River Bend Colony, one of the province’s more than 150 registered egg farmers, played host to a group of special guests, which included several local media outlets. Walter Decker, the colony’s egg manager for the past 16 years, led the group on a tour of the egg facility, sharing his expertise and experience. The tour was a highly educational opportunity, allowing the visitors to gain a better understanding and appreciation for where their food comes from, and how it is produced.
The day began with a comprehensive presentation from Egg Farmers of Alberta, highlighting the egg industry’s pillars of healthy birds, healthy eggs, and healthy farms and communities. The national on-farm food safety and animal care programs were discussed, along with several more recently launched provincial programs: Producer Environmental Egg Program, New Entrant Program and Youth Development Program. EFA commended the dedication and passion of all Alberta egg farmers, setting the stage for the tour.
The group moved to the pullet barn, where the adorable 4-day old chicks stole the show. Decker described the intricate care and attention to detail that is required to help the chicks grow into healthy hens and productive egg layers, sounding as much like a proud parent as a seasoned egg farmer.
The next stop on the tour was the layer barn, built in 2012, which was one of the first of its kind in Alberta. When planning to replace their old egg barn, River Bend Colony decided to install a furnished housing system for the hens. Furnished housing provides more space for the birds, along with a variety of enrichments such as nest boxes and perches, to allow the hens to express more natural behaviors. Decker then demonstrated the egg collection process, giving each guest a chance to fill their own carton of eggs, which they were thrilled to be able to take home with them.
To conclude the visit, the kind folks at River Bend Colony treated the entire group to a delicious homemade lunch. The informative and enjoyable tour was shared with more than just those in attendance, through the use of social media; check out #EFA14FarmTour on Twitter to read the chatter and see some pictures from the tour. River Bend Colony is one of more than 150 family farms in Alberta that provide Albertans with a stable supply of fresh, high-quality, nutritious, locally produced eggs.