Success in Agriculture
Archer's Poultry Farm Ltd.
Sector - Layer, hatchery
Location - Trenton, Ont.
Published in Companies
Chicken is Canada's favorite protein, according to a recent survey conducted by Leger for Chicken Farmers of Canada. Eighty-four per cent of Canadians purchase fresh chicken on a regular basis, and 90 per cent place chicken among the top three meats they eat most often – consuming more Chicken than beef [72 per cent], pork [52 per cent] or other meats.

Among all respondents, 84 per cent report they have something that they like about chicken. The most common reasons Canadians like chicken products include flavour/taste, the versatility of chicken, and the fact that chicken is a healthy source of protein.

Despite their love of chicken products, the survey also reveals many Canadians don't have the full story when it comes to their knowledge of the Canadian chicken farming industry:
  • Only 43 per cent of respondents believe that Canadian chickens are raised without hormones or steroids, when in fact hormones and steroids have not been used in Canadian chicken production for more than 50 years.
  • On average, respondents who gave an answer, believed only 45 per cent of chicken farms in Canada are family owned and operated, when in reality Canada is home to 2,800 chicken farms and over 90 per cent are family owned and operated.
  • 57 per cent of respondents correctly believe there are animal welfare standards applicable to all chicken farms across Canada. These standards are consistent, mandatory and third-party audited.
  • 34 per cent of Canadians believe chicken is the most sustainable meat, and this checks out: Canadian chicken farms lead in sustainability with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions among all livestock commodities.
  • When you have access to the facts, it's clear: Canadian chicken farms lead the way in sustainability while providing affordable food to Canadians. The industry is a key economic driver, sustaining 87,000 jobs across the country while contributing $6.8 billion to GDP and $2.2 billion in tax revenue to all levels of government.
Survey completed by Leger: An online survey of 1,500 Canadians was completed between Nov 13 and 23, 2017, using Leger's online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.
Published in News
As it marks its 75th year in business, family-owned and operated Sargent Farms is investing $10 million to enhance and retrofit its halal chicken processing facility in Milton.

The upgrade project, scheduled to begin this spring, will ensure the third-generation business will continue to deliver the highest quality, fresh products to a growing base of loyal customers in the retail, food service and restaurant sectors for decades to come.

“Milton has been an important part of our history and our home base for three quarters of a century,” says Bob Sargent, Vice President of Sargent Farms. “We’re committed to making the investments needed to continue growing our operation, provide our customers the best possible products and help make our community a great place to live and work.”

The footprint of Sargent Farms’ processing plant in Milton’s downtown core will remain the same, but all processing equipment inside the facility will be replaced with the latest, state-of-the-art technology. The retrofit will be carried out in stages over three years, primarily during off hours, allowing the plant to continue operating throughout the project.

Sargent Farms, which produces 100% Halal chicken processed by hand, has experienced significant growth over the past decade, driven in part by two retail stores it recently opened in Milton and Mississauga.

The new processing equipment will increase the plant’s efficiency, allowing it to satisfy growing consumer demand by processing more chicken in a shorter amount of time. Greater efficiency will also contribute to the processing plant’s overall profitability, increasing stability for its workforce of almost 300 employees.

Among other benefits, the project will help Sargent Farms continue to enhance its animal care standards and diversify its line of top-quality, local chicken products.

This latest upgrade for the Milton plant follows an investment of approximately $4 million in 2014.

“It’s important to us to continue to build on our long-standing reputation as a progressive and innovative processor. The investments we’ve made in recent years and will continue to make in this project will help us make good on that commitment,” says Kevin Thompson, CEO of Sargent Farms.

In addition to its Milton headquarters and processing operation, Sargent Farms also operates a further processing facility in Mississauga.
Published in News
In 2018, five agricultural leaders, whose influences span more than 150 years, will be inducted into Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame. The late William Beaty, William (Barry) Hill, Harvey Graham, the late Gordon Leitch and the late James Morrison have all been selected by the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Association as worthy candidates based on their life-long commitments to Ontario’s agriculture.

The five will be invested at the Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremony on June 10 at Country Heritage Park in Milton.

To qualify for this prestigious recognition, inductees must have demonstrated visionary leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the advancement of agriculture in Ontario.

“Our Board of Directors had an incredibly difficult selection process this year,” said John Kikkert, President of the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Association. “The five inductees for 2018 were chosen from many worthy candidates, each of whom had made significant impacts to Ontario agriculture. These inductees, however, were chosen on the basis of the lasting legacies that they made in their respective fields.”

