As the largest processor in Canada, we recognize the critical need to identify improved live bird transportation solutions so, over the past 4 years, we have invested more than $2.5 million on our research and improvement efforts. We will be investing an additional $40 million in our transition to modular loading and gas stunning for broiler chickens over the next 20 months (anticipated completion date, October 2019).
Modular loading is a type of transportation system in which modules (similar to a chest of drawers) are moved by forklift into barns, the drawers opened, birds placed in and, once full, then forklifted back onto the truck. Our modular system will be complemented by the use of Controlled Atmosphere Stunning (CAS) in our plant which is a very humane way to render the birds unconscious prior to processing. Maple Lodge Farms was an early adopter of CAS (2012), to date operating two of only three plants in Canada to utilize this technology.
Modular loading and CAS have many welfare advantages including vastly reduced handling and stress, and improved transport conditions. For more information, please see the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMAFRA) Fact sheet on Modular Loading.
The transportation of live chickens is a complex and challenging issue. In order to further address these challenges and improve bird welfare, Maple Lodge Farms has also enlisted the assistance of a committee of experts – veterinarians, agricultural engineers, ventilation experts, animal behaviourists, livestock transportation specialists, humane standard officials and equipment manufacturers – to find solutions.
Currently we are conducting globally leading research using complex computer modelling to assist us in solving some challenges associated with live bird transportation. This modelling utilizes computational fluid dynamics (CFD) (uses numerical analysis and algorithms to solve and analyze problems that involve fluid/gas flows) to simulate air flows through trailers with the goal of establishing strategic air inlets/exhausts in order to optimize ventilation in trailers. Results from this research have resulted in design changes to our trailers which will be implemented in conjunction with our transition to modular loading. We remain committed to ongoing research and the implementation of new and proven standards, equipment and technology as it becomes available in order to fulfill our commitment to improving bird welfare.
For more information, please read this article from Country Guide.