When the chicks are happy, then the farmer is happy too.
This is what Arjan Koekkoek says when he steps into a green pair of rubber boots sitting outside the door of his broiler barn. As he opens the door to the barn, a wave of heat flows out into the frigid winter air.
Inside, a sea of yellow peeping puffballs scurry and tumble about. These 40,000 tiny chicks are the first residents of Koekkoek’s new broiler barn.
I was fortunate enough to get a firsthand tour of this new barn, and I could barely stand the sheer cuteness that awaited me inside. I even got to hold a little chick.
I watched the dedicated poultry farmer walk slowly through the barn, careful not to step on any chicks scrambling to get out of the way. Moses parting the Red Sea sprang to mind.
After two decades in the poultry business, going out to the barn and seeing that all the chicks are happy is Koekkoek’s favourite part of the job.
"I always say when we take good care of the chickens, then the chickens will take good care of us," he said.