Production
February 24, 2017, Lethbridge, Alta – When it comes to successful brooding, it is not one size fits all. The Lethbridge Quality Brooding Workshop will explore what works and what doesn’t when it comes to maximizing flock growth, health, and welfare. This practical workshop takes place near Lethbridge on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.

The workshop will be led by instructors who understand the importance of links between bird health, biology, and barn results. They will discuss ideal barn preparation, the key components of brooding management, identifying sick birds, the flock health and economic impact of a decision to cull specific birds, and more!

Participants will go into the barn to discuss barn preparation and tools to measure environmental conditions; hear first-hand accounts of what works and doesn’t work in the field; and learn to assess external chick quality and how this relates to internal conditions of chicks. 

The program will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at a farm located just east of Lethbridge. Registration is $60 per person and includes lunch. Additional registrants from the same farm will be charged $50 each. Please contact the Alberta Chicken Producers office at 780-488-2125 to register.

There are a limited number of spots available, so register early to avoid disappointment.

If you would be interested in participating in a future Edmonton-area Quality Brooding Workshop, please contact the office. Interested parties will be placed on a contact list. If there is early interest, officials will plan for this workshop to take place shortly after the Lethbridge workshop.
Published in Bird Management
Although the table egg industry is significant in Canada, it remains vulnerable to shifts in consumer attitudes and perceptions. Eggs are washed prior to retail sale, to remove potential pathogens from the eggshell surface. However, cases of Salmonella poisoning do occur.  
Published in Research
Growing volumes of data are being collected throughout the food production chain. But although this data could present big opportunity for agriculture, it’s not being used to its full potential, according to the international sales director of a software company that specializes in the protein industry.     
Published in New Technology
According to Statistics Canada (StatsCan), over the last several decades, the per capita consumption of animal protein in Canada has changed dramatically. Figure 1 shows the consumption of three different meats from 1980 to 2014.
Published in Meat - Broilers
Truss plate corrosion can be an issue in barns - but it doesn’t have to be. The life span of truss plates, hangers, screws and nails in the truss system depends on the materials used, barn design and maintenance.
Published in Housing
February 9, 2017 – The global poultry probiotics market size was estimated at over $750 million (US) in 2015 and is likely to be valued at $1.2 billion (US) by 2023, according to Global Market Insights.

The global probiotic ingredients market size is likely to cross $46 billion (US) by 2020.

North America, especially the U.S. probiotics market for poultry, is likely to grow at steady rates owing to increase in meat consumption, particularly chicken. Europe is also likely to grow at steady rates owing to ban on antibiotic feed supplements. Asia Pacific probiotics market is likely to grow owing to increase in awareness of benefits in meat production.

Globally, antibiotics are used to prevent poultry diseases and pathogens required for improving egg and meat production. Dietary antibiotics used in poultry applications have encountered some problems such as drug residues in bird bodies, drug resistant bacteria development, and microflora imbalance. Increasing application in poultry market is likely to counter the aforementioned factors and promote demand over the forecast period.

Probiotic species belonging to Bacillus, Streptococcus, Lactobacillus, Enterococcus, Bifidobacterium, Candida, Saccharomyces and Aspergillus are used in poultry applications and are expected to have beneficial effects on broiler performance.

Poultry feed accounts for almost 70 per cent of the total production cost and, therefore, it is necessary to improve feed efficiency with minimum cost. In the poultry industry, chicks are subjected to microflora environment and may get infected. Broiler chickens can also succumb to stress owing to production pressure. Under such a scenario, synthetic antimicrobial agents and antibiotics are used to alleviate stress and improve feed efficiency. However, antibiotics in poultry applications are becoming undesirable owing to residues in meat products and development of antibiotic resistant properties.

Europe has banned use of antibiotics as a growth-promoting agent in poultry application owing to several negative effects. These aforementioned factors are expected to drive probiotics demand in the poultry market. Antibiotics failure to treat human diseases effectively has led the European Union (EU) to ban low doses of antibiotics in animal feed. This factor has also led the U.S. government officials to restrict antibiotics use in animal feed.

Poultry probiotics products are available in the form of power and liquid feed supplements. Commercial products in the market may be comprised of a single strain of bacteria or single strain of yeast or a mixture of both. Chicks/broilers/layers require a dose of around 0.5 kg per ton of feed whereas breeders require close to 1 kg per ton of feed.

The global probiotics market share is fragmented with the top five companies catering to more than 35 per cent of the total demand. Major companies include Danone, Yakult, Nestle and Chr Hansen. Other prominent manufacturers include Danisco, BioGaia, Arla Foods, General Mills, Bilogics AB, DuPont, DSM and ConAgra.
Published in Emerging Trends
Canada and the U.S. are set to severely restrict and even eliminate the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in poultry and livestock production by the end of 2017, says Elanco Animal Health regulatory affairs director Randy Bogg.

Both Health Canada’s Veterinary Drugs Directorate (VDD) and the U.S. Center for Veterinary Medicine are proposing to disallow the use of antibiotics to improve performance and require veterinary oversight will be required for therapeutic use, he told the B.C. Poultry Symposium in Abbotsford, May 26th.

“All labels are to be changed by the end of 2016,” Bogg says, noting it will impact over 160 products with growth promotant claims.

The Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI) is committed to working with the VDD to develop new labels which define the terms and duration of use. Even though drugs are nationally regulated, usage may still vary among provinces as veterinarians are provincially regulated.

The end of antibiotic use in hatcheries is taking its toll on hatchability and chick quality. To offset that, both hatcheries and hatching egg producers need to pay greater attention to detail, says Cobb-Vantress hatchery specialist Ben Green. It starts with the eggs.

“If (producers) send us junk, how can we make good chicks?” he asks.

Producers should stop sending or at least isolate dirty and floor eggs so hatcheries can handle them separately since “they’re not going to do as well.”

Green says using a low-volatility electrostatic sprayer to spray eggs with chlorine dioxide increased hatchability 4.39 per cent. Cobb is also trying to identify hairline cracks in eggs. While they get an 89.6 per cent hatch from good eggs, cracked eggs only have a 66.4 per cent hatch and chicks are generally weaker.

“Chicks from good eggs have a one per cent mortality rate in the first seven days while those from cracked eggs have a five per cent rate.”

He also stresses the need for eggs to be right side up when they go into the incubator, claiming 75 per cent of chicks die if they start upside down.

Once hatched, chicks have to be fed right. DSM Nutritional Products technical support manager April Levy says growers should no longer rely on the 1994 National Research Council recommendations as they are based on 1970s and early 80s genetics.

