Remote farm takes on upgrades for health and safety of animals

Chickens in one of the barns at Suncrest Colony's broiler breeder farm.

New technology is being installed at Suncrest Colony in Kleefeld to improve the health and safety of the farm's broiler breeder chickens.

"It's important to be able to monitor the farm when nobody is around," said Ryan Kleinsasser, who runs the farm, purchased by Suncrest Colony five years ago. "It's a remote farm and we can't be there all the time. Also, when the chickens are sleeping, eating or mating, it's best not to disturb them."

Kleinsasser operates the farm with four employees to ensure the environment is clean, the systems are working and the chickens are in good health.

Improvements an investment

Kleinsasser has recently purchased keyless entry locks and will soon be purchasing an ammonia detector and eventually a new surveillance camera. In the past five years, Kleinsasser also made some other significant upgrades to the farm, which was originally built around 1965. He's installed a new feeding system, ventilation system and water heaters.

Kleinsasser is most excited about the surveillance camera. He is currently only able to watch one of the farm's four barns at a time. When the new camera and DVR are installed, he'll be able to monitor every room all the time.

"Right now I have it on my youngest group of chickens, but it's really important to know what's going on with all the others," he said.

Hazardous gas monitoring essential

"Having an ammonia detector is an important tool for all farms, especially during the winter months when manure will be stored in the barn," said Angela Kroeker, poultry specialist at Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.

"Breeders typically rely on their senses to detect ammonia, but if you expose yourself, you become less sensitive. Ammonia concentration levels are considered dangerous after 25 parts per million, but somebody who's been in a barn regularly would probably not be able to sense that," she said.

Kleinsasser said he often wears a mask in the barn and will test the levels with a monitor he borrows from another breeder, but will feel at ease having one of his own.

Funding support for the keyless locks, ammonia monitor and surveillance camera were made available through the Growing Forward 2 - Growing Assurance program.

Growing Assurance supports initiatives that improve the food safety, health and welfare, management practices and environmental impact of a business. This can include purchasing and installing new equipment, making changes to an environmental landscape and helping to implement food safety training. The cost-shared programs help Manitoba's farmers build a strong foundation for their business and the province.