Author Archives: Matt

About Matt

Matt and his family farm 3000 acres in midwestern Ontario, raise broiler chickens, and operate a grain elevator business specializing in soybean exports. Having decided early on that Matt wanted to pursue an education in agriculture, he studied Agriculture Science at the University of Guelph and is now beginning his MSc. in plant science.

Spending some time with some great poultry!

Posted on Monday, August 11, 2014 by Matt

Chicken BarnI recently spent a week at home on the farm over the summer which finally gave me a chance to get my hands dirty again after spending far too long at university. One of the things I got to do while at home was look after our chickens. We raise chickens for meat, which are known as broilers.

Compared to other livestock such as dairy cows or pigs, chickens can be a relatively lower maintenance animal, but they still do require proper attention and care. The most laborious part of the job is preparing the barns to receive new baby chickens. This preparation involves cleaning out all the litter from the previous group of chickens, disinfecting and sanitizing the barns, then laying down new fresh bedding for the baby chicks. We use straw for bedding, but other farmers use wood shavings instead. Straw is the part of the wheat plant which isn’t harvested as grain. Since my family also grows wheat, we can easily collect the straw from the fields which means we don’t have to pay for bedding like some other farmers.

Once the barn is prepared, we heat the barn up nice and warm to 34 degrees Celsius. It might feel pretty warm for us, but the day old chickens absolutely love it. From there, we raise the chickens until they are 2.8 kilograms, which takes about 6 weeks from the time they arrive at the barn. Over those 6 weeks, we walk through the barns two or three times a day to check that they are receiving adequate feed and water and to ensure that they are healthy. We try hard to make sure the chickens are happy and comfortable, so if something is wrong we correct the issue immediately.

After the 6 weeks are up, the chickens are loaded onto specially designed trucks and taken to a processing plant. When this happens, it means the barns are empty and the cycle starts again!

The photo in this story is of what my barns at home look like. The chickens are about 5 weeks old at this point and are calm, quiet, and enjoying the warmth of the barn.

Road safety reminder!

Posted on Saturday, May 10, 2014 by Matt

Road Safety

Now that spring has arrived, farmers are heading to the fields to get their crops planted for the year. While farmers and the general public are often in a rush to get places when on the roads, we must remember to practice safe driving procedures throughout this busy time. Everyone will arrive home safe to their families at the end of the day if the public remains vigilant while driving, and the farmers use proper safety signs and lights to signal their traffic intentions. And remember, only pass farm equipment when it’s safe to do so. Driving behind a slow moving vehicle for 2 miles takes the same amount of time as waiting at 2 stop lights in the city. Be safe and enjoy the warm weather!

Soybeans Taking a Trip Across the World

Posted on Wednesday, October 2, 2013 by Matt

Maersk-Line.jpg

When you sit down to eat supper at night, how often do you take time to consider where your food comes from? Is it grown locally? Is it produced in another province? Have you considered that part of your food could even be produced by a farmer half way around the world?

Ontario farmers are blessed with having exceptional land that they can use to produce some of the highest quality crops in the world! We are able to produce crops that benefit not only ourselves, but even people on the other side of the globe. Soybeans are a perfect example of a crop that is widely grown in Ontario, which is produced with such a high standard of quality that our soybeans are demanded all around the world.

My family not only is involved in growing these high quality soybeans, but we also play a role in exporting the soybeans overseas to countries like Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Indonesia, where they will use the crop to produce soy milk and tofu.

The exporting process on our farm begins when farmers truck their soybeans to a storage facility on our farm called a grain elevator. Here, we buy the crop from the farmers and store the soybeans in large concrete silos until the busy harvest season has ended. After harvest has slowed, we get to work at the grain elevator preparing to begin exporting the crop. Since the soybeans will be used for human consumption, the crop goes through many different machines that clean out impurities in the soybeans and eliminate the risk of other crops like corn or wheat from being exported. Our customers demand very high quality products, so we must make sure the soybeans are perfect!

 b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_1445.JPG

A grain elevator is a grain storage facility where farmers can store their grain until they wish to sell it.

After the soybeans have completed the rigorous cleaning process, they can either be loaded directly onto a shipping container (we call that shipping in bulk), or the soybeans can be bagged into 25-45 kilogram bags, then loaded into a shipping container. Just like with many products here in Canada, the bulk soybeans will be used by large food processors overseas while the bags of soybeans will be sold at markets and stores for families and small businesses.

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_1412.JPG

The bulk soybeans are loaded into a shipping container using a large conveyor belt which shoots the soys into the container.

The bagging process can be a pretty tiring process, so we decided to get a little help on the farm and invest in a robot to do much of the work. It is quite expensive, but it saves on labour costs and will never call in sick to work!

Check out the video below to see how the robot operates. You can even see my dad working, sewing the bags shut!

After the bags are stacked onto pallets, they are loaded into shipping containers, and then sent on a train to Vancouver before making the long voyage to Asia. Although this business requires a lot of labour and attention to detail, I love it because it I satisfying knowing that the crops my family and I grow are being put toward feeding hungry mouths around the world.