“Today’s broilers are twice as efficient and turkeys three times as efficient,” she points out.

DSM updated its guidelines this year and put out an app to help growers optimize the usage of vitamins D and E. Vitamin D helps prevent rickets and TD (tibial dyschondroplasia) and reduces egg shell problems while Vitamin E helps the immune response under heat stress and also improves infectious bronchitis titers.

She also advocates biotin and added zinc to reduce footpad lesions in turkeys but admits it won’t help if litter is too damp.

LITTER
Jones-Hamilton business development manager Blake Gibson calls litter a critical component, saying it should be below 4.3 pH.

“Most litter is 6.5 to 7.5 pH,” he states, saying the higher the pH the more quickly bacteria will replicate.

He notes all litter has benefits and drawbacks. Wood shavings increase pathogen loads while straw and grass are less absorptive. Sand is good but too much ends up in the crop.

While Gibson recommends a moisture content of 10-20 per cent, CEVA Sante Animale poultry range manager Kobus Van Heerden wants to see it at 25-35 per cent if growers are vaccinating birds against coccidiosis. To be effective, the vaccine needs to be applied at the hatchery, then sporulated on-farm and reingested 2-4 more times.

“Each time it cycles, the immunity gets better and better,” Van Heerden says, saying the damper litter (and a temperature of 26 to 36°C) is necessary to facilitate sporulation.

While many growers start their birds at one end of the barn, then open up the rest of the barn when the birds have grown, Van Heerden encourages them to start the birds in a narrow lane along the full length of the barn, then widen the lane as birds age. That way, vaccine is spread through the whole barn, resulting in more uniform recycling.

The experts not only disagree on the right moisture content for litter, but the right amount. Gibson wants litter to be at least 10-15 cm deep (higher in barns with concrete floors and on second floors and lower in barns with a soil base), saying birds use it to regulate their temperature. However, Martin Roshoj Jensen of Skov A/S suggests starting with only 1-5 cm of litter on a concrete floor, saying a shallow litter allows excess moisture to evaporate.

“We tried it by accident and it worked,” he says, adding a shallow litter also got rid of darkling beetles “because birds can dig them out and eat them.”

Jensen suggests peat moss as a litter, saying many Northern European poultry farms now use it. Before the litter is spread, the floor should be heated to 30-32°C. Birds should be started at a room temperature of 34°C until they reach 175 grams.

He believes temperature is absolutely critical, saying birds eat less when they are too hot. Despite that, he told growers not to skimp on heat, saying it is easier to cool birds when they are too hot than to warm them up when they are too cold.

RWA Production
Phibro Animal Health nutritionist Mike Blair suggests growers consider using Nicarb as a feed additive instead of vaccinating, calling it “most efficient” at controlling coccidiosis. Nicarb should be added to starter feed at 125 ppm and to grower feed at 100 ppm and used until birds are 28-29 days of age.

Blair claims some American ABF and organic farms use Nicarb year-round but one B.C. producer says he is not allowed to use it in his RWA (raised without antibiotics) chicken.

While some antibiotics may still be used therapeutically, many products have been completely withdrawn. As a result, says retired B.C. Ministry of Agriculture poultry veterinarian Dr. Bill Cox, there is no longer any drug to treat blackhead in turkeys.

To avoid blackhead, growers need to keep the birds as healthy as possible. Barns should be completely cleaned and disinfected between flocks to eliminate histamonids and sealed to prevent entry of earthworms, a primary vector for parasites. Just having a concrete floor is not a solution, the floor needs to be higher than the ground around it.

Cox also discourages running turkey on pasture particularly if chicken have previously used it.

“Birds on pasture are the greatest risk,” Cox says.

To achieve good C&D, growers should do more than just blow down or air out their barns, says Merial Canada technical services veterinarian Louis Colulombe. He notes a dirty barn has up to 3,000,000 CFU (colony-forming units) of bacteria/square inch. Even after airing out the barn, 2,000,000 CFU’s remain. He advocates washing the barn with detergent and following that with a disinfectant to reduce the bacteria load to less than 1,000 CFU’s/sq. in. He encourages the use of a foaming detergent, as it sticks to walls longer and clearly shows the extent of the coverage.

Concerns over the use of antimicrobials in food animals is driven by fears this will lead to resistance in humans but it is not just humans which could suffer the consequences of unbridled antibiotic use.

“Using antibiotics is a selection process for E.coli,” says Zoetis veterinary services manager Babak Sanei. While E.coli can’t be eliminated in poultry, only a few are pathogenic. The most common result is cellulitis, now the number one reason for condemns in Canada.

Another issue of concern is salmonella enteritidis (SE).

“SE doesn’t make birds sick but it will make people sick,” says B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) public health veterinarian Melissa McLaws, claiming B.C. has the highest incidence of SE in the country. The BCCDC is working with the B.C. Ministries of Agriculture and Health and the poultry industry to develop a strategy to remove poor quality eggs from the marketplace. It is also adding SE-training to its FoodSafe program for food preparers and handlers.
Published in Health
Fortune magazine in September took a deep dive into the cage-free egg movement, chronicling how McDonald’s made its decision to go cage-free and the company’s prospects for being able to follow through on its pledge.

McDonald’s announcement a year ago spurred a tidal wave through the food industry. Around 200 companies, including every major fast food chain and many major brands, have said they will go cage-free. Most of them target 2025 for completing the transition.

The Fortune article cites results from Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) research that examined three different hen housing systems – conventional cage, enriched colony and cage-free – and concluded there are positive and negative trade-offs with each.

Food beat writer Beth Kowitt cites that the CSES study considered the housing systems as a whole – worker health, animal health, food affordability, food safety and environmental impact, while activist groups focus solely on animal welfare. An excerpt: In the end, science wasn’t the deciding factor. The study intentionally excluded one component – consumer sentiment – and that turned out to be the most important of all. The phrase “enriched cage” means nothing to the average person. So if McDonald’s had shifted to that option, it wouldn’t get any credit from consumers. “Science was telling us enriched, but when talking with the consumer, they had no clue what enriched was,” says Hugues Labrecque, who runs the egg business that serves McDonald’s at Cargill. Once that became clear, cage-free became the inevitable consensus.

In a Forbes op-ed, contributor Steve Banker, who covers logistics and supply chain management, cites the Fortune article and analyzes what will have to happen in the marketplace in order for McDonald’s to meet its cage-free commitment by 2025. He concludes, “McDonald’s shows us that companies have a chance to do ‘good,’ where ‘good’ is defined in a way that resonates with their customer base….”

