin-resistance gene mcr-1, and one copy of the resistance gene, mcr-3. This is the first report of these two genes on a single plasmid. | READ MORE
Published in News
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
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
Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) is involved in a new initiative called the Livestock Welfare Engagement Project. The goal of this project is a collaborative look at animal welfare in Alberta’s livestock industry, where AFAC will facilitate the collection of input from individuals and organizations across the sector.

The insights and information collected through this project will be presented in a final report, which will be shared with the Government of Alberta to support its understanding of the animal welfare landscape in the province from the livestock industry’s perspective. The Livestock Welfare Engagement Project was requested and is being funded by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

Your voice matters – Everyone encouraged to participate
“Livestock welfare is important to all industry stakeholders, as well as the bodies that regulate the sector, and practices continue to change and evolve. This project will provide every stakeholder – from individual farmers and ranchers to producer association groups, veterinarians and all others – the opportunity to share their insight into what is happening in their sector today,” says Annemarie Pedersen, AFAC executive director. “These diverse insights will be critical in creating a clear picture of the extensive work being done related to animal welfare in Alberta today, and in providing direction for the future.”

Industry input required
One of the most important parts of the project is the project survey. This survey is now online and is open to anyone in Alberta who is involved in animal agriculture in the province. Individuals and organizations of all kinds across the industry are invited and encouraged to participate. The survey is designed to incorporate four categories: 1) organizations, 2) abattoir & auction markets, 3) individuals (e.g. producers), and 4) students.

Click here to complete the survey

The survey is open until October 31st. Participants are encouraged to complete the survey as soon as possible. Any participants falling under more than one category are welcome to complete multiple surveys.

"Sharing and redistribution of this survey is requested. The more responses gathered, the clearer the final picture of Alberta’s livestock sector will be," says Pedersen. "Industry associations such as producer and commodity organizations are encouraged to circulate this information to their members and stakeholders and we encourage them to participate as well."

Key components of the overall project include a preliminary engagement consultation session (completed in March), the online project survey (now underway), focus groups (to follow) and development of the final report. If you have questions on which survey version to complete or on other aspects of the project, please contact AFAC.
Published in Welfare
Maple Leaf Foods recently announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire two poultry plants and associated supply from Cericola Farms, a privately held company.

Located in Bradford, Ontario and Drummondville, Quebec, collectively the two plants process approximately 32 million kg of chicken annually.

Maple Leaf has also entered into an agreement to secure 100 per cent of the processed chicken volume from Cericola's primary processing plant located in Schomberg, Ont., and holds an option to acquire this asset and associated plant supply in three years.

"Cericola is a leader in raised without antibiotics and organic chicken. This acquisition will build Maple Leaf's market leadership in these value-added categories and enable us to meet growing consumer demand," said Michael McCain, president and CEO. Founder of Cericola Farms, Mary Cericola said, "Our vision over the past 60 years has been to provide wholesome and natural poultry products to our customers. It is this tradition of excellence that aligns Maple Leaf and Cericola."

This acquisition will provide Maple Leaf with additional supply and value-added processing capability to advance its leadership in higher value categories.

Maple Leaf Foods has transitioned most of its flagship Maple Leaf Prime chicken brand to Prime RWA, where the Canadian market is growing at approximately 25% annually.

Chicken is the most consumed and fastest growing meat protein segment in North America. Cericola specializes in air-chilled processing of antibiotic free and animal by-product free and organic poultry products.

The transaction will be financed through a combination of cash-on-hand and drawings under the existing credit facility and is expected to close in August, subject to normal closing requirements including Competition Bureau review.
Published in News
A panel of farm animal care specialists examining undercover video reportedly obtained from an egg farm in British Columbia says some of the conditions seen are unacceptable but cautions against moving to quick judgement. The group of experts viewed video that will apparently be contained in a report on CTV News.

