By David Webb, Marketing & Communications Manager, EFA
Egg Farmers of Alberta (EFA) hosted a distinguished group of egg supply chain partners and industry stakeholders for Hatching Ideas on Animal Welfare, a workshop that featured a dynamic discussion about the future of animal care in Canada’s layer industry. Over 40 participants shared their diverse perspectives and expectations, highlighting the need for collaboration in order to share the full story with consumers about where their food comes from, and how it was produced.
“It is my hope that we can approach all of our discussions with a sense of curiosity and passion, as well as an underlying desire to work collaboratively toward a common goal of a sustainable egg industry that is built on a solid foundation of sound animal care practices,” noted Susan Schafers, Chair of EFA, in her introductory address. “EFA’s Board and staff will be listening closely to what you have to share, and we will be taking what we learn to our upcoming strategic planning session.”
The event also included a tour of the host farm, Fairview Colony, which is one of the more than 170 family egg farms in Alberta. Jerry Hofer, the colony’s egg manager, lead the group on a tour of their egg barn, where their 18,000 laying hens are raised in a furnished housing system.
“We just finished construction on this new barn a few months ago, and placed our first flock at the start of the summer. We decided to go with an enriched hen housing system, which we are quite happy with,” Jerry Hofer proudly explained. “The birds are happy and healthy, and I do my best each and every day to ensure that they are all well cared for.”
Animal welfare is an issue of critical importance to Alberta egg farmers and the 2.1 million hens that provide Albertans with more than 58 million dozen eggs annually. It is an issue that stakeholders are emotionally invested in as well, beyond just the quest to know more about the story behind the food they feed their families. Misinformation, inconsistent messaging and common myths only serve to further confuse consumers, which underscores the vital need for the entire egg value chain to share its collective story about eggs and egg farming.
Egg farmers are dedicated to providing world class care for their hens, and are committed to continuous improvement as it relates to hen housing and animal welfare. Events like Hatching Ideas on Animal Welfare are a tremendous opportunity for farmers to connect with a wide range of industry stakeholders, to open their barn doors and share their story. Cultivating a sustainable egg industry in Alberta and across Canada is a worthwhile mission that will require the entire industry to work together to achieve.