about us

Historic house on the farm.
One of the major farms today was started in 1912 by Rob Donaldsons grandparents, Caleb and Winifred Manual, when they arrived from Newfoundland and purchased the farm on 58th Avenue. Around the same time Rob’s other set of grandparents, MaryAnn and Robert Donaldson, arrived from Scotland and purchased a farm down the road. Both grandparents had poultry and dairy operations shipping milk by way of cans. Continuing to produce both, poultry and dairy, Rob’s parents, Bert and Joy, took over both farms and began to expand their tulip and daffodil operation.

At the age of 23 Rob purchased two farms of his own and continued producing poultry.

Working on the family farm Rob quickly built his knowledge and his passion in both poultry and dairy farming. In 1978 the increased Asian community provided Rob with an incentive to start his business in the specialty bird area with Tiawanese chickens, Silkie chickens, ducks, quail, partridges and pigeons.

Always interested in cattle, Rob used his experience in both beef and dairy 4-H to develop his own beef herd and in 1983 Rob took over his parents’ two chicken barns. In 1986 Rob married Pat. In 1991 the dairy graduated entry program provided enough quota for them to purchase 25 cows from a local dairy farm. When choosing a farm name Rob and Pat finally agreed they wanted to keep it simple and upon passing the Bradner Community Hall one day, it was agreed the name would be Bradner Farms.

In search of a more profitable herd, Rob began researching the organic market.
“I knew I wanted to make my small herd more profitable and I knew that organic farming could do that for us,” said Rob.

In 1998 a contract was secured with Avalon Dairy in Vancouver for all of Bradner Farms’ organic milk, making them the first organic dairy in Western Canada. During this time the poultry division for both layers and broilers also became organic with the specialty birds remaining commercial. Over the years, as the market grew and with help of the BC Milk Marketing board, the farm was able to expand to 850 milk cows, housed on 4 different sites.

Marketed directly to companies and packers, the poultry division now has over 800,000 birds of which 500,000 are house in one of the largest poultry farms in Canada. The recent expansion of the hatchery allows for 120,000 chicks per week to be hatched, supplying Bradner Farms’ needs plus a good percentage of stock for other competitors. While all birds are butchered and packaged off site, over 16,000 eggs daily are cleaned, sorted and packaged at Bradner Farms under several labels including Bradner Farms, Avalon and Rabbit River Organics.

Always looking at the bigger picture, Rob and Pat have continued to look for ways to make the organic side more profitable. With the price of organic grain at 50% above regular grain, the economics were right for them to build their own feed mill. Today 300 tons of feed per week is made, supplying all of Bradner Farms plus the majority of the organic poultry and dairy operations in British Columbia.

Pat left her job with her own family’s concrete business, Newton Ready Mix Ltd., to take a more active role on the farm as well as raising the next generation of Donaldson’s.

Unquestionably, Rob and Pat’s interest in agriculture and hard work ethic has been passed onto their children Sarah (25), Pamela (23), Robert Jr. (21) and Bruce (18). All of the Donaldson children play an active role on the family farm and love it just as much as Rob and Pat do.

A total of 80 employees working in the dairy, poultry and feed mill include key people like hatchery manager Carol Wunderlich, poultry manager Roger Fuller, feed mill manager Debbie Nielsen, dairy manager Sarah Donaldson and office manager Margaret Bell, who is Rob’s sister.