In a Forbes article back in May, “Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert noted there currently is no United States Department of Agriculture legal definition for “cage-free” and that, “…transparency of what the term actually means will anger many as they discover their imagery of a happy-go-lucky hen running through the field is far from the truth.”

People with strong feelings about hen housing tend to bypass scientific studies such as that conducted by CSES. Food companies want to give customers what they want regardless of the science.

There are a number of barriers to consumers integrating scientific information into their decision-making process. The influence of group values, confirmation bias, scientific illiteracy, the tribal nature of online communication and other factors all pose challenges to successfully introducing technical information into the social conversation about food and agriculture.

Many of the barriers can be overcome by following the formula developed through CFI’s research. Establishing shared values opens the door for technical information to be introduced into the conversation. It begins by first identifying and then communicating values from a credible messenger.  Only then can incorporating technical information be viewed as trustworthy, building on a message platform that encourages informed decision-making.

Building trust is a process. Authentic transparency and continued engagement will encourage objective evaluation of scientific information that supports informed decision-making. Encouraging informed decision-making requires meeting people in the communities where the discussions are taking place, acknowledging their scepticism and committing to long-term engagement.

The Center for Food Integrity
CFI is a not-for-profit organization whose members and project partners represent the diversity of today’s food system, from farmers and food companies to universities, non-governmental organizations to retailers and food processors.

Visit foodintegrity.org for more information.
Published in Eggs - Layers

Nova Scotia broiler producer Nick de Graaf passed several significant milestones in 2008.

First, he bought out his father’s share in the Annapolis Valley poultry farm founded by his Dutch grandfather in the early 1960s in Kings County, Nova Scotia, between Canning and Port Williams.

Next, Nick bought more quota, increasing his flock production by 196,000 birds annually. This came just three years after the de Graafs bought additional quota in 2005, increasing their flock production by 102,000 birds per year. “We grow 660,000 chickens per year and we also grow 67,000 turkeys per year,” says Nick.

He ships his birds to the Sunnymel poultry processing plant in Clair, Northern New Brunswick.

Nick’s poultry production is audited for four food safety and animal welfare programs. For his broilers, this includes the Chicken Farmers of Canada’s (CFC) On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program (OFFSAP) and CFC’s Animal Care Program. He also follows two similar programs for his turkey production.

Lastly, in 2008 he also built a feed mill to process poultry rations from his crops.

He grows wheat, primarily for straw bedding for his flocks and he is 100 per cent self-sufficient in corn cultivation.

Nick owns 700 acres of arable land and he also crops an additional 900 acres in scattered parcels across Kings County.

He only grows 65 per cent of the soybeans he uses in his rations as he doesn’t yet have enough acreage for soybean self-sufficiency. However, he is looking for more land.

Nick graduated in 1998 from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, now the Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus with a B.Sc. in  Agricultural Economics and four years later, in 2002, he became financially involved in the family farm.

Nick is now a director on both the Chicken Farmers of Nova Scotia and the Turkey Farmers of Nova Scotia marketing boards. To date, he has served seven years on the chicken marketing board and two years on the turkey board. He is also a past-president of the Kings county Federation of Agriculture.

He and his wife, Trudy, have three children. Their eldest daughter, Malorie, is married with two children of her own.

Their next daughter, Vanessa, is 16 and their son, Tyler, is 14.

Vanessa plans to attend Dalhousie University’s Agricultural Campus and seems interested in farming after graduation, de Graaf says.

At age 40 he has not yet begun farm succession planning.

Off-farm recreational interests of the de Graaf family include travel and de Graaf says he and his two youngest children enjoy the shooting sports of trap and skeet.

Published in Producers

August 19, 2016 - The Feather Board Command Centre (FBCC) has been notified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) that the 3-kilometer Avian Influenza Control Zone (AICZ) established in the St. Catherines area on July 10 has been removed.

Licensing will no longer be required for the movement of animals, products and equipment in this area. All commercial and non-commercial farms from the zone have been released from quarantine, with the exception of the one infected premises, where cleaning and disinfecting processes are still underway. The quarantine on the infected premises will be removed upon completion of the 21-day waiting period that follows cleaning and disinfection of the infected premises under CFIA oversight.

All industry sectors continue to work effectively together to ensure that any risk for the spread of this disease is mitigated through proper biosecurity protocols. Procedures should be in place on all Ontario poultry farms and be practiced throughout the entire poultry industry. All Ontario poultry producers and industry stakeholders can resume their individual standard biosecurity practices.

FBCC would like to thank poultry producers, small flock growers and industry partners for their cooperation, support and assistance in the successful control of this disease incident.

Published in Farm Business

August 19, 2016 - Merial is recognizing an important 10 year milestone of protecting flocks against Marek's disease and Gumboro disease (also known as Infectious Bursal Disease). Since the introduction of VAXXITEK HVT+IBD1 in Brazil in 2006, the vaccine has protected more than 70 billion birds across more than 75 countries against these two critical diseases, for which no treatment exists, considerably simplifying the vaccination process and contributing to disease prevention and efficiency strategies for poultry production businesses worldwide.

“We are extremely proud of the contributions of VAXXITEK HVT+IBD to poultry health in countries globally,” said Jérôme Baudon, Global Head of the Avian Business at Merial. It is one of the most used poultry vaccines in the world, and when it was introduced 10 years ago, Merial truly invented a new category by allowing for immunization against two diseases with a single vaccine dose given in the hatchery.”

Marek’s and Gumboro diseases are two of the most common, contagious and significant immunosuppressive viral diseases in poultry. In light of the growing need for protein in the world, innovative poultry health solutions, including VAXXITEK HVT+IBD, are critical to enhance poultry disease prevention, production and cost efficiencies. By 2020, chicken is expected to overtake pork as the global animal protein of choice.

“We started using VAXXITEK shortly after its launch and noted a big improvement in chick quality right from the start. Our customers reported fewer condemns and reduced mortality. Now we have customers asking for VAXXITEK-vaccinated chicks. We are extremely happy with the results,” said Ernie Silver, Hatchery Manager, Western Hatchery, Abbotsford, BC.

VAXXITEK HVT+IBD continues to represent a significant advance in vaccination, with only one single application for each bird. The vector-based vaccine is administered subcutaneously to one day old chicks or in-ovo (in the egg) in the hatchery. This approach enables continuity of protection against Marek’s Disease and IBD before chicks are placed on the farm, removing doubts about the right timing of vaccination, and also improving the consistency of quality vaccine delivery. In addition, VAXXITEK HVT+IBD provides excellent protection against a wide variety of IBD field strains without inducing bursa lesions or immunosuppression. For more product information, visit www.vaxxitek.com  

Published in Company News

 

For Susan Schafers, the choice to go cage-free in 2007 was obvious. “At the time, my father still owned the quota, and he downsized from 30,000 to 7000 layers,” she explains. “For that smallish flock size, free-run made sense financially. And also, my brother, Martin Kanehl, was selling poultry barn equipment, and we saw the writing on the wall with cage-free. Everyone would be moving that way. I think we were second in Alberta to do it.”