Inductees for 2018 include William Harvey Beaty (1916-1994). Born in the Halton Region, William Beaty was the founder and chairman of Cold Springs Farm Ltd. an enterprise that he started in 1949 in Thamesford on 100 acres of land. By the time of his passing, the business had grown to include 60 farms and 9,000 acres raising hogs, turkeys, chickens, beef cattle and crops along with a feed mill, grain elevators, processing plant, fertilizer plant and more.

Beaty was involved with many agricultural organizations including the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Ontario Poultry Council, Poultry Industry Conference and Exhibition, Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board and Ontario Turkey Producers’ Marketing Board among others.

He was responsible for creating thousands of jobs in Ontario and innovating in the fields of product development, swine and poultry genetics and production quality.
Published in News
Third generation poultry farmer Don Sundgaard says when it comes to succession, be patient, encourage off-farm experiences and welcome both formal and informal discussions.
Published in Producers
The provincial government will invest up to $713 million toward a unique agreement between the University of Guelph and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) to further discovery and innovation and position Canada as a world leader in agri-food.

Through the renewed OMAFRA-U of G agreement, OMAFRA and U of G will build on world-class agri-food research, including new advances in artificial intelligence, big data analytics and precision agriculture.

“Scientific research is critical to developing innovations that benefit people, animals and the environment,” said U of G president Franco Vaccarino. Agri-food innovation also attracts investment and highly skilled talent, making the economy more robust, creating jobs and sustaining strong communities, he said.

The agreement brings together academia, government and industry to support and enhance Ontario’s agri-food sector through cutting-edge research and innovation.

The commitment to the agreement was renewed for another 10 years today during an event at U of G attended by leaders from industry, government, and academic institutions.

“The partnership has led to breakthrough discoveries and revolutionary advancements during the past two decades. It demonstrates the profound impact that government and universities can have when they work closely together with shared goals,” Vaccarino said.

“This novel partnership has positioned Ontario and Guelph as the epicentre of agricultural research and innovation in Canada, and supported industry development and growth – contributing billions to Ontario’s economy.”

Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Minister Responsible for Small Business, said, “Our government looks forward to continuing to partner with the University of Guelph to ensure Ontario’s agri-food sector is the most innovative and productive in the world, producing the highest quality and safest food for Canada and the world.”

Agri-food is a leading Ontario economic sector, contributing more than $37 billion to the province’s economy and employing more than 800,000 people.

As highlighted by Dominic Barton and the Advisory Council on Economic Growth, Canada can be a global leader in agri-food, with new value-added products, technologies, and solutions, said Malcolm Campbell, U of G’s vice-president (research).

He added that one of today’s great global challenges is safely feeding the world’s rising population while protecting the environment.

“It’s a hefty challenge, but U of G, as Canada’s food university, is up to the task. We have a 150-year legacy in agri-food and a reputation for innovation and discovery,” Campbell said.

The OMAFRA-U of G Agreement will provide the platform necessary to create new knowledge, and devise novel technologies and agricultural practices to produce safe, nutritious food while preserving biodiversity, animal welfare, and human health.

U of G is first in Canada and 14th in the world for agricultural science according to the U.S. News & World Report ranking of best global universities for agricultural sciences.

The Ontario Veterinary College is first in Canada, third in North America and sixth worldwide among veterinary colleges in a ranking by Quacquarelli Symonds, which names the world’s best universities in 46 academic subjects.

The University’s $77-million Food from Thought research project, funded by the federal government in 2016, is creating novel tools for producing more and safer food while also protecting the environment.

U of G and OMAFRA established an enhanced agreement in 1997; it was renewed for 10 years in 2008. The new agreement will take effect April 1, 2018.

Under the new agreement, the University receives up to $71.3 million a year to manage research and innovation programs and related facilities, including the Ridgetown Campus, the Agriculture and Food Laboratory program, the Animal Health Laboratory program, and 15 research stations and centres.

The Agreement also supports knowledge mobilization and commercialization.

