|"When an activity raises
threats of harm to human health or the environment,
precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and
effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.
In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the
public, should bear the burden of proof." - Wingspread
Statement of the Precautionary Principle.
The following is the information brochure handed out at
meetings proposing hog factories to be built in communities across
Although this particular one says Tisdale and Archerwill, it really
applies to the entire province. The manner in which the barns
operate is the same, regardless of the communities they are built in.
- How did the Project get
- Why Hogs?
- Why the
- Why Big Sky Farms Inc.?
- The Project
- Environmental Issues
Livestock Operations (ILO) Regulations
- Project Management
- Feed Grain
Utilization - Feed Specifications
- Environmental Liability
did the Project get Started?
In an effort to improve our local economy, a group from the
Tisdale/Archerwill area met with Big Sky Farms Inc. of Humboldt to discuss
the possibility of setting up an Intensive Livestock Operation (hogs) in
our area. We determined that the following objectives were
- To stimulate local economic activity and growth
- To create local employment opportunities
- To develop additional markets for locally grown feed grains
- To provide a low-cost source of fertilizer
Back to top
Saskatchewan enjoys many natural advantages in producing hogs,
- Land Costs. On average, farmland values in
Saskatchewan represent the lowest land values in Canada.
- Feed Costs. Saskatchewan produces an abundance
of high quality feed grains, but high freight costs and the lack of
significant local markets result in relatively lower farmgate prices
here than anywhere else in Canada. Since feed is over 50% of the
cost of producing a market animal, raising hogs in Saskatchewan simply
makes good economic sense.
- Climate. Saskatchewan's cold, low humidity
climate reduces heat stress in sows, is conducive to maintaining high
feed conversion ratios and mitigates against disease transfer.
- Animal Health. The Saskatchewan hog industry enjoys
one of the highest animal health standards in the world.
- World Class Genetics. Many of the world's
leading swing genetic companies have nucleus and multiplication
arrangements in Saskatchewan.
- Expansive Land Base. Saskatchewan's expansive
land base means that we can provide significant separations between
operations, thereby helping to maintain high animal health
standards. This expansive land base also provides ample room to
utilize hog manure, which is injected as a valuable source of
fertilizer on farmlands surrounding the barns.
- Saskatchewan Research Community. Saskatchewan is
a leading centre for agricultural research and is recognized as having
world-class capabilities in the field of swine research including; the
Prairie Swine Centre, the Veterinary Infections Disease Organization,
the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, the College of
Agriculture, the College of Engineering and the Royal University
Hospital, all of which are associated with the University of
Taken together, these advantages give Saskatchewan the lowest cost of
pork production in Canada, possibly North America.
The following is a comparison of pig densities for
selected countries. For the purposes of this analysis, the top
10pork exporting nations of the world, the top 5 pork producing American
states and top 5 Canadian pork producing provinces were selected.
This information was prepared by the Prairie Swine Centre Inc., June
2002. The ten top pork exporting nations, and the five largest pork
producing states were selected on the basis of information provided by the
U.S. National Pork Board. The top five pork producing Canadian
provinces were selected on the basis of information provided by the
Canadian Pork Council. By comparing the very high density of
production that exists in some parts of the world with that experienced on
the Prairies, it helps in a broad way to put the discussion on the
environmental impact of high production into perspective.
|Per Sq. Km.
||Per Sq. Mi.
||- 1,000 head -
Back to top
the Tisdale/Archerwill Area?
- We have the support and encouragement of the local Rural
Municipalities and local farm and business leaders.
- We believe that this business will be a good investment for our area
and will generate both economic and social benefits, good paying
permanent jobs, and a market for locally grown grains.
- Economic activity generates additional investment opportunities.
Back to top
Big Sky Farms Inc.?
- One of our main objectives was to increase local markets for feed
grains. Big Sky is one of the few developers that sets up a
local feed mill and scale for each project as opposed to buying
processed feed and hauling it in from outside areas.
- Big Sky will source the capital required to proceed with this
project. With today's farm economy, it would be impossible to
raise sufficient funds locally to proceed with a project of this size.
