By Andrew Campbell
St. Ann’s – Eggs have always been a part of Jacob Pelissero’s life. He grew up on his family farm, helping to gather eggs, feed and care for the hens. And, as an egg farmer, he’s proud of the fact that he learned to make a great omelet while he was still a child.
Third-generation egg farmer Jacob Pelissero is proud to continue the family farming tradition.
But for his family, the path to egg farming wasn’t direct. It didn’t come until his grandfather started losing customers in the original family business – ice. Many decades ago, that business was big around St. Catharine’s, where the family would deliver ice throughout the summer to homes to keep their ice boxes cool.
But then a remarkable new invention, the refrigerator, started making an incredible surge into homes, replacing the need for ice deliveries. Realizing that his business was collapsing, Jacob’s grandfather had to do something to support his family.
Finally it came to him. He already knew the residents of his community and which of them had purchased refrigerators. Why not provide something that could be stored in them – like farm fresh eggs. That idea started a new career for the Pelissero family and three generations later, Jacob couldn’t be happier. “Egg farming is an incredible way of life. When you take care of the chickens, they take care of you.”
On top of producing fresh eggs, his family also raises pullets. This is the term used to describe young hens from the time they’re hatched until they’re old enough to lay eggs. Once mature, the grown laying hens then move to live on egg farms across Ontario.
Pelissero has just graduated with a degree in agriculture business from the University of Guelph and is looking forward to the time when he joins his father on the family farm.
Why continue the career? “The short answer is because I enjoy it. The long answer, because I love the idea of managing my own business, and caring for the birds that have supported my family for so many years.”
One thing that he’s especially excited about is a new hen barn that was constructed last summer. The barn has a new – but increasingly popular – feature in Canada called enriched cages. These offer room for hens to lay their eggs in a curtained nest, perch, and enjoy constant access to fresh food and water that all hen housing provides. Said Pelissero, “I think this type of construction is a perfect balance between a clean and safe environment for the bird, farmer and the egg.”
This young farmer has also taken to social media to tell his family’s stories. He is a member of the new Dinner Starts Here blogging and Twitter initiative that features young farmers talking about their lives on Ontario farms.
“Talking about the effort and care that goes into every egg is something I’m proud to do, and hope other farmers do as well. It is more important than ever before that consumers understand where their food comes from.”
Pelissero also notes that part of the reason he wants to talk about his farm is because he feels there are misconceptions about egg farming. “If I can help someone understand where their egg comes from, how the birds are cared for and the quality control measures that go into producing eggs, I know that person will feel good about feeding them to their family.”
Pelissero also works part time for Gray Ridge Egg Farms, where he offers advice to other egg farmers on how they can improve their own farms through animal nutrition and egg handling. “I’m confident in every egg that is collected, washed, graded, packed and put into your local grocery store because I see what goes into ensuring that a Grade A egg is a safe and nutritious egg.”
By following the blog at www.dinnerstartshere.ca and Jacob’s tweets @Jakeandeggs, you’ll be able to learn more about what he is talking about.