Les Poules du Campus Macdonald is a project which expands the infrastructure of MSEG's (Macdonald's Student-run Ecological Garden) program to include 30 free-range chickens and the weekly sale of their fresh eggs at MSEG markets. This expansion to the MSEG program introduces a new chicken coop to the Macdonald Campus highlighting the importance of responsible egg farming, while increasing the viability and locality of the organic fertilizer used by the MSEG.
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In recent years, numerous documentaries and undercover exposés have shed light on the often deplorable conditions faced by many animals within the factory/industrial farming system. Indeed, animal production and animal rights are at the heart of many debates in the agricultural and educational world. In April 2013, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food gave approval for the sale of eggs in the Macdonald Stewart Pavilion of Macdonald Campus as an extension of Macdonald farm and the MSEG (Macdonald Student-run Ecological Garden). A year later, Summer 2014 brings us 'Les Poules du Campus Macdonald' - an exciting new egg production and sale program. In collaboration with the MSEG, itself a leader in promoting sustainable and community-based small-scale agriculture, 'Les Poules du Campus Macdonald' will showcase responsible and sustainable egg farming on Macdonald Campus.
Funds from the SPF have provided the means for the construction of a brand new mobile chicken coop as well as the procurement of supplies to support 30 chickens. The chickens will rotate grazing grounds with cows from the University's dairy farm in order to carefully balance the phosphorous load of the soil, maintaining the legality of having grazing coexist in an agricultural area.
The production of some expected 17 dozen eggs per week will diversify the baskets of produce currently offered by MSEG, as well as provide the educational platform for the elementary school students in the area to learn more about food systems from farm to fork.
Not only will the chickens showcase responsible farming practices in egg production, the fringe benefits of the program will give back to the agricultural system at Macdonald campus and the MSEG. As omnivores, the hard working chickens will enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the MSEG, consuming a portion of the damaged or unsold vegetables produced and creating manure considered to be a major horticultural production asset.
The initial program will be active from April until temperature no longer permits the production of eggs (around -10 °C) and once fully implemented, the egg production system is expected to be able to generate the necessary revenue to meet costs of production and be economically independent. It will culminate at the end of the summer with a workshop in which participants can come learn about egg production and interact with the chickens.
Frédérick Rivard, the project leader, has expertise in both raising chickens and the management of organic waste, having managed and active coop at his home in Saint-Hyacinthe for several years, and constructioning of two compost bins at St. Paul Elementary School (Beaconsfield) last spring.
Charlotte the hen (and Fred)
Photo credit: Daigle
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