Generations of families have taken to chicken farming in Canada with unrivalled passion. Sylvia Donkersgoed is one chicken farmer who is maintaining her family’s farming legacy.
“I was born and raised in the industry,” explains Sylvia. Years ago, as she was helping out with her brothers and sisters on the family’s mixed farm, Sylvia found herself enjoying the work and increasingly becoming more involved in the day-to-day operations. She soon saw that she had a special interest in the chicken farming. Today, Sylvia runs her own diversified farm operation, not far from her brother’s, in southern Alberta. She raises roughly 50,000 birds per cycle in two large barns and also grows Timothy hay and canola, largely for the export market.
To give them familiarity with the family operation, each of Sylvia’s children has worked on the farm. Her son spends time working on the operation side of things in the summer while her daughters began working more on the administrative side of the business. In addition to running her farm, Sylvia plays an active role in the chicken farming community and is a past Chair of the provincial chicken board.
“The thing we love about this industry is that its stability allows us to participate in other types of farming with less concern that our profitability will fall to a level that we can’t handle,” says Sylvia. “The volatility of other markets is easier to handle because we have such a strong base in the chicken industry.”
Sylvia is optimistic, because the industry is evolving to better answer the questions and meet the needs of the consumer. “I’m excited about the future,” she says, “I think chicken will become more and more popular with consumers and remain their favourite choice at the meat counter.”