Rossdown Farms

Dan Wiebe and his family started Rossdown Farms Ltd., in 1968. Located in Abbotsford, British Columbia, their poultry operation remains a family business. From Monday to Friday, the Wiebe family is in the office, taking care of the business side, but “Everyone pitches in where and when it’s needed,” says Dion Wiebe, President Rossdown Farms and Rossdown Natural Foods. “We’re all multi-taskers, each with a variety of responsibilities.”

Don’t mistake this small business for one that accomplishes small things. Rossdown has a highly impressive operation. Just two years ago, the family opened a second company called Rossdown Natural Foods, so they can oversee the entire production process, from farm to plate.

“The companies are integrated,” says Dion. “Rossdown Farms, breeds the eggs, hatch the chicks, feeds and grows the poultry. Rossdown Natural Foods is the processing plant, in which the birds are processed and marketed for grocery stores and supply chains. It’s a federal plant, so we are able to ship poultry around the world.”

The integration between both Rossdown companies distinguishes them from the competition in a few ways. First, it’s rare. “We’re one of the only companies in Canada to control the whole process,” says Dion. Speaking of control, that’s the second way in which Rossdown sets itself apart. Because the company has its hand in every step of the cycle, they are assured of their products’ quality.

Rossdown provides premium quality poultry products, including broiler chickens, turkeys and ducks. Rossdown is confident about their final product because they do everything themselves. From the hatching to the feeding and everything in between; they know it is done right.

‘Premium quality poultry’ isn’t meant to be hyperbolic. The Wiebe family is very calculated about how the birds are raised, including what they eat. For example, they are not in cages; instead, the free-run birds are allowed to wander through the barn. As for their feed, Rossdown Farms has a milling division that produces nutritionally balance rations, depending on the growth stage and type of bird. The mill is also capable of producing specialty diets to meet market requirements of the discriminating public.

Food safety
Quality is important, yes. But more so is safety. That’s why the company takes all necessary precautions to ensure its products are free from contamination. All divisions within Rossdown Farms and Rossdow Foods operate in accordance with Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulations. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification has been implemented in Rossdown Natural Foods.

Taking it one step further, Rossdown has automatic sanitizing stations to clean every truck that comes on the property to prevent cross contamination.

“The key is really prevention,” says Dion. “That’s the industry focus right now, so we put in infrastructure to manage it. There are things that catch the public eye on a global scale, and we have to deal with them here. Most recently, avian influenza has had a significant impact on our industry and how we operate. We have seen a real increase in bio-security, a term which basically means disease prevention in our livestock.”

“As an integrated company, Rossdown has control over the product, which is helpful for safety,” says Pat Wiebe, Market Development/Human Resources Manager. “We have our own equipment, and we know the people coming in and out of our buildings. We get a better opportunity to reduce those hazards that are out there. We don’t want to be in the situation where we’re treating a problem; we would rather get involved on a preventative basis.”

Environmental trends
The Wiebe family likes to think of their companies as progressive, when it comes to the environment. They do things like store manure during winter, reducing impact on the aquifer. They also located the hatchery and processing plant close to an Abbotsford sewer line in order to provide long-term wastewater disposal. The feed mill acreage even has railway access for fast, low-pact distribution and easy intake of main ingredients, such as corn, wheat and grain. “We’ve never shied away from being leaders in that way,” beams Dion. Rossdown Farms and Natural Foods are conscious of the growing trend to eat locally. Fortunately for them, all of their divisions are located within kilometres of each other. “The transportation between locations is minimal, having a limited impact on the land,” says Pat. “I’m pretty sure we qualify for the 100-mile diet!”

Organic growth
Moving forward, the Wiebe family plans to continue growing both Rossdown companies, especially Rossdown Natural Foods. “Our goals are to develop our brand and increase the processing side,” says Pat. “Rossdown purpose is to offer healthy food choices that are fresh and locally grown. We are working towards establishing who we are in the market place with brand recognition.

Rossdown is also interested in developing new products. “We’re interested in the niche side of the market and we’re working on organic products,” Dion adds. “It’s a growing portion of the market, and we want to be associated with that leading edge.”

Rossdown Farms Ltd. can offer their expert services to other farms in three areas:

Feed Mill Services
Our feed milling division in the Township of Langley produces around 20,000 tonnes per year of science- based, balanced poultry ration.

Egg Hatching
Our modern Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) approved hatchery building and equipment are capable of hatching 150,000 chicks per week. By adding additional equipment we can increase our output to 200,000 per week.

Poultry Processing
In order to ensure the orderly processing of all of our poultry product we have now completed our processing plant and freezer at 2325 Bradner Road in West Abbotsford, to meet the needs of our growing operation.