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Farming, Community

Chaudary Poultry Farms: An intergenerational legacy of resilience and success

Sharada Srinivasan and Aadhyashree Pant in Conversation with Imran Chaudary

Imran Chaudary

March 11, 2024

We met Imran Chaudary and his wife Lisa at their home next to their farm in March 2023. They were fasting on the eve of Ramadan, yet welcomed us with a lavishly laid out assortment of snacks and refreshments, offering a glimpse of south Asian hospitality. The oldest of three, Imran, who is 53 years old is a second-generation egg-farmer. The 43-year-old Chaudary Poultry farm is home to 142,000 chickens of various breeds, and produces 140, 000 eggs a day.

A man and a woman standing in front of a factory
Lisa and Imran on the day of the farm open house for their new enriched barn, Oct 20, 2018. Photo credit: The Welland Tribune

Although Imran’s parents came from rural families, they were first generation farmers in Canada. They left Pakistan in the late 1960s for better prospects. First, they emigrated to Saudi Arabia, where Imran was born, and then to Denmark in 1970, where Imran’s younger sister, and brother were born. While they worked very hard there, citizenship was not an option, so they moved to Canada with their children in 1974.


An old picture pf a family.
(L-R) Imran with his twin siblings Ashfa, Rehan, Akhtar (Imran's dad) at their Smithville, Ontario farm in 1979 in front of the pond. This was their first farm. Photo credit: Imran's mother.

Upon arrival, Imran’s father took on a factory job in Kitchener. After a year, his father’s friend, a south Asian farmer, offered to lease him his egg laying farm in Smithville. They decided to happily take this opportunity and moved the family to Smithville, while Imran’s father continued working in Kitchener to make ends meet. Within a span of three years, the farm had the capacity to support the Chaudary family, and in 1979, Imran’s father quit his factory job to work on the farm full time. The Chaudarys lived in Smithville until 1980 while they explored other opportunities through the persistence and encouragement of Imran’s mother.


The Chaudarys purchased a farm in Wainfleet from a Dutch family in the fall of 1980. While over the years, they bought and sold farms in different locations, this is home and where they consolidated their operations and the location for their current farm.

An old photo of a farm
The Chaudary farm in Wainfleet, Ontario in 1983. Photo credit: Imran's dad.

A key aspect of the growth of the Chaudary farm has been its ability to adapt to the evolving standards of the poultry industry. This has necessitated among other things that they consolidated their operations in the present facility and adapt to rapidly changing industry standards. “It was completely different. Egg farming was all manual back then, we had to use our hands,” Imran recounts.

A women distributing eggs
Imran's mother Amina Chaudary gathering eggs at their Wainfleet, Ontario farm in 1983. Photo credit: Imran's dad

As the eldest son, Imran felt a sense of responsibility in carrying on the family business. But more importantly over the years, he discovered that farming was his calling. After studying business administration Imran ran a farm in Grimsby for four years. He then moved to the USA to pursue other ventures, but eventually came back to run the family business.


Describing the Chaudary Poultry farm as a family business, Imran says its success is due to the sheer aspiration and perseverance of his parents. “My mother was always looking for other opportunities. You know, she was the go getter. She pushed him to expand the farm,” Imran recalls with pride. “My father, even though he is 80 years old now, everything in regards to the farm goes through him. Even though I do all the work day to day, he's the boss. No matter how old, he's the boss.”

Two men standing in front of the window.
Imran's dad Akhtar and grandfather Mehtab Din Chaudary in 1983 inside their farm house in Wainfleet, Ontario. Photo credit: Imran's mother


Growing up, Imran’s parents were often separated to make a living for their children, Imran and his siblings. “They made sacrifices for us, and for the business.” Imran and his siblings faced added responsibilities during their upbringing, reminiscing that “we struggled. I didn’t see my father for many years. Kids went to baseball, basketball, all these events. My siblings and I wanted to do that, but we couldn’t. We had to go home and work.” 


The Chaudarys faced challenges as newcomer farmers, immigrants, and racialized minorities in rural Ontario.


“When my family was living in Kitchener in the mid-1970s, I don't remember any brown people. I don't remember any Pakistanis, Indians at all. Neither in school nor in my life. Except for my family.” He, his siblings, and even his daughter went to the local school in Wainfleet which was built back in 1883. Imran recalls, “there was a lot of racism. You got your bullies, the girls that tease you all the time. But that's what it was right? You just blend in as best you could. We had our local fights and arguments. Even our school bus driver called us names.” Despite his father’s efforts to put an end to the racism in school by speaking to the authorities, not much changed. A few decades later, when Imran’s daughter attended the school in Wainfleet, he recalls her facing similar discrimination. Like his father before him, he talked to the teachers, but when nothing changed, he decided to enroll his daughter at a different school, in Fonthill.


“They see my name, and they’re like (groans) you’re a foreigner.” Imran attributes the level of racism and prejudice to lack of knowledge and fear of others. He is currently well known in his community and is well liked and accepted. He adds, “that’s because they know me.”


Today, Imran is also a well-known and respected member of the poultry farming community, but he notes that although there has been some increase in diversity among egg farmers, egg farming is still a predominantly white occupation. He thinks the sector will not be able to remain this way, and the farming community will have to diversify.


A rising concern among farmers is the declining numbers of young adults in rural areas. Many family farms no longer have successors. Along with the migration away from rural areas, unsurprisingly many of them are faced with a shortage of labour. Yet, most families are not willing to sell their farms to outsiders. Imran describes that sometimes, elderly farmers will sell their farms, with an agreement that they are able to live in the home they previously owned for a set amount of time.


Although Imran’s daughter is currently pursuing other interests, he is optimistic that she will return to farming. As for the time being, the farm is well managed, allowing for Lisa and Imran to take breaks to travel and pursue other interests. “My parents have chosen a very wonderful industry for us. I just hope the next generation will find a way to continue the legacy on as well. But that’s for them to say.”

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