Poultry and eggs

Poultry and egg production in the province is part of the supply managment system. One producer holds half of all quota on the island, with 70,000 birds in a confinement based system. In total, PEI farmers produce 3 million dozen eggs/year.

Those wishing to raise poultry without a quota license can only do so if their flock is no larger than 300 birds (this is true for both broilers and egg-laying hens). Quota prices for broilers range, and depend largely on negotiations between buyer and seller. Quota for egg-laying hens costs in the neighbourhood of $100/bird and allows the producer to sell all the eggs from that bird at a price set by the provincial marketing board.

Those producing organic, free-range eggs and poultry typically do not have flocks larger than 300 birds and therefore do not hold quota.

Seven producers raise broilers for commercial sale on the island and produce approximately 5 million kilos/year. Producers can be exempt from the supply management system if they do not exceed 500 broilers/year. Most organic broiler production is done at a small scale and therefore no organic producers hold quota on the island.

Until recently, broilers were sent to Kentville, Nova Scotia for processing but with the closure of the Maple Leaf processing plant, producers now send their birds to Northern New Brunswick to the Nadeau facility. This does not affect island producers as much as those in Nova Scotia, who now have to transport birds up to 9 hours for processing.

The majority of the producers in the province use a confinement based method of production, where birds are kept in a large barn without access to outdoors. Currently, there is only a handful of certified organic livestock producers in the province, however, there are several that use organic or holistic management practices that may not be certified organic or are in transition to organic. Consult the Eat Well Guide to locate them.

Some of the major challenges for raising poultry on an organic or pasture-based system in the Maritimes include obtaining certified organic laying feed as it is very expensive and difficult to find, given that there is very little organic grain grown in the region. In terms of marketing, “The major food retailers are moving towards purchasing all of their eggs at one point from a source that can supply the entire region with a particular product. Recently, smaller producers have seen their market disappear overnight as wholesalers discontinue local purchase in favour of a source that could supply the entire region