This is a key result coming from a recent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) conducted by Groupe AGÉCO, a consultation firm specializing in corporate social responsibility and economic studies; the study was designed to measure the environmental and social performance of Canada's chicken sector, from hatching egg to processor.
The Environmental Footprint – Key findings
- Since 1976, environmental performance significantly improved because of major productivity gains and significant improvements in feed conversion ratio.
- Per kilogram of protein, the carbon footprint of Canadian chicken is lower than that of other livestock commodities produced in North America based on FAO's assessment of global livestock emissions.
- In the last 40 years, the carbon footprint of the sector was reduced by 37 per cent.
- Water consumption has been reduced by 45 per cent in the same timeframe.
- 62% of the entire sector's total energy use comes from renewable sources, with chicken feed accounting for the bulk of renewable energy consumption.
Canada's chicken farmers are committed to food safety & animal care: Canadian chicken farmers are certified on the mandatory Raised by a Canadian Farmer On-Farm Food Safety Program (OFFSP) and Animal Care Program (ACP), both of which are 3rd party audited.
After eliminating Category I antibiotics (the most important for human medicine) on the farm, Canada's farmers have committed to eliminating the preventive use of Category II antibiotics by the end of 2018 and a goal had been set to eliminate the preventive use of Category III antibiotics by the end of 2020.
Dedicated social license: Over 90 per cent of Canadian chicken farmers are engaged in their communities by providing free services to community members or by being engaged in municipal or regional organizations.
Competitive working conditions: Over 90 per cent of Canadian chicken farmers pay their workers a salary over the provincial minimum wage and about 70 per cent offer their employees benefits such as insurance and bonuses in addition to other benefits in kind.
A Pledge for Continual Improvement
For Canadian chicken farmers, sustainability means protecting animal health and welfare, ensuring worker and community wellbeing, preserving the health of the land and of Canadian farms and contributing to the Canadian economy by providing affordable food to Canadians.
Benoît Fontaine, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada affirms that, "Our sustainability journey is a process of continual improvement. We have come a long way with the implementation of on-farm programs, and with the growth in our industry which has contributed to the Canadian economy and helps support rural communities. But we'll always have more work to do and we will continually evolve to improve our practices and deliver on the expectations of Canadian consumers."
An LCA is an internationally recognized approach to assess the impacts associated with all of the stages of a product's life – in this case chicken. There is a well-established protocol for LCA subject to an ISO standardized methodology. LCAs can help an industry determine which aspects of their production are most efficient, and where they can improve efficiencies, reduce environmental impacts, or improve social interactions along their entire value chains.
The LCA provides the chicken industry with benchmarks for its impact on climate change, natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystem quality, and human health, while the social LCA provides a qualitative assessment of the industry's socioeconomic performance.
Conducting an LCA is part of our strategy to support our industry's work in maintaining consumer and buyer confidence that supply chain risks are adequately addressed. It can also improve industry's social licence and assurance to consumers that chicken is safe, and produced in an efficient and responsible way.
People care deeply about their food, about knowing where it comes from and that what they are serving to their family and friends is of the highest quality; our farmers and their families are no different. So when we say that the Canadian chicken industry is good for Canadians, it's because we know that we're raising our chickens to the highest standards: yours.
To find out more about our LCA results, check out this new infographic: https://www.chickenfarmers.ca/resources/sustainability-assessment-of-the-canadian-chicken-value-chain/
Iowa State University researchers are conducting experiments to determine what advantages may arise from integrating chickens into vegetable production systems.
The researchers must balance a range of concerns, including environmental sustainability, costs and food and animal safety. But Ajay Nair, an associate professor of horticulture and a vegetable production specialist for ISU Extension and Outreach, said finding ways to integrate vegetable and animal production may lead to greater efficiency and healthier soils.
The experiments, currently in their second year, take place at the ISU Horticulture Research Station just north of Ames. The researchers are testing what happens when a flock of broiler chickens lives on a vegetable field for part of the year.
The chickens forage on the plant matter left behind after the vegetables are harvested and fertilize the soil with manure. This integrated approach could reduce off-farm inputs and also provide producers with sustainable crop rotation options.
The researchers are testing three different systems on a half acre of land at the research farm. The first system involves a vegetable crop – one of several varieties of lettuce or broccoli – early in the growing season, followed by the chickens, which are then followed by a cover crop later in the year.