"We can't make an assessment from this other than to say this video is not what we see on a daily basis working on farms," said Dr. Tom Inglis, a practicing poultry veterinarian and adjunct assistant professor at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary.

"Our hope would be that if this video clip is shown as 'news' that it is followed up with sufficient confirmation of validity and an attempt to confirm that the facility and situations depicted actually occurred, were not staged, and were responsibly reported to ensure that birds did not suffer or continue to suffer."

The panel of experts reviewed the video as part of the Animal Care Review Panel program established by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI). The panel was comprised of Dr. Inglis, in collaboration with Dr. Benjamin Schlegel, a board-certified poultry veterinarian; Jennifer Woods, Animal Welfare Specialist; and Dr. Mike Petrik, a practicing poultry veterinarian.

The group examined a 2.5-minute video apparently produced by the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The panelists also saw a brief promotional advertisement for CTV's planned news coverage of the video.

"All egg farmers in Canada are expected to follow the standards set forth in the Canadian Codes of Practice for Laying Hens," said Woods. "If producers are found to not be adhering to the standards, I would expect industry to intervene and work on correctional actions along with providing further education to the producer."

Dr. Petrik noted older technology barns provide good animal welfare when properly managed, but the type of housing seen in this video is being phased out in accordance with the Canadian Codes of Practice.

"These types of facilities are being replaced with housing that provides more space, perching, nest spaces, and scratch areas for all chickens used for egg laying in Canada," said Dr. Petrik. "These new requirements represent a very large investment by egg farmers in Canada, and demonstrate a true commitment to laying hen welfare across Canada."

CCFI established the Animal Care Review Panel program to engage recognized animal care specialists to examine hidden camera video investigations and provide expert perspectives.

The Panel operates independently. Its reviews, assessments, recommendations and reports are not submitted to the egg industry for review or approval. CCFI's only role is to facilitate the review process and release the panel's findings.

The panel's full report is available at www.foodintegrity.ca/

Published in News
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
Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) is providing a second Ontario chicken processor with a new and unique opportunity to supply smaller-sized chickens, ‘Small Whole Birds’, aimed at meeting the demands of distinct Ontario consumer markets, including the increasingly popular Portuguese barbecue restaurants or ‘churrasqueiras’.

“Earlier this year, CFO strengthened its growing suite of processing programs, which are designed to meet new and emerging markets and satisfy the complex demands of today’s consumers,” said Ed Benjamins, chair, Chicken Farmers of Ontario. “With the introduction of CFO’s Small Whole Bird Supply Program, Ontarians can look forward to even more chicken choices on retail shelves, in restaurants and foodservice establishments across the province,” stated Benjamins.

The announcement welcomes a second Ontario processor into this new program. Sure Fresh Foods Inc., of Bradford, Ont., is planning to start processing ‘Small Whole Birds’ for the Portuguese barbeque market in early fall of 2018.

“CFO is pleased to announce that Sure Fresh Foods will target the needs of a specific market which is intended to further enhance the ability of our industry to meet consumer demand for Premium Ontario Chicken,” said Rob Dougans, president & CEO of CFO. “All of our processor programs are designed with the consumer in mind and are developed through strategic consultation across the chicken industry value chain.”

CFO’s Small Whole Bird Supply Program was established with the purpose of meeting the demands of consumer markets requiring chickens that are smaller than what is traditionally grown and processed in Ontario (approximately 1.7 kg versus 2.2 kg). Serving these distinct markets may also require different processing equipment than is used in the mainstream chicken industry to accommodate the smaller size of the bird.

To learn more about how the chicken industry is committed to providing Ontarians with even more choice, check out some of the other Chicken Farmers of Ontario Programs for Ontario Processors by clicking here.
Published in Processing
Development of the avian embryo, or chick, can be categorized in to one of two strategies designed to meet two very different physiological and biological needs. The avian embryo will develop as either an altricial or precocial chick, each with their own specific set of needs necessary to survive after hatch.  
Published in Bird 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

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