Examples of innovations stemming from the OMAFRA-U of G Agreement:
  • New detection methods and management systems for diseases such as avian influenza and biocontainment facilities. Researchers study highly hazardous food and animal-to-human pathogens and viruses such as West Nile virus and tuberculosis, and lower-level pathogens, such as coli 0157:H7, Salmonella and Listeria, in a safe and secure environment
  • The world’s first compostable coffee pod, PurPod100, developed by a research team at U of G’s Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre working with Club Coffee and Competitive Green Technologies
  • Governor General’s Award for Innovation-winning technology to identify and breed cows with better immunity to diseases, reducing antibiotic use and saving livestock producers millions of dollars annually
  • A national research group studying cropping practices that mimic natural ecosystems and improve resiliency to climate change
  • The commercialization of discoveries and innovations via Gryphon’s LAAIR (Leading to the Accelerated Adoption of Innovative Research). Researchers pitch their ideas to a panel of industry experts and business managers; winners receive grants to turn ideas and discoveries into a marketable product or technology
  • Research on biocarbon and other unconventional fuels to improve efficiency and sustainability
  • A natural formula, hexanal, to prolong the shelf life of fresh produce
  • Smartphone applications that identify and control field pests
Published in News
A Japanese scientist and his team have cracked open a method to improve the production of carbon-free energy—by using proteins taken from egg white.

Yusuke Yamada, a professor at Osaka City University, said his team has managed to use protein from egg white as a "tool" for producing hydrogen, a powerful source of clean electricity. The new method "brings us closer to our ultimate goal of producing hydrogen from water," Yamada told AFP.

When it reacts with oxygen, hydrogen produces electricity, releasing only water and heat in the process. But hydrogen is currently mass-produced using natural gas or fossil fuels, which themselves result in harmful emissions. It can be produced in labs without fossil fuels and scientists have traditionally done this by creating a special interaction of the molecules in liquid, explained Yamada. For the full story, click here.
Published in News
Do you know a standout up-and-coming producer, vet, researcher, industry member or advocate in the Canadian Poultry industry?

Canadian Poultry magazine’s Who’s Who issue is released every July with the goal of shining a light on stand-out members of the Canadian poultry industry.

The theme for the 2018 Who’s Who issue is up-and-comers and we want your help in finding the best candidates.

rising stars today to potentially have them recognized in our Who's Who issue this summer!
Published in Producers
For recent university graduates and soon-to-be graduates who are eager to begin a career that makes a positive difference in the world of agriculture, Alltech’s new program could be a perfect fit.
Published in Companies
"U.S. shift to cage-free eggs causing market disruption.” That was the title of an editorial blog published in July by WATT, publisher of WATT Poultry USA magazine. In it, Terrence O’Keefe, content director of agri-business, notes, “It will continue to be a bumpy transition for the cage-free egg market unless major egg purchasers set and stick to interim goals for cage-free egg purchases.”
Published in Eggs - Layers
For as long as he can remember, Dan Kampen has been in poultry barns. “My mom introduced me to the barns before I was two years old,” the Abbotsford, B.C. turkey and egg farmer recalls.
Published in Producers
As we say goodbye to 2017 this December, Baildon Hutterite Colony in Saskatchewan will begin shipping out the first organic eggs produced in the province. It will be an achievement that is the culmination of much research, discussion and planning.

Baildon Colony was established in 1967 and is located just south of Moose Jaw, Sask. Colony members currently farm about 19,000 acres in a continuous rotation of wheat, barley, canola, lentils, chickpeas, peas and soybeans. “Our land is a little bit rolling, but some of it is very flat as we are near the Regina Plains,” notes layer manager Paul Wipf. “Some of our cereal crops are used for our livestock, as we have a large hog operation, dairy, layers and also some turkeys.” Feed-grade grain goes for that purpose, with additional feed grain purchased as needed, and higher quality grain is sold.

Free-run transition
When the colony started in 1967, members built a barn for 7,000 layers and maintained that number of hens until 1983, when another Hutterite colony was established in the province. At that point, colony members bought a 20,000-layer farm and split the quota in half so, in total, each colony had about 12,000 birds.

“All the hens were housed in conventional cages at the time as this was the going trend,” Wipf explains. “However, in 2009 we decided we needed to build a new pullet barn as our existing one was not big enough to produce all the pullets for our layer operation, and we decided to completely rebuild the layer barns too. The question was what kind of a layer barn do we build, as the growing concern was about whether conventional cages will be good enough in the future.”

To answer this question, Wipf approached Star Egg in Saskatoon to see if they were in need of free-run eggs to fill provincial demand. The company told him there was only one small free-run producer and that, yes, free-run eggs were sometimes in short supply. After a lengthy discussion, all the colony members agreed to pursue the challenge. They also decided that they would convert the old layer barn to a free-run pullet barn, and selected Hellman Poultry for the equipment needed for this and the new layer barn.

