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Chicken (PDF)


What are chickens?                                     Where is chicken produced in
A mature male chicken is called a rooster and          Nova Scotia?
a mature female chicken is called a hen. A             Kings County produces approximately
cockerel is a male chicken under one year of           85% of the chicken production in Nova
age. A pullet is a female chicken under one            Scotia. Lunenburg, Antigonish and Annapolis
year of age. Baby chickens are called chicks.          Counties produce the remaining commercial
A broiler is a young meat-type chicken,                production.
usually weighing between 1.7 and 2.5
kilograms. It takes 39 to 42 days to reach this        How many chickens do we produce?
weight. A roaster is a young meat-type
chicken, usually weighing about 3 kilograms.           There are more than 85 registered chicken
It takes about 50 days to reach this weight.           farmers in Nova Scotia and they produce
                                                       more than 43 million kilograms of chicken
Interesting Facts:                                     each year. Most farms are family owned and
All Nova Scotia chickens are "grain fed".
Chicken feed is made up of grains such as              Nova Scotia's chicken industry is under a
corn, wheat and barley. Grains are the                 supply management system. Supply
primary source of energy in the ration.                management is a business system with merit.
Protein-containing ingredients, such as                It meets the challenge to provide stability and
soybean meal and canola meal, are added to             ensure supply demands are met with
feed in smaller quantities. In much smaller            acceptable levels of return for independent
quantities, fats are added to increase energy          farms. This is done through Chicken Farmers
levels as well as improve the taste and texture        of Canada (the national agency) and Chicken
of the feed. Finally vitamin and mineral               Farmers of Nova Scotia (the provincial
supplements are added to ensure that all the           marketing board).
chicken's nutritional requirements are met. A
clean, fresh supply of water is also an                How are chickens produced?
important element of a chicken's diet.
Chickens do not have teeth. They use an                In the chicken business it all begins with the
organ, called a gizzard, to make their food            egg. Eggs are collected from broiler breeder
smaller for digestion. At no time are                  operations and taken to hatcheries. At the
hormones used in the production of chicken.            hatchery, the eggs are sorted onto trays and
The use of hormones in poultry has not been            placed in large incubators. The temperature
allowed in Canada since the 1970's.                    and humidity are electronically controlled in
                                                       the incubator.

                                                  18                                “Growing Nova Scotia”
The eggs are turned several times daily and are          How is chicken used?
transferred to hatching trays for the final three
days. It takes 21 days of incubation for the             Chicken meat is sold either fresh or frozen,
egg to develop and hatch a chick. Upon                   whole or half birds, or cut into various pieces
hatching, the sex of the chick is determined             such as breast, thighs, drumsticks or wings,
and they are vaccinated to prevent illness.              which may be sold as skinless and/or boneless.
Within twenty-four hours of hatching, the                Chicken can be prepared in a variety of ways.
chicks are put in heated trucks and delivered            It can be fried, roasted or broiled. Further
to farms.                                                processed product such as nuggets, soups,
                                                         stews or pies are tasty alternatives.
Meanwhile at the chicken farm, the farmer is
busy preparing the barn for the arrival of the           What happens after chickens leave
new chicks. Before new chicks are placed in              the farm?
the barn, it must be thoroughly cleaned and              When the chickens reach market weight of
disinfected to prevent disease and keep the              2 – 3.5 kilograms (approximately 40 days for
new flock healthy. The barns that house                  broilers and 50 days for roasters) they are
chickens are specially designed to ensure that           transported to a processing plant in trucks
the proper temperature, humidity and air                 specially designed for shipping live poultry.
quality are maintained no matter what time of            Nova Scotia has two processing plants; they
year the chicks arrive. Prior to the arrival of          are ACA Co-operative Limited and Maple
the chicks, clean chopped straw or wood                  Leaf Poultry. At the processing plant, every
shavings, often referred to as litter, is spread         chicken is checked by an inspector to ensure
on the barn floor. Broiler chickens are not              the chickens are healthy and safe to eat. The
kept in cages. They are floor raised with                chicken products are then shipped to grocery
access to food and water at all times.                   stores, restaurants or for further processing.

                                                    19                                “Growing Nova Scotia”
What challenges do chicken producers                     recognized this On-Farm Food Safety
face?                                                    Assurance Program (OFFSAP). Most chicken
                                                         farms do not allow visitors into their barns
Chicken farmers are facing increasing                    and never allow other animals in. When
competition from global markets that are able            authorized people are permitted in the barns,
to produce chicken at a lower cost and import            they must put on plastic boots and other
into Canada. As a result of this, those in the           protective clothing. Barn doors are kept
poultry industry closely follow the activities of        locked with a DO NOT ENTER
the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is                BIOSECURITY IN EFFECT sign on the
very important to chicken farmers to ensure              door. Biosecurity is one part of the On-Farm
that the three pillars of supply management              Food Safety Assurance Program (OFFSAP)
are maintained in the WTO negotiations.                  that helps keep the chickens healthy and
Nova Scotia farmers have to bear the cost of             ensure a quality product on the market.
putting food safety, animal welfare and
environmental regulations into effect.
  Today's chicken farmers take pride in caring
for their birds and providing a quality product
that can be enjoyed year round. Chicken
farmers in Nova Scotia are involved in a
National Food Safety program for chicken
known as “Safe, Safer, Safest”. The Canadian
Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has

                                                    20                              “Growing Nova Scotia”
Who is involved in producing chickens?                •   Equipment suppliers
                                                      •   Trucking companies
Nova Scotia's chicken processing industry             •   Processors
employs over 900 people. Feed mills, farms,           •   Government inspectors
hatcheries, farm equipment dealers, veterinary        •   Restaurants, hotels, institutions, retailers,
clinics and trucking companies employ many                fast food outlets
more. The following are some of the spin-off          •   Pharmaceutical companies
industries from chicken farming:                      •   Nutritionists and field workers
•   Broiler breeder producers                         Contacts and other resources:
•   Hatchers
•   Veterinarians                                     Chicken Farmers of Nova Scotia

                                                 21                                  “Growing Nova Scotia”

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