The practice of hatching broiler chicks on the farm has been a growing trend in Europe and now seems to be gaining interest here in Canada as well. There are documented benefits of this practice but also some important regulatory implications in Canada to consider before investing in this new technology.
As described in a recent article in Canadian Poultry Magazine, the benefits from in-barn hatching stem from immediate access to food and water, and include improved welfare, lower mortality, and better gut health and footpad health. It also eliminates the stress of transport for day-old chicks.
Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) along with the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers (CHEP) and other industry members recently met with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to understand how the federal Hatchery Regulations impacts the practice of in-barn hatching.
CFIA has since issued a notice to industry explaining that under the current regulations a hatchery is defined as any place where eggs are incubated or chicks are hatched, such that any barns hatching eggs would be subject to all the regulatory requirements of a hatchery.
Of note, individuals must obtain a permit to operate a hatchery from CFIA before hatching eggs on farm. This involves providing an application to CFIA and a full review being conducted.
Any farms considering in-barn hatching are encouraged to thoroughly review the regulations and legal implications/ requirements of hatching birds on the farm. The requirements for hatchery data reporting should also be considered, and are important for CHEP to be able to monitor production and marketing. Farms should be liaising with their hatchery and either CHEP or their provincial hatching egg board to better understand these requirements.
The hatchery regulations have been under review for some time and industry will be working with CFIA to take this new technology into consideration. The proposed amendments are anticipated to be pre-published in Canada Gazette, Part I, for public consultation in winter 2020.