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g e t f r e s h


since 1986
  • Workshops
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History of Heritage Chickens


In the Beginning

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The Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Alberta was established in 1915. The faculty was renamed Agricultural, Life and Envrionmental Sciences (ALES) in 2008.

In 1928, the Department of Poultry Husbandry was formed.

In 1942, the Departments of Animal Husbandry, Poultry Husbandry and Veterinary Science were combined to form the Department of Animal Science.

In 1947, the off-campus facilities were founded.


Poultry Conservancy Program Gets Started

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"Rare Poultry Conservancy Program" was started involving six breeds of chickens, maintained unselected, that played a part in the evolution of the poultry industry. The rare breeds and random bred strains currently housed at the Poultry Research Centre were partly obtained from Agriculture Canada Research Station in Ontario and partly from Dr. Crawford's experimental flocks at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. R. Crawford maintained these breeds as an unselected population since 1965. However, when Dr. Crawford retired, a new home was found for these breeds at the Poultry Research Centre in Edmonton.

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PRC Gets Facility Upgrades

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The PRC celebrated facility upgrades including the Alberta Chicken Producers Poultry Technology Centre (ACPPTC), the Alberta Hatching Egg Producers Hatchery (AHEPH), and the Alberta Egg Producers Environment Chambers (AEPEC). The ACPPTC houses the state of the art Henry Van Zeggelaar laboratory for poultry processing and packaging, the Alberta Turkey Producers Computer Laboratory, and Lilydale Classroom. The AHEPH is a state of the art incubation and hatching facility. The AEPEC consists of 8 chambers with extensive environmental monitoring and control capabilities.

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Received Funding For Program

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With substantial funding from the Alberta Livestock Industry Development Fund and Alberta Agricultural Research Institute, the PRC expanded to include into value-added areas of meat and egg science.

2013, Adopt a Heritage Chicken Program was started to promote the conservation of the unique genetic lines, and to provide a way for the lines to become financially self-supporting.

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Adopt a chicken
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Want to see our Blog for more current information and see how the girls are doing

See our blog click here

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We are committed to taking care of your Heritage Chicken so that she will have a happy life and will produce great eggs for you. The harsh long winters in Alberta are not ideal for raising chickens outdoors. Our barns don't have cages; instead the girls walk around the whole floor, with scratch areas and perches. This is considered "Free Run"

These barns have separate nesting areas that the girls use for laying eggs. We are always looking at how we can improve our barns for the girls and we have discovered some new designs that the girls will love. So your hens may be living in lavish quarters in the future, depending on the success of the adopt a heritage chicken program.

Our poultry nutritionist and feed company designed a nutritious all natural diet for our chickens. It includes variety of grains, vitamins and minerals . We want to ensure that the girls are happy and that you are getting the highest quality, natural eggs.



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Our Blog

Food Safety

This message is a reminder about food safety with respect to our eggs.   Some of the info below is common sense but we feel we should remind you about some egg handling practices.  Salmonellosis is a disease caused by bacteria that can be present in raw or undercooked food. Salmonella enteritidis is a type of salmonella bacteria which can  be found outside and inside the egg.


Please be advised that our eggs are not inspected by registered grading facility.  To protect yourself from Salmonella infection,  refrigerate the eggs, do not eat undercooked eggs, and wash your hands after handling eggs.   Having said that, our goal is to provide you with the best egg on the market.  The Poultry Research Center takes  a number of measures to improve food safety and minimize the risk of Salmonella and other foodborne infections.  Our heritage chickens have a comprehensive animal health program developed by  Veterinarians.   The chickens are vaccinated against Salmonella and other infectious diseases.  We test our flocks for Salmonella more frequently than required by regulations.   The samples are tested by the Food Safety and Animal Health Division with the Government of Alberta. In the event of a positive test, we will discontinue sales of eggs immediately.

We are part of the national on-farm food safety program, known as Start Clean-Stay Clean™. Under the program, all regulated egg farms in Canada must meet a high standard and are inspected by trained officers employed by Egg Farmers of Canada. We follow strict on-farm biosecurity practices to control the potential entry of pathogens. The entry is restricted, and clothes and footwear are changed and the bottoms of shoes or boots are disinfected prior to entering bird housing areas. Only eggs laid in the clean nests are packaged for sale, not those that are sometimes laid on the floor by our free-run heritage chickens. Only eggs from the nest will reach your table.  An additional level of quality assurance we take is egg candling. Automated scanning equipment is used to detect eggs with cracked shells and/or interior defects. During candling, eggs travel along a conveyor belt and pass over a light source where the defects become visible. Defective eggs are removed by trained operators.


What are meat spots?

Most meat spots are tiny pieces of tissue from the hen's oviduct. They are usually brown in color, and found in the thick albumen, chalazae, or the yolk.  They range in size from 0.5 mm to more than 3 mm in diameter. They are sterile and harmless. The spot can be removed with the tip of a knife, if you wish.  The incidence of meat spots ranges from less than 3% to 30% or more. It varies with the strain of bird, increases with the age of bird and may be higher in brown eggs. Many meat spots are too small to be detected by candling, especially in brown eggs.

What are the white filaments attached to either end of the yolk?

These structures, called chalazae, are twisted strands of egg white that anchor the yolk in place.


What are blood spots?

Contrary to popular belief, these tiny spots do not indicate a fertilized egg or the presence of a disease. Rather, they are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface during formation of the egg or by a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct. Less than 1% of all eggs produced have blood spots. Candling methods reveal most eggs with blood spots and those eggs are removed but, even with electronic spotters, it is impossible to catch all of them in the candling process, especially in brown eggs due to the darker color shell. As an egg ages, the yolk takes up water from the albumen to dilute the blood spot so, in actuality, a blood spot indicates that the egg is fresh. Both chemically and nutritionally, these eggs are fit to eat. The spot can be removed with the tip of a knife, if you wish.

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