Angela Wylie, owner and operator of Berube Poultry has brought innovation and more services to her business. Here she poses beside her vacuum packaging machine with a packaged turkey. Morin Photo
Berube Poultry celebrates 50 years
SOUTH MOUNTAIN – What started as a college assignment, 50 years later is a growing concern and a successful rural family business.
Berube Poultry is celebrating 50 years serving their customers in Eastern Ontario. They are in South Mountain, and it looks like the poultry-clearing house is aiming for another 50 years.
The business was started up by Richard and Anne Berube, but these days is owned and managed by their daughter Angela Wylie.
Berube poultry is only one of two poultry abattoirs operating in the area.
Berube Poultry has grown and evolved over the past 50 years, offering more services.
Originally the abattoir only offered to clean and pluck the chickens and returned them to their owners as a whole chicken. Angela has changed all of that.
“Sometimes customers would have to take their birds from here and go to another butcher and then they would cut them up. Now it is like a one stop shopping experience. I cut them in half or quarters or all in pieces, wings, drumsticks, thighs, and breasts all packaged however they want it packaged.
When my mom and dad owned it, they only had one type of packaging, but I brought in a vacuum seal machine.
Angela’s father Richard and his wife Anne first started up their business in 1972.
“I went to Kemptville College in the fall of 1970 and then I went in the winter of 1970 and 1971. In 1971, I raised 500 chickens as a school project,” said Richard.
“The project was to raise the 500 chickens and keep record of the whole project.
It gave me a couple of credits for my diploma. In the first year, my professor said to kill your own chickens, but I did not know how so he got me started. I bought some equipment and the next year I went back and bought more processing equipment and I started custom work in 1972.”
Richard was raised on a farm. His family started farming in Ramsayville, then his father bought 100 acres in Carlsbad Springs. It was too small, so he bought a farm in Heckston that was 300 acres.
“Our neighbours got to know what we were doing so the news travelled by word of mouth. We never had to advertise,” said Richard.
“People were coming from all over the place, and after we got married, we moved to South Mountain, but we got too big for the village, so we had to move to the farm we have now.
In 1991, Berube Poultry became a provincially regulated and inspected operation.
Everyone in their family pitched in to make the business work.
Angela said, “My grandma has worked here, my cousins, my children, my brother and sisters we have all worked here.”
Richard and Anne retired on Dec. 23 of last year and Angela officially took over.
“I bought this from mom and dad in 2015 but I have worked here since 1991 since the government inspections started. I changed a few things like the vacuum seal and cut ups which mom and dad never had before. It used to always be just the whole bird.”
“The most that we ever did here was 900 a day. That was a big day,” said Angela.
“Everything is by appointment. Now I am taking reservations for May.
I have quite a few customers who sell to grocery stores. Some people just bring what they will be consuming just for themselves. Every chicken has a label that says it has been approved by the government inspector. It is safe for eating.
Nothing stays here overnight, everything leaves fresh,” she said.
“The regulations are reasonable. We do what we have been told to do. I cannot operate without them here. They inspect the birds as they come in and look at every part of the process. They want to see every chicken when it is alive to make sure it’s healthy,” said Angela.
Like many family farms, everyone often has a job outside the farm. Richard had a government job while Anne ran the poultry business. Between the two of them they held down five jobs.
Anne looked after the operation and Richard helped out when he was not working at his day job.
“There have been many changes,” said Anne. “Over time, the process became more automated. The biggest transition when I was running it was the automated plucking machine.”
“We know what we are eating, we know it is safe. We are very proud of the product that we put out,” she said.
The daily routine involves following through on the strict rules for each part of the process.
There can be no shortcuts.
Angela said, “I have always watched when mom and dad were working out here. I would always come out after school to help out a little bit here and there. My daughter helps out and my son works here in the summertime.”
“There is huge demand for it,” said Anne. “When the pandemic hit, people wanted to be much more sustainable. They wanted to raise their own food. There are now a lot more backyard chicken farmers.
“You know the quality is there. It is all about the quality of the product,” said Anne.
For more information about Berube Poultry you can call 613-989-2020.
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