Saskatchewan farmers expand with egg productionBy Egg Farmers of Canada
This is the fourth 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.
Andrew and Pam Monchuk
For Saskatchewan farmers Andrew and Pam Monchuk, egg production has been a great way to diversify their 3,600 acre farm near Lanigan. The family got their start in egg farming after submitting a business plan to the Saskatchewan Egg Producers New Entrant Program, and they were selected in a random draw in 2016.
The Monchuks grow crops including wheat, barley, peas and canola, which Andrew says comes with risks from unpredictable weather and fluctuating markets; prior to the 2003 bovine spongiform encephalopathy crisis, they also raised beef cattle. “[Egg farming] isn’t as impacted as heavily by Mother Nature… coming off years of floods or years of droughts or bad crops or poor crop prices, it looked like a good option for us,” says Andrew.
Within a year of being selected as new entrants, they built their new barn and were up and running with 5,500 hens in a free run housing system. They have gradually grown the size of their flock to more than 8,000 hens. Andrew hopes that the farm will continue to see some “moderate, calculated growth” in the future.
Andrew and his brother Clinton are third generation farmers who work with their parents, Fred and Anne. Pam and Andrew have three children: Ruby, age seven, and four-year-old twin girls Alex and Mae, who are enthusiastic participants in farm life. “They are excited to come to work with me in the morning, especially working with the birds,” says Andrew. “It’s something they can help with. It’s valuable to have their help, for them to learn some responsibility, to learn work ethic, to learn about food production.”
Andrew has been working on the family farm for the past 16 years, after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan. Pam, who grew up on a grain farm in Saskatchewan, also works off-farm as a nurse in Humboldt.
One of the things Andrew likes about egg production is that most eggs are marketed directly to consumers, in contrast to grain products which are generally further processed before hitting store shelves. Connecting with consumers, and engaging them in conversations about how eggs are produced, is something the couple is committed to, and they have volunteered at the Saskatchewan Egg Producers education display at Agribition to promote the egg industry.
Pam and Andrew are representing the Saskatchewan Egg Producers as participants in Egg Farmers of Canada’s national young farmer program in 2020. Andrew says they learned about the program from past participants, and says that “the feedback about the program has just been so positive.” The couple hopes to learn more about the business side of egg farming, but also to learn more about the industry from their peers across Canada. “Everyone has such unique challenges,” says Andrew.