Ukko Robotics, a startup based out of Daniel Badiou and partner Katrina Jean-Laflamme’s farm near Notre Dame de Lourdes, won a Startup Canada award for innovation two years ago.
The pandemic caused them to delay the commercial launch of their robotic chicken coop until this year, allowing them an additional year of research and development.
But this spring they shipped their first units of the Rova Barn — a novel chicken coop that automatically moves a few feet per day across a pasture making the production of pasture-raised chicken a lot less labour intensive as well as creating all sorts of other valuable environmental benefits.
The movement of the coops constantly exposes the birds to fresh grass and soil, provides natural fertilizer for the pasture, protects the birds from predators and creates about a 90 per cent saving on labour costs.
Daniel Badiou was raised on the family dairy farm in Notre Dame de Lourdes and remembers that the need to regularly milk the cows meant there was not a lot of vacations.
When he and Jean-Laflamme started their own separate farming operation on the property and wanted to add pasture-raised poultry to the mix, they worried about the time it would take to manage them.
That prompted them to come up with the idea for the Rova barn, a solar-powered enclosed movable coop that travels between six and 30 feet per day across the pasture.
There is no denying it is a niche market they are addressing, but it’s one that is growing steadily.
-Winnipeg Free Press