Then, in 2016, Star Egg approached Baildon to ask if the colony would be interested in turning half their free-run barn into organic production. There was no commercial organic egg producer in the province and demand was growing.

“Again, after a lengthy discussion, we decided rather than convert half our barn that we would build a completely different barn, as we had some layer quota that we were having to lease out anyway,” Wipf recalls. “This January we started talking with Pro-Cert, an organic certification company out of Saskatoon, to find out what was involved to produce organic eggs and built the organic barn accordingly.”

The colony again went with Hellman, and decided to situate the new organic barn close to the free-run barn. He notes that a lot of the construction of the new organic barn is made out of stainless steel, which he considers a must in free-run production.

The heating system is a hot water delta tube design from Europe, which Wipf believes should be both very efficient and also easy to clean. The ventilation system is Hotraco from Holland, chosen because the colony already has this in the layer barn and it is working very well.

The lighting, however, is different. Baildon went with LED lighting for the organic building because of the higher energy efficiency it provides and also because the LED fixtures are placed on the ceiling. What’s more, chickens sometimes break fixtures that hang down by flying against them.

Barn design and placement aside, the colony also had to answer the question of where the organic layer feed would be sourced. The answer was considered in light of the fact that this spring, Baildon had also decided to replace its existing centralized hammer mill used to grind feed for the hogs, dairy cattle, turkeys and layers.

“It had always served the colony well, but we felt it was time to change over to a disc grinder mill, as they are now more common,” Wipf explains. “The organic regulations would have allowed us to use the new mill for both organic and regular feed, but we would have had to flush the system every time we switched from one type to another, so we decided we will produce organic feed with our old hammer mill. It’s still in good-enough shape, and we’ll be making our organic layer feed with purchased organic grains.”

Baildon will achieve organic certification in January 2018. The colony members had gone into the January meeting with Pro-Cert with plans to have their first organic egg layer pullets arrive in early May. However, Pro-Cert informed them of a new organic regulation that had come into effect in December 2016. The new rule requires that the free-range pasture attached to the organic layer barn be monitored for a year before certification is granted. Wipf says it was a bit disappointing to learn about this new regulation, but there is nothing that can be done to speed things up.

In terms of the biggest challenge facing egg producers today, Wipf names hen housing. “The egg producers here in Canada will have to spend a lot of money in the next 15 years to change from conventional cages to enriched housing,” he notes. “However, the system has been good to us in the last 30 years, so it makes it a lot easier to accept that change.”

Once organic egg production is rolling in 2018, the colony will look at its degree of success and consider expanding and growing organic feed grain in the future.
Published in Producers
When you look at the career accomplishments of fifth-generation farmer Peter Clarke, it’s clear to see that his dedication to agriculture runs deep. “I am passionate about agriculture and I am proud to be a farmer,” Clarke proclaims.

After attending the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in the 1960s, Clarke returned to the family farm in Annapolis Valley, N.S., to work with his father, Harry, who was mainly a potato grower but was also involved in egg and pullet production.

In the late 1970s, Clarke and his father formed a partnership, until 1984, when he and his wife, Janet, took over the farm. They formed a limited company they named Southview Farms, which owns three farms on 750 acres growing corn, winter wheat, barley and soybeans.

Southview Farms is very much a family operation, Janet operates Clarke’s Trucking, which processes and distributes grains for the farm’s flocks.

Their son Jeff is the operations manager of Southview Farms, Clarke’s Trucking, plus another farm he owns separately. His wife, Kelly, is the farm office manager.

Southview Farms has three employees. There’s a full-time feed mill manager, Garry Rafuse. Matthew Tanner manages the layer facility. And Clarke’s nephew, Matt Petrie, is involved in most aspects of the daily operations, including feed distribution and product procurement.

The volume of production has risen greatly at Southview Farms over the last 13 years, from 16,000 layers and 40,000 pullets produced under license annually in 2004 until 2017 with an estimated 32,000 to 33,000 laying hens and “between Jeff and myself in excess of 100,000 pullets,” Clarke estimates.

He puts it all in perspective. “The average size of a family egg farm now in Canada is about 25,000 birds and there are approximately 1,000 egg farmers. These are family farms unlike in the U.S. where you can have flock sizes of several million birds. There are some U.S. operations that have more birds than all of the layers in Canada.”

Industry involvement

Having family members highly involved in the farm business has enabled Clarke to devote more of his time off-farm to industry groups.

