Application for a bird layer barn

The Hutterian Brethren of Donalda has applied to increase the number of chicken layers in their confined feeding operation from 7,700 to 35,000. ECA Review/Submitted

The County of Stettler council heard concerns raised about a proposed feedlot expansion located within the municipality. 

The issue was discussed during the regular meeting of council April 22, which was conducted through teleconference to abide by social distancing guidelines.

County staff provided councillors with a memo describing an application by Kenneth Hofer of the Hutterian Brethren of Donalda to increase the size of an intensive livestock operation they have in the Donalda region.

“The Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) is currently processing an application to provide for a new confined feeding operation on the SW 19-42-17W4M,” stated the county agenda memo.

While municipalities are not responsible for confined feeding operations approvals or expansions, they are notified as part of the process. 

The initial information provided indicates that the application is to expand the poultry operation at an existing CFO.”

According to the application forms provided by the NRCB, the Hutterian Brethren of Donalda are applying to “build a new 35,000 bird layer barn with attached manure storage…old layer barn will be turn (sic) into a pullet barn.”

More detailed information in the Hutterian Brethren of Donalda’s application stated “current chicken layers” number 7,700 and they were applying to increase that number by 27, 300 to a total of 35,000. 

The Hutterian Brethren of Donalda application presented at the county meeting stated existing animal numbers at the pullet barn were 7,700 and they were applying to increase that by 32,300 for a total of 40,000 animals. 

Dairy (120 animals), ducks/geese (400), turkeys (400) and sheep (209) numbers are not affected.

County of Stettler staff noted the municipality is not directly affected by the application. 

“The proposed location of the confined feeding operation is not within the exclusion area identified in the Donalda – County of Stettler Intermunicipal Development Plan,” stated the staff memo.

“The County’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP) recognizes that the jurisdiction to process confined feeding operation application lies with the NRCB. 

However, the MDP outlines specific guidelines for the County’s consideration when reviewing an NRCB referral notice.

“The subject property and surrounding properties are within the agricultural land use district of the County’s Land Use Bylaw. 

An agricultural parcel located approximately one kilometre east of the SW 19-42- 17W4M is currently developed with two residences. 

Hwy 834 is adjacent to the proposed location of the confined feeding operation.”

Reeve Larry Clarke said at the meeting he was thinking of the applicant’s neighbours after learning of the size of the proposed increase. 

“It is a huge increase,” said Clarke. “It does concern me when you can expand that greatly.”

Councillors accepted the memo for information.

The ECA Review tried to contact the NRCB Red Deer office April 27. However, a message left there was not returned by deadline.


Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.


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