At The Broiler Breeder Farm
Broiler breeders are hens and roosters that live together on a broiler breeder farm, also known as a hatching egg farm.
Broiler breeders are housed in climate-controlled barns and are free-run, meaning the hens and roosters roam freely throughout the barn and the hens lay their eggs in nest boxes. Hens are about 24 weeks old when they start laying eggs, and they will produce eggs for about 36 weeks. Each hen will lay approximately 150 eggs during that time. Because roosters live with the hens, the eggs are fertilized; unlike eggs we buy from the store, these eggs have chicks inside.
At The Broiler Farm
Meat chickens are raised in specially designed barns, which are heated and ventilated to maintain comfortable temperature, humidity, and air quality. Farmers continually monitor feed systems, waterlines, heating, ventilation, humidity, and other barn components to ensure the chickens are comfortable.
Raising chickens indoors prevents illness, keeps them safe from predators, and keeps them comfortable regardless of the outside temperature.
Meat chickens are free-run, meaning they are not kept in cages. They roam freely throughout the barn on a floor covered by straw or shavings. Fresh, clean water and nutritious feed are always available. If antibiotics are used, strict rules are followed.
For more information on the use of antibiotics, visit letstalkchicken.ca.
The use of hormones in Canadian chicken was banned in the 1960s. Chickens are never given any hormones or steroids. Progress in raising chickens is the result of improved genetics, nutrition, and farm management.
What chickens eat
Chickens are omnivores, meaning they eat foods of both vegetable and animal origin. Animal nutritionists develop rations that meet chickens’ specific nutritional needs.
All chickens are grain-fed
At least 85% of chicken feed is grain-based. Rations also include ingredients to meet their fat, protein, vitamin, and mineral requirements. These ingredients are essential for a balanced diet and give the feed a taste and texture that is acceptable to the chickens. No hormones or steroids are ever given to the chickens.
The colour of chicken fat and skin changes with the type of grain chickens eat. Manitoba chickens’ feed is high in wheat and soy. These grains are responsible for white chicken skin and fat. Feed containing a high percentage of corn results in yellow skin and fat.
From Farm To Processor
Manitoba chickens are shipped when they weigh approximately 2 kg (4.5 lbs). After the chickens are sent to the processing plant, the barn and equipment are thoroughly cleaned. Barns are typically left empty for a week or more before a new flock arrives, which helps keep chickens healthy.
The chickens are transported to processing companies in trucks designed for carrying poultry. At the processing plant, chickens are checked by an inspector. Manitoba has two federal processing plants (Exceldor Cooperative and Dunn-Rite Food Products) and three provincial plants (Waldner’s Meats, Favour-Rite Meats, Westman Processors).
Take a virtual visit to a Canadian farm
Tour a chicken farm and see how the birds are cared for. This farm is in Ontario, but Manitoba chicken farmers follow the same standards and programs.
Busting Chicken Farming Myths
Are chickens raised in cages?
Are chickens fed hormones and steroids so that they grow quickly?
Are chickens factory-farmed?
There are no factory farms in Canada. 97% of farms in Manitoba are family-owned and operated.
Does chicken meat contain antibiotics?
The chicken you eat does not contain antibiotics.
Are chickens force-fed?
Chickens always have access to plenty of healthy, grain-based feed and water. They eat and drink when they choose.
Why are chickens raised in barns?
Barns keep chickens safe from predators and disease and are also helpful in regulating temperature, keeping chickens comfortable throughout our changing seasons.