Throughout his farming career Clarke has been a regular on numerous industry organization boards, including in the role of director of Egg Farmers of Nova Scotia, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, chairman of ACA Co-operative Ltd., chairman of Agra Point, the provincial consulting body now known as Perennia, director of the Nova Scotia Winter Grains Marketing Board and Atlantic Grains Council as well as Atlantic representative on the Canada Grains Council.

Clarke also served as Nova Scotia’s representative to the Net Income Stabilization Agency and he was a member of the advisory committee of the Atlantic Veterinary College as well.

In 1995, Clarke was appointed to the Egg Farmers of Canada board as the Egg Farmers of Nova Scotia representative. Over the years, he chaired EFC’s budget, research and production management committees. He became first vice-chairman of the EFC in 2006 and chairman in 2011.

In that most senior role, Clarke helped guide the organization towards notable achievements. For example, during the international trade negotiations for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), his lobbying efforts helped secure continued support for supply management from every major Canadian political party.

Clarke is also proud of EFC’s role in helping to create several poultry research chairs. Universities across the country now have experts focused on issues such as egg industry economics, poultry welfare, public policy and sustainability.

The International Egg Foundation, a charitable arm of the International Egg Commission (IEC), was founded. Tasked with increasing egg production and consumption in developing countries, it worked with EFC on Project Canaan’s egg layer operation in Swaziland. In September 2014, it awarded EFC The Crystal Egg Award for outstanding commitment to corporate and social responsibility.

Clarke’s passion and dedication to agriculture has long been recognized. In 1990, the Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists presented him with its inaugural Outstanding Farmer Award. In 2007, the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia presented him with the Order of Nova Scotia and in 2012 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture.

Clarke’s acumen as a rural businessman was also saluted in 2006 with the Kings County Business Lifetime Achievement Award from the Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce.

After six years as EFC chairman, Clarke stepped down as a director last March, returning to the family farm and assuming the role as a controller for the IEC. “We review the finances of the IEC on behalf of its membership,” he says.

He believes firmly in the concept of social license. “We are producing a product for the consumers of this country,” he says. “We owe it to the consumers to be as open as possible about the production of that food.” He sees social license as encompassing the issues of animal welfare and care, codes of practice and sharing knowledge of what producers do on the farm. “By being transparent we will not encounter as much challenge to how we operate,” he says.

In 2016, the Canadian egg industry made a decision to transition from conventional cages to alternative housing. By 2026, Clarke believes Canadian egg farmers will be well along into the transition process, which has a deadline of 2036. He cautions, however, “when we do all of that; we have to consider both the health and welfare of our birds as well the people who tend our flocks.”
Published in Producers
Keith Robbins grew up on a farm just north of London, Ont. There were no feathers in the mix. Instead, his family raised cattle, pigs, some sheep and grew grains. But today he heads up one of the country’s most important poultry organizations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking back on his previous career, Robbins says one of the biggest differences between pork and poultry is marketing legislation. Supply management gives the industry the stability it needs to focus on finding innovative solutions to trends and challenges producers face. That’s where PIC fits in. “Our role is helping understand what those trends are and what they mean for farmers.”
Published in Farm Business
When you think about the connection between chickens and history you might think about how feed efficiency has increased or how birds have changed through genetic selection. But for Benoît Fontaine, his version of the connection of poultry to history goes a lot deeper than that.

Rooted in history

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

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

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

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

Youth on the farm

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

Thriving business

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

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


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

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

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

Industry engagement

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

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

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

As he looks to the future he predicts the greatest challenge will be for chicken to remain a Canadian favourite with consumers. With Olympic enthusiasm, he says he wants poultry to remain on the top step of the podium. “Keep the flame burning; keep the love of Canadian products. As long as we stay there, we succeed.”
Published in Marketing Boards
August 3, 2017, Snowbird, Utah – Young agricultural communicators are the voices of the future, and helping these passionate leaders join the global conversation is key to educating the world’s consumers about where their food comes from.

Alltech is proud to support young agricultural journalists at the Ag Media Summit through the Livestock Publications Council Forrest Bassford Student Award and, new in 2017, the American Agricultural Editors’ Association Alltech Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Awards.