- Big Sky h as already successfully developed and is operating similar
sized projects. Big Sky hires local people and supports local
- Big Sky pays the local R.M. $5.00/sow/year ($25,000.00) under a road
maintenance agreement. Assuming municipal tax at $350/quarter,
this is equivalent to the taxes on 71 quarters of land.
Back to top
|Total project cost:
||$30.2 million (includes cash flow to first pigs to
||A minimum of 40 full time plus additional part time,
approximately 200 - 250 during construction
|Annual local payroll:
||Approximately $1.4 million (does not include
employer payroll costs or employee benefits of dental, medical,
disability and pension)
||Approximately 1.5 million bushels of locally grown
feed grain per year
|Produces in excess of
120,000 market hogs per year
Big Sky's Production Units operate on a three site format. The
Breeder/Farrow barn, the Nursery barn and the Feeder/Finisher barns are
physically segregated from one another. Under this format, each
production unit consists of:
- A Breeder/Farrow barn with the capacity for approximately 5,000
sows, plus boars and gilts, in which all aspects of housing, feeding,
breeding, gestation and farrowing of the sows are managed. The
Breeder/Farrow barn produces approximately 2,400 piglets per week which
are housed and fed in this barn until the age of 14-19 days when they
are weaned and transported to the Nursery barn;
- One Nursery barn with the capacity to house, feed and manage 19,2000
weanling pigs. Weanlings are fed for seven to eight weeks
reaching an average weight of 27 kilograms and are then transported to
one of the finisher barns.
- Three Feeder/Finisher barns on three separate sites; 2 barns with
the capacity to house 14,400 animals and one barn with the capacity to
house 12,000 animals.
- A feed mill similar to Big Sky's mills at Ogema and Rama plus a commercial
scale at a centralized location. This feed mill will supply the
feed for the production unit. The feed mill manager will also be
responsible for purchasing locally grown grains.
Each site is operated by trained swine technicians under the direction
of an experienced barn manager, and supervised by the Company's
veterinarian consultants and senior management. Computers are
located at each site and are tied together through a network to head
office. The Company uses a computer program called PigCHAMP to
monitor all factors influencing performance through the breeding, farrow,
weanling and feeder stages of production. The three site format
provides a number of benefits in comparison to the traditional single site
production operation. These include; enhance biosecurity and
reduction of disease risk, operating efficiencies, and enhanced quality of
market hogs. Weaning at an early age reduces the disease risk in the
piglets, and also reduces the cycle time for the Company's sow herd.
This results in increased litters per sow per year. Separation of
hogs by weight, class and growth sage between different sites, and further
separation by size and sex within a given site, reduces stress and allows
for specialized feeding programs and herd health programs which promotes
superior feed conversion. Separation of hogs by class also allows
barn management and swine technicians to be more focused on their area of
hog development and to develop specialized expertise in that area.
Separating sites geographically increases the land available for manure
Back to top
water drainage off hog barn site, RM of Turtle Mountain
Protection of Water Supplies - Water Use Regulations and
In order to obtain approval from the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority
to construct and operate groundwater works, they must be assured that the project
will not significantly impact either the quality or quantity of ground
water supplies. Some of the information that must be provided:
- A field verified inventory of all domestic, municipal or industrial
wells within a 3.2 km radius of the project, the inventory to include:
- owners name
- land location
- type of well and depth
- depth to the non-pumping water level
If the anticipated draw down in the aquifer is expected to exceed the
3.2 km radius, the inventory shall be expanded to cover the expected
area of influence.
- At least two geological cross-sections defining the target
aquifer. All test drilling and evaluation to be supervised by a
- At least two permanent observation wells (piezometers) completed and
sealed in the target aquifer.
- An estimate of the maximum pumping rate and annual quantity
- Annual Water Usage - 50-55 million gallons. To put this in perspective,
a 160 acre field at Regina receives approximately 51 million gallons
of precipitation per year.
- Original electric logs and descriptive logs of all test holes.
- Copies of well and observation well completion records.
- Copies of a 24 hour pump test showing:
- casting elevation of pumping well and observation wells;
- depth to static water level in pumping and observation wells;
- draw downs in pumping and observation wells;
- time and pumping rate; and
- recovery measurements in pumping and observation wells after
pumping has stopped, the recovery period shall be the same
duration as the pump test or until the aquifer has recovered to
- An evaluation of the pump test and recovery date with estimates of
the well yield, aquifer and basin yield stating the method of analysis
and assumptions used.
