Henry (Hank) Orr

Today's Hours: 8am - 10pm - All service hours

Graduation Year




Interview Date


E. Brubaker

Call Number

RE1 UOG A1340100


Henry (Hank) Orr interview


Ed Brubaker (00:04):
This is an interview with Professor Henry Orr, ah, sometimes known as Ha- Hank Orr. Ah, in his home on Young Street in Guelph on, ah, Thursday, May 15th, 1997. And it's conducted by Ed Brubaker for the, ah, Oral History Committee at the Alumni in Action at the OAC.

Ed Brubaker (00:33):
Henry, ah, you tell me that you came from a farm in the Milverton area in Perth County. Can you tell me a little bit of your farm background?

Henry (Hank) Orr (00:44):
Ah, yes, Ed. Ah, I was raised on a farm, ah, in Perth County. It was just about a mile south of the village of Milverton, which is about 15 miles just north of Stratford, which is, ah, actually now that road is called Highway Number 19.

Henry (Hank) Orr (01:02):
Ah, we had ah, a general farm. And, ah, we started out with both dairy and hogs. And just raised the regular crops that you would need for that particular type of farming. We had a few hens, ah, a small farm flock, I guess it was two to three hundred hens on the farm, as well. So that was my, ah, early background. I worked there while I went to school. And then, ah, that during the summer while I was at university and helping out at home on the farm.

Ed Brubaker (01:38):
What, ah, persuaded you to come to the university, or to, Guelph here, the AOC, as it was?

Henry (Hank) Orr (01:44):
Oh, I guess, ah, it was my interest in, ah, agriculture. That was my background. I had, ah, made a few visits down here during what they used to call Farmer's Week from way back, was always impressed with the place. So, I guess when the time come, I didn't have much, ah, to other ways I wanted to go. So, I decided that I would come to Guelph and study in the field of agriculture.

Ed Brubaker (02:13):
And did you come specifically to study poultry?

Henry (Hank) Orr (02:18):
No. Actually, I, ah... Well, of course, our first two years was quite general at that time. But, no, I was interested. And I was in the field crops, ah, option. And that certainly was where I specialized while I was at, ah, Guelph.

Henry (Hank) Orr (02:34):
Of course, the courses then, there wasn't much difference between Animal Science and Crop Science. I think it was only two or three courses, actually. So, again, our programs still was fairly general in all areas of that, in those days.

Ed Brubaker (02:47):
Ah, Henry, you came here in the Fall of 1939, September of '39 right at the very beginning of the War in Europe. And you spent your first two years living in residence here. A pretty much a normal, um, OAC program procedure and so on. Can you tell me what residence life was like at that time?

Henry (Hank) Orr (03:14):
That's quite true, Ed. Ah, I guess my acceptance to Guelph would probably come along just about the time of the outbreak to the War. And, ah, some of us at that time just wondered what was going to happen. But, ah, we did arrive here at Guelph. And, ah, found as far as we were concerned things were quite normal.

Henry (Hank) Orr (03:37):
We were living in residence. Ah, ah, I was only fourth floor what is now called Johnson Hall, what they called the Ad Building in those days. And, ah, we spent the first year at... It was three of us. There was a chap who was a classmate of mine at the Milverton High School was with us and we were joined by another chap from, ah, Barrie, Ontario. And the three of us roomed together for the first two years.

Ed Brubaker (04:06):
What were there names?

Henry (Hank) Orr (04:08):
Ah, the chap from Milverton was Grant Colflesh. And the other chap was Al Patterson. Ah, Grant and Al, ah, ended up in the Chemistry Department and, ah, I was the agriculture man (laughs) in the, in the three of us. So... But, ah, we certainly had a... Became very good friends, and are still are, and, great friends to, to this day.

Ed Brubaker (04:33):
Those rooms on the fourth floor of the Johnson Hall are not very large. But you did have three?

Henry (Hank) Orr (04:38):
There was three of us in the room. We had three single beds. We didn't have much room. But, ah, we made life interesting. And, ah, we had a lot of fond memories of some of the things that... I think, ah, what... From what I gathered that, ah, I think we lived a quite a normal life.

Henry (Hank) Orr (04:53):
We got into all the hijinks of pity farmer students for the first year. Ah, in spite of the, the War. And, ah... We had the usual parties and things, ah... Of course, in those days well, we didn't have a great deal of money. And, ah, we had to provide a lot of our own fun.

Henry (Hank) Orr (05:13):
And, ah, we did various things. And we were-

Ed Brubaker (05:15):
Such as, what, for example?

Henry (Hank) Orr (05:17):
Well, we were able to, some of us got out into the communities and the local churches. And ah, some of the separate, there was, ah, skating downtown. And there was certain a number of activities going on around the university even then at that time. I think, the first year things were quite normal, I think, as far as most of the activities in university you can say.

Ed Brubaker (05:36):
You mentioned high jinks. Can you recall any in particular, ah?

Henry (Hank) Orr (05:44):
Oh, I think we got into the usual water fights in Johnson Hall and a few things like that. Ah, we had a lot of, ah, things. There was always an opposition between the Vet students and the Aggie's. And, and that was quite prominent in those days.

Henry (Hank) Orr (05:59):
And, ah, there was various things. We used to be, we were still involved with our football and, ah, some of the activities. Of course, we mastered... Guelph always had great rivalry. And there was always a lot of activities on at the time in football games.

Ed Brubaker (06:14):
Did you play football?

Henry (Hank) Orr (06:15):
No, I didn't play football in those days. No.