The 2017 Livestock Publications Council Forrest Bassford Student Award, sponsored by Alltech, was presented to Topanga McBride, a senior at Kansas State University who is majoring in agricultural communications and journalism as well as agricultural economics. McBride was presented with a $2,000 scholarship and a plaque during the Ag Media Summit.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, and raised in Fort Collins, Colorado, McBride grew up showing Milking Shorthorns for her 4-H dairy project. While she initially had no intention to stay in the agriculture industry, her peers’ lack of knowledge regarding their food sparked her passion for agricultural communications.

“When I realized that my teachers’ and friends’ sole connection to agriculture was me, I knew that I had to use my voice,” said McBride. “Agriculture is an industry that touches everyone’s lives, and we cannot afford to sit out on the conversation.”

McBride is currently a media relations intern for Monsanto Co. She will return to her role as a communications intern at the Kansas Department of Agriculture in the fall. Previously, she served as a public relations intern for Look East and the Center for Food Integrity.

In addition to her intern experiences, McBride is heavily involved in collegiate and national organizations. She serves on the Agriculture Future of America Student Advisory Team along with nine other collegiate agriculture leaders. She is an active member of Sigma Alpha, a professional sorority for women in agriculture, a Kansas State University ag ambassador and editorial director for Kansas State University’s chapter of Spoon University.

The Forrest Bassford Student Award honors excellence, professionalism and leadership among students. Each year, following a competitive application process, the LPC Student Award Program provides travel scholarships for four students to attend the Ag Media Summit. In addition to McBride, this year's travel award winners were:
  • Katie Friedrichs, Oklahoma State University
  • Taylor Belle Matheny, Kansas State University
  • Jill Seiler, Kansas State University
During the Ag Media Summit, the four finalists’ portfolios were reviewed, and each was interviewed by a panel of professionals.

2017 marks the 32nd year of the LPC Student Award Program. In 1992, Forrest Bassford's name was attached to the LPC Student Award in honor of his contribution to LPC and his particular interest in furthering the Student Award. Alltech has co-sponsored the award since 2012.

“Alltech is proud to support young agricultural communicators as they share the stories that need to be told within the agriculture industry as well as educate the urban population on where and who their food comes from,” said Jenn Norrie, on-farm communications manager for Alltech.

2017 also marked the first year of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association Alltech Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Awards, providing the opportunity for active AAEA agricultural journalists 35 years old or younger with a travel stipend to attend the Ag Media Summit as well as an invitation to attend ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference (ONE18), May 20–23, 2018, in Lexington, Kentucky.

The 2017 American Agricultural Editors’ Association Alltech Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Award recipients were:
  1. Ann Hess, AGDAILY/Carbon Media
  2. Anna McConnel, Successful Farming/Meredith Agrimedia
  3. Kasey Brown, Angus Media
  4. Shelby Mettlen, Angus Media
“The American Agricultural Editors’ Association believes it is vital to provide professional development and education opportunities for its younger members to attend the annual Ag Media Summit,” said Samantha Kilgore, executive director of AAEA. “The Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Awards, made possible by Alltech, will help reach that goal of continuing to provide development and education for the nation’s leading ag communicators.”

The 19th annual Ag Media Summit hosted more than 600 agricultural communicators, media professionals and students at the Snowbird resort outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, July 22–26, 2017. The Ag Media Summit is a joint meeting of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), the Livestock Publications Council (LPC) and the Connectiv Agri-Media Committee, and it offers opportunities for professional development and industry networking.
Published in Company News
August 2, 2017 – Huntsville, Ala. – Aviagen announced that it has signed an agreement to purchase Hubbard Breeders, the broiler genetics division of Groupe Grimaud.

The agreement between the two companies was signed on July 31, 2017, and will be concluded later this year. As part of the agreement, Hubbard will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Aviagen Group, under the direction of Aviagen CEO Jan Henriksen. It will remain an independent broiler breeding company with separate breeding and commercial activities, and will continue to be headquartered in France.

“We welcome Hubbard into the Aviagen family,” says Aviagen CEO Jan Henriksen. “Hubbard’s diversity of genetic products and in-depth expertise in the different segments of the broiler breeding market will greatly contribute to Aviagen's expanding product line offerings. We look forward to leveraging the full strength ofthe Aviagen group to further enhance Hubbard's position as an important player in the global broiler breeder market.”

Hubbard CEO Olivier Rochard agrees that the close association with Aviagen will add great value to Hubbard's global customer base.

“My management team and I are delighted to become part of such a world-class organization as Aviagen. We are looking forward to utilizing the strengths of both organizations, particularly in the areas of technology, R&D, production efficiencies and distribution capabilities,” he says. “We share with Aviagen the ultimate goal of continually advancing the genetic potential of our birds and safeguarding the security of supply to global markets, which will profit our valued customers all around the world.”

