When you sit down for breakfast (or brunch), do you ever wonder who helped produce the food on your plate? We’re talking about the farmers who dedicate their lives to producing fresh ingredients for your community.
In BC, approximately 141 registered egg farmers raise nearly 3.1 million layer hens which produce upwards of 84 million dozen protein and nutrient-rich eggs. Impressive, right?
Born and raised in Chilliwack, egg farmer Matt Vane is one of these superheroes. He grew up with a farming background and says it’s been a lifelong passion of his. In 2012, Vane became an organic egg producer, and today, he operates his farm with the help of a coworker.
We were curious to discover what a typical day looks like for Vane, so we put on our Wellington boots, rolled up our sleeves, and joined him on the farm.
Vane has a piece of land covering five acres in Greendale, BC. This includes one layer barn and one pullet barn (a rearing home for the young birds), with a little house up front and a workshop off to the side.
As an egg farmer, Vane is normally up and out of the house before 6:30 am. The first priority on the farm? Well, that’s checking on the birds. “We’ll start with the younger flocks and move our way up to the older flocks, ensuring that they’ve been topped up on feed and water,” says Vane.
After this, the climate conditions are checked and egg collecting begins for the day. Vane doesn’t spend a lot of time on lunch breaks — it’s generally a quick, convenient bite to eat and back to work.
When egg collecting is done, Vane focuses on projects and maintenance. The tasks when we visited, for example, included cleaning out and disinfecting a barn, as well as removing the old manure in preparation for the arrival of new chicks the following week. And that’s not forgetting pressure washing the barn exterior, cutting the lawn, and doing yard work.
“On a farm it’s nonstop,” says Vane, “We operate on two locations, but we also manage a third operation.” He stresses that being a farmer isn’t something you just do Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm. “It’s all day, every day. You’re responsible for those hens. You can’t have any hiccups or wrenches in the program. It’s got to be going all year long.”
The birds on Vane’s farm are organic free-range, which means they can go outside of the barn and come inside as they please. Of course, the weather can impact work on the farm at times, but Vane says the way the barns are built, coupled with the technology and ventilation, allows them to “get by pretty good.”
It’s evident that Vane cares deeply about the work that he does on the farm. “I think it’s pretty neat that the work we do every day is feeding people.” He explains how it’s not just any form of food either, as the egg is very affordable and nutritious. For him, being able to contribute to society and the local community is incredibly rewarding.
“As farmers, it’s something we take a lot of pride in, doing a good job and creating a high-quality product every day.” Updates in terms of code compliance and nutritional and genetic changes means registered egg farmers like Vane have to constantly stay on top of things to maintain their high standards.
Between Vane’s two farms, he has about 14,000 birds which produce more than 13,000 eggs per day. That’s a lot of eggs. So how does a farmer like Vane switch off and relax after a long week on the farm?
“There is a real good group of guys in the egg industry in BC, and a lot of us get on really well. I might enjoy a beer at a local farmer’s place on the weekend, or if I’m very lucky, possibly a round of golf.”
Feeding British Columbians is a passion for BC egg farmers like Vane, and they’re pleased to give back to the community when they have the opportunity to do so. This includes hosting the food bank drive and participating in local initiatives.