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Focusing on ‘local’ key to Ontario egg farm’s ongoing success

This is the second 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.

Kevin Laviolette and Cassandra Quenneville

St. Isidore, Ontario

No two days are alike for third generation egg farmer Kevin Laviolette, whose workday could include anything from managing employees and collecting eggs, to repairing equipment and getting behind the wheel of a delivery truck.

“I’m touching every part of the farm on a day-to-day basis,” he says.

Kevin is in his second year working full-time on the farm after studying business at La Cité Collégiale in Ottawa, and he farms with his parents Marcel and Carolle. He has three younger siblings: Justin, who is attending agriculture college; and Hugo and Laurie, who are still in school but who are also actively involved in the farm. His partner, Cassandra Quenneville, lives nearby and works as an early childhood educator, and works with him on the farm on evenings and weekends.

Ferme Avicole Laviolette, located in St. Isidore, Ontario, was started by Kevin’s grandparents in the late 1970s. Kevin’s dad Marcel and his brother took over the business in 2006. Over the years, the business has grown to include egg production from beginning to end—the farm raises pullets, has 48,000 laying hens and a brand-new, state-of-the-art grading station. They also are involved in the packaging and distribution of eggs to retailers and restaurants in eastern Ontario and Quebec.

The business has been in a growth phase over the past few years, with a new barn featuring an enriched colony housing system built in 2016 to house 20,000 of their hens, and the new grading station in 2018. The grading station, which grades eggs from 10-12 local egg farms, is a high-tech facility featuring cameras and lasers to “make sure the eggs are perfect when they leave,” says Kevin, who takes the lead on managing all the technology that they’ve invested in on the farm. “My dad leaves the technology to me,” he says.

Kevin says that a key to their success has been in promoting the ‘buy local’ aspect of their business, and they’ve worked hard to develop a brand that is well known and recognized for quality and freshness. “We’re local, so people know us, so they end up buying from their neighbours.”

“It’s cool to have your name on packaging, be able to sell it and to know that people like your product, that they like it over something else.”

Kevin and Cassandra are participating in Egg Farmers of Canada’s national young farmer program in 2020. For Cassandra, who didn’t grow up on a farm, the program is an opportunity to learn more about the industry and get a good general base of knowledge, while Kevin sees it as an opportunity to learn from his egg farming colleagues from across Canada.

“Meeting new people, for me, is good, because I like to know what their point of view is on the business,” he says.