The two companies will continue to operate and support their customers independently, with no disruption to their customary products and services. At the same time, customers will benefit from the combined best practices, experience and knowledge, as well as the strong dedication to customer success shared by both companies.
Published in Company News
August 2, 2017, Alberta - As a child, poultry researcher Sasha van der Klein didn’t beg her parents for a puppy, but for pet chickens. By eventually fulfilling her request, her parents put her solidly on the path that has led to a Vanier Scholarship, Canada’s most prestigious award for PhD students.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“By controlling this variable, we have already had important new insights into sexual maturation that have not been possible previously,” he said. “Ultimately, commercial application of Sasha’s precision feeding research could decrease nitrogen, phosphorus and CO2 emissions by the broiler breeders by 25 per cent, which is transformational for the poultry industry.”
Published in Researchers
It’s difficult to sum up Tara deVries’ involvement with the poultry industry. That said, one thing is certain – her passion for farming and for supporting agriculture is strong.

Growing up, she lived with her family near an urban golf course in B.C. DeVries met her first husband, a dairy farmer, in high school, igniting a fire inside her for agriculture that has never gone out.

Shortly after they married, the couple left to seek their fortunes in the wide-open prairies of southern Alberta. “Although we would love to have farmed right away, financially it was not possible so we took our savings and started a manure-hauling and highway trucking company,” she remembers.

In early 2000, they had an opportunity to try their hand at chicken farming when the owner of a poultry operation had to unexpectedly go back to Holland. The realtor involved knew they wanted to be part of the poultry industry and asked if they would be willing to manage the farm for a time. “We were so thankful for the opportunity to get our feet wet,” she says.

Just before shipping out their first flock, however, deVries’ husband was severely injured in a farm accident. She found herself not only a wife and mother to their three young children, but a nurse and farmer as well. “We had committed to three cycles and, with help from friends, we fulfilled our commitment,” she says proudly. “Then, the new owners of the farm arrived and I was now teaching them. It was an emotional day when we realized we had to step away from something we had begun to love.”

In 2005, the couple was able to purchase a poultry farm in Coaldale, Alta. “We were so excited to be back at it!” she remembers. “As the years progressed, we built up a feedlot. I managed the poultry and, together, we managed the cattle and land.”

In 2009, tragedy struck. DeVries’ husband took ill, and by 2011, had died of cancer. It was only with the support of family, her local church and her farming neighbours that she was able to keep her family and her farm going. “Although the months after his passing were sometimes quite overwhelming, I was committed to running a successful operation,” she says.

“I learned more in those months about mechanics and furnaces, inlets and actuators, bearings and motors than I had ever known before. The feed salesman and local livestock service company were the top two numbers on my phone’s favourite list. They and others were always willing to come to my aid when I couldn’t find my own way through a problem.”

DeVries married again, and her new husband’s clients were all in Edmonton. So when a farm became available in the area, they purchased it with the intent of moving there after her youngest child graduated high school. It was a great fit, as her two older children had settled there with grandchildren already born, and her youngest deciding after his graduation that he wanted to move to B.C.

DeVries and her husband now farm 58,000 birds in three barns on the farm’s 25 acres. “I know this farm has been here for many years, alternating between turkeys and chickens,” she relates. “It’s about a 40-minute drive to Edmonton, and 15 of our acres are cropped by a neighbouring dairy farmer.”

DeVries and her husband – who is a graphic designer with a full-time career in his field, but also helps out daily in the barn – have upgraded almost everything. “Some of the bigger changes were adding computer systems in each barn, replacing furnaces and exhaust fans, and adding stir fans to be able to create a better environment for the birds,” she says. “It’s important to me that I am able to monitor what is happening inside the barns when I am not there.”

It’s also important to deVries and her husband that their children get a post-secondary education or trade outside of farming, and while both their older son and son-in-law are apprenticing in the electrical trade, they also help out at their parents’ farm with weekend chores, barn clean-outs and maintenance. “Words can’t describe how wonderful it is to work together as a family on our farm,” she says.

For 10 years while on the Coaldale farm, deVries had hosted a farm tour for second-year agriculture students from Lethbridge College. But at the new farm near Edmonton, she hadn’t done any tours at that point.

