So in Part 2 of this series, we looked at what supermarkets and backyard chicken vets have in common, but if you can recall, this whole series started with me desperately needing a chicken vet, for my girl Maggie. Well as you know, up and until 3 years ago, there were none to be found in Ontario. Maybe your only option was the University of Guelph or livestock veterinarian.
Enter Dr. Erin Preiss. She came to Ontario by way of Texas. She was the new vet in town and she happened to have, love, and treat chickens. Now, although she was born and raised in Ontario, the fact that she spent years living in the United States, plays a key factor here.
South to North, not North to South
In the last blog, I talked a little bit about the backyard poultry market. It’s important for you to know that trends in poultry move South to North. Having spent my college years living in Michigan, I can attest to this fact. Canada has a much more traditional market than the United States. The same can be said for the horticulture industry which I will explain further in a similar blog series that I’ll do about flowers.
What does clothing have to do with it?
You may better relate to this backyard poultry marketing fact through clothing. It’s well known in my area that if you want to add variety to your wardrobe in Ontario, you drive over the border and shop in the United States. While the pandemic has put a pause on this for now with border restrictions, putting a Canadian person in an American shopping mall is like opening the door to a whole new world. Well, the same is true for chickens and chicken care. The United States has always had more to offer with regards to breeds, genetic variation, products, and even vet care. So, I have no doubt that Erin’s experience in the United States gave her a leg up when she arrived back in Ontario.
One of the key factors that sets the backyard poultry industry apart in the United States is the National Poultry Improvement Plan or NPIP. NPIP is a voluntary, state-run, federal cooperative testing a certification program for poultry. Flocks that are NPIP certified means that they are deemed to be free of particular diseases. While NPIP certification is not required, it does increase breeder/hatchery trust with consumers and is sometimes required to ship between state lines to prevent the movement of disease and pests. Canada currently does not have any program of this nature in place, but like we do at Forest Creek, Canadian breeders can choose to do their own flock testing or participate in NPIP certification through neighbouring States.
While the CFIA and OMAFRA oversee the safety of commercial poultry hatcheries, Dr. Preiss has been working with them and other advisors to develop a similar voluntary certification and testing program for backyard breeders in Ontario and Canada.
In Part 4 of this blog series, we continue to look at market trends and their influences on backyard chicken keeping on our lead up to understanding how our flock care has changed. Next week I'll include how I got my start in selling poultry.
Part 4: Oh Kijji
Part 5: Interview: Dr. Erin Preiss of Hockley Valley Mobile Veterinary Services
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