Have you ever stood beside a chicken?
How about 3 chickens? How about 15,000 chickens? Imagine spending your day with 15,000 free-run chickens! Walking through a barn with 15,000 chickens all around you. Each chicken craning to see who the newbies are that just entered their home. I was one of those newbies yesterday, when we toured the Brant Colony, near High River, Alberta with Egg Farmers of Alberta. WHAT AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE!
The Brant Hutterite Colony in southern Alberta has done something that really hasn’t been done before.
The goal: to produce between 14-15,000 eggs per day with a NET-0 barn. That means, they create ZERO net greenhouse gas emissions. Brant Colony’s egg manager, Darrel Mandel and his team are making that happen each and every day!
HERE’S THE BACKSTORY:
In 2014, Egg Farmers of Alberta laid the foundation for a very lofty goal. To design and build a net-zero egg barn. EFA partnered with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, received funding from Growing Forward 2 to help make the project possible, completed a feasibility study, and selected an egg farmer to work with. In April of 2015, the foundation of the industry’s first net-zero egg barn was poured at Brant Colony near High River, Alberta.
The official grand opening was the culmination of two years’ worth of hard work, dedication, collaboration, and a vision to build a sustainable provincial egg industry. The goal of the project is for the facility to be balanced in terms of its energy inputs and outputs, in order to achieve net-zero. Over a given year, the facility will strive to produce enough power through renewable systems to offset power supplied to it by conventional fossil fuels. – source: BRANT COLONY OPENS NET ZERO BARN
2 years later, EFA did a follow up story to check in on Darrel and the barn.
Yesterday, August 13, 2019, a group of us were invited to tour the facility with Darrel and Egg Farmers of Alberta.
It was, in a word, UNBELIEVABLE.
From the moment we walked on site, we suited up to ensure total safety for the birds. Protective shoe covers in the main parts of the barn, then FULL coveralls and an additional layer of booties for inside with the birds. It was simply amazing to see the level of care for this flock of 15,000 hens. From the design of their free-run aviary housing system, to the water and feed systems, to the fully automated “behind the scenes” machines that ensure they are all happy, healthy and producing amazing Alberta eggs is just incredible. WELL DONE BRANT COLONY!
Why the red lights?
In a nutshell, it’s for the birds! They decided to add red lights to help reduce feather pecking. If the hens peck and draw blood, it could cause distress. By adding the red lights, the birds are less inclined to see blood if it does occur, keeping them all more relaxed. Manager Darrel has definitely noticed a substantial improvement in the feather cover of his flock, which is an indicator of enhanced animal welfare for the birds. Want to see more? Check out the livestream of the barn!
How many eggs per day?
The hope is that each hen would produce 1 egg per day. Brant Colony is collecting between 14,000-15,000 free-run eggs every single day. Those eggs are collected each morning then picked up by a truck weekly, taken to the grading stations. The grading station then inspects and washes the eggs, then they are sent to stores. What blew me away is just how fresh our eggs are. DID YOU KNOW, that when you purchase your Alberta eggs from a grocery store, they might have only left the farm 3 days prior? FRESH CENTRAL!
Thank you so much Egg Farmers of Alberta for such an informative and amazing day. To see this facility in action, along with meeting some of the kindest people on earth, was an experience I will treasure forever. I have learned SO much about eggs since partnering with EFA, from the different TYPES of eggs, to the different HOUSING systems that help produce all the different varieties we are so lucky to have in our stores, is amazing.
I can’t wait to see what’s next! Until then, I am going to make some lunch. Perhaps an omelette from YESTERDAY’S farm fresh eggs! Life is good!
Enjoy! meg xo
For MORE eggy goodness visit: Egg Farmers of Alberta
For a fun EGGY recipe: Caesar Inspired Devilled Eggs