This is the fifth 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.
David Michiels remembers the day he got the call—the one from Manitoba Egg Farmers to tell him that he was the winner of the random lottery draw in their New Entrant Draw, a program designed to help new egg farmers get their start in the industry.
“I was in disbelief,” he says. “I didn’t even know the draw was being held that day, and I was in shock for the first day.”
David, who grew up on his family farm near Holland, Manitoba and studied agriculture at Assiniboine Community College, was inspired to apply for the program after learning about egg production from neighbours who had recently built a new egg barn.
“Everything we heard from them about egg farming was really positive,” he says. He applied to the Manitoba Egg Farmers new entrant program draw and got the news he was the successful applicant in November of 2015.
David says that the support and guidance from established Manitoba egg producers was invaluable as he made plans to build his own barn. “Everyone was very helpful… people were happy to open their barn doors and answer any questions that I had.”
David’s operation was up-and-running within a year, and currently houses 6,500 hens in an enriched colony system in a barn built on land adjacent to his family farm. He says that he built his barn with space to expand in the future, which he hopes to do if the opportunity presents itself.
In addition to producing eggs, David farms with his brother Brian, growing grain and raising a herd of Red Angus beef cattle.
David is married to Erin, who works off-farm as a social worker, and they are raising two children, Sam, age 4 and Sophie, 1. He says the kids are big fans of farm life, and love to spend time in the barn collecting eggs and going for tractor rides.
When asked what advice he’d give to someone considering following in his footsteps and becoming a new egg producer, he can’t say enough about the value of mentorship. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for help. Find a mentor to look up to, who knows the ins and outs of the industry.”
It was on the advice of one of David’s mentors, neighbour Kate Van Deynze-Fleming, that he decided to participate in Egg Farmers of Canada’s 2019 national young farmer program. David sees the program as another opportunity to network with other egg producers and gain valuable insight. “I want to learn more about how the egg production system works,” he says, “particularly issues like how trade will impact our industry.”