A Complete Checklist for Starting a Poultry Farm Business in Ontario in 2023

For many, the idea of leaving behind the nine-to-five grind and starting a poultry farm business sounds idyllic. Raising chickens can provide a sense of purpose, freedom, and self-sufficiency that today’s fast-paced, urbanized world often lacks. It is also a lucrative sector too: in 2021 alone, Canadian chicken production generated $3.3 billion. However, turning the dream into reality takes careful planning and hard work.

This comprehensive guide aims to provide aspiring poultry farmers with all the information needed to start a successful operation in Ontario. We’ll walk through essential factors like choosing a niche, understanding provincial requirements, selecting the right breed of chickens, designing housing and runs, and developing a business plan. With dedication and the right preparation, your pastoral dreams can become a reality.

Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Conduct thorough research and feasibility studies before starting your poultry farm business.
  • Create a comprehensive business plan that includes details on your budget, marketing strategy, and expected profits.
  • Ensure that you have the right infrastructure in place, understand feed and nutrition, and follow sustainability and best practices to ensure the health and well-being of your birds.

1. Research and Feasibility Study

Before starting a poultry farm business, it is crucial to conduct thorough research and feasibility study. This will help you understand the market demand and trends, analyze the competition, and identify suitable poultry farming systems.

Understanding the Market Demand and Trends

To start a successful poultry farm business, it is essential to understand the market demand and trends. You need to determine the types of poultry products that are in high demand in your target market. This may include eggs, meat, or both.

You can conduct market research by talking to potential customers, visiting local grocery stores and supermarkets, and analyzing industry reports. This will help you identify the current market trends and the potential for growth in the future.

Analyzing the Competition

Analyzing the competition is another critical aspect of conducting a feasibility study. You need to identify your competitors, their strengths, and weaknesses. This will help you develop a competitive advantage and position your business for success.

You can analyze the competition by visiting other poultry farms, attending industry events and conferences, and conducting online research. This will help you understand the market dynamics and identify the gaps that you can fill.

Identifying Suitable Poultry Farming Systems

Choosing the right poultry farming system is crucial to the success of your business. You need to select a system that is suitable for your target market, budget, and production goals. The most common poultry farming systems include free-range, cage-free, and conventional systems.

You can consult with industry experts, attend training programs, and conduct online research to identify the best poultry farming system for your business. This will help you optimize your production and ensure that your products meet the market demand and trends.

2. Creating a Business Plan

Starting a poultry farm business requires a well-thought-out business plan that outlines your goals, strategies, and financial projections. Your business plan should include market analysis and financial projections to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the industry and your potential profitability.

Market Analysis

Conducting a market analysis is crucial to understanding the demand for poultry products in Ontario. You should research the current market trends, the size of the market, and your competitors. You can use this information to identify your target customers and develop a marketing strategy that will set you apart from your competitors.

Some key factors to consider in your market analysis include:

  • The size of the market and its growth potential
  • The demand for poultry products in Ontario
  • Your competitors and their market share
  • Your target customers and their needs
  • Marketing strategies that will help you reach your target customers

Financial Projections

Financial projections are an essential part of your business plan. You should develop a detailed financial plan that includes your startup costs, revenue projections, and operating expenses. You should also consider your cash flow, profit and loss statements, and balance sheets.

Some key factors to consider in your financial projections include:

  • Startup costs, including the cost of land, equipment, and supplies
  • Revenue projections based on your target market and pricing strategy
  • Operating expenses, including feed, labor, and utilities
  • Cash flow projections to ensure that you have enough cash on hand to cover your expenses
  • Profit and loss statements to track your profitability over time

3. Poultry Farm Infrastructure

Starting a poultry farm business requires proper planning and infrastructure. Here are some key factors to consider when designing your poultry farm infrastructure:

Selecting a Suitable Location

Choosing the right location for your poultry farm is critical. You need to select an area that is easily accessible, has a reliable source of water, and is free from environmental hazards. You should also consider proximity to markets, suppliers, and transportation routes.


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    Selecting the Type of Poultry (Broilers, Layers, or Both)

    Deciding on the type of poultry you want to raise is an important decision. Broilers are raised for meat, while layers are raised for eggs. You can also choose to raise both broilers and layers on your farm. Each type of poultry requires different housing and feeding requirements.

    Designing the Poultry House and Facilities

    The design of your poultry house and facilities should be based on the type of poultry you plan to raise. You need to consider the number of birds you will be raising, the space required per bird, and the type of equipment you will need. You should also design your facilities to allow for easy cleaning and maintenance.

    Proper Ventilation, Lighting, and Waste Management

    Proper ventilation, lighting, and waste management are essential for maintaining the health of your birds. You need to ensure that your poultry house has proper ventilation to prevent the buildup of harmful gases. You should also provide adequate lighting to promote healthy growth and egg production. Proper waste management is also important to prevent the spread of disease.

