Canadian Poultry Magazine

Three young farmers awarded look at Aviagen’s operations

By Aviagen   

Features Profiles Researchers Poultry Production Production

(L-R) Mark Belanger, Kurt Bartman, Melissa Wiens Barkman, and Marianne Bonner Photo courtesy of Aviagen

October 15, 2014 – Aviagen recently announced that three young poultry farmers from Canada visited the company’s world headquarters to get a first-hand look at the most advanced poultry breeding operation in the world.

This year, three farmers — all selected from the 2014 Canadian Broiler hatching Egg Producers Association’s (CBHEPA) young farmer’s program — spent a week at Aviagen facilities in Huntsville, Alabama and the surrounding areas.  This year’s CBHEPA young farmer’s program participants are Kurt Barkman and Melissa Wiens Barkman, both of Bredenbury, Saskatchawan, and Marianne Bonner from Chilliwack, British Columbia.


The visit allowed the Barkmans and Bonner to tour an Aviagen farm and hatchery, in addition to the company’s product development facility. In their tours and meetings the Barkmans and Bonner gained in-depth knowledge of the US poultry industry, biosecurity practices, production planning, shipping and export processes, Ross® brand broiler/breeder traits and development, and Aviagen’s commitment to sustainability and animal welfare. Canadian Technical Manager Mark Belanger hosted the tours and meetings on behalf of Aviagen.

“The young farmer’s tour at Aviagen is allowing me to gain more understanding of the genetics behind the birds and also the performance improvements of the Ross breeder as a result of the natural selection process,” said Kurt Barkman, whose father built the Barkman family’s first breeder barn shortly after Kurt was born. “I have always wanted to see the place where our birds originate from and meet some of the people behind the scenes.”

For Bonner, whose farming operation produces 30 acres of blueberries in addition to breeders and broilers, joined her parents’ poultry business after first starting a career as a certified dental assistant. “Over the years, my sisters left and I remained,” said Bonner, who manages both breeders and pullets. “I attend every breeding and production seminar I can and have a real zest for knowledge. On any day you will find me walking through the barns, working the egg belts, balancing the finances, and any other chore that is necessary to keep the farm running as smooth as possible.”

“These three young farmers exemplify the industrious and creative people who will shape the poultry industry of tomorrow. It’s an honour to show them our operations and give them an opportunity to get to know today’s leaders at Aviagen. From a breeder, broiler and blueberry farmer to an enthusiastic husband-and-wife poultry farming team, this year’s recipients truly impresses,” says Aviagen’s Canadian Regional Business Consultant, Scott Gillingham.


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