Innovative poultry farm family named 2012 Farm Family of the Year

The Doerksen’s of Blumenort become the 46th Manitoba farm family honoured by the Red River Exhibition

The Red River Exhibition Association (RREA) has named the family behind Doerksen Poultry Farm Ltd., of Blumenort as the 2012 Farm Family of the Year.

Orville and Beverly Doerksen, and their children Ken and Lorisa Wall, Alan and Myra Brydges and Joel and Christine Doerksen, join a distinguished list of 46 other Manitoba families who have been honoured with this award since its inception in 1966.

“This annual award not only profiles the diversity and achievements made by forerunners in this important provincial industry, it highlights the values upheld by the successful and resilient people in our rural communities who continually strive for an enhanced way of life for them, their family and their neighbours,” said Garth Rogerson, CEO of the RREA in a release. “As innovators and leaders in the agricultural industry and their community, the Doerksens personify the qualities recognized by this title.”

The Doerksens began farming in 1968 and took over the farm from Orville’s parents in 1978. Beverly worked as a registered nurse and then left nursing to raise her family and manage the farm. All of the Doerksen adult children either manage or work on the farm, in a variety of capacities.

The 1,400-acre farm’s crop mix includes: wheat (spring and winter), canola and soybeans in addition to their 27,000 layers and 1,600 (farrow to wean) sows.

The Doerksens, nominated by the Manitoba Egg Farmers, are leaders in animal welfare in their industry. Four years ago, they were one of the first Manitoba farm families to purchase and install furnishable housing from Europe.

When Orville’s daughter and son-in-law, Myra and Alan, built their layer barn two years ago, they went one step further and installed enriched housing. This latest advancement in housing systems provides hens with furnishings that enable them to express natural behaviours like perching, scratching and laying their eggs in a private nesting area. Enriched housing combines the food safety benefits of conventional cages with the welfare benefits of open housing.

In addition, the Doerksens’ layer barn is equipped with a computerized system to track the water and feed consumption of hens and the effectiveness of the heating and cooling systems, not only to provide a comfortable environment for their hens, but also reduce energy consumption.

To this end, the Doerksens are cognizant of the effects their farm has on the environment. They were among the first Manitoba families to build a manure storage shed to provide effective storage methods and subsequent use of manure to decrease the need for commercial fertilizer.

In addition to being very open about sharing their knowledge with others in their community about the technology they’ve implemented, all members of the family are actively involved in the agriculture industry and have served on a variety of community boards and committees.

“The Doerksens are a perfect example of Manitoba egg and pullet farmers who love what they do, are progressive and receptive to change, are diligent at producing safe food and enthusiastic about contributing to the community,” said Cory Rybuck, general manager of the Manitoba Egg Farmers.

The Doerksen family will be officially acknowledged at a reception held in their honour on Monday, June 18 as part of celebrations surrounding the 2012 Red River Ex.

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