The second system involves the vegetable crop, followed by two months of a cover crop, with the chickens foraging on the land later in the year. The third system is vegetables followed by cover crops, with no chickens.
The experiment involves roughly 40 chickens, which live in four mobile coops that the researchers move every day. Moving the coops around ensures the chickens have access to fresh forage and keeps their manure from concentrating any particular part of the field. An electric fence surrounds the field to keep out predators.
Moriah Bilenky, a graduate assistant in horticulture, checks on the chickens every morning to make sure they have food and water. She also weighs them periodically to collect data on how efficiently they convert food into body mass. The researchers designed the trial to uphold animal health, and Bilenky said she keeps a detailed log on how foraging in the fields impacts the birds’ health and performance.
Nair said the researchers are looking at several facets associated with sustainability. Nitrogen and phosphorous deposited in the soil from the chicken manure could alleviate some of the need for fertilizer application, while working cover crops into the system can prevent the loss of nutrients into waterways. Economics must also factor into the research, he said.
“We might come up with results that really help the soil, but if the system is not economically stable, I doubt growers will be willing to adopt it because it has to work for their bottom line as well,” he said.
The trials also adhere to food safety regulations. For instance, all vegetables are harvested before the chickens are introduced to the fields, ensuring none of the produce is contaminated. The researchers consulted food safety and animal science experts at Iowa State while designing their experiments, and the work undergoes regular IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) inspection and documentation, he said.
The trials remain ongoing, so the researchers aren’t drawing any conclusions yet about the success of their integrated system. The project is currently supported through a SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) grant. Nair said he’s seeking additional funding to investigate the animal health and integrated pest management aspects of this research.
So why did the chicken cross the road? It’s too early to tell, but maybe so it could get into the lettuce and pepper fields.
The OIE has found Canada to be a top performing country and a leading example for meeting international veterinary service standards, with no major weaknesses. The full CVO's statement is available in its entirety on the CFIA's website.
The evaluation, conducted at Canada's request, was coordinated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and involved federal, provincial and territorial governments and representatives from the private veterinary sector, academia and veterinary regulators. The full Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) Evaluation Report is available on the OIE's website.
The CFIA will be working with federal, provincial and territorial partners as well as representatives from the veterinary sector and the animal industry to further strengthen veterinary services across the country.
The CFIA continues to lead on other initiatives to improve animal health, veterinary public health and animal welfare in Canada.
"With the majority of Canada's veterinary services getting the top five out of five rating based on the OIE's international standards, and with the implementation of the OIE's recommendations, Canada will further strengthen its position as a global leader in promoting the health of animals and protecting the public from animal disease. This will also help strengthen international trade and economic opportunities," says, Jaspinder Komal, Chief Veterinary Officer and OIE Delegate for Canada.
Many of the 125 farm dealerships in the province have at least a couple openings for agricultural equipment technicians.
"Where dealers use to get people walking in the door looking for jobs, now they are having to go search for them," says Larry Hertz, vice-president, Canada for the Western Equipment Dealers Association.
The association anticipates additional openings in the future as current employees begin to retire. | For the full story, CLICK HERE
Two poultry barns in Alberta, for example, have installed heat recovery systems that capture heat from air being exhausted from broiler and layer barns and use it to warm cold fresh air that’s being vented into the barn.
The heat recovery ventilators (HRV), used primarily in winter months, take some of the cold edge off the fresh incoming air, helping to reduce heating costs inside the barn. It’s not so dramatic as being able to feel hot air going out, and then being replaced inside the heat exchanger with hot fresh air coming in, but the system can warm up cold winter air by 15 to 20 degrees. | For the full story, CLICK HERE
The insights and information collected through this project will be presented in a final report, which will be shared with the Government of Alberta to support its understanding of the animal welfare landscape in the province from the livestock industry’s perspective. The Livestock Welfare Engagement Project was requested and is being funded by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
Your voice matters – Everyone encouraged to participate
“Livestock welfare is important to all industry stakeholders, as well as the bodies that regulate the sector, and practices continue to change and evolve. This project will provide every stakeholder – from individual farmers and ranchers to producer association groups, veterinarians and all others – the opportunity to share their insight into what is happening in their sector today,” says Annemarie Pedersen, AFAC executive director. “These diverse insights will be critical in creating a clear picture of the extensive work being done related to animal welfare in Alberta today, and in providing direction for the future.”
