On the Farm
Meet the Chickens
Since most Canadians have not grown up on a farm, it’s not surprising that you may have questions about farming. We invite you to see how chickens are raised for meat in Canada.
Producing nutritious, wholesome chicken requires a team of farmers, breeders, researchers, veterinarians, animal nutritionists and processors. Come check out the journey of chicken, all the way from the farm to the table.
The Production Cycle of a Broiler Chicken
Broiler breeders raise hens and roosters who are the parents of the broiler chickens. The hens lay fertilized eggs, the high quality eggs are meant to be used for broilers and are gathered and sent to the hatchery for incubation.
The hatchery cares for the eggs, incubating them until they hatch (around 21 days). The day the chicks hatch, they are shipped to the farmer and placed in their barns.
Prior to this, the barns are prepared for chick arrival by heating to a comfortable temperature (28C – 32C), laying down fresh bedding, and providing free access to feed and water 24/7. All broiler chickens in Saskatchewan are raised free run, meaning they can move around freely throughout the barn.
Chickens eat feed consisting of grain , grain by-products and other protein producing seeds. A small amount of other protein is added, such as bone meal and vegetable fats, as well as a small amount of vitamins and minerals. Chickens are never fed hormones or steroids, they have been banned since the 1960’s, federal regulations prohibit the use of them in Canada.
The broilers are raised in this manner for about 35 – 40 days, after which they are sent the processor.
Broiler chickens are raised for meat, so when the birds are 35 – 40 days old, or around 2 kg, they are transported in trucks specially designed for shipping poultry to the processor to get ready for market. Processors coordinate transport to the plant with the farmer and hire trained catching crews to catch the birds at at the farm.
Chicken farmers take pride in the job they do.
All farmers follow the mandatory Raised by a Canadian Farmer Animal Care and On Farm Food Safety Programs. The Raised by a Canadian Farmer Animal Care program, implemented in 2009, emphasizes proper animal care through every stage of the production cycle. All farmers are certified in this program, recognized by National Farm Animal Care Council and based on the recommendations in the Code of Practice. Each farm is audited yearly by third party auditors to ensure these standards are being followed. The national set of standards is informed by scientific research and practical experience from the farm.
On Farm Food Safety
Food Safety begins on the farm, our farmers follow strict guidelines to ensure the chicken they raise receive the best care until it arrives on your plate! Our mandatory Raised by a Canadian Farmer On Farm Food Safety program realizes the public concern to have a safe and quality food product, producers keep detailed records of all chicken grown on their farms too.