Quality Chicken an Interview with a Chicken Farmer
Recently I was put in touch with a chicken farmer, Diane Pastoor, in my province to really get down to the bottom of chicken farming in Canada. Diane, her husband Mark and 4 daughters started off chicken farming really by chance. They wanted to buy a dairy farm, that’s what they were doing before they moved to Saskatchewan from British Columbia in 2003. Diane and Mark knew somebody that was selling our farm at the time and thought they would look at it just to check it out. They really liked the area the farm was in, the barns at the time were new, and there was city water which was fantastic! The life of a chicken farmer is a good one. Diane and her family are able to do what they love, feed their family and friends and know what they do is important. The long hours are part of a farmer’s life whether you are grain farming, cattle, or any other livestock. This is what they love.
The Pastoor’s have 3 large open floor barns. Each one is 60 feet wide by 370 feet long with numerous fans, heaters, lights and vents to control the temperature and environment in the barns keeping the chickens comfy, warm and dry. Their operation, like all the broiler operations in Canada, are considered free run. The chickens are not confined, in separate pens or housing; they run freely in the barns and have access to food and water whenever they feel hungry or thirsty. All farms in Saskatchewan and throughout Canada have strict bio-security and animal care programs that chicken farmers follow. This includes proper washing and disinfecting of the barns between flocks as well as providing fresh bedding and controlled heat and cooling environments. They also have controlled access zones in their barns where there is no cross contamination allowed by way of outdoor footwear and other people cannot enter unless they are fully suited up with special footwear, hairnets and coveralls.
The process begins when the baby chickens, literally hours old “hatched”, arrive in a warm truck in crates delivered to our barns waiting with food, water and fresh new environment. The chickens are kept for approximately 35-40 days, depending on what the processor requirements are which is based on the size of chickens needed. During the chickens stay at the Pastoor’s farm, they are monitored very closely to make sure that they are fed, watered and comfortable. They have day time and night time in the barns so they get proper rest as well. The Pastoor’s make sure they have no outside disturbances such as rodents or other possible germs entering the barns. Once it is time to go, Mark turns the lights down to encourage them to rest and sit down. A crew of chicken catchers come in to move them from the barns to trucks where they are transported to the processing plant. This process is done quickly in almost full darkness to keep the environment as calm as possible. From the processor, the chickens are distributed to restaurants in Saskatchewan and other parts of Canada.
Diane does her best to educate people about the ways they treat their chickens and what they feed them. Being in Saskatchewan chicken farmers really have good opportunities to grow healthy, safe food because of the abundance of feed grains and the fact that farms are far enough apart in distance that bio-security levels are maintained. The most satisfaction for Diane, comes from knowing they are contributing the best, healthiest and safest possible product they can raise to herself, her family and Canadian consumers. The Pastoor’s are proud chicken farmers.
As a consumer, and a farmer, I can appreciate both sides of the process. To know that Canada has strict laws in place to protect the quality and health of our chicken puts consumers minds at ease. Hats off to Diane, her family, and all of the chicken farmers in Canada for making sure the chicken that we consume is only the best.
DISCLOSURE – I AM PARTICIPATING IN THE CHICKEN FARMERS OF CANADA PROGRAM BY SHESCONNECTED. I RECEIVED COMPENSATION IN EXCHANGE FOR MY PARTICIPATION IN THIS CAMPAIGN. THE OPINIONS ON THIS BLOG ARE MY OWN.