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Alltech Canada Planet of Plenty Award Stories:

Burnbrae farms


Sustainable egg production at Burnbrae Farms

Burnbrae Farms is highlighted as Alltech Canada Planet of Plenty Story, for 2021 which recognizes farmers, producers and ranchers who are harnessing the power of agriculture to create a Planet of Plenty™. To read more inspiring stories and learn more about Alltech’s vision of Working Together for a Planet of Plenty™, visit planetofplenty.com.

The story of Burnbrae Farms is 130 years old and stretches back six generations. Beginning in 1891, when Joseph and Jean Hudson purchased land in Eastern Ontario to farm Ayrshire dairy cattle, then switched to laying hen production due to the vision of their grandson Joe Hudson, and with future generations continuing that vision, the story is one of nurturing family, community and the land.

Joseph arrived from Scotland with his family in 1874 and met Jean, who was originally from Ontario, in Manitoba, where they married. They moved to Eastern Ontario and purchased 100 acres of land in 1891. The Hudsons called their new dairy farm Burnbrae, from the Scottish words for creek (“burn”) and hill (“brae”), inspired by the landscape, which featured a creek, a waterfall and hillsides that sloped down into a valley. This began a long-lasting relationship between the family, the farm and the community that is reflected in the operation’s sustainability initiatives today.


Today, Burnbrae Farms is a thriving agri-business that has been producing eggs for Canadians for more than 75 years while also engaging in a host of initiatives and partnerships that support sustainable agri-food. The Hudson family has always strived to be leaders and to make a difference by “doing the right thing.” This has positioned Burnbrae Farms as an industry frontrunner with its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, which is based on five pillars: the environment; animal care; health and well-being; safe, nourishing food; and community spirit.



A family business

The Hudson family farm ranks among Canada's leading egg businesses, and they are dedicated participants in the agriculture community.

The farm was originally a dairy and cash crop operation, and it was run as a dairy farm by Joseph and Jean Hudson and, later, by their son, Arthur, and his wife, Evelyn Purvis Hudson, until the 1940s, when Arthur and Evelyn’s two sons, Joe and Grant Hudson, became the next generation to perpetuate the farm. As part of a high school agriculture class project, Joe raised 50 chickens, and Burnbrae Farms began producing eggs. By the time Joe finished high school, they had more than 3,000 layers on the farm.


Joe later married Mary Morwick and Grant married Beryl Hick, and they raised their own families on the farm as well.

Today, the company is owned and operated by the descendants of Joe and Mary Hudson, including Margaret Hudson, president and CEO; Ted Hudson; Sue Hudson; Helen Anne Hudson; and Mary Jean McFall, all of whom are actively involved in the family business. Thanks to the efforts of generations of the Hudson family, the business has continued to grow for 130 years, and Burnbrae is now the largest integrated egg producer and distributor in Canada.

“Our vision is to provide nutritious food for Canadians while, at the same time, respecting our people, the animals entrusted to our care and the environment,” said Margaret.  

The company employs over 1,500 people at farms, grading stations and processing operations across the country. Burnbrae Farms’ farming operations include conventional, enriched, free-run, free-range and organic laying barns. Beyond a variety of traditional shell egg options, Burnbrae produces cracked and prepared egg products, whole egg patties and crustless quiches.


Solar-powered eggs

Eggs have always been a sustainable protein source, but imagine being able to purchase eggs that are produced by hens living in a facility fueled by renewable resources, such as the sun.

Burnbrae Farm owns and operates the largest commercial-scale solar-powered egg-laying farm in Canada, located near Woodstock, Ontario, and is currently building a second solar project in Lyn, Ontario. These eggs are marketed under the Green Valley brand.

This solar-powered egg-laying farm has four barns and is completely off the hydroelectric grid. It is almost entirely powered by solar energy through the nearly 1,500 solar panels on the barn roofs.

The barns on this farm are designed to be energy efficient and feature high-efficiency motors, lighting and ventilation systems that use as little power as possible. When excess electricity is generated from this farm, the solar panels also power the neighbouring Burnbrae farm. There is also a backup generator to ensure that power is always available for the hens.

Additionally, the solar-powered farm is a free-range farm, where hens are able to roam though open-concept barns and have access to perches, nests and the outdoors, weather permitting. The CSR program at Burnbrae Farms includes renewable energy and a host of other initiatives. It encompasses five pillars or areas of focus, including: environment; animal care; health and well-being; safe, nourishing food; and community spirit.



