Thunder Bay·Audio

Thunder Bay farmers push for local abattoir to process chickens

Some small-scale farmers near Thunder Bay believe there's a market for locally raised poultry.
A group of farmers and Ministry of Agriculture officials believe there is potential for a poultry processing plant in Thunder Bay. Ericka Reszitnyk is a local farmer who raises up to 600 birds a year and says farmers around the city have to send their birds to Dryden or Emo for processing. She hopes to have a feasibility study started next month. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Some small-scale farmers near Thunder Bay believe there's a market for locally raised poultry.

About 30 people recently gathered at the Gillies Community Centre to talk about the feasibility of having chickens slaughtered locally.

Currently, poultry needs to be transported to Dryden or Emo for processing.

A farmer near Gillies said it's expensive for farmers to transport chickens hundreds of kilometres.

"It can set you back quite a bit, because you also have to look at your fuel costs," Ericka Reszitnyk said.

"Because it costs us two tanks of fuel to get there and back. As well as it's a whole day event. My husband leaves at 2 a.m. eastern time. This week, for his last trip, he didn't get back until 9 p.m."

She said best time to move chickens is at night, "when they become more docile and more, I guess, sleepy ... and they don't move as much."

Reszitnyk said she hopes to start a feasibility study for a poultry processing plant next month.

The pair have applied for the artisanal chicken program, to start with 600 birds.

Farmers who want to raise between 600 and 3,000 birds can apply to this program. Farmers who want to raise between 6,000 and 60,000 birds can apply for the Local Niche Markets Program.

Reszitnyk said the Artisanal Chicken Program is a great place to start.

"You apply every year for a licence for [the number of] birds you want to raise."

If enough farmers are interested in raising the birds, she said she believes a poultry abattoir can be established in Thunder Bay. About 15 farmers who attended the meeting have expressed interest, she said.

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