P.E.I. egg farmer installs humane chicken cages

Dave Stewart
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Poultry farmer Nathan Burns showcases his newly installed enriched colony system for his hens, the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada. It meets the most humane European standards. 

A P.E.I. egg farmer is going above and beyond in ensuring his chickens remain happy and healthy.

Nathan Burns of Freetown is installing the first enriched colony system for his hens, the first of its kind in Canada.

It adheres to the most progressive European standards for humane treatment of poultry hens.

The spacious new cages have a private curtained-off area for laying eggs, plenty of perch space, a file for their nails and a conveyor belt below the cages that takes the eggs directly to a federally-inspected grading facility next door.

Burns said these Italian-made cages were more expensive than those generally used in Canada, but he said he wanted to ensure he was meeting the strictest standards for the humane treatment of his chickens.

“This is all about animal care, animal comfort,” Burns said.

“If you don’t have happy animals, they don’t do very well. It’s key, they need to be healthy, they need to be happy, we’re providing the amenities that allow them to display their natural behavior.”

In 2012, the European Union banned the use of battery cages for laying hens, due to their small, restrictive size. These smaller cages are the industry standard in Canada, but Burns believes that may soon change.

He felt he would only be wise to adopt the most progressive standards, as this is likely the way the industry will go, especially in light of the Canada-European Trade Agreement.

“We’ve been here seven generations, hopefully we’ll be here for another seven, so let’s take the plunge and go with a fully-enriched system and we’ll be one of the first,” Burns said.

He pointed to supply management as key in his ability able to make such a substantial capital investment into his farm.

Knowing he will be getting stable farm income allows him the peace of mind to know he will be able to make ends meet and make all of his payments.

“This is a significant financial investment, with supply management… we can financially plan for that. In some of the other (agriculture) industries, that would be extremely difficult and much huger risk to take going forward.”

The Burns farm hens will be moved into their new digs at the end of July. A second barn with the new enriched colony housing cages will be ready for more of their hens in January.

 

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

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  • Willy Walker's Bouviers & Standard Chocolate Poodles
    July 17, 2014 - 22:33

    Congratulations Nathan & Wendy, on the completion of your barn renovation. We wish you all the very best, with your new humane housing for the hens! Kate & Paul :) Chester, NS

  • Willy Walker's Bouviers & Standard Chocolate Poodles
    July 17, 2014 - 22:20

    Congratulations Nathan & Wendy, on the completion of your barn renovation. We wish you all the very best, with your new humane housing for the hens! Kate & Paul :) Chester, NS

  • Lynn Wright
    July 07, 2014 - 20:20

    That's awesome Nathan! Gotta keep those chickens happy!

  • Diana
    July 06, 2014 - 19:54

    Good work.... if more people thought your way, there would be alot less animal abuse out there... by the way, are your eggs sold in Nova Scotia and by whom, cause I would sure buy them

  • george
    July 06, 2014 - 11:48

    tell us how mutch tax payers money went in to this

    • Another Farmer
      July 06, 2014 - 16:43

      I can tell you how "mutch". Zero. Under supply management farmers are able to recoup a cost of production that allows them to invest in their operation. Perhaps more government money should been spent on your education.

  • Simone
    July 06, 2014 - 11:43

    So great to read this article! Great job!

  • Hali RN
    July 06, 2014 - 09:44

    Wish they included who his eggs are distributed by.. I'd pay a little extra ...

  • Dale
    July 06, 2014 - 06:37

    Great job Mr. Burns, these animals shouldn't suffer for us to profit. Wish there were more like you. :-)

  • Sarah
    July 05, 2014 - 17:02

    Good on you Mr. Burns!

  • Garth Staples
    July 05, 2014 - 16:14

    I'm sure some egghead will find fault with the farmer and his desire to ship to the EU. Wait for it.

    • In Your Face
      July 05, 2014 - 16:29

      Everyone is entitled to their opinion.