In 2015, Glen Jennings and his son Blake installed three turbines on their property and become the first wind-powered egg farm in Nova Scotia. This shift at Bayview Poultry Farms wasn't all about economics. It was sparked by a desire to do the right thing for the environment.
As a fourth generation producer, being an egg farmers is part of Glen's DNA. His great grandfather started producing eggs in the 1940s with Glen stepping in to run the 140-acre farm in 1989.
Egg production evolving in new ways
Over the years, he recognized that it's important to keep up with changing times in farming. While attending a farm equipment show in Windsor, N.S., he learned about smaller wind turbines that he thought could work for Bayview Farms.
Glenn purchased three Skystream wind turbines for his property in the summer of 2007. A decade later, they are reducing the farm's production of greenhouse gases and providing enough clean energy (up to 2.4 kilowatts per hour) to power his business.
"Wind-sourced energy is good for the environment," he explains. "We produced enough to meet our needs and reap the financial benefits."
Hydro costs used to represent a big chunk of the farm's operating budget. Before the turbines were installed, they ran about $300 to $400 to supply power to just one barn for two months. Now, his bill has shrunk to just $75 for the same amount. Any excess energy goes to the main grid to be used by fellow Nova Scotians, for which the farm receives a credit. Meanwhile, production at Bayview has jumped, too.
Consumer egg demand shows no signing of cracking
That's a good thing as the consumption of eggs continues to rise. The demand for Canadian eggs has grown by nearly 30 per cent over the past decade. Retail sales of table eggs shot up by 5.6 per cent last year alone, and Egg Farmers of Canada feel confident that the demand will keep going up this year. Consumers are also demanding more options for eggs, including eco-friendly ones – something Bayview Farms promotes proudly on their packaging.
Working under the system of supply management also allowed Glen's son, Blake, to work on the farm and to reinvest in new technologies.
"We're constantly looking for new ways to be more efficient," says Blake, 23, who joined his dad in the family business two years ago. "The technology is always changing so we're seeking renewable energy sources for the future." They plan on building a new barn in a couple of years and they'll be investigating the viability of putting solar panels on it.
50 years of sustainability
Sustainability is a core business principle for Egg Farmers of Canada. In 2016, the organization released a study conducted by Global Ecologic Environmental Consulting and Management Services which found that the environmental footprint of Canada's egg production supply chain declined by almost 50 per cent between 1962 and 2012, while egg production increased by 50 per cent.
"This is a clear example where growth and sustainability in an industry are not incompatible with improving environmental outcomes," Dr. Nathan Pelletier, the author of the study said.
The potential for Egg Farmers of Canada to make a significant impact on creating a greener future is huge. The egg industry is an important one to this country, responsible for more than 17,600 jobs and $961.5 million in total farm cash receipts added to the Canadian economy. Learn more about "green" eggs here.