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Animal Welfare on Alberta’s Egg Farms

Levi Hofer is the egg production manager for the New York Colony, just east of Lethbridge in southern Alberta. He has approximately 12,300 laying hens that he oversees each day.

Levi is passionate about his hens and the eggs they lay. He is an ambassador for the Egg Farmers of Alberta and often speaks to students about how his farm manages the animals at the New York Colony to ensure high standards of animal care and welfare while producing quality food for Albertans.

The New York colony has what’s known as an enriched housing system for the hens. Levi describes it as an apartment building for the chickens, allowing them to move from one room to another. The system has nesting boxes for laying eggs, scratch pads, and perches so the hens can exhibit natural behaviours.

The lights in the barn mimics the lighting outside, gradually dimming to signify the sun is going down, and gradually turning back on to let the birds know that the next day is starting.

Top: The enriched housing system at the New York Colony.

Right: A hen walks out of a nesting box in an enriched housing environment at the New York Colony.

 

Carley Frerichs is the Farm Programs Coordinator for the Egg Farmers of Alberta.

Egg Farmers of Alberta is a non-profit that is the marketing board for Alberta’s 170+ egg farms. All producers with at least 300 birds must sell their eggs through the marketing board.

The Egg Farmers of Alberta also ensures all farmers meet the industry Codes of Practice, Animal Care Program and Hen Housing Policy. If a farmer falls out of compliance with the codes and policies, they can have their licence to sell eggs in Alberta revoked. This acts as a significant motivator for farmers to ensure they meet the standards set out by the industry.

Inspectors for the Egg Farmers of Alberta visit each operation three times a year. A representative from the Egg Farmers of Canada also visits each farm once a year.

 

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