Eggs-ploring the Bone Creek Hutterite Colony Poultry Farm

­­­Very few people have the opportunity see the inside of a hen barn because of biosecurity regulations to keep chickens safe and healthy. (Biosecurity refers to the policies and procedures that protect humans and animals from disease). I was fortunate to be taken on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Bone Creek Hutterite Colony Poultry Farm south of Gull Lake, Sask. to learn all about egg farming.
Photo credit: Saskatchewan Egg Producers
Photo credit: Saskatchewan Egg Producers
There are 65 registered egg producers in Saskatchewan with 55 of the farms located on Hutterite Colonies. Producing more than 25.6 million dozen eggs is big business in the province. It’s also serious business as the health of the hens is the top priority in every barn. As soon as we drove onto the colony, we disinfected our vehicles to make sure we weren’t bringing in any exterior contaminants. We also covered our shoes with plastic disposable booties before stepping outside our vehicles.
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Photo credit: Saskatchewan Egg Producers
Ben Entz is in charge of the 13,800 Lohman hens that call the barn home. He has been raising chickens for 24 years and has an impressive safety record. He has a decade of perfect scores in the Start-Clean Stay-Clean program that ensures the eggs he provides to Saskatchewan residents are both safe and healthy. Once at the barn, we carefully dressed in blue disposable overalls, complete with hairnets and facemasks before going in. We also swabbed down all the camera equipment. Being strict with biosecurity keeps bacteria and diseases from entering the barn. IMG_8638_ Inside the barn, the hens are housed in a layer of three tiers, with nine chickens per enclosure. This type of housing helps keep the hens safe. It’s important to keep the chickens separated in small groups because chickens have a hierarchy of dominance. The term “pecking order” was created because chickens often assert dominance by pecking one another. In other words, this type of housing results in less bullying between chickens and few injuries. It offers a clean environment, equal access to fresh food and water, protection from predator,s and prevents the chickens from coming in contact with wild birds that could carry disease. IMG_8673_ Ben even let me cruise around the barn on his farm-made barn cart to check the chickens on the top tier.  

The barn temperature is carefully controlled at 20.5 degrees with several big fans to continually ventilate the area. The chickens have access to food five or six times a day through an automated feeding system. Their feed is a combination of wheat, soy meal, canola oil and vitamins. No antibiotics are given to the chickens. And no chickens in Canada are ever raised using hormones. Eggs are full of nutrients and contain six grams of protein, including vitamins A, D and E, iron and zinc IMG_8666_ The 8,400 dozen eggs laid weekly at the farm are picked up every Thursday by Star Egg, a family-run company based out of Saskatoon. Almost every egg in Saskatchewan is sent through Star Egg, making it to local grocery stores within seven to 10 days of being laid. IMG_8717_ Eggs are graded by quality and weight, not by size. Then they’re packed into Styrofoam or fibre containers. It’s more environmentally friendly to purchase eggs in Styrofoam containers because they break down quicker than fibre packaging. Egg-citing Facts:
  1. Brown eggs and white eggs are identical in terms of nutrients. The difference? Brown eggs come from brown hens.
  2. The more yellow the egg yolk, the more corn the chickens were fed.
  3. Most of eggs’ nutritional value is contained in the yolk, including half the protein.