In 1998, the original dairy barn was was torn down and the tie stall barn converted to a single storey broiler barn, and at that time a new two storey broiler barn was constructed. In 2002, the second generation of Fotheringhams at the current location, brothers Doug, Fred and John. constructed a new feed mill for the purpose of making their own chicken feed with the grain grown on the farm. In 2003, a second two storey chicken barn was added.
In 2007, Chad and Travis, sons of Fred, purchased a broiler farm while Travis was in his final year at Ridgetown Agricultural College. In the Fall of 2011, that operation was converted to a broiler breeder operation. This farm continued as a breeder operation for 3 years and was then converted back to a broiler operation. In 2015, Fotheringham Bros. amalgamated with Fotheringham Agra Ltd., and in 2018, a new broiler barn was constructed across the road from the original farm and feed mill. In 2017, John made the decision to establish his own operation and assumed ownership of the former Fotheringham Bros. broiler barns as Palmcrest Farms. His son Jeff owns 2 broiler barns at a separate location under his own J-Foth Farms.
Like most farms the operation played to the strengths of each individual. Fred’s is field crops, John is marketing and feed manufacturing, and Doug’s is equipment purchase and maintenance and his wife, Chris looks after office administration. This has allowed the operation to grow and prosper. To this day, with oversight from their Dad and uncle, the farm plays to the strength of the third generation, Chad and Travis. Chad has taken over marketing and handles everything that goes along with marketing broilers. While Travis is responsible for all the feed that is produced in the mill. All of the feed for their birds is made using the grains they grow themselves and extruding the soybeans. The pioneering Fotheringhams were one of the first farms in Ontario to make mash feeds for their broilers. Early flock results were encouraging and the farm set about investing the money from feed saving/extra profits back into the farm and assisted Chad, Travis and Jeff in establishing their own broiler farms.
At the core of the feed mill is Sudenga Feed Milling equipment which includes a 1 tonne mixer with a grinder for the grain corn and wheat, 8 micro bins for the addition of the broiler starter and grower micro-premix, amino acids and in-feed medications all controlled by software from a personal computer. In addition to large bins for corn and wheat storage, there are a number of smaller commodity bins for protein meals along with 4 small bins for limestone, mono-di-calcium phosphate and salt.
In 2019, an Insta-Pro extruder powered by a generator was installed to process full fat soybeans. While the original intention was to process their own beans for their own feed, the result has been a growing business selling extruded soybeans to neighbours and other farming operations making their own livestock feeds. With the success of their broiler feeding operation, the feed mill makes feed for a number of close by chicken and pig farms, all of whom have been very pleased with the performance of their animals on this mash feed. Some of those farmers, such as the Zieleman & Steen Family of Soulstone Poultry and the Pronk Family of Triaro Farms, have gone on to build and operate their own farm feed mills. In addition to being good farmers, the Fotheringhams have been open to sharing their experiences with those interested in visiting their farming operations.
Today, the Fotheringham family farms 2268 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and raises 684,000 2.2 kg broilers annually. Fotheringham Agra Ltd. grows Cobb 500 broilers which are marketed at 2.2 kg to Maple Lodge Farms, with whom they have partnered with since 2012. With 4 barns housing a total of 116,000 broilers at each fill, combined with making feed for a number of close by neighbours, along with the growing extruded soybean business the capacity of that first mill footprint is now stretched. With newly acquired access to three phase hydro a new feed mill construction will begin this March and the addition of another two extruders Fotheringham Agra Ltd is a hive of activity. Grand Valley Fortifiers is privileged to serve the Fotheringham family in their farming operation, and we wish them the very best of luck in their future endeavors.
This article was written for the Spring 2021 Poultry Grist. To read the whole Poultry Grist, click the button below.