“The future of our environment is a priority — not just for our family, colleagues and community, but a priority that impacts the world,” said Margaret, who represents the fourth generation of the Hudson family to be involved in the business. “We are proud of our efforts and advancements in recent years to reduce energy, waste and resource inputs from our egg production while preserving or enriching natural spaces.”

With the environment as an area of focus, Burnbrae Farms is committed to reducing its environmental impact through the prudent use of natural resources, developing green energy projects and enriching local natural environments in regions where it does business. A group of passionate employee volunteers headed up by local CSR champions is devoted to overseeing environmental initiatives, such as shoreline and roadside cleanups.

Burnbrae Farms closely monitors its energy and water use. The data collected from these practices has allowed the company to set new goals around the continuous reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the reduction of waste to the landfill as a part of its renewed CSR strategy. In 2020, waste diversion from the landfill continued to climb and has now reached 95%, compared to 72% in 2016. Burnbrae Farms has been able to implement several green technologies that reduce its impact on the environment and its dependency on natural resources across its supply chain, such as LED lighting retrofits.


Renewable energy

Burnbrae Farms recognizes the opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture. The construction of Canada’s largest solar-powered egg-laying farm is just one part of Burnbrae’s commitment to reducing the environmental impact of its operations, decreasing its energy use and lowering its carbon footprint across the business. The company has also taken other steps to reduce its energy consumption and has encouraged employees to think of novel ways to move toward becoming more eco-friendly.

The company has also worked with Bullfrog Power, Canada’s leading green energy provider, for more than 13 years. Burnbrae purchases green electricity to offset carbon emissions on the company’s Green Valley and Naturegg brands. In turn, Bullfrog Power injects that amount of electricity into the grid.


Fuel usage

Efforts have been made to ensure that Burnbrae’s fleet of tractor trailers is more efficient, including the installation of special heaters that reduce the idling time to warm the cab in cooler weather, the addition of aerodynamic trailer side skirts that reduce drag and the inclusion of more fuel-efficient automatic transmission vehicles within the fleet.


Water management

In 2021, Burnbrae partnered with Swim Drink Fish to support the movement for clean water in Canada by starting to include information on their own egg cartons and by donating to the charity. Swim Drink Fish is a Canadian charity that has been working toward a swimmable, drinkable, fishable future since its launch in 2001. By blending science, law, education and storytelling with technology, the organization empowers millions of people to better understand and safeguard their waters.


Nutrient management

Burnbrae Farms views manure as a valuable asset rather than a waste product, as it is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium —nutrients that are necessary for growing great crops. All of its farms have nutrient management programs to ensure the proper handling of manure, including enclosed concrete storage buildings on-site for responsible storage. The company works with agronomists who provide manure sampling services that profile the nutrients found in the manure. The manure is also sold to farmers as fertilizer for their fields.


Engaging with the environment

Burnbrae Farms is committed to improving the natural environment in all of its locations. At the main farm in Lyn, Ontario, close to 20,000 native trees have been planted over the last 10 years.

The company is always exploring opportunities to improve the surrounding area while keeping it as natural as possible. Even during the pandemic, some locations were able to plant trees and run outdoor roadside and shoreline cleanups while practicing social distancing.


Animal care

Animal care is a CSR priority for Burnbrae Farms. Every hen receives the best possible care every day, as guided by science-based standards in a framework for continuous improvement. Burnbrae is proud of its accomplishments in animal care and is committed to continuous improvement as scientific information becomes available.

Burnbrae Farms’ animal care program is guided by its Animal Welfare Working Committee and is monitored and implemented by Dr. Michelle Hunniford, an animal care specialist. Dr. Hunniford, who joined the business in 2017, is responsible for ensuring that the birds at all of Burnbrae Farms’ locations across Canada receive the same high standard of care.