Schafers’ operation, STS Farms, located in Stony Plain (outside Edmonton) supplies Burnbrae, which is the sole provider of eggs to McDonald’s Canada. Schafers is pleased that the retail chain sources eggs, meat, potatoes and more from Canadian farms, a practice some other chains don’t choose to employ.

STS Farms was started by Schafers’ parents Manfred and Elke Kanehl, in the early 1960’s. They were immigrants from Germany who met and married here. “My Dad did everything from working the railroads to being a cowboy to running a hatchery,” Schafers explains. “At one point, he got a few hundred chickens and then grew from there. He grew grain as well, and had a broiler-breeder operation and then went to layers. As their layer flock downsized and they stopped cropping, their pullet operation grew and STS Farms now produces 150,000 pullets a year. “We started with free run housing with the pullets, then went to caged and now we’ll be switching to loose housing again, which might mean downsizing,” Schafers says. “The next renovation will be aviary free-run, with birds having the opportunity to learn how to fly.” She notes that in 2007, she would have gone to an aviary system for the layers, but they weren’t around at the time. “Now there are better styles,” she says. “They’ve done a lot of development work, and now you have the ability to place more birds.”

While Schafers supports producers using aviary, enriched cage or free-run systems, she notes that when you go from cages to one of the looser housing systems, there is an increase in the environmental footprint of the farm – a fact which many consumers may not realize. “You have to build more barns, which takes up more space and uses more resources and adds to the cost,” she notes. “That’s the reality. It will take time for industry to make those changes. I think consumers should have the choice of buying eggs from hens living in different housing systems, but it’s different when retailers and some consumers dictate a single choice to egg farmers and to all consumers. Going to all free-run barns across the country will mean the price of eggs will go up substantially. But there is a silver lining in that there is excitement and enthusiasm in the industry along with some fear and uncertainties. We have a very strong and positive industry. Eggs are considered healthy again, and we’re in growth mode. I’d like to build a second barn in time.”

Schafers has five full-time employees and several part-time employees, some of whom have been with her over 20 years. She has a farm manager, but does lots of hands-on daily tasks such as gathering eggs and loading pullets as she enjoys it, it keeps her in good touch with the birds and it provides good balance. Her parents live next door to her and her children on the farm, and her Dad Manfred still enjoys helping out and sharing his wealth of knowledge. Schafers’ children Isaac (14 years old), Elisabeth (17) and Glen (19) have always helped out on the farm. “I’ve always encouraged them to get post-secondary education and to have that experience away from the farm,” she says. “They will know when and if they want to come back.”

Importance of Associations
Like Schafers’ father, who served on the Egg Farmers of Alberta (EFA) and Egg Farmers of Canada boards for many years, Schafers also has held association positions. She’s the current EFA Vice Chair and former Chair and has also served on the Pullet Growers of Canada board. “Unless you’re on a board, you don’t realize how important it is,” she says. “At some point, every producer should be on the board. You see how what you do on your own farm relates to what is happening in your own province and nationally, how the provinces need to work together on national issues and also international ones. I really enjoy the board service.”

Schafers has a degree in Agricultural Management, and does both public speaking and blogging on the EFA website. “Ag education is one of the things I love the most,” she says. “It’s many things. I enjoy being part of the conversation and talking to people about their views. I love teaching people about where their food comes from in the schools, at events, on television, and I think it’s very important as an entire industry because interacting means you’re able to develop your industry and reach people. We are well on our way to educating people about food and animal husbandry but we can always do more.”

She adds, “I think egg producers are living in a great time, in a very strong growth mode where eggs are viewed as nutritious, fresh and economical for consumers. Yes, there are challenges, the biggest one being the housing situation, but we will meet those. I am very happy being on the EFA Board, with the current focus on planning and supporting producers to find solutions.

“Producer education and awareness are very important so that producers are prepared for the future and aren’t left scrambling.”

 

 

 

Published in Producers

August 2, 2016- Canadian biotechnology company AbCelex has received an investment of $3.4 million from the federal government to develop a new line of anti-microbial feed additives to help control disease outbreaks in poultry flocks.

Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains, on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (AAFC), Lawrence MacAulay, made the announcement July 29.

The company is developing a line of innovative non-antibiotic, non-hormonal additives that are specifically targeted at Campylobacter and Salmonella, two of the most common food-borne bacteria that infect poultry. The new anti-microbials – called “nanobodies” – will result in healthier poultry and improve food safety.

AbCelex is a Canadian biotechnology company focused on developing livestock food additives that help improve animal health and food safety.

AAFC supports the development and adoption of industry-led initiatives regarding biosecurity and animal care to support the prudent use of antimicrobials.

This project will be conducted in collaboration with the International Vaccine Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Toronto and the Colorado Quality Research Inc. Funding for this project comes from the AgriInnovation Program (Research and Development Stream) as part of the Growing Forward 2 agricultural policy framework.

Published in Nutrition and Feed

Very few Canadian farmers schedule their farm projects around when the House of Commons is sitting in Ottawa. But that’s the case for New Brunswick egg farmer and Member of Parliament, TJ Harvey.

By the end of June when the House adjourns, TJ will break from his hectic travel schedule to be in his constituency of Tobique-Mactaquac until mid-September. When not fulfilling responsibilities in his home riding this summer, TJ squeezes in time with his wife, Tanya, and their four children – Emma, Madilyn, Sarah and Jack – and juggles farm projects.

TJ and Tanya were accepted as new entrants in 2009, and were established in their newly built layer barn the following year at Sunnyside Farms Ltd. in Glassville, N.B. “We started with an allocation of 1,100 birds from the Egg Farmers of New Brunswick, and have grown to 3,000 birds with additional allocations and increases,” TJ explains.

It was Tanya’s introduction to poultry farming while gathering eggs with her sister at the local Clarks chick hatchery growing up that sparked the interest in her and TJ becoming new entrants. Tanya’s family has a dairy farm in Midland, N.B.  

A second generation farmer, TJ grew up on a seed potato farm that his father started with seven acres in the 1980s. In 2011, when the opportunity presented itself, the family sold out of the cropping enterprise, which then comprised 550 acres of seed potatoes and 900 acres of soybeans, wheat and barley in rotation. Today, TJ and Tanya still live on the family farm, while the family rents out the potato storages and remaining acres of land.

