Raising the Bar for Animal Welfare at Burnbrae FarmsAnimal Welfare
Burnbrae Farms and the Hudson family are committed to being industry leaders in animal welfare and being at the forefront of research and development in this field. Each year, a meeting is held and outside experts are invited to present the latest research findings and emerging trends in the laying hen industry. Topics presented can range from hen housing, husbandry (the care and rearing of animals), egg production and other topics that touch hen wellbeing. The goal of these yearly meetings and presentations is to instill practical knowledge and skills to our employees working on our farms, and the teams that oversee farm operations.
2017 Presenters: Dr. Widowski and Dr. Harlander
This past spring, researchers from the University of Guelph presented their latest research findings and best practices for laying hens in their respective fields of study. The employees that were present were highly engaged in the discussion.
Dr. Tina Widowski, Egg Farmers of Canada Research Chair in Laying Hen Welfare, is researching housing systems for laying hens and how the hens use the available space. For this meeting, Dr. Widowski’s presentation focused on the importance of rearing (how we raise our pullets or young birds) for laying hens.
In 2013, Burnbrae Farms committed $500,000 to support a professorship in poultry welfare research at the University of Guelph. This professorship is held by Dr. Alexandra Harlander who studies the core aspects of poultry physical and mental health. Dr. Harlander’s focus is on behavioural issues, locomotion, and air quality in hen housing. At this meeting, Dr. Harlander presented on the importance of a hen’s freedom to locomote (or to move about).
Both Drs. Widowski and Harlander collaborate with the industry on an ongoing basis and their research projects provide great insights on hen welfare.
How does this Meeting Impact Employee’s Interactions with our Hens?
“It really raises our employee’s awareness, and makes them more tuned into hen behaviour. It brings on a deeper understanding of hen wellbeing” says Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Helen Anne Hudson. “Over the years we’ve come away with great information, and having another set of eyes from outside experts is always good, whether these people are out in the field or in an academic setting, the takeaways from these meetings can literally change how we do things” added Hudson.
How is this Knowledge is Applied at the Farm?
Both the outside experts and our teams are eager to exchange ideas and discuss topics of interest and both parties gain valuable information. New information or research discoveries can change the perspective of management and employees on our farms, can inspire new ways to approach their duties and can have an impact on the employees’ interactions with the hens.
To learn more on Burnbrae Farm’s commitment to hen wellbeing, visit; https://www.burnbraefarms.com/en/our-values/animal-welfare
Be the chicken
Imagine this: you feel really motivated to do something, sit down let's say. You have this overwhelming urge to do it. It's necessary, you need to do it. But there's no place to sit nearby. You try anyways, you have to. There's a crowded bench but when you try to sit you get kicked off. The motivation doesn't go away so maybe you try to do something else to take your mind off of sitting. You get something to eat or drink, but the urge is still there. You are getting frustrated, so you might try to grab someone's chair. Finally, when you haven't been able to find a seat for long enough and your motivation reaches a tipping point, you settle and just find any old spot on the ground to sit.