The Mullet Koop Family
Choosing the right way to house laying hens is a big decision, and one that Ontario egg farmer Chris Mullet Koop doesn’t take lightly.
“We’ve been farming here for six generations,” said Chris. “When we make choices about what we are going to use for our hens it’s not a one dimensional issue. We need to consider food safety, hen care, health and welfare, the environment – what are the energy needs and what kind of impact is this going to make on the environment, the economics and food affordability. And also worker safety is an important part of our decision-making process.”
When Chris’ great-grandparents started on the farm in the 1920s, things were very different than they are today. Cold Canadian winters meant they had to raise young hens (called pullets) in the attic of the same house Chris and his family live in today. In spring, the warm weather meant they could go outdoors, but that had its’ downfalls, including exposure to disease and predators.
During the sixties, food safety was a concern, and so the family decided to move hens off of the floors and into conventional style housing. This kept the eggs away from the manure which meant cleaner eggs and hens that were healthier and less prone to disease and aggressive behaviour. Although there were benefits, the hens didn’t have much space for things like stretching their wings.
Fast forward to the fifth and sixth generation of their family farm, many things have changed. Chris and his family house their hens in enriched colony housing, which offers many benefits.
Says Chris “…I think in this system of the enriched colony, being able to exhibit some of those natural behaviours – perching, nesting, scratching and dust bathing – will go a long way in hen health and well-being. So in the end, a healthy bird means a healthy, nutritious, safe, affordable egg.”
Although much has changed on the land his parents, grand-parents and great-grandparents have walked, the sense of responsibility and the passion for egg farming haven’t changed at all. Above all, the commitment to providing the best care for their hens remains the same.
To see more about the Mullet Koop egg farm family, please visit https://www.getcracking.ca/enriched-colony.
To learn more about other Ontario egg farmers visit https://www.getcracking.ca/our-farmers/meet-the-farmers