While most N.B. new entrants retrofitted or worked with existing barns, the Harveys built new on a site that hadn’t had livestock in recent years. This meant they had to meet the province’s stringent Livestock Operations Act. Despite the challenges, they “had the opportunity to build a modern barn on a smaller scale,” TJ says.  

The barn was built large enough to house 4,000 birds in a conventional housing system. It’s fully automated except for the gathering, which “allows us a lot of flexibility.” That flexibility has come in handy with TJ’s schedule and Tanya working full time in tech services for McCain Foods Ltd., headquartered in nearby Florenceville, the World’s French Fry Capitol.

An employee, Chris Milheron, that has been with the family since the seed potato growing days has been “invaluable” as a consistent set of hands and eyes working in the layer barn. “We encourage our four kids to go and help in the barn as much as possible, too,” says TJ, who also makes a point to have at least weekends in the barn when life gets extra hectic.

“An alarm system is the best thing we installed,” notes TJ, “whether it’s a power failure, fans or water issue, we know instantly and can have someone there right away.”

The Harveys had plans to expand by adding another tier of layers, but have been stymied by the requirement that future expansions must be either free range or enriched housing. It’s just not in the cards for them so soon after their initial investment to get established.

Interest in Politics
“Deep down, I always knew I wanted to run for politics,” TJ shares. After off-farm stints with crop protection and food ingredient companies, the opportunity presented itself to get involved in the leadership campaign for Justin Trudeau. “I was always engaged and part of the local Liberal association and it just started to snowball from there.”

On October 19, 2015, TJ was elected to represent his constituency in the Federal election. He is one of the few Members of Parliament under 35 years of age. His farm background also means he’s frequently lobbied on agricultural issues.

TJ believes the biggest challenge in agriculture is the disconnect between the farm and consumer. “We need to get a lot better at telling our story.” He encourages farmers to be proactive and create opportunities to show what you do, such as adding skyways or viewing rooms on your farm for visitors. “People just do not understand and we have a duty to share our story.”

For his part, in Ottawa, TJ is chairing an all-party agriculture caucus. He describes it as an opportunity for MPs representing rural areas, or those interested in or wanting to learn about agriculture to meet and leave the partisan aspect at the door. “We just share, talk and debate about what’s best and what’s needed for the agricultural industry, and how we can support that with good policy.”

It’s one of few such caucuses in Government, though TJ sees more being established in future. “It’s really taken off,” he says, noting approximately 40 MPs have joined the all-party agriculture caucus. The only requirements to join are an interest in agricultural issues, and attending the 7 a.m. meetings each month. “We’re working hard to get renewed vigour around agriculture.”

TJ has noticed that, often, one sector of agriculture gets pitted against another. He describes this as unfortunate and unnecessary. “As a country, we need to create agriculture policy that allows all our sectors to flourish, and that includes supply management as a key pillar.” TJ is confident every sector can gel together without creating hardship in another.

“There are much easier ways to make a living than farming. If you didn’t love farming, you wouldn’t do it.” TJ believes our agricultural industry stakeholders can rally around buying Canadian products, food security and food sovereignty – issues that touch all sectors.

Certainly, TJ and Tanya are proof that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for working life in agriculture. “If you’re committed to agriculture and have an open mind, you’ll see opportunities among the challenges.” There’s a shelf-life to politics and TJ won’t rule anything out for the future. “When you stop looking for opportunities, then you’re truly done.”

Published in Producers

Sometimes in life we have to wait for things, but they are worth it. In Vernon Froese’s case, it was broiler quota that he waited for, first applying while he was still in high school in 1969. “I knew there were about 30 or 35 people ahead of me at the time,” he remembers. “The list was updated every few years, and you had to confirm your application and interest. I didn’t own any land, but I knew I wanted to farm.” Vernon got married in 1976 to Hilda and for a few years, they raised pullets. In 1981, the Froeses finally received notification they were next in line for chicken quota, and the year after that, the couple bought Hilda’s parents’ farm.

What is now called “the home farm” in the Froese family is a farm that had been started by Hilda’s parents around 1948 as a small dairy on about 400 acres. Hilda and Vernon waited two years to convert the dairy to chicken and hogs. “I grew up on a dairy farm and knew what the workload was, and it was difficult to find quota to expand the dairy,” Vernon says, “so we converted the dairy barn to a hog barn and built a broiler barn the same year.” At that time, Manitoba had what was called a “roaster” quota for bigger male birds, and quota was based on square footage, so the barn Hilda and Vernon built in 1984 was 10,000 square feet. Today, they produce 42,000 kilograms of chicken per cycle at the home farm and 87,000 kilograms on another farm purchased about seven years ago, which already had three chicken barns. The Froeses also have two other farm sites where they raise 12,000 feeder hogs on contract to Maple Leaf.

They also crop 1500 acres (grain corn, soybeans and canola), selling all their grain to the local feed mill where they buy all their feed. “Some of our grain definitely comes back to us,” Vernon says. “They cook the grains and pellet the chicken feed, and the birds seem to do better on the cooked feed.”

Sons Tyler (married to Alishia) looks after fields and equipment, and Ryan (married to Ange) manages the chicken and hog sites. The farm also has one full-time employee. Daughter Trista and her husband Paul have their own farm and daughter Rochelle (married to Brian) is a massage therapist in Medicine Hat. In all, Hilda and Vernon have 16 grandkids. “The oldest is 12, so none of them work on the farm yet,” Vernon says. For his part, he notes “I do the paperwork and pay bills and look after chickens on the home farm. Tyler and Ryan handle day-to-day farm management now, and that’s a big change from ten years ago.”

The Froeses have had some challenges with chick quality over the years, mostly chicks that come from U.S. hatcheries, but Vernon says one local hatchery is planning to raise all its own, and so more Canadian chicks will be available locally. The Froeses manage their flocks carefully and it’s been years since a veterinarian had to visit the farm.

Vernon has served on the Manitoba Chicken Board for ten years. “The price for chicken, food safety and animal care programs have been some issues provincially over that time period, and nationally there was a new allocation agreement settled in the last two years,” he notes. “The government looks favourably on the supply management system and the farmers make it work well. Allocation takes a lot of time and is carefully done.” Vernon notes that Manitoba’s chicken consumption has risen along with growing provincial and national population levels – and due to more consumers preferring chicken as a nutritious and healthy meat. “We went through an expansion phase a few years ago in Manitoba and brought in five new farms provincially last summer,” he says. “Poultry farming is a very stable industry and it has a good future.”