    Implementing Health and Safety Measures

    Implementing health and safety measures is critical for the well-being of your birds and the safety of your workers. You should have biosecurity measures in place to prevent the spread of disease. You should also provide proper training to your workers on safe handling and use of equipment. It is also important to have first aid kits and fire extinguishers readily available.

    4. Securing Funding

    Starting a poultry farm business can be a costly endeavor, but with the right funding, you can make your dream a reality. Here are some ways to secure funding for your poultry farm business:

    Apply for Government Grants

    The Canadian government provides several funding programs for farmers, including the Poultry and Egg On-Farm Investment Program (PEFIP). This program offers non-repayable contributions of almost $647 million over 10 years to support poultry and egg producers through on-farm investments. To find more grants, use this searchable database.

    Consider Loans and Credit

    Banks and credit unions offer loans and credit for farmers looking to start or expand their businesses. You can use these funds to purchase land, equipment, and other necessary supplies. Make sure to shop around for the best interest rates and repayment terms.

    Seek Investors

    If you have a solid business plan and a clear vision for your poultry farm business, you may be able to attract investors. Look for individuals or groups who are interested in supporting agriculture and have the financial means to invest in your business. Be prepared to present a detailed plan that outlines your goals, financial projections, and how you plan to use the funds.


    Crowdfunding is another option for securing funding for your poultry farm business. You can create a crowdfunding campaign on platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo to raise money from a large group of people. Make sure to offer incentives for those who contribute, such as free eggs or a tour of your farm.

    5. Understanding Feed and Nutrition

    Starting a poultry farm business requires a good understanding of feed and nutrition. Poultry birds need a balanced diet that provides the right amount of nutrients for growth, egg production, and overall health. In this section, we will discuss the main components of poultry feed and its nutritional value.


    Protein is a crucial nutrient for poultry birds. It is essential for muscle development, egg production, and overall health. Poultry feed should contain a minimum of 16% protein for broilers and 18% protein for layers. The optimal protein level can vary depending on the birds’ age, strain, and housing temperatures. For example, broiler chicks may need 23% protein for maximum growth in their starting feeds. The protein needs also decline as the birds get older. Good sources of protein for poultry include soybean meal, fish meal, and meat and bone meal.


    Grains are an important source of energy for poultry birds. They provide carbohydrates, which are essential for growth and egg production. Good sources of grains for poultry include corn, wheat, barley, and oats. These grains should be properly processed to improve digestibility and nutrient availability.

    Vitamins and Minerals

    Vitamins and minerals are essential for the overall health and well-being of poultry birds. They play a vital role in bone development, immune function, and egg production. Good sources of vitamins and minerals for poultry include premixes, which are specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of poultry birds. These premixes should be added to the feed in the right amounts to ensure optimal nutrition.

    It is essential to provide clean and fresh water to poultry birds at all times. Water is essential for digestion, nutrient absorption, and overall health. Poultry birds require about 2-3 times more water than feed on a weight basis.

    6. Sustainability and Best Practices

    Starting a poultry farm business requires more than just knowledge of raising chickens. It also requires a commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. Here are some tips for ensuring your poultry farm business is sustainable and ethical.

    Sustainable Poultry Farming Methods

    Sustainable poultry farming methods involve using practices that minimize the negative impact on the environment while maximizing the health and well-being of the chickens. Some sustainable poultry farming methods include:

    • Using organic or non-GMO feed
    • Providing outdoor access to chickens
    • Using renewable energy sources, such as solar power, for electricity
    • Using natural pest control methods, such as companion planting or introducing beneficial insects
    • Composting chicken manure to use as fertilizer for crops

    By implementing sustainable poultry farming methods, you can reduce your farm’s environmental impact and provide healthier, happier chickens.

    Ethical Considerations in Poultry Farming

    Chickens and hens go through brutal conditions on commercial farms. Ethical considerations involve treating chickens with respect and providing them with a good quality of life. Some ethical considerations include:

    • Providing enough space for chickens to move around and engage in natural behaviors
    • Avoiding overcrowding
    • Providing access to clean water and food at all times
    • Ensuring chickens are free from disease and injury
    • Avoiding the use of antibiotics or hormones unless necessary for the chicken’s health

    By prioritizing the ethical treatment of chickens, you can build a reputation for your farm as a humane and responsible business.

    Incorporating Best Practices for Optimal Results

    In addition to sustainable and ethical practices, it’s important to incorporate best practices for optimal results. Some best practices include:

    • Regularly cleaning and sanitizing equipment and facilities to prevent disease
    • Monitoring chicken behavior and health to catch any issues early
    • Providing proper ventilation to prevent respiratory issues
    • Implementing biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of disease
    • Keeping accurate records to track chicken health and productivity

    By incorporating best practices, you can ensure your poultry farm business operates efficiently and productively.

