Raising a family and farming seem to go hand in hand. The shared responsibilities of farming create a close family bond. Lyle Young’s fourth-generation chicken farm is no exception. He and his family work hard to provide the residents of Vancouver Island with quality chicken.
On Vancouver Island, there is a small, but growing market for chickens grown locally. In response to this need for locally-sourced products, and in part to address Island concerns over food security, Lyle Young and his family have evolved their chicken farm to serve these needs. Their feed is bought from a mill just a few minutes away and they process their own flocks, as well as others from growers in the area, at their new state-of-the-art plant in Cowichan Bay, B.C. Their products are available from about 20 different independent grocers throughout southern Vancouver Island.
“As a small-scale producer using a small local processor, we were greatly impacted by changes in B.C.’s food inspection regulations,” said Lyle. Faced with the closure of the last processing plant on Vancouver Island, the Youngs saw that there was a budding market for locally-sourced chicken and poultry.
Launched in 2005, Island Farmhouse Poultry is on the site of the original Young farm. The farm has been in Lyle’s family since 1910. Though not a chicken farm the whole time, it has been for the past 15 years. The Youngs also pasture raise heritage breeds of goats, cattle and sheep.
Lyle and his wife Fiona are raising their three children in one of Canada’s most scenic farm communities. “I grew up in the city and used to come visit my grandparents at the farm. I loved a lot of the aspects of farming. The farm was something special,” says Lyle.
Their farm, about 4,000 birds per cycle, maintains seven different flocks at any one time to ensure their customer base gets a constant supply of fresh chicken. “Being ‘Island Grown’ is absolutely a core value for us,” says Lyle. Lyle works hard to ensure proper biosecurity measures are in place.
“We were brought up-to-speed on biosecurity immediately and we now know that there are effective, proactive programs for dealing with a problem. We’re a whole lot better able to deal with an outbreak like avian influenza than we were a few years ago.”
Lyle found the local and provincial chicken industries to be very supportive of newcomers. The provincial industry promotes growing chicken on the Island to new small-scale entrants to the industry. This is a major factor in the increased number of farmers looking to launch their own operations on Vancouver Island, especially asLyle believes that people on Vancouver Island tend to eat a little closer to home, more so than in other parts of the country. As a businessman, he prides himself on the ability to supply what the customer wants, when they want it.