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Egg farming is a great way to balance work and family

This is the seventh of a series of profiles of young egg farmers. They are all young leaders taking part in Egg Farmers of Canada’s national young farmer program.

Tylor Van Kessel

Arkona, Ontario

In 2006, Arkona, Ontario egg producer Tylor Van Kessel purchased his first farm, and then bought a second one just a few short years later. A licensed millwright by trade, he worked off-farm in the agriculture industry while growing crops on his farm, but says that egg farming was always part of his plan. His plan came to fruition in 2011 when he established his egg farm.

Van Kessel built his barn with room to grow, starting out with 9,000 hens. The farm has gradually expanded over the years, and he currently has 17,500 hens in a free run housing system. Future plans include expanding to include organic production, building a barn to meet the significant market growth and opportunity that has been identified by his grader.

He farms with his wife, Robyn, who in addition to playing an active role in the farm managing the books, also works full-time as figure skating coach. Together they are raising 3 children, Shea, age 6, Dodge, 3 and Rex, 1. Their children, he says, are typical farm kids who love to spend time in the barn, helping with chores and playing.

The flexibility that comes being an egg producer is something that Van Kessel appreciates when it comes to balancing work and family obligations, especially considering that he has a spouse who works evenings and weekends. “I’m able to do the morning routine, get the kids off to school and daycare,” he says “and get them off the bus and make dinner.” But, he admits, sometimes life on the farm gets hectic and when that happens, Grandma steps in to help out.

Van Kessell also makes time to get involved, including serving as a delegate for Zone 1 of Egg Farmers of Ontario and participating in activities for young farmers sponsored by Farm Credit Canada.

Over the next year, he’ll be spending a bit more time off the farm participating in the 2019 cohort of Egg Farmers of Canada’s national young farmer program. He’s known about the program for a few years, and has been eager to participate but this year, the timing is right. “It’s important for me to get involved,” he says, “and to learn about what else is going on in the industry and how it can help me in my own business.”