    7. Marketing Your Poultry Business

    Once you have established your poultry farm business, it’s important to develop a marketing plan to attract customers and increase your sales. Here are some tips to help you market your poultry business effectively:

    Identify Your Target Market

    Before you start marketing your poultry products, it’s essential to identify your target market. You need to determine who your ideal customer is, what they want, and how you can meet their needs. Some potential target markets for your poultry business could be:

    • Local restaurants that prioritize fresh and locally sourced ingredients
    • Health-conscious consumers who are looking for organic and free-range poultry products
    • Families who prefer to buy fresh and healthy poultry products from local farmers

    Once you have identified your target market, you can tailor your marketing strategies to reach and engage with them effectively.

    Utilize Social Media

    Social media is an excellent platform to promote your poultry business and reach a wider audience. You can use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to showcase your products, share updates and stories about your farm, and engage with your customers. You can also run targeted ads on social media to reach your ideal customers and increase your sales.

    Participate in Local Farmers’ Markets

    Participating in local farmers’ markets is an excellent way to connect with your community, showcase your products, and increase your sales. You can set up a booth at a local farmers’ market and offer samples of your poultry products. You can also offer discounts to customers who buy from you at the farmers’ market.

    Use Packaging to Your Advantage

    Packaging is an essential part of your poultry business, and it can also be a powerful marketing tool. You can use attractive and informative packaging to showcase your products and communicate your brand message to your customers. You can also include information about your farm, your poultry products, and your commitment to sustainability and animal welfare on your packaging.

    8. Understanding Ontario’s Poultry Farming Regulations

    Starting a poultry farm business in Ontario requires knowledge of the regulations set by the government. These regulations are in place to ensure the safety of both the animals and the consumers. Here are some of the key regulations you need to know:

    Supply Management

    Laying hens, chickens, broiler breeders, and turkeys are supply-managed commodities in Ontario. This means that their production is regulated by a quota system, which controls the amount of products that can be produced and sold in the province. If you plan to start a poultry farm business, you will need to obtain a supply management quota.

    Chicken Farmers of Ontario manages chicken supply management. It sets production quotas and pricing for chicken farmers. Egg Farmers of Ontario manages egg supply management through production quotas and pricing. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs oversees some aspects of supply management policies and regulations in Ontario.

    Animal Welfare

    The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Hatching Eggs, Breeders, Chickens, and Turkeys serves as the national understanding of care requirements and recommended practices for poultry farming. It covers topics such as housing, feeding, and health management. As a poultry farmer, you must ensure that your birds are treated humanely and provided with adequate care.


    Biosecurity measures are in place to prevent the spread of diseases among poultry flocks. As a poultry farmer, you must follow strict biosecurity protocols to protect your birds from diseases. This includes measures such as limiting access to your farm, disinfecting equipment, and vehicles, and preventing contact with other birds.

    Environmental Regulations

    Poultry farming can have an impact on the environment, particularly in terms of waste management. As a poultry farmer, you must adhere to regulations related to manure management, water quality, and air emissions. You may need to obtain permits or approvals from the appropriate authorities before starting your business.

    9. Frequently Asked Questions

    Yes, there are several government programs and grants available for starting a poultry farm in Ontario. These include the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, which provides funding for farm business planning, equipment purchases, and marketing initiatives. The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association also offers cost-sharing programs for environmental stewardship practices, such as nutrient management and erosion control. To find relevant grants, use this searchable database of more than 1500 grants.

    The best breeds of chickens for a poultry farm in Ontario depend on your goals and production system. If you are raising chickens for meat, popular breeds include the Cornish Cross and the Red Ranger. For egg production, popular breeds include the Rhode Island Red and the Leghorn. If you are interested in heritage breeds, consider the Plymouth Rock or the Sussex.

    The amount of land you need to start a poultry farm in Ontario depends on the size of your operation and the type of production system you choose. For example, a small-scale backyard flock may only require a few hundred square feet, while a larger commercial operation may need several acres. It is important to consider factors such as zoning, environmental regulations, and infrastructure needs when choosing a location for your farm.

    The equipment you need to start a poultry farm in Ontario depends on your production system and the size of your operation. Basic equipment includes feeders, waterers, and housing for your birds. If you are raising chickens for meat, you may also need processing equipment such as a plucker and scalder. It is important to choose high-quality equipment that meets safety and animal welfare standards.

    There are several ways to market and sell your poultry products in Ontario. You can sell directly to consumers through farmers’ markets, roadside stands, or online platforms. You can also sell to restaurants, grocery stores, and other food retailers. It is important to have a strong brand and marketing strategy, as well as a clear understanding of regulations and labeling requirements. Consider joining a local farmers association or cooperative to gain access to additional marketing and distribution channels.

    10. Resources for Poultry Farmers in Ontario

    Government Resources

    Industry Resources

    Other Resources

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