- An evaluation of the effect of the project on surround users.
Geotechnical and Topographical Surveys are conducted to
ensure that soil conditions and drainage will prevent pollution of water
A geotechnical survey involves:
- a series of soil samples taken to a depth of 20'-60' where the EMS
(earthen manure storage) will be located.
- soil samples are analyzed to determine percentages sand, silt and
- saturated hydraulic conductivity is determined, or how fast water
will move through wet soil.
Research has shown that the possibility of material leaking from a
properly constructed, compacted, glacial till/clay based Earthen Manure
Storage (EMS) is remote. However, as a precautionary measure
monitoring wells (piezometers) are installed around the EMS to provide a
method of checking if material is escaping and if it is, remedial measures
can be taken.
Manure is an excellent source of crop nutrients, but to be effective it
must be used wisely. As with commercial inorganic fertilizer,
over-application can delay maturity and cause lodging, while
under-application will not produce satisfactory yields. To be
effective, application rates have to be balanced to match crop
of "over fertilized" land, RM of La Broquerie off PTH 302
Manure Application Rates
All Big Sky manure is tested for total N, ammonium, phosphorus, sulfur,
as well as pH, conductivity and percentage solids. This information provides
the basis for determining application rates which, in consultation with
the farm, are calculated to provide the amount of nutrients the farmer
requires or wants.
A farmer has land near a Big Sky breeder/farrow barn, and wants 120 lbs
N applied/acre. In 2002, breeder/farrow barn manure in the Big Sky
system averaged 19.5 lbs ammonium/1000 gallons, 5.8 lbs phosphate and 1.4
lbs sulfur. To get 120 lbs N the application rate would be:
120/19.5x1000=6,154 gallons/acre (1 inch of rain is approximately 22,000
gallons per acre). This application would also provide 36 lbs
phosphate and 9 lbs of sulfur per acre. At today's fertilizer prices
the value of N, P and S from this application is over $60 per acre.
Big Sky charges $5 per acre to apply on pastures and hayfields, $15 per
acre on crop land.
Big Sky Farms uses an "umbilical" system to apply manure,
consisting of a pump located at the earthen manure storage (EMS) and
enough hose to go up to 4 miles from the site. This hose is dragged
back and forth behind the injector as manure is being applied. One of
the major advantages of this type of delivery system compared to tankers
is that it does not negatively impact municipal roads or cause soil
Big Sky Farms has two applicators available. One is a single disc
opener developed by Bourgault and similar in design to their mid-row
banders. The second is an Aerway applicator which consists of a
manure distribution system mounted on a pasture aerator. Both
units create minimal soil disturbance and work well with no-till farming
systems. Rates are determined by a flow meter located on the
injector and set by varying tractor speed.
Manure Area Requirements
|Type of Barn
||Annual Acreage Requirement
||Acres Required for
Long-Term Sustainable Manure Management
Acres Fertilized per year - 5,000 to 6,000
Acres Fertilized on a 3 year rotation - 15,000 to 18,000
Dead Animal Management
Dead animals are inevitable with any livestock operation. If
improperly disposed of, they could become a potential pollution hazard and
a source of vermin infestation. All deads are chilled, stored on
site and picked up for rendering by Saskatoon Processors, a Saskatoon
based rendering company.
A concern with most hog projects is the odour produced. Although
odour can not be completely eliminated, there are measures which can be
taken to reduce it:
- Straw coverings on EMS facilities. Research conducted
by the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) has
demonstrated that good quality barley straw spread as a cover is an
effective method of reducing odour. HiLine manufacturing from
Vonda has developed a straw blower to cover EMS facilities, and this
machine is currently being used in Big Sky's operations.
- Direct injection of manure. Directly injecting manure
into the soil with an injector type implement virtually eliminates
odour. Direct injection also eliminates the risk of manure run
off into surface water bodies, and preserves nutrient quality by
preventing nutrients from evaporating into the air.
- Location. Paying attention to prevailing winds, utilizing
bush and shelter belts, and using common sense in locating, all go a
long way to reducing the impact of odour on neighbours.