Vernon notes that raising chicken without antibiotics is a big issue now, and there are no easy answers. “We’ve reduced antibiotics and antimicrobial use as an industry,” he says, “but animal welfare is compromised when you raise birds completely without the use of antibiotics. If birds are sick, you need to treat them. We want to make sure the bird does not suffer, so the therapeutic use of antibiotics is needed occasionally. All chicken meat is antibiotic-free because we follow closely the withdrawal time requirement before the chicken is processed. It’s up to us to get the message out that we are raising a safe product and reducing antibiotic use.” Vernon adds that preventative use of antibiotics is changing rapidly, with Class I drugs gone completely and Class II and III being replaced with alternative ionophores or vaccinations as they become available. “Management practices have changed over the years,” he adds, “and farmers are doing an excellent job raising their birds.” Vernon believes chick quality and barn air quality has to be top notch if no antibiotics are being used, and as a chick’s first peck at manure can create health issues, keeping bedding clean is an important issue as well.

Vernon is part of the national team that worked towards updating the Code of Practice for broilers. In its examination of euthanasia, housing, transport, density, temperatures, ammonia and all other aspects of production over the last few years, the team found a few changes were needed, one being that four hours of darkness per 24-hour period will be mandatory. Vernon says most flocks get that already, as research has shown birds do better with some complete rest.

The Froeses are no strangers to new technologies, and in their hog barns, they have an automated feed air intake, fan and alarm system that can be controlled online from anywhere in the world. “I remember at first, there was only one small 12-inch fan in the dairy barn when we bought the first farm,” Vernon remembers. The Froeses also have GPS on all their field equipment (Tyler was a GPS dealer at one point) and Vernon and his sons consider it worthwhile. Ryan finds the GPS handy for precision cropping, especially at night. “I can read a book while I’m harvesting or planting as it’s hands-free, and there’s no overlap and wasted time,” he says. “But you still need to pay attention for things like a big rock or mud holes where you can start spinning.”

The family’s oldest chicken barn is turning 40 this year and everything in it will need to be replaced over the next five years with new and automated systems. But what won’t change on the Froese farm is cooperation and companionship. “It’s a blessing to be able to work with family,” Ryan says. “My father, brother and I all have a third ownership and so you work decisions out together, and whatever challenges you have, you face them together.”

Published in Producers

July 20, 2016 - Enterra Feed Corporation has received regulatory approval for use of its Whole Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae as a feed ingredient for poultry broilers, the company announced today. 
"This is a significant step forward," says Victoria Leung, marketing and operations manager for Enterra. "We can now offer a renewable protein alternative to those companies manufacturing and retailing chicken feed." 

Enterra's manufacturing process at its facility in Langley, B.C involves breeding and raising black soldier fly (BSF) larvae, and feeding them pre-consumer food waste that would otherwise go to landfill, composting or waste-to-energy operations where the food nutrient value would be lost. BSF larvae are an ideal candidate for rearing as a feed ingredient as they consume a wide range of pre-consumer waste food (e.g. waste fruits, vegetables, stale bread, grains, grocery store waste), are native to North America, do not bite or sting, are high in protein and fat, and grow rapidly under controlled conditions. 

There are several benefits to insect protein, and Enterra expects feed manufacturers to be eager to consider this ecological protein alternative, according to Andrew Vickerson, Chief Technology Officer with Enterra. "Insects are a natural food source for poultry," he says. "Other sources of protein used in animal feed include fish meal, which causes depleted fish stocks, or soybean meal, which requires many inputs and acres of land, which could be used for human food production." 

The approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) comes after four years of work, during which time the CFIA reviewed Enterra's product as a Novel Feed Ingredient, including a complete assessment of product safety (to livestock, workers, food and the environment), and a data review. 

In the US, the Ingredients Definition Committee of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) accepted Enterra's application to use Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae in salmonid feed earlier this year. The definition was reviewed and agreed to by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This was the first time a federal regulatory body in North America accepted the use of an insect based ingredient as a source of energy and protein for use in animal 
feed. 

Although insects make up an important part of the diet of fish and poultry in the wild, they had not been approved as a feed ingredient in animal production in North America until this year. These approvals come at an important time as the demand for sustainable feed ingredients is growing. By 2050, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that the demand for food is going to increase by 70 per cent and the demand for meat product is going to double. 

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

Published in Nutrition and Feed

Steve Lalonde, a chicken producer in Ormstown, Que., has been working in the chicken barn since he was 10 years old. He officially bought the farm from his dad in 1984, becoming the third generation to own the farm.

The 80-acre farm is supplemented by an additional 140 acres he rents from a neighbour, which helps him and his wife, Loraine, produce several tons of organic popcorn each year.

However, the heart of the farm is the 28,000 chickens that are raised on an eight-week rotational basis.

“What I like about the chicken industry is how efficient the birds are and that chicken is one of the most popular meats on the market now,” says Lalonde.

Over the last almost 40 years, Lalonde has seen lots of change on his farm, some by choice, and some less so.

In June 2004, the Lalonde’s farm suffered a barn fire where they lost 13,000 two-week old birds, and rather than try to repair, they decided to rebuild the barn.

“At the same time, we evaluated the whole chicken operation,” says Lalonde. Before the fire, they had two barns for chickens, but opted to close the second one because it didn’t meet the required standards and would have taken a significant amount of renovations to be up to par. Lalonde also saw this as an opportunity to have all the birds in one barn.

They opted for a three-storey barn simply because the math didn’t add up.

“There was not enough room in the yard for us to build a two-storey barn long enough for the number of birds we were going to keep,” says Lalonde.

With the new barn, their bird count went up from 22,000 to 28,000.

In the reconstruction, Lalonde also put in radiant floor heat on the first storey.

“We felt that it would be easier for us in the future as we were in our 40s. If we were going to keep up with chicken production, we would be getting older and the clean out wouldn’t be as easy for us in 10 years or so,” says Lalonde.

The radiant floor heat means the cement doesn’t sweat, it’s easier to clean out the barns, and Lalonde says the birds seem to enjoy it as well.

“One thing we would have done differently is to add some conventional heat as the heated floor relies on the heat evaporating. While the floor is comfortable it is slow to heat the air on the first floor,” says Lalonde, “it also takes less bedding on the first floor as it acts as an insulator and keeps the heat from rising.”

However, one of the biggest challenges in a three-storey barn was finding the right balconies for the catchers to stand on.

