Jon Krahn can see changes happening in egg production and consumer demand, and he’s OK with that. Keeping up with change keeps Jon on his toes, and it’s one of the things that makes his job as an egg farmer exciting.
The Krahn family farming operation is a large enterprise that includes over 100,000 hens, a feed mill, broilers and turkeys. Jon runs the farm’s day-to-day operations with his brothers James and Dale. His father and uncle remain the owners.
“The job is very flexible,” says Jon, a third-generation egg farmer based in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley. “It’s also very diverse. This is no nine-to-five job where you are doing the same thing every day. There are always new challenges. One day you are hands-on, and the next day you are a social event with farmers. It’s the diversity I enjoy.”
Responding to changes in the market is one of the challenges.
“We’ve been trying to figure out how to keep up with consumer demand and changes in the industry,” he says. He says demand for eggs in Canada is soaring.
At the same time, consumers are demanding eggs with different attributes, such as free-run, free-range and organic.
It’s no small feat for a farm to plan which direction it wants to move in, particularly since investments in equipment have to be planned out long in advance.
Luckily, says Jon, egg farmers are a collaborative bunch, happy to exchange information and help each other out.
“We spend a lot of time talking to other farmers and learning from them,” he says. “We try to piggyback on the knowledge of others. That’s how the industry works. You chat with your neighbour and see how things are working out for them. Then you try to make it better.”
Jon says egg farmers in the Fraser Valley are a tight group, and it’s easy to get answers to questions. “This is a nice business to be in,” he says. “People are very willing to have you come into their barn and see their production.” Egg farmers, he says, are not just open with other. To help consumers be confident about the food they eat and about the way farmers treat their animals, he also says it is incumbent on egg farmers to keep their doors open so that people can see for themselves how things are done.
Jon lives on the farm with his wife and four children under the age 8.
He likes the lifestyle egg farming allows.
“The kids love it!” he says. “We have lots of room for them to run around, and they grow their own vegetables.” He says the children are also taking a keen interest in the hens and the farm operation.
“They know where their food comes from, and that’s great!” he says.
“It’s just great to have your family grow up on the farm and be part of something we’re proud of,” says Jon.
“I think there’s a strong future in the egg industry.”