Nov. 15, 2016

A 70 year commitment to hen health and well-being


Looking back today it seems hard to believe that a high school science project in 1943 was the catalyst for what has become Canada’s largest family owned and operated egg producer, Burnbrae Farms. Our father, Joe Hudson, at age 14 raised 50 leghorn chicks to laying hens as a school project while attending the Brockville Collegiate Institute in Eastern Ontario. He raised the layers on the family’s original farmstead which was founded in Lyn, Ontario in 1893 by his grandfather Joseph Hudson who emigrated from Scotland.

Joe’s father Arthur was a dairyman, and from 1943 to 1948, Arthur, Joe and his brother Grant managed the dairy cattle and cash crops while growing the laying business from the original 50 to a respectable 3,000 hens.

A commitment to continuous improvement

Making sure the hens were protected and well-cared for was a priority instilled in us early in life. We remember dad patrolling the barns and farm with our family dog and a shotgun to protect the birds from coyotes and other predators. Protecting them from the harsh Canadian winters, the threat of predators and disease from other birds got easier in 1952 when Joe and Grant (our dad and uncle) built the first laying barn.

Never satisfied with status quo, they continued to research better ways to raise laying hens, with a relentless focus on safe, affordable, high quality eggs and hen care. That quest for continuous improvement led the laying community and Burnbrae to add additional protective enclosures inside the barns to protect the birds from each other. Unfortunately, pecking order is real and being “hen pecked” can be life threatening. Dividing the flock into smaller groups in protective cages limits pecking problems and flocking which can suffocate birds at the bottom of the flock.

A Commitment That Crosses Generations

We are proud to continue the Burnbrae legacy and focus on improving hen care. That’s why we joined the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply , a multi-stakeholder group that is comparing conventional cage housing, enriched colony housing (with nests and perches), and free run aviary systems and the impact on food safety, hen health and well-being, environmental impact, worker health and safety and food affordability.

What we’ve learned is that there are trade-offs with each housing system. The free run aviary system offers hens more room to move but more birds die prematurely as a result of pecking and flocking and there is more environmental impact compared to a conventional cage system.

We also engage Canada's leading experts on laying hen welfare as part of our commitment to continuous improvement. We work closely with government agencies, industry partners, agricultural universities and the research community to ensure that we are kept informed and implement new practices to enhance the welfare of our layer hens. Burnbrae Farms is further showing our commitment through sponsorship of a Poultry Research Professorship at the University of Guelph . This position is a key role on a team of animal welfare researchers with a mandate to conduct poultry research and train students in animal welfare.

Our Commitment to You

Today there is growing public concern about the care of animals that produce our food. We, the 5th generation of Hudson family farmers, welcome your questions and share your concerns about the care of our hens. Our family has been committed to exploring new and better ways to care for laying hens for more than 70 years, and that commitment continues today.

We work diligently to assure our hens are well-cared for regardless of the housing system. We also recognize and respect that consumers have different values and preferences for how their eggs are produced. That’s why we offer a variety of eggs for you to choose from including conventional, enriched colony, free run, organic, Omega 3, Omega Plus, Nature’s Best and our selection of liquid eggs including Egg Creations and our Naturegg brands that offer options lower in fat and cholesterol. Regardless which type of Burnbrae Farms egg you select, you can be assured that it is safe, nutritious and the highest possible quality. That was a commitment our father made in 1943 when he started with chicks in a school project and it is our commitment to you today.


The Hudson Family