“The first set were our own design and worked well but they soon became obsolete when the trailers used to transport the chickens changed,” says Lalonde. A custom re-design by an outside contractor solved that problem. Finding a way to easily access the middle door on the second storey was another challenge the contractor helped solve.

The new barn is 40’x190’, plus a 10’ alley at the end. Each floor has five 18” fans, six 24” fans and four 36” fans.

“I think would have added a couple more 36” fans but the ventilation is still adequate for the population of the barn,” says Lalonde.

Since the new barn has been built, and even before, Lalonde has always done his best to monitor trends in the market, including antibiotic free birds.

“We are very interested in producing antibiotic free birds but we need more information on this front,” says Lalonde. He says he is seeing conflicting reports about the economics.

He is also concerned that if a treatment is required, the premium is lost and the added cost will come out of pocket.

“With the quality of birds we have been getting lately, we have to treat at least two batches a year with antibiotics and I feel the financial risk is too high at the moment. As a small farm, I cannot afford to subsidize the abattoir,” says Lalonde.

He explains that while he’s willing to take the risk, there is no clear gain or benefit and it will most likely end up costing him, rather than advancing, his business.

While the market for antibiotics isn’t currently where it needs to be to benefit the small farm, Lalonde isn’t opposed to the notion in the future. Until then, his chicken farm is complemented by the popcorn business, and it works quite well.

“We are able to use our own straw for the bedding (in the chicken barn), and the manure that the barn supplies is an excellent fertilizer for our fields,” says Lalonde.

Lalonde started growing popcorn just over 10 years ago because it was his and his wife’s “snack of choice.” Since then, they have grown to now be selling seven to eight tons a year, with an ever-expanding market.

He says having the popcorn business offers “added diversity of the farm operation.” They have added a grain cleaning facility to package their popcorn and to be able to clean their own grains for seeds.

“This is a practice that works well on our organic farm. We like to be as self-sufficient as possible and this is just one way we do so,” says Lalonde.

As their popcorn business grows, they plan to maintain the chicken farm until the moratorium on quota sales ends. While Lalonde enjoys the industry, he’s been involved in it for more than 36 years, and there may soon be the chance for someone else to take the reins.

 

 

 

Published in Bird Management

 

An attempt to earn money for school 25 years ago has led to a thriving specialty poultry business for Trevor Allen of Skye Hi Farms in Chilliwack, B.C.

Growing up on a 3.5 acre hobby farm in Maple Ridge (about an hour’s drive from his present farm), Allen always had an interest in livestock. He began as a 4-H goat pre-clubber, moved to lamb, then ended 4-H with both hogs and beef. At 14, he began hanging around a local feedlot, learning to operate the equipment and some of the ins and outs of commercial agriculture.

When preparing to go to the local college, one of the feedlot owners, Steve Wynnyk, who grew a few turkeys on the side, suggested he grow a batch of turkeys for Christmas.

“I started with 150 turkeys which ended up being 32 pounds each,” he recalls.

He sold them by “cold-calling” on health food and other stores, most of whom had never sold turkeys before. At the same time, he was earning diplomas in livestock production and business management at the University of the Fraser Valley.

As a first-generation farmer and self-styled entrepreneur, Allen “knew nothing about quotas or the supply management system.” He attended a few B.C. Turkey Marketing Board annual meetings (BCTMB) (“I sat in the back”) but basically flew under the radar until 2002, by which time he was growing 1,700 turkeys/year. At that point, then BCTMB-manager Colyn Welsh called.

“Colyn gave me two options: I could cease and desist or I could become the board’s first new entrant direct vendor-producer,” Allen says.

That was his first major turning point. Armed with a permit, he could approach financial institutions for a mortgage, allowing him and his mother to buy his present farm. Although his mother owns half the land and her own home on the property, she has no financial interest in the farm.

By this time, Allen had married his wife Donna. Like Trevor, Donna is a first-generation farmer who went through the 4-H program while growing up on a Fraser Valley hobby farm.

Although “I’m more into large animals,” she is fully involved in the poultry business, noting “turkeys are way easier on fences.”

The Allens now grow about 7,000 hen turkeys/year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“We could grow about 2,000 more but I can’t get the quota,” Trevor notes. “I put bids in six times but was only successful once.”

He grows two flocks for each holiday, spaced three weeks apart to offer both 12-week and 15-week-old birds. For the first 4-5 weeks, the birds are kept inside a home-built barn. Once fully-feathered, the birds are turned out onto the range each morning and brought back into the barn each evening. The field is divided into paddocks using movable fencing, with each paddock able to access an open-roofed area the turkeys prefer during inclement weather.

The turkeys are custom-processed as whole birds, then returned to the farm for warehousing, sorting and distribution. They are marketed as certified non-medicated, non-antibiotic free-range turkeys.

“I deliver about 70 per cent direct to retailers myself and the other 30 per cent go through a local meat distributor,” Allen says, noting his website lists all 22 outlets that sell his turkeys. “All my retailers have my number so they can call me with questions or issues.”

In 2004, he put his name on the B.C. Chicken Marketing Board (BCCMB) new entrant list. A year later, the B.C. Farm Industry Review Board’s Specialty Review ordered the boards to increase specialty and regional production by bringing new entrants into the industry. That led the BCCMB to offer him the choice of growing Taiwanese chickens immediately or waiting for a new entrant opportunity in mainstream chicken.

Because FIRB wanted new mainstream production to be outside the Fraser Valley, Allen chose to grow Taiwanese chickens and now grows about 45,000 birds/year. The Taiwanese chickens are grown year-round in 16-week cycles. He was also appointed to the BCCMB’s Specialty Marketing Advisory Committee, along with Rob Donaldson, then the province’s largest specialty chicken grower, and another small grower, Casey van Ginkel.

He and Casey decided they would have more control and perhaps even save some money if they produced their own chicks so they started their own Taiwanese chicken breeder flocks in 2010.

“We bought a barn and equipment from a mainstream breeder going out of business and each took half. Since each of us didn’t need eggs year-round, we formed T & C Chick Sales and arranged our cycles so we could share the eggs,” Trevor explains.

“We learned you need to have at least four breeder flocks with three in production at any time,” he says. Since they didn’t have enough of their own production to make that viable, they started selling chicks to other, mostly new entrant, Taiwanese chicken growers. “We will sell over 600,000 chicks this year.”

Even though Donna insisted she would not pick eggs, Trevor appears to have been very hard-of-hearing that day.

“I ended up doing all the egg picking and still pick 90 per cent of them,” she states, good-naturedly adding, “Trevor’s gotten a lot better the last few weeks.”