Industry input required
One of the most important parts of the project is the project survey. This survey is now online and is open to anyone in Alberta who is involved in animal agriculture in the province. Individuals and organizations of all kinds across the industry are invited and encouraged to participate. The survey is designed to incorporate four categories: 1) organizations, 2) abattoir & auction markets, 3) individuals (e.g. producers), and 4) students.
Click here to complete the survey
The survey is open until October 31st. Participants are encouraged to complete the survey as soon as possible. Any participants falling under more than one category are welcome to complete multiple surveys.
"Sharing and redistribution of this survey is requested. The more responses gathered, the clearer the final picture of Alberta’s livestock sector will be," says Pedersen. "Industry associations such as producer and commodity organizations are encouraged to circulate this information to their members and stakeholders and we encourage them to participate as well."
Key components of the overall project include a preliminary engagement consultation session (completed in March), the online project survey (now underway), focus groups (to follow) and development of the final report. If you have questions on which survey version to complete or on other aspects of the project, please contact AFAC.
"We can't make an assessment from this other than to say this video is not what we see on a daily basis working on farms," said Dr. Tom Inglis, a practicing poultry veterinarian and adjunct assistant professor at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary.
"Our hope would be that if this video clip is shown as 'news' that it is followed up with sufficient confirmation of validity and an attempt to confirm that the facility and situations depicted actually occurred, were not staged, and were responsibly reported to ensure that birds did not suffer or continue to suffer."
The panel of experts reviewed the video as part of the Animal Care Review Panel program established by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI). The panel was comprised of Dr. Inglis, in collaboration with Dr. Benjamin Schlegel, a board-certified poultry veterinarian; Jennifer Woods, Animal Welfare Specialist; and Dr. Mike Petrik, a practicing poultry veterinarian.
The group examined a 2.5-minute video apparently produced by the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The panelists also saw a brief promotional advertisement for CTV's planned news coverage of the video.
"All egg farmers in Canada are expected to follow the standards set forth in the Canadian Codes of Practice for Laying Hens," said Woods. "If producers are found to not be adhering to the standards, I would expect industry to intervene and work on correctional actions along with providing further education to the producer."
Dr. Petrik noted older technology barns provide good animal welfare when properly managed, but the type of housing seen in this video is being phased out in accordance with the Canadian Codes of Practice.
"These types of facilities are being replaced with housing that provides more space, perching, nest spaces, and scratch areas for all chickens used for egg laying in Canada," said Dr. Petrik. "These new requirements represent a very large investment by egg farmers in Canada, and demonstrate a true commitment to laying hen welfare across Canada."
CCFI established the Animal Care Review Panel program to engage recognized animal care specialists to examine hidden camera video investigations and provide expert perspectives.
The Panel operates independently. Its reviews, assessments, recommendations and reports are not submitted to the egg industry for review or approval. CCFI's only role is to facilitate the review process and release the panel's findings.
The panel's full report is available at www.foodintegrity.ca/
In addition, the disease was detected in the U.S. where more than 48 million birds were lost and the outbreak was estimated to have cost US$3.3 billion and resulted in shortages and price increases for certain poultry products.
Wild waterfowl are known to be the reservoir for AI, and although wild bird AI surveillance programs were already in place in Canada and the U.S., it was limited to collecting and testing individual wild birds.
To improve the surveillance to include environmental monitoring, in 2015 the BC Ministry of Agriculture, BC Centre for Disease Control Public Health Laboratory, and University of British Columbia joined forces to develop a new approach - a genomics-based test that identifies and characterizes AI viruses (AIV) in wetland sediments.
This work, funded in part by Genome British Columbia (Genome BC) and led by Drs. Chelsea Himsworth, Jane Pritchard, William Hsiao, Natalie Prystajecky, and Agatha Jassem, successfully demonstrated that this novel approach worked, as AIV was detected in a significant proportion of sediment samples, compared to less than one percent rate of detection in the current Canadian national wild bird AI surveillance program.
Additionally, the outbreak virus was found in wetlands throughout the Fraser Valley, information that could have been used to mitigate the outbreak had this technology been available.
To further evaluate this novel surveillance approach, a new project, Genomic Analysis of Wetland Sediment as a Tool for Avian Influenza Surveillance and Prevention, represents a combined investment of over $2.5 million from funders and delivery partners including Genome BC, the BC Ministry of Agriculture, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC, and the Sustainable Poultry Farming Group.