The Animal Welfare Working Committee meets regularly to review and update the animal care program, which includes:

  • Annual employee animal care training, either in-person or virtually
  • Animal-based metrics to assess welfare
  • A robust vaccination program
  • Involvement in provincial, national and international initiatives to contribute to and support the Canadian poultry industry and positively impact animal welfare
  • Transparency and outreach
  • Much more

As part of its commitment to animal care, the company supports and funds research across Canada. One example is the Burnbrae Farms Professorship in Poultry Welfare, a 10-year commitment to poultry welfare research that was established in 2014 at the University of Guelph and is currently held by Dr. Alexandra Harlander. The professorship supports egg farmers and increases the capacity for ongoing research on laying hen behaviour and housing. Additionally, since 2007, Burnbrae has had a representative on the board of the University of Alberta's Poultry Innovation Partnership. Most recently, Burnbrae committed to donating $10,000 per year for five years to support the “Feeding the World, Nourishing Health” campaign at the Université de Laval.


Health and well-being

With more than 1,500 team members, employee health and well-being are critical for Burnbrae Farms. Training is a priority for company employees, whether it is related to equipment, personal protective equipment or the policies and procedures that employees are required to follow. All locations have a Joint Health and Safety Committee that meets regularly to discuss site-specific issues and encourages all colleagues to bring forward any concerns or potential safety risks to their managers or health and safety representatives. Continuous improvement is a key component of the company’s health and safety program.

Burnbrae Farms’ employees are the strength behind everything they do. During the pandemic, many team members have been on the frontline and have demonstrated exceptional resilience, creativity, optimism and care for one another, their clients and their communities. At the onset of the pandemic, the company took immediate action, implementing COVID-19 protocols at all of its sites to protect employee health and maintain the Canadian egg supply.


Safe, nourishing food

Food safety is integral to the success of the business, and Burnbrae Farms is committed to producing safe, high-quality egg products that meet regulatory and customer requirements. Given this commitment, its goal is to be the leading authority and practitioner of poultry- and egg-related food safety in North America.

Based on food science and best practices in the industry, Burnbrae Farms has implemented robust food safety and quality programs. When it comes to globally recognized food safety standards, the farm operates according to Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) specifications and the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA). To ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to customers, all of its grading stations and processing plants are Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certified and adhere to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) program. Food safety training is a critical part of compliance, and Burnbrae has implemented unannounced internal audits as an additional measure of that commitment.


Community spirit

Burnbrae Farms is proud to be a good corporate citizen, contributing to healthy, prosperous communities everywhere it operates. Community spirit is a very important pillar of the CSR program.

Giving back to communities is a core value and a foundation of the culture at Burnbrae Farms and in the Hudson family. The farm can trace its long history of community service back to the 1930s, when Nanny Hudson gave meals to wayward travellers during the Great Depression. For generations, the Hudson family and the team at the farm have taken great pride in their local communities and have embraced the opportunity to support them.


Lending a helping hand: Canadian charity work

Operating in nine communities across Canada, the company prides itself on charitable giving. Below are just a few examples of how Burnbrae Farms gave back during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020:

  • More than 3.6 million eggs and egg products were donated to local communities in need
  • $55,000 (CAD) was donated to 11 hospitals across the country
  • 3,000 Canadian communities served
  • More than 30 charities served from coast to coast in Canada
  • Colleagues participated in local charity events from Ontario to British Columbia


Charity has no borders

Burnbrae Farms believes that partnerships and multi-stakeholder collaborations are key to achieving a sustainable planet. It has long-standing relationships with many organizations and is proud to support causes locally, provincially, nationally and internationally.

The company has partnered with World Vision Canada to offer Canadians the opportunity to purchase hens and roosters for families in need in one of the 50 countries that World Vision supports. As part of this partnership, Burnbrae Farms matches every “Two Hens and a Rooster” gift purchased from the World Vision Gift Catalogue.


A proud ag-vocate: Supporting agriculture

The Hudson Family has always been a strong advocate for agriculture. The company is known for participating at many events across the country and sharing information about hen care and the production of safe, nutritious eggs.

Burnbrae Farms supports educational programs like AgScape, the voice of agriculture in the classroom in Ontario. AgScape is an organization that provides online agriculture-related educational materials, resources and initiatives for teachers to share with students. Every year, the company supports and participates in the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, which attracts more than 250,000 visitors to downtown Toronto each year. Burnbrae also supports many agricultural advocacy organizations like Farm and Food Care and The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity.



At Alltech, we are Working Together for a Planet of Plenty™. A planet where science-based solutions help ensure sustainable food production for the global population. A planet where agriculture’s story is central to the development of thriving communities and ecosystems. A planet where, through collaboration and innovation, we can create a world of abundance for future generations.


Join us on the journey.