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Christmas on an Egg Farm

Spending time with family - and the hens - during the holidays!

While some may travel to spend time with family and friends on Christmas, farmers have to make sure that everyone is well cared for, especially the hens! Two of our farmers shared how they spend their holidays!

Tonya Haverkamp

Describe Christmas day on your farm:

Christmas day on our farm starts like a regular day. First, we  head out to the pullet barn to check on the chicks, making sure they have plenty of feed, water and that they are doing well. Then we enjoy breakfast (eggs of course!) before heading out to the layer barn at 8:00 a.m. All the feeders and waters will be checked,  along with all our hens. At around 9:00a.m., we  start collecting eggs and that should take until about 2:30p.m.  We will do one last check on the hens before leaving the layer barn, checking feed and water, then head back into the pullet barn to check up on them as well. The one thing we won't do on Christmas Day that we do on a regular barn day, is clean the packer, sweep and wash the packing room floor. If we did all the regular cleaning, we would finish up in the barn around 4:30. Skipping this for one day means we can get ourselves cleaned up and ready to share Christmas dinner with family.

 

What does your Christmas morning breakfast  consist of?

We will do up a Christmas Morning Casserole which is prepared the evening before.Then it can be put in the oven the next morning to cook and will be good-to-go, quick and easy!

 

Does your family have any special Christmas traditions?

A tradition with my family is to open presents on Christmas Eve. Since my parents, brother and I all have chickens to look after – Christmas Eve is the easiest time for us to get together! Like all livestock, our hens don’t stop working just because it is Christmas day. Our hens will keep on laying eggs whether it is a holiday or not!

 

Chris Mullet Koop

Describe Christmas day on your farm:

Much like any other day on our farm, Christmas morning still starts at 5 a.m. with a flock check-in for both our layer and pullet barns. What does this look like? Well, when I enter the biosecurity room of the barn, I change my footwear, put on a pair of coveralls, and disposable hair net. In our pullet aviary where the birds are free to roam the entire barn, I also use a mask as aviary environments tend to be dustier.

Before I enter thebarn, I check the computer control display to make sure that feed lines, waterlines, temperatures, humidity level and ventilation units are all functioning within the parameters I have set, (I can also do this throughout the day via my smartphone). But nothing is as thorough as walking through the barn to look, smell, hear and see the hen environment! So I then enter the bird facility and walk the isles slowly while assessing overall hen health, looking to see that feed troughs have even feed, that waterlines are working properly and that the equipment in the facility is functioning as it should. When I have finished, I record all my observations in a logbook.

In the afternoon there is still farm work to be done. But on Christmas, we keep work to a minimum and only carry out what is essential. I perform a second flock check as I did in the morning. Then we pack eggs! Since packing eggs is normally the responsibility of our three kids, my wife and I are kind enough to do the packing on Christmas day. Eggs are kept in the cold storage, the packing room is cleaned and again we record all activities and observations in the logbook before we exit the barn using biosecurity protocols.

 

Do you open presents before or after you go to the barn?

When everyone has woken and trickled down in their pj’s at their own leisurely pace, we turn on our favourite Christmas music mix, make tea and hot chocolate and sit by the tree. Each of us admires the five stockings that Grandma made for us years ago - all the while conscious of whose looks most portly. Some of us wonder if Grandma should make new ones that can accommodate somewhat larger items. The five of us exchange names and Christmas morning is the moment we get to find out who had who, and what is in the stockings! Sip sip…. munch munch…

 

What does your Christmas breakfast consist of?

​When I return to the house, it is usually still quiet – and dark in winter. I have time to scramble up our standard egg breakfast. But homemade cinnamon buns are a Christmas morning feature!

Our family will enjoy a light supper (we call faspa) of cheeses, cold cuts, pickles and swiebach (double-decker buns) together with the first taste of our vintage 2016 Concord grape juice. The evening may follow with games, conversation or just sitting by the fire and enjoying being together.

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