Back to top
Livestock Operations (ILO) Regulations
Intensive Livestock Operations are regulated provincially under the
Agricultural Operations Act administered by Saskatchewan Agriculture, Food
and Rural Revitalization. In order to get an approval to construct
and operate an ILO, the project proponents must develop a plan which
- That ground and surface water supplies will not be contaminated
(determined through geotechnical and topographical surveys)
- The sufficient land is available to utilize the manure without
causing pollution or cropping problems (determined by the manure
- That dead animals will not become a potential source of pollution.
In addition, the proponents conduct a public consultation process which
ensures that local residents are aware of the project.
Before an approval is granted, the application is circulated to the
following agencies, which may also require additional information prior to
- The Municipality in which the livestock operation will be located
- Saskatchewan Watershed Authority
- Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation
- Saskatchewan Health
- Saskatchewan Environment
- A total of approximately 15 agencies review the material
Because the Agricultural Operations Act is focused on pollution and not
nuisance factors, there are no hard and fast rules regarding how far an
ILO has to be located away from residences, towns, etc. The Act sets
out "Preferred Separation Distances" only.
Development bylaws which can include separation distances are within
the discretion of the rural municipality. Some municipalities have
bylaws that follow Saskatchewan Agriculture guidelines.
Back to top
North East Hogs recognizes that they do not have the financial
resources or specialized management abilities necessary to make this project
successful. Therefore Big Sky Farms Inc. of Humboldt will develop,
build and operate the project facilities. Big Sky's management team
has years of experience with this type of project, and has a proven track
record of efficient and consistent production.
Big Sky's management team includes:
- Florian Possberg - B.S.A., CEO
- Michael Deutscher - C.A., CFO
- James Sawatsky - B.S.A., D.V.M.
- John Harding - D.V.M., M.Sc.
- Casey Smit V.P. - Feed Division Manager
- Ed Weninger - Senior Project Manager
- Ernie Patrick - P.Ag., Field Services Manager
Back to top
Grain Utilization - Feed Specifications
Under full production, this production unit will use approximately 1.5
million bushels of feed grains per year.
The feed mills are computer controlled and can produce a wide range of
rations. This makes it easier to "phase feed", which
involves changing diets as the pigs grow, meeting their changing nutrient
requirements. Each 5,000 sow farrow to finish production unit annual
- Approx 540,000 Bushels Barley
- Approx 660,000 Bushels Wheat
- Approx 300,000 Bushels Peas
Amounts can vary with changes to price and availability.
(As fed basis)
|Bushel Weight Minimum
||Bushel Weight Minimum
||Bushel Weight Minimum
|Sample at Unload
||Sample at Unload
||Sample at Unload
All grains purchased must meet minimum requirements and will be sampled
before purchase or at unloading. Specifications may change from year
to year depending on crop quality and availability.
Back to top
One of the issues raised at public meetings and in letters to local
newspapers is the question of liability and the risks that a land-owner
might face if Big Sky is given permission to inject manure on land.
Big Sky has addressed that issue in two ways:
First; Big Sky agrees to indemnify and save harmless every landowner
who has signed a "Consent Agreement for Applying Manure"
against loss or damage that may be suffered or incurred as a result of
lawsuits that might be brought against a landowner for allowing manure
to be injected or applied on their lands. This indemnity is
effective as of the date that a land-owner signs the consent agreement.
Second; and most importantly, Big Sky's Environmental Liability
Policy specifically mentions that claims against Big Sky by land-owners
pursuant to the above indemnity are covered by Big Sky's policy.
Legal defense costs are included. All a landowner will have to do
is to promptly give Big Sky written notice of any claim that is made.
Also, every consent agreement can be terminated at any time by either
the landowner or Big Sky. All that is required is that a landowner
provide Big Sky with written notice. An agreement is also
automatically terminated on a sale or transfer of land.
The committee has a copy of the comprehensive agreement and they will
be asking those landowners who live within the area of a proposed barn
site to sign it.
Notwithstanding that consent agreement has been signed, Big Sky will
not enter a farmers land to inject manure without again obtaining that farmer's
consent and discussing the farmer's nutrient requirements.
Back to top