“One day a senior lady from our church mentioned she knew where we lived because she had driven through our farm,” she remembers. “At first the alarm bells went off, but then I got to thinking maybe she was just curious. I think it’s important to be transparent in our industry, so I thought what better way to educate people on where their food comes from than a farm tour.”

DeVries started the day by serving 10 lovely senior ladies pastries and coffee and talking about the farm. “And then we headed to the barn to put on our coveralls and booties and have a look at the chickens,” she remembers. “They were so excited! They absorbed everything that I shared with them and when it was time to leave, they really didn’t want to.” Two days later, deVries got a text from a woman from another seniors’ group, requesting a tour. And so, she began regularly hosting tours.

DeVries has also hosted the Alberta Chicken Producers (ACP) booth at Aggie Days in both Lethbridge and Calgary and found it very enlightening. “I was naive when I thought everyone knows what a farmer does!” she says. “It was so good to be able to share our industry with everyone that came through both young and old.” Most recently in terms of advocacy volunteering, deVries worked alongside ACP staff at a three-day Amazing Agriculture event in Edmonton, where 1,500 grade four students learned about where their food comes from.

Transparency is a must, in her view. “There are widespread misconceptions of our farming practices in all sectors of agriculture and this places a lot of pressure on farmers,” she notes. “A recent consumer study conducted for the Alberta chicken industry, for instance, revealed that a vast majority of consumers believe that chicken in Canada is raised with hormones and steroids – both of which have been banned in Canada for over 50 years! The study also revealed that most consumers cannot differentiate between hormones and antibiotics.”

She believes that while many farmers are uncomfortable with social media and other forms of public communication, there are other ways every farmer can do his or her part. She says it’s been “an incredible experience” to see how the act of hosting a farm tour or participating in a trade show immediately transforms perceptions of farming.

In the fall of 2017, deVries hopes to join the Classroom Agriculture Program and attend more ACP seminars. She eventually would like to serve on the ACP board.

DeVries sees a current industry challenge to be the possibility of allowing more imports into the Canadian market. “Canadian farmers are local farmers and they have been providing safe, high-quality food to Canadians for years,” the producer notes.

“I know this because I grow chicken under audited, mandatory Animal Care and On Farm Food Safety Assurance Programs. Being audited every year by a third party means that I and all chicken farmers across Canada are accountable for our practices.”

She believes opening up the markets to more imports will also undoubtedly place the livelihood of Canadian farming families at a great risk as well as compromise the supply of fresh, Canadian grown-products for consumers.

“I’m proud to be a Canadian farmer and to be able to pass a strong and sustainable profession onto future generations,” she says. “We as farmers, along with all members of the supply chain, have a responsibility to tell our story and do our best to ensure Canadians understand how and why we do what we do and what’s at stake. If we don’t tell our story, others will.”
Published in Producers
July 24, 2017, Lexington, KY - Connecting the farm to the lab through research is critical for agricultural innovation. Illustrating its commitment to encouraging student research, Alltech presented the 34th Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award to Matthew Aardsma of Purdue University during the 106th annual Poultry Science Association meeting, held in Orlando, Florida, July 17–20.

The Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award is given to a student who is the senior author of an outstanding research manuscript in Poultry Science or The Journal of Applied Poultry Research.

Aardsma’s winning paper titled, Relative metabolizable energy values for fats and oils in young broilers and adult roosters, focused on developing a bio-assay where feed-grade fats and oils were evaluated for their relative metabolizable energy content quickly and accurately. The paper showed results for several fats and oils that are commonly fed in the poultry industry, and that the results obtained for adult roosters are the same with young broiler chickens.

"Research is an integral part of Alltech and the poultry industry's success to date," said Dr. Ted Sefton, director of poultry for Alltech Canada. "Alltech is proud to sponsor the Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award to encourage students to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals and communicate new technologies and discoveries being made in the lab that can have a direct impact on the farm."

Aardsma grew up in Central Illinois, where his parents encouraged him to explore his interests in agriculture and animal production. He received his bachelor’s degree in animal sciences from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2013 and his master’s degree in animal sciences with an emphasis in poultry nutrition in 2015, working with Dr. Carl Parsons. After a summer internship at Southern Illinois University working in aquaculture nutrition, he began a Ph.D. program in animal nutrition at Purdue University.

Aardsma is currently studying with Jay Johnson and focusing on nutrition-based stress physiology in poultry and swine.

Alltech has sponsored the Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award since 2000, recognizing young leaders in scientific innovation for their commitment to publishing and sharing their work within the poultry sector.
Published in Researchers
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