COALDALE -- It's the age-old question -- what came first, the chicken or the egg?
In the case of 16-year old Ethan Meyer of Coaldale, the desire for a new I-Pad came first. Then came the chickens!
Ethan's chicken farming grew from a 'want' and his own entrepreneurial endeavors.
"I was seven when the new I-Pad came out and I had no way of earning money, so mum and I brain-stormed and I figured out that chickens would work well with the backyard, as we kinda had what we needed to set up a coop and I got to that."
They did think about the possibility of keeping cattle on their four-and-a-half acre property but, Ethan noted he was looking for a consistent flow of income and decided that eggs are something people use every day.
Ethan got his chickens, started selling eggs to friends and grew his business mostly by word-of-mouth and recommendations from satisfied customers. He saved up his money and eventually got his I-Pad. By that point, he knew he had a good thing going, with a great source of income, and decided to keep going with it. He's now the owner of Ethan's Eggs, located at 2700 18 Avenue in Coaldale.
On Friday (Sept 14) Ethan learned of a bonus to his venture. Education Minister David Eggen visited his small poultry farm, to announce another option to Alberta’s Green Certificate Program (GCP) so students have more opportunities to learn about careers in agribusiness.
The GCP, developed in 1975, offers students a chance to develop skills and knowledge for careers in the agricultural industry in the form of elective high school courses that translate into on-the-job training and leads to the first level of an agricultural-like apprenticeship.
The program technician courses include everything from beekeeping, sheep, swine and dairy production to field and feedlot production. Now, poultry technician has been added to the list of programs funded by Alberta Education and Agriculture and Forestry, to provide hands-on learning for students interested in the agriculture industry.
While the GCP was well received by the agriculture industry, schools found the single largest barrier to participation was the course fees of about $1000. As a result, the province is investing up to $400,000 annually to cover course fees for the roughly 750 students enrolled in the program.
Ethan says the program takes a lot of stress off of him.
“As a high school student with a small business, I don’t have time to work a part-time job like my friends. It’s tough to get the same work experience credits they do, and the Green Certificate Program can help me get the credits I need to finish high school.”
Ethan says he started with about 25 chickens. Over the ensuing years, he increased the flock to 50, then went to 150 and now has a flock of 260. The chickens produce an ample supply of eggs.
"They can lay about 90-dozen a week - it changes quite a bit but, we get about 13-dozen to 14-dozen a day."
The eggs are sold directly from his family's property, and he now relies on Facebook and Buy-and-Sell to move his product. He admits he didn't really have an interest in chickens before that new I-Pad caught his eye. Of course, nine-years later, Ethan's interests have grown with him. Now, most of his profits are going towards savings and paying off a bigger purchase -- his car.
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