T&C’s decision to become broiler breeders got a cold reception from the B.C. Broiler Hatching Egg Commission, even though the commission had decided, following FIRB’s Specialty Review, not to regulate specialty hatching egg production. BCBHEC’s efforts to stymie them resulted in a successful, yet still not fully resolved, FIRB appeal.

In contrast, both the turkey and chicken boards, and their growers, appear to have welcomed Allen with open arms.

He served as a B.C. Turkey Association director from 2003-2015 and has been serving as a director of the B.C. Chicken Growers Association since 2006. Although the BCCGA considers him its “de facto” specialty chicken director, Allen stresses he has been elected by and represents “all growers.”

“Once you get past the marketing, we’re all the same. We all have OFFSAP and we all have biosecurity,” he notes, adding his hatchery, processing and wholesaling experience brings “a different perspective” to the board.

While a director he has chaired the Emergency Response committee, served on the Poultry-in-Motion (educational trailer) committee, the agricultural waste control industry working group, the SE task force and the Sustainable Poultry Farming Group board.

“I try to attend every producer meeting and all the FIRB appeals (even non-poultry) I can. My grandpa told me knowledge is power and I want to be the guy making informed decisions for the betterment of not only my farm but the industry as a whole.”

 

 

 

Published in Bird Management

 

Clair Doan wears many hats – family man, banker, turkey farmer, and most recently, Nuffield Scholar.  

Both raised on dairy farms, he and his wife Kathryn love working with people and in the agricultural industry – he as a regional Associate Vice President of Agricultural Banking for National Bank of Canada, and she as Director, Global Business Development and Technology at AgCareers.com.  

Growing up, Clair says he always had chickens and “knew I wanted to invest in the poultry industry.” In 2009, he and Kathryn built their first turkey barn on their 90-acre farm property in Norwich, Ont., raising about 9,000 heavy toms for the further processed market per year.   Turkey was chosen primarily because no minimum quota purchase was required and because of its reputation as a lean protein. “We viewed it as an opportunity for growth,” he says.

In 2012, they doubled their brooding capacity and now produce 18,000 birds per year. In 2014 they purchased another 100 acres of land, and hope to expand their grow-out capacity next year.

Their family has also grown to include three daughters – Camryn (6), Sophia (4) and Charlotte (2).  With both a busy family life and careers, Clair says he and Kathryn are fortunate that their jobs allow them the flexibility required around bird placement, shipping and clean-out dates. The corn, soybeans and wheat grown on the farm are cropped by one of Clair’s brothers, whose farm (along with farms owned by another brother and his father) is located on the same road.  “Our family philosophy is to have small farms, not just one big farm,” Clair says.

Although Clair says he is a “huge supporter of supply management”, he can’t ignore the relatively low return on investment.  Working as a financial adviser to Ontario farmers for the past 12 years, he says he has noticed  “debt levels continue to increase on farms.”

Despite the fact that supply management is stable and he and his wife made the decision to invest in new facilities and quota, Doan says he questions whether or not farmers in Canada are always meeting the needs of consumers. “Supply management may be failing us if we can’t produce what consumers want.”

He feels that farmers sometimes have a tendency to grow complacent, expect the supply management system to always remain the same and protect themselves first.

“We spend a lot of time looking inwards, not outwards.  If we fail to look outside ourselves, we are falling short,” he says.

Several years ago, increasing political pressures and potential trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that may or may not be ratified formed a nagging question in Doan’s mind: How do other countries deal with the loss of regulated markets?

Around the same time, Clair says he and Kathryn were invited to a dinner hosted by fellow Canadian poultry farmers who are also past Nuffield Scholars, where poultry farmers from Australia were also in attendance.  It was at this dinner that Clair began thinking about how the Nuffield Scholarship program could help answer the questions he had and provide an opportunity to learn about agriculture in other countries.

Doan says he loves learning and the opportunity for “self-directed learning was appealing to me.”

The Nuffield Canada Scholarship, part of Nuffield International, provides three Canadian farmers with $15,000 each, allowing them a minimum of 10 weeks of travel for the purpose of studying agriculture, with a mission of fostering agricultural leadership and personal development through international study.

After following other scholars closely for two years, and “getting my wife’s permission,” Clair applied for the scholarship last year and began his Nuffield journey, which will span a total of 18 months.  His topic of study is “Evaluating poultry markets to ensure Canada’s supply management system is efficient and innovative.” Doan says he plans on spending more than 10 weeks travelling the globe, some of which will be self-funded and supported by industry partners “who see the value in what I am doing.”

He began with the mandatory Nuffield Contemporary Scholars Conference, held In Ireland, and then spent three weeks travelling within Ireland, Scotland, England, Holland and Germany.  

He says part of the value of being involved in the Nuffield program is understanding how Europeans view transitions as opportunity, for example, how the Dutch, who only produce cage-free eggs that sell for a low price, see the potential in exports. In Canada, the possibility of low returns makes the industry much more hesitant to go cage-free.

Although he noticed a decline in turkey processing and consumption in the UK and Holland, Germany has invested in market development and processing.  The primary turkey processor there processes 60,000 turkeys and doesn’t sell them as whole birds, which is a contrast to Canada’s market.  Instead, the turkey is sold in portions no bigger than one kilogram in size, making it easier for families and single people to make turkey part of their meal, he says.  He also observed that European customers aren’t as concerned as North Americans about how the turkey is presented, but they ask questions about what other values, such as animal welfare, the turkey they buy comes with. “It’s become more important,” he says.

Clair says the Turkey Farmers of Ontario have a levy for producers that is used for marketing and wants to know if it makes a difference. “It’s a question farmers should be asking,” he says.

Bridging the needs of production and what consumers want, and how farmers can play a role in that is one of the many questions Clair seeks to gain more knowledge about during his Nuffield journey.

“I think now is a good time to be looking at how other systems in the world are adapting to change, and understand that if we need to make changes down the road, how can we do it on our own terms,” he says.

This summer, Clair is travelling with fellow Scholars in India, Qatar, Turkey, Singapore, France and the U.S. and also plans to visit South America in the future.

How will Clair measure whether his Nuffield journey has been a success? “If I can create a level of awareness of how things are being done elsewhere, and that farmers are adaptable and they can change, that’s how I will measure success.”

It’s important to Clair that he communicate what he sees and learns during his travels.  In addition to using social media (Facebook and Twitter), he has also created a blog about his Nuffield journey, which is available at www.clairdoan.com.

 

 

 

Published in Producers

Over the last several years, the retail price relationship between beef, pork and chicken favoured chicken, making it an attractive and competitive protein choice for consumers.

Published in Consumer Issues
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