Ontario egg farmer says her hens stay up all night

By Jeanine Moyer (Seaforth) – Carol Leeming is a professional egg farmer. And in addition to caring for her flock of 42,000 hens, she’s a mom, wife, career woman, motorcycle enthusiast and self-proclaimed ag-vocate (an advocate for agriculture). T

his busy woman has been involved in agriculture and poultry all her life and is proud to produce the highest quality food possible for egg-lovers to enjoy. Leeming and her husband Bob have been egg farmers near Seaforth, ON for more than 25 years.

Egg farmers Carol and Bob Leeming and their family (Photo by Angela Smith)

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Breaking down the options for your breakfast

by Kristen Kelderman

One of my favourite traditions growing up was our Sunday night breakfast for dinner and curling up to watch the Walt Disney special on CBC. Often we would grab a dozen eggs and whip up some delicious omelets for everyone to enjoy and my sister and I would fight over whose turn it was to crack the eggs.

Since then I have cracked my fair share of eggs, but never have I really questioned where my eggs come from or where do the chickens live and what kind of care are they given?

Growing up on a farm, I never second guessed this and assumed that much like my family; chicken farmers care for their birds just like we do with our Holstein cows.

But consumers today are much more engaged and want to know more about their food and how it’s raised. And this is a fantastic opportunity for Ontario farmers to tell their story! While many people are concerned about what type of eggs they buy- free run, free range, enriched or conventional- they often don’t understand the implications that come with the associated housing systems.

The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) is evaluating the tradeoffs that exist between the different housing systems and how they impact the environment, animal health and well- being, food affordability, food safety and worker health and safety. This research follows two flocks over three years on a commercial farm at the same location with three different housing systems, an aviary, an enriched system and a conventional system.

While the preliminary data has just been released, it provides some very intriguing results regarding environment, animal health and well-being and food affordability. When compared to aviaries, conventional and enriched systems had better air quality with lower levels of ammonia and dust particulates.

Eggs coming in, by conveyor belt, from a Canadian laying hen barn.

And when considering the health and well being of the birds, there were varying results in which system had the most fractured wings, the most breast bone deviations, overall feather coverage and highest incidence of foot problems.

Overall each system had associated health pros and cons, but one did not stand out ahead of the others. The interesting information from this research is that this is the first time food affordability data has been collected on a commercial sized farm. Continue reading

Meet the face of September in the Faces of Farming calendar

 by Patricia Grotenhuis

Farming is just in the blood for some people, as is the case with Jim Patton, a sixth-generation farmer from near Alliston.

Patton was not always sure he was going to farm.  He decided to attend the University of Guelph after doing a project on the importance of agriculture in his final year of high school.  He graduated with a diploma in agricultural business, and returned to the farm. 

Broiler breeder farmer Jim Patton

Once Patton returned to the farm, he began making changes to modernize the family’s business.  Patton is featured as the month of September in the 2012 Faces of Farming Calendar, published by the Farm Care Foundation, because of his dedication to making improvements. 

In 1998, Patton began keeping broiler breeder chickens. These are roosters as well as the hens who lay fertilized eggs that will hatch into chickens raised for meat. In 2000 he added raising pullets (young hens) to the farm.  In addition to the birds, Patton also grows corn, soybeans and wheat.  He makes it a point to go to as many industry conferences and workshops as he can, including a three-day training course at the University of Alberta and a no-till(age) conference in Cincinnati.  He sets a personal goal to bring at least one idea home to implement on the farm from each event that he attends. This interest has also led him to the Innovative Farmers of Ontario association – where he now serves as a director. Continue reading

Changing markets for changing times

 by Patricia Grotenhuis, Lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate
In recent years, interest in local foods and what farming practices are being used has created a shift.  Consumers are starting to seek out farmers who sell direct through farmers’ markets and on-farm stores, and farmers are spending more time connecting with consumers. Continue reading

BC Egg Farmers Care for the Right Reasons

BC egg farmers care for the right reasons. There is more to caring for hens than meets the eye. Continue reading

The business of Eggs

Food For Thought looks at how we use hens as protein factories to produce an egg a day for our tables

By Luisa D’Amato, Waterloo Region Record, 05 Jul 2008

When you walk into the long, dimly lit barn where Gary West keeps 25,000 egg-laying hens, the first thing you notice is the sound. Continue reading

High-technology enters world of poultry business

By Mannix Porterfield, THE REGISTER-HERALD (BECKLEY, W.V.)
Aug 16/06

FAIRLEA, W.Va.— Go back in time, say a century or so, even before the iron horse made its debut, and fetch a poultry farmer, pluck him off his Currier and Ives setting, then escort him into a modern chicken barn.
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Poultry production has lower carbon footprint than other livestock systems

Source: Farmers Weekly Interactive 22/11/2007

Poultry meat uses less global energy than other livestock systems and
intensive poultry uses less than free range and organic, according to new research. Continue reading

Canada's Egg Farmers Welcome Change

OTTAWA, Aug. 22 /CNW Telbec/ – Working in one of the country’s most dynamic agriculture industries, Canada’s egg farmers have had little time to rest. Just ask Laurent Souligny, 64, a proud egg farmer and chairman of the national egg farmers’ organization, Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC). Continue reading

Ambassador for 'nature's perfect food'

Source: The Record (Kitchener), September 29, 2008, KEVIN SWAYZE

International poultry expert Peter Hunton is tired of the question.

“What came first? The chicken or the egg?”

The Cambridge man answers in a deadpan tone.

“I don’t have a good answer to that question.”

But ask Hunton, 72, a serious question about his life’s work and conversation comes easy for a 2008 inductee to the International Poultry Hall of Fame. Continue reading