Specialty Production
April 11, 2017, Louisville, KY - Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) U.S., the country's largest chicken quick service resturant, has announced its plans to extend its food promise to customers, announcing that, by the end of 2018, all chicken purchased by KFC U.S. will be raised without antibiotics important to human medicine.

This move marks the first time a major national quick service restaurant chain in the U.S. has extended an antibiotics commitment beyond boneless chicken to its chicken-on-the-bone menu items. 

In addition to its antibiotics pledge, the brand has also made commitments that by the end of 2018, all core products will be free of artificial colors and flavors. Today, all KFC chicken is free of food dyes, and 100 per cent of the menu will be free of food dyes by the end of 2017, excluding beverages and third-party products. READ MORE
Published in Company News
April 4, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – The popular University of Alberta (U of A) Heritage Chicken program is here once again, offering small flock enthusiasts the chance to order heritage chicks until April 19.

“Heritage chicks are vaccinated and hatched at the U of A’s Poultry Research Centre,” says Jesse Hunter, program coordinator. “This year, we’re offering Plymouth barred rock, brown leghorn, random bred broiler 1978, light Sussex and Rhode Island red chicks. We hatch a certain number of each breed every year, so check the website to order your favorite breed before they're gone.”

Heritage chicks must be pre-ordered on the Heritage Chicken website, and will be available for pick-up at local Peavey Marts across Alberta. Up to 20 day-old chicks cost $8 each, 21-100 are $6, and 101-500 are $4.

As part of the program, two small flock workshops are being held, April 12 in Spruce Grove and April 13 in Red Deer, and run from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. Food and refreshments will be provided.

“The workshops are an opportunity to learn about biosecurity, housing, nutrition, disease identification, behaviour, anatomy, and more,” says Hunter. “To register for one of the workshops, go to Eventbrite.”

Register for Spruce Grove

Register for Red Deer

The Heritage Chicken program was established in 2013 to conserve multiple heritage chicken breeds housed at the University of Alberta Poultry Research Centre. The program gives people the opportunity to adopt a chicken and receive a dozen farm fresh heritage eggs every two weeks.

All proceeds from the sales are donated back to the Poultry Research Centre to maintain the heritage chickens.
Published in Genetics
March 24, 2017, Kitchener, Ont – Hybrid Turkeys recently announced plans for ongoing and future investments in the U.S. turkey industry.

In order to deliver quality products throughout the supply chain, Hybrid will invest in two new hatcheries, new egg production farms together with new contract partners, state-of-the-art transportation, and the skilled workforce needed to support these areas of operations.

“Our business is focused on creating value for customers and built on strong partnerships in the industry,” said Dave Libertini, managing director of Hybrid Turkeys. “As the demands of the modern consumer evolve, the stresses on a collaborative supply chain for the turkey industry have never been greater. A more transparent food system, with ever reducing use of antibiotics, means that the responsible production of high quality day old turkey poults is critical.”

The decision for Hendrix Genetics, parent of Hybrid Turkeys, does not come lightly. This move represents a significant investment of financial capital and human resources in a market long overdue for this type of upgrade.

“We are committed to delivering the quality poults that Hybrid customers are looking for,” said Peter Gruhl, general manager of Hybrid USA. “We explored many options and have decided that making an investment in new, state-of-the-art facilities is the only way we can satisfy our client’s demands.”

The move comes after an announcement in January 2015 in which Hybrid and Ag Forte entered into a commercial egg and poult supply agreement. In November 2016, Hybrid served notice that it would not seek to renew this arrangement beginning in January 2019. Hybrid will continue to supply breeding and commercial stock to the U.S. market and, with access to a global supply chain, expects no interruption in supply for their clients.
Published in Company News
Canadian egg farmers have a new opportunity to offer healthy eggs high in omega-3 to nutrition-focused consumers thanks to a recent decision by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Published in Layers
What to do with the males of a species when the females are all that are needed is an issue various agricultural sectors grapple with.

In poultry, the question of what happens to male chicks when only females lay eggs continues to beg a satisfactory answer. Although cull is the current widespread solution, research is underway into alternatives, such as work by Dr. Michael Ngadi at McGill University (see page 24 this issue)   Egg sexing research is also underway in Germany, supported by a national animal welfare initiative that aims to ultimately phase out culling of male chicks altogether. In the German state of Lower Saxony, a trailblazer in animal welfare regulation in that country, the practice is slated to be banned by the end of 2017.

Some farmers in Germany have built an alternative market for their male chicks, under the banner of the “Bruderhahn Initiative” – which literally translates into English as “the brother rooster initiative”.

The concept, explained Christine Bremer of Bauck-Hof Klein Suestedt, located in the Lunenburg Heath about 100 kilometres south of the city of Hamburg, involves raising the male chicks 18 to 22 weeks of age and selling them for meat the way broilers are.