This phase follows on from previous work and is looking at what steps are required to move the technology from a successful proof-of-concept initiative to implementation. This includes scientific validation of technology, as well as its incorporation into Provincial and National Wild Waterfowl AI Surveillance Programs. It is anticipated that this innovative approach will be adopted nationally and internationally for surveillance of AI and/or other diseases associated with wildlife.
"This investment allows Dr. Himsworth and the team to refine and validate the AI sediment surveillance with genomics technologies, methodology and field approach," says Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, chief scientific officer and vice president, sectors, at Genome BC. "Most importantly it allows for the identification of the optimal combination of AI surveillance techniques for maximum efficiency and efficacy."
The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay—on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna—and Prince Edward Island’s Minister of Communities, Land and Environment, Richard Brown, recently announced a federal investment of $23.8 million to help the people of Prince Edward Island improve energy efficiency in their homes, businesses, industries, and farm operations across the province, as well as reduce carbon pollution in the forestry sector. This joint investment totals $47.8 million.
The Government of Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund will support three of the province’s programs that take climate action.
The first program—Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Built Environment Through Energy Efficiency and Fuel Switching—will provide assistance with building retrofits, and it introduces new residential, commercial, and industrial programs with instant rebates on the purchase of energy-efficient products and their installation.
The program will also target fuel switching and process changes in the industrial sector and support carbon-pollution reduction in the agricultural sector.
The second program—Exploring Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Opportunities with Agriculture Producers—will support efforts to reduce carbon pollution in the agricultural sector.
The program will accomplish this goal by partnering program and policy experts with the agricultural community, who, together, will explore best practices and will design action plans for growers, leading to more innovation and efficient farming systems.
Finally, the Expanding and Managing Forests for Carbon Sequestration program will also receive funding. This program will enhance the capacity of carbon storage through the conversion and development of new forests on idle and less productive agricultural land.
Prince Edward Island is investing $24 million to support a wide range of projects to help families, businesses, industries, farmers, and landowners make environmentally friendly changes that benefit the economy and the environment. With this investment, Islanders will continue to benefit from a clean environment and make the province a leader in the global fight against climate change.
The Government of Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund provides $1.4 billion to provinces and territories that have adopted Canada’s clean growth and climate action plan, the Pan-Canadian Framework, to deliver on commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“The environment and the economy go hand in hand. By investing in PEI to make homes and buildings more energy efficient and by reducing emissions in the agriculture and forestry sectors, we are supporting PEI’s economy, creating good middle-class jobs, and tackling climate change while providing savings for Islanders," said MacAulay.
Farmers also welcomed celebrity chef Lynn Crawford, a champion of made-in-Canada food, to help Members of Parliament, Senators, Hill staffers and the public have a better understanding of how their food makes it from the farm to their plate.
"We are thrilled to bring Downtown Diner to Sparks Street in Ottawa for another year and to welcome Chef Lynn as our special guest," said Roger Pelissero, chairman of Egg Farmers of Canada. "Our farmers are proud to be working under the system of supply management, which has helped build sustainable and vibrant dairy, chicken, turkey and egg sectors for the generations to come."
Farmers representing Chicken Farmers of Canada, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada, Turkey Farmers of Canada and Canadian Hatching Egg Producers were present at the Downtown Diner to share how Canada's system of supply management allows them to deliver a stable supply of food products as well as answering questions about farming.
"The Diner is an exciting opportunity for Parliamentarians and the public to meet the farmers dedicated to producing fresh, local high-quality food for Canadians from coast to coast," added Benoît Fontaine, chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada.
The comprehensive report titled Rural Challenges, national opportunity – Shaping the future of rural Canada includes recommendations encouraging the federal government to tackle these challenges head-on and raise Canadians’ quality of life nationwide.
“When it comes to providing the infrastructure necessary to support a strong economy and high quality of life, rural governments are faced with two key problems—the challenge of serving dispersed communities and the limits of their fiscal and administrative capacity,” said FCM’s rural forum chair, Ray Orb.
