Kyla van Eyden & Kayla Hartley / Staff reporters
Poultry In Motion visited Gleneagle on October 24 on behalf of the BC Chicken Growers’ Association. The Poultry In Motion presenters, farmer Dave Martens and his wife Sheryl Martens, provided presentations to groups of students about the process of poultry farming.
“I have great discussions with people, I don’t come to schools with the mindset of changing people’s opinions on poultry farming. I’ve got nothing to hide, we care about our animals and we want to treat them with dignity. I acknowledge people who are vegetarians or vegans, because it’s totally possible to get all the nutrients you need, but it can be more difficult for some,” commentedDave, the main presenter.
Poultry In Motion has educated ELL and food studies students for several years. The BC Chicken Growers’ Association has developed three fully equipped trailers that are replicas of real broiler chicken farms in BC. The educational mini barn has three sections: broiler breeders, chicks, and market ready chickens, so students can be educated on each process.
Many consumers know very little about Canadian raised poultry, even though Canada is one of the largest agricultural producers and exporters in the world. Canada produces around 600 million chickens a year, and 84% of Canadians purchase fresh chicken on a regular basis.
“[My students] don’t know the industry, they just eat the chickens and everything’s dandy, so it’s nice to educate them on how Canadian poultry is produced, and gives them a little more insight,” said Michele Wilson, an applied skills teacher.
Poultry In Motion are a free service, who do this on their own spare time, because they are very passionate people who want to educate the public on this industry, to show that not all farming is inhumane. Many people do not know basics like the difference between chickens raised for meat versus chickens raised for eggs, so listeners of the presentations gain a lot of new information.
Many youth have mixed feelings about the display, Dave explained. “I was doing the display at the PNE late one night, and there was a girl I noticed was crying. I walked over to talk to her, and she said ‘I understand that we raise them to eat them, but I still feel sad for them.’ And I replied ‘I appreciate your honesty, and because they are an animal we raise for food, I want to treat them with dignity and I want to treat them with care.’ I can still remember my first flock of chickens, thirty years ago. I remember seeing a baby chick lying there, that I knew was gonna die, and picking it up, pushing its beak to the waterline, doing my chores and coming back and picking it up again and again, and coming back the next day and it was dead. And so I thought ‘I tried, I did everything!’ and so in spite of all we do, all the good measures, care, and technology we’ve embraced, we still can’t save them all.”
All three sections can be viewed from the outside through the full height glass. The broiler breeders show the parents role in poultry farming.The hens lay fertilized eggs, which are delivered to a specialized hatchery facility. After the eggs are hatched, the chicks are delivered to BC chicken farms. The next section shows broiler chickens, which are almost ready to go to market.
“I thought it was a really cool opportunity, and everyone in my class really enjoyed it. It’s quite exciting if you’ve never seen chickens in real life, or for people who have, they have never seen chicks before. We learned about how chickens are farmed and the process of how they get to the market. It was a cool experience and I’m glad I got the chance to participate,” Alex Burns-Farquharson, a student who took food studies in grade nine and ten.
Of course inhumane farming exists, however it is important that all poultry farming isn’t classified as inhumane, because there are farmers who take pride in giving their animals the proper care they need.