Because their genetics are focused on egg and not meat production, raising the males for consumption is an expensive venture. “The males are very active and we need 5.5 kilograms of feed for one kilogram of gain, which is not a good conversion,” Bremer told international agricultural journalists touring her farm this past summer, adding this means her farm needs a subsidy of 7.50 to 10 Euros per “brother” to make the economics work.

Unlike most farms, though, Bauck-Hof Klein Suestedt was able to get that money from the market place – but through egg sales instead of a premium on the meat, which is dark and has a taste similar to pheasant.

Every egg sold from Bremer’s hens sells for four cents more than other eggs, and those funds, collected through the “Bruderhahn Initiative”, go back to the participating farmers to pay for the costs of raising and marketing the males for meat.

“If a hen lays 250 eggs and we get four cents more per egg, we can pay for the “brother”,” she said. “Our trader who buys our eggs communicated this to the organic shops where our eggs are sold. In 2013, all eggs were increased by four cents and a label was added to explain why – and we had no loss of customers.”

Unsure of whether consumers would be interested in the darker, more flavourful meat, Bremer’s first customer was actually a baby food processor.  “We weren’t sure people would buy this meat but gradually people start asking for it,” she said, adding that due to her farm’s rural location and resulting unreliable internet infrastructure, their marketing is done at point of sale as opposed to through social media.

“As farmers, we need the help of traders and retailers to sell our products, and if our trader had said no, we couldn’t have done this,” Bremer said. “What customers are paying for is to not kill the bird at birth and that this animal is worth keeping alive longer.”

The male layer for meat program is part of Bauck-Hof Klein Suestedt’s overall approach to agriculture. The operation is the second oldest organic farm in Germany, having farmed in this manner since 1932. More specifically, it’s one of Germany’s 2,000 certified Demeter farms.

Demeter is the brand for products stemming from biodynamic agriculture and is well recognized by German consumers, which Bremer says has been helpful in supporting the marketing efforts around meat from the male layers.

Bremer installed her first mobile poultry housing 13 years ago, and now has six mobile layer barns and four mobile broiler barns on her farm that are regularly moved to new locations on the fields and permit birds to roam and express natural behaviours.

“We use genetics that grow slower and the birds can choose whether they want to be inside or out,” she says, adding that farmers who build mobile poultry housing can have 40 per cent of their costs covered by the European Union.

Under the leadership of state Minister of Agriculture Christian Meyer, Lower Saxony has doubled state support for organic production from 137 Euros per hectare in 2013 to 273 Euros by the end of 2016. Subsidies for converting conventional farms into organic production have also increased, from 262 Euros to 403 Euros per hectare during that same time.

Meyer, who represents the Green Party, is a proponent of organic agriculture and has also introduced some of the strictest animal welfare regulations in the country since he took office in 2013, including banning beak trimming of laying hens by the end of 2016, and phasing out caged egg production completely by 2025.

“The supermarkets dictate and they are very strong. For example, although Lower Saxony is ending beak trimming, we can’t stop imports unless the retailers are supportive,” Meyer said, adding that retailers are supporting cage-free egg production by not selling eggs from hens in cages in countries like Poland and the Ukraine.

The state has also committed to reducing antibiotic use in agriculture by 50 per cent in five years, resulting in farmers having to notify the government each time they purchase antibiotics for livestock use.

Lower Saxony is one of Germany’s livestock powerhouses, home to 18 million laying hens that produce about half of the country’s eggs.
Published in Health
Sasso and Hendrix Genetics have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strategically connect the colored breeding activities of Sasso with the worldwide network and R&D center of Hendrix Genetics.

To accommodate the transaction Sasso will strengthen is equity structure via emission of new shares to Hendrix Genetics. It is anticipated that the final transaction will be completed in the autumn of this year, after regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

With access to the latest breeding technology and specialized breeding IT of Hendrix Genetics, Sasso’s breeding program will be intensified to accelerate overall product development. Hendrix Genetics will support Sasso with its international asset base to establish a back-up for the core breeding program and all international GPS activities. This will ensure continuity of international Parent Stock sales, necessary to respond to any disease challenge and to set up efficient worldwide distribution. The strategic alliance will provide Sasso with a stronger financial base for its asset renewal program and international expansion plans. Sasso will continue to be managed independently to maintain its focus and dedication to breeding for the colored broiler sector, both in France and globally.

Yves de la Fourchardière, President of Sasso, comments: “Management and shareholders of Sasso understand the ongoing consolidation process within the animal breeding sector, driven by exponentially increasing R&D cost and demand for global supply security. We are pleased that Hendrix Genetics offers Sasso the opportunity to maintain our focus on breeding traditional poultry, our company culture and French ownership and at the same time link with a strong international breeding company.” Antoon van den Berg, Chief Executive Officer of Hendrix Genetics, added: “We have been looking for this partnership for several years. With this alliance Sasso can maintain and further develop itself as a sustainable co-leader in alternative broiler breeding which is particularly beneficial to the broiler sector at large.”
Published in Company News

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