"It’s very important. They are the people that know you best since it’s where we spend our time when we’re off the farm. They support us and we support them."
William and Diana Schenk have been egg farmers since December of 1979. Along with their children, Jonathan, Michael, Alicia, Daniel and Andrew, the Schenks have layer hens that produce classic white eggs.
“William had been working alongside his father for years,” says Diana. “His father sold the pullet farm to William in 1979, when William was just 19. It was a 100-acre farm and William had 120,000 pullets housed in two barns. William cash cropped the land with corn, soybeans and wheat. The farm buildings consisted of a house, two barns, a drive shed and an old schoolhouse, which was converted into a shop.”
In 1996, when they decided to switch from pullets to layers, they converted one of the pullet barns into a layer barn.
Over the years, the Schenks have noticed a lot of change in the industry. “The biggest change we have seen is the demand for eggs,” says Diana. “Eggs continue to be a popular food choice in healthy diets and are always on sale in the flyer. Even though people are concerned about how their food is grown, they still know that eggs are safe and that the chickens are treated well. In our opinion, this contributes to the increase in sales. Science tells us that eggs are good for us. This, too, helps increase sales.”
While there are challenges, there is plenty of opportunity, too, they say. “Because egg demand is high in our province, we cannot fill the need,” says Diana. “This creates an opportunity for farmers to expand their flocks and for new farmers to get involved in egg farming.”
The Schenks are happy with their decision to switch to layers. They love what they do. “My favourite part of being an egg farm family is the employment that it creates for our kids,” says Diana. “It gives them a job where they can make a decent wage so that they can afford college, vehicles and fun. It is also a warm place to work during our cold Ontario winters and a cool place to work during the hot summers.”
“It is also encouraging as we work in the barn, that eggs are a good thing for people,” she continues. “We don’t see the demand going down, which helps us go to the barn every day. At this point, our children help us in the barn after they work at their day jobs and on weekends.”