The report provides recommendations to address the realities rural municipalities face. Key recommendations of this report include:
- Applying a ‘rural lens’ to all federal policies and programs aimed at empowering smaller communities to better support local needs
- Designing future rural infrastructure programs that provide long-term predictable funding with flexibility to account for rural realities
- Committing long-term predictable resources to expanding broadband internet access in rural, northern and remote communities
FCM is leading the way in advocating for new tools that empower rural communities to build tomorrow’s Canada and has secured unprecedented federal investment in recent years. The full report is available here.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is the national voice of municipal governments, with nearly 2,000 members representing more than 90 per cent of the Canadian population.
The announcement was made by Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament (Northwest Territories) on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for CanNor.
Choice North Farms is a private egg producing company in Hay River. Their pilot project will integrate vertical hydroponic units and poultry production in a small geodesic dome. This combination will reduce the amount of nutrients and energy required for production, while providing a good supply of quality local fresh produce and meat substitutes.
If the pilot project is successful, this innovative clean technology could be scaled and adapted in other Northern communities, promoting economic diversification, reducing the cost of living, and enhancing the quality of life in remote communities.
"The Government of Canada has long supported the development of the agriculture sector in the North. We are pleased to support innovative technologies that not only grow the economy of Hay River, but also have the potential to provide affordable food to Northern communities," McLeod said.
CanNor has invested $80,497 in the project through its Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development (SINED) program, with Choice North Farms contributing $67,910, the Government of the Northwest Territories injecting $6,586 and the Aurora Research Institute providing an additional $6,000. Total funding for the project is $160,993.
"We are thrilled at North Choice Farms to be able to pilot this green technology, thanks to the support of CanNor. We are confident it will allow us to produce more food locally while reducing our carbon footprint and production cost. This is great for our business, for the agricultural sector in the NWT and for Northern consumers, " said Kevin Wallington, business development manager, Choice North Farms.
READ CP's related feature article: Chickens in the greenhouse
The recognition process is led by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), with the participation of federal, provincial and territorial governments.
“This recognition represents the culmination of the work or the TFC board of directors, the boards of directors in the TFC eight-member provinces across the country, and Canadian turkey farmers,” said TFC chair Darren Ference. “Consumers can trust that our high quality Canadian turkey is produced through stringent standards. Our systemic and preventive approach to food safety is based on internationally accepted standards and conforms to federal, provincial and territorial legislation, policy and protocols.”
“In completing the recognition process, the Turkey Farmers of Canada have demonstrated a strong ongoing commitment to working with federal and provincial governments to produce the safest, highest quality turkey products possible,” stated CFIA’s letter of recognition.
The recognition serves as a formal declaration that the TFC On-Farm Food Safety Program:
- Meets the requirements of the FSRP;
- Is technically sound in that it promotes the production of safe food at the farm level and adheres to Hazard Analysis Critical Point principles;
- Supports the effective implementation, administration, delivery and maintenance of this technically sound food safety program.
“This recognition is important to turkey farmers, because more than ever, consumers want to know how their food is produced,” said Ference. “We’re proud to demonstrate our high standards.”
"The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is proud to be working side-by-side with industry partners to enhance food safety for Canadian families from farm to fork,” said Lyzette Lamondin, CFIA’s Executive Director, Food Safety and Consumer Protection. “Thank you to the Turkey Farmers of Canada for their commitment to this process.”
Funding for this project was provided through the Assurance stream of the AgriMarketing program under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.
The focus will be on business management, productivity enhancement, and local production opportunities for both farm businesses and food processors.
Popular AMI initiatives, including Advanced Farm Management Program, Transition Smart and the Learning Roadshow, will continue under the new Partnership funding framework.
A Beginner Farmer Entrant Workshop will also be launched this year to complement a new online resource AMI has just unveiled on its website.
New to AMI’s offering will be resources and tools to address productivity-related issues in farm and food processing businesses. The organization will also be focusing on regional opportunities for value-adding by building connections along the value chain and identifying supply chain gaps in local food production.
AMI promotes new ways of thinking about business management by developing resources, providing information and offering training opportunities for agri-food and agri-based producers and processors. AMI receives funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. For more information, visit: www.takeanewapproach.ca
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National Chicken Month KickoffSat Sep 01, 2018
PIC’s Fundraiser Golf TournamentWed Sep 05, 2018
IEC Global Leadership Conference Kyoto 2018Sun Sep 09, 2018
Canada's Outdoor Farm ShowTue Sep 11, 2018
VIV China 2018Mon Sep 17, 2018