The Ontario government is feathering the nest of a new Ontario Poultry Research Centre with a $13.5 million commitment.
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“This research centre will, once completed, equip our poultry industry with the tools and the knowledge to stay competitive while creating jobs, growing the economy and ensuring supply chain security,” said Lisa Thompson, provincial minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
The province signed a memorandum of understanding with the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario and the province’s four feather boards to invest in a new facility expected to advance research and drive innovation in the poultry sector.
Why it matters: Modern poultry research facilities are needed to adequately address changes in consumer demands and animal welfare regulations.
William Bearss, chair of the Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg and Chick Commission, welcomed funds for the centre, saying it will enhance the industry’s leadership in poultry research and innovation.
The current facility at Arkell Research Station consists of a hatchery, a turkey, brooder and adult barn, a special studies barn and a processing plant. The barns use various housing systems and have 40 independent research areas.
“The conditions for rearing poultry 40 years ago are not the conditions we use today,” said Malcolm Campbell, University of Guelph vice-president for research.
“The new facility will effectively update that working productivity element we have in all our facilities where we are production scale but not production dependent.”
Campbell said the new facility’s footprint will be the same or slightly larger than the facility in Arkell to accommodate contemporary standards in poultry research and husbandry.
“There are always new and emerging priorities around how our poultry are housed, for example, how to best improve their nutrition, what conditions they’re being reared so that we’ve got high productivity while also maintaining livestock health,” said Campbell. “All of those sorts of questions will be addressable in the new research facility.”
Murray Opsteen, Chicken Farmers of Ontario chair, said the investment will further establish Ontario as a leader in innovation, sustainability animal welfare and food safety.
“Chicken Farmers of Ontario is committed to supporting the research and innovation needs necessary to advance the chicken industry and the broader Ontario agriculture community,” he said.
Campbell said the new facility will be within the Elora Research Centre hub of livestock facilities but its precise location is yet to be determined.
Construction is slated to begin in 2024 and be completed by 2026.