Livestock

Hogs

The pork industry in Nova Scotia, like the rest of the country, is in crisis. The industry relies heavily on provincial government support to stay afloat.

Poultry & Eggs

Eggs and poultry are supply managed, and for this reason are one of the strongest commodities in the province.

Currently, there are approximately 84 chicken growers in the province that produce upwards of 43 million kilograms of meat a year (over 20 million chickens) and 744,000 egg-laying birds producing 17,493,000 dozen/yr.

Until recently, all poultry was sent to one of two processing plants in the province, Maple Leaf Poultry, or ACA cooperative ltd. Howerver, Maple Leaf closed the processing plant in Canard, Nova Scotia in 2007, leaving only ACA cooperative ltd to manage the load.

Most broiler (meat bird) farms confine their birds to the indoors, claiming “Our chickens are free to roam in large barns where they are protected against predators, hot summers, cold winters, and disease” While broilers are not housed in small cages like their egg-laying counter-parts, birds can still be densely housed in barns with little to no access to the outdoors. Laying birds, however, are subject to the industrial method of confining 2-4 birds in one cage, allowing no space for natural behaviour.

Beef Cattle

According to the Nova Scotia Cattle Producers'Association, there are 1200 beef producers in the province. In 2005, the total cattle produced in NS was 108,500 head.

While the three systems most commonly used in Nova Scotia are feedlot with total confinement; pasture feeding with some grain supplementation; and pasture feeding only, data broken down by production system is not readily available.

“Nova Scotia requires all third party sales to be killed at inspected plants, while sales direct to the consumer can be slaughtered on the farm.” This differs from New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, where all beef is required to be slaughtered at a provincially inspected plant.

There is only one federally inspected beef processing plant that services the entire Atlantic region. Processors that wish to market their beef out of province must ship their animals to Atlantic Beef Products Inc., located in Albany Prince Edward Island. While the Federally inspected plant does not have organic certification, producers may get provincial plants to follow organic protocol, as needed, if the certifying body agrees.

Dairy

Dairy farming in Nova Scotia is done within the system of supply management, and is one of the largest industries in the province. There are 270 farms that are members of the Dairy Farmers of Nova Scotia, the body that administers quota and sets farm milk prices. Together they produce over 170 million liters of milk per year, most of which is destined for the fluid market. There are 7 dairy processing plants in the province.

With growing market opportunities in the organic industry, and price premiums for producing organic dairy, many farmers in the Maritimes are deciding to make the switch to organics.