Quebec-based Boire & Frères and Sargent Farms of Ontario have joined forces to develop a new, state-of-the-art hatchery project that will produce approximately 20 million day old broilers a year with a focus on chick quality, welfare, hygiene, and sustainability.

The pioneering companies have commissioned NatureForm and Pas Reform to develop the new Thames River Hatchery, a green field operation near Woodstock, Ontario, with the most advanced SmartPro single stage incubation technologies, as well as a custom-designed HVAC (climate control) system and hatchery automation. Every level of hatchery operations will be super-connected by SmartCenterPro, a web-based hatchery management software system that delivers unrivalled data-gathering for detailed monitoring, management analysis and reporting in the hatchery.

A fully integrated project, Thames River Hatchery is being developed with a special focus on chick quality and the expectations of today’s consumer. As such, it will incorporate not only animal-friendly SmartCount vision-technology enabled chick counters. Over time, the facility will include the newly launched SmartStart post-hatch feeding system developed by a unique three-way partnership in Europe that allows the new hatchlings the earliest access to feed and water while they are still in the hatcher.

With 24 SmartSetPro-4 setters in a single setter bay and 20 SmartHatchPro hatchers located in each of three hatch bays, the additional hatchers allow a special focus on hygiene to include a sanitary rest day in the hatching process, for top-class bio security, sanitation and day old chick quality. As a first in the Canadian poultry industry, Thames River’s hatchers will employ the innovative SmartStart post-hatch feeding concept, which enables them to work in the traditional way, but also – and without any modification – to supply feed and water for the new hatchlings as soon as they hatch, irrespective of the length of the hatch window. The hatchery’s integrated HVAC (Climate Control) system incorporates three separate, Siemens controlled air-handling units, to optimize biosecurity and deliver individual room temperature, humidity and static pressure control.

SmartCenterPro’s track and trace module will record every movement of the hatching eggs and day old chicks, from the origin of the eggs, to the receipt of chicks at customers’ farms, with cycle reports from every hatch that includes an individual day old chick weight estimation and uniformity scoring for each batch produced.


Founded in 2016, the new joint venture company will cater to Ontario’s day old broiler market. Claude Boire of Boire & Frères remarks, “We can see the importance of chick quality and sustainability to market growth, features that have strongly influenced our decisions regarding the use of SmartPro technologies and in particular the adoption of SmartStart for post-hatch feeding.

Bob Sargent, from Sargent Farms, adds, “We want to utilize the latest in technology, which is why we also chose the SmartCount counting concept and SmartCenterPro data integration for this new project. The animal-friendly counter counts birds in groups and manages their passage gently, without the acceleration of the day old chicks that you see with traditional counters, and SmartCenterPro gives us the track and trace information demanded by many of our final customers and increasingly by Canadian consumers.”

NatureForm’s president Steve Warren concludes, “We are very excited about the Thames River Hatchery project. It is a complete and integrated development, with incubation, climate control and animal-friendly hatchery automation – all from a single supplier.

“NatureForm and Pas Reform have worked together to become a single-source supplier of completely integrated hatchery projects for over four years now, and this new hatchery is the latest, exciting development in a growing list of completely integrated projects that we have delivered worldwide.”

Thames River Hatchery is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2017.