Ed Brubaker (06:19):
Um, and then you ate in Creelman Hall?

Henry (Hank) Orr (06:23):
Oh, yes. We, ah-

Ed Brubaker (06:24):
And what was the a... In Creelman Hall like at that time?

Henry (Hank) Orr (06:29):
Well, we, ah, as I recall, we sat at round tables, and, ah, we had the... Everyone went in. And, um, we had our tables. Ah, the food was brought to us. And, ah, of course we, we always had our way of serving bread. I suppose I don't know whether you every got into that, Ed. You know, you never pass the bread. You tossed it around and those (laughs) were some of the traditions at the, at the Creelman Hall.

Henry (Hank) Orr (06:55):
But, the meals were quite good at that time. Ah, maybe we always knew what we were having on Thursday or Friday. But, despite of that, there were good various in meals. We had lots of milk bowl and milk you could drink and you can even take it back to your room if you wanted to.

Ed Brubaker (07:09):
I think Dickie Sands was Dean then, wasn't he?

Henry (Hank) Orr (07:14):
That's correct. Yeah.

Ed Brubaker (07:16):
And I understand he would say grace at the beginning of every meal?

Henry (Hank) Orr (07:19):
That was correct. Yes, that was a formality. And-

Ed Brubaker (07:25):
Yeah. And, ah, you, ah... And, ah, did you as students go and get the food in dishes or platters? Or were there maids who brought that to you?

Henry (Hank) Orr (07:32):
As I recall, I want to think it was the maids that brought it to us.

Ed Brubaker (07:37):
Yeah. And they tried to make you into gentlemen there?

Henry (Hank) Orr (07:40):
Well, they tried.

Ed Brubaker (07:42):

Henry (Hank) Orr (07:42):

Ed Brubaker (07:45):
And after two years in residence then the, ah, Royal Canadian Air Force came in, and, ah, took over much of the campus. And what changed... How did that affect you as students?

Henry (Hank) Orr (07:59):
Well, the first changes, that we had to move off campus. And so, ah, we had to find boarding places. Ah, at that time my chum from Milverton and I decided to, to rent a little apartment. So, we had that for our last two years. And we did our own cooking.

Henry (Hank) Orr (08:17):
Of course, coming from the farm and, ah, my friend, ah, also had a small, little farm, ah, right on the edge of Milverton, as well. So, we had lots of produce. So that every time (coughs) when one of us went home we always brought back lots of produce. And that, that way, that's how we did our own cooking and, and managed that way for the last two years. So that was one of the major changes. And everyone had to find a way.

Henry (Hank) Orr (08:44):
Of course, the, the, ah, main part of the campus such as the administration building, and that area was all fenced off. We had no access to that. So we were, our conditions became somewhat cramped. They had to move, ah, cafeteria down into one of the buildings and set up other things to compensate for that.

Henry (Hank) Orr (09:05):
However, our, our classes, ah, were carried on as, as usual. I don't think we missed anything by the Air Force being there as far as our, our classing, classes were concerned. We still got the same courses we would have had under normal conditions.

Henry (Hank) Orr (09:22):
So I think we were able to get all that background that we needed. However, some of the other material we had to adjust to. And then, of course, ah, we were all involved more and more with the Army training, too. So, we had to spend, I recall, two or three afternoon, or late afternoons and evenings with the Army training, training.

Henry (Hank) Orr (09:42):
Practically, everybody during those days was dressed in uniform; either the Army, Navy, or Air Force with Army being the largest contingent with our class. Which was the Army was the one that was the Canadian Officer's Training Corps. So that took a lot of our time, as well.

Henry (Hank) Orr (09:59):
And... But other than that, there was still the normal activities went on, as I recall. There was college was on and all these things, but in a reduced state.

Ed Brubaker (10:08):
And what buildings did the Air Force take over, do you recall? The, the administration building?

Henry (Hank) Orr (10:13):
They took the administration building over, and I think they took, ah, McDonald Watson Hall over. And I'm trying to think, well, they had use of some of the other buildings. I can't remember which ones they actually did. But they did some classwork in some of the other ones, do, as well.

Henry (Hank) Orr (10:29):
But it was that main campus area that was their central location-

Ed Brubaker (10:34):

Henry (Hank) Orr (10:34):
We really had no, really contact with them at all while we were-

Ed Brubaker (10:40):
That fence was there.

Henry (Hank) Orr (10:41):
The fence was there (laughs). We had to say on our side of the fence.

Ed Brubaker (10:43):
And what about Massey Library? Did you access to that?

Henry (Hank) Orr (10:46):
Ah, yes. We had still had access to Massey Library, 'cause we had to have because that was the only library.

Ed Brubaker (10:57):
Yeah, yeah. Okay. And then, ah, you went into Crop Science. And when you graduated, what did you do?

Henry (Hank) Orr (11:01):
Well, maybe we can just back up a little as... I think one of the interesting things was, and I think it was in the Fall of '42, ah, to help the western farmers. They organized the, ah, Agricultural Special Train. As I recall there was Studel McDonnell and some of the other agricultural college... I don't know how many. We all met up, ah, in the north.

Henry (Hank) Orr (11:25):
The trains came together. And then we headed for Winnipeg. I think we had three or five, or six, seven students on that. And we went out to try to help with the, ah, harvest. Ah, I ended up with, near North Battleford. And, ah, fortunately, I was only able to get about a week's work out there.

Henry (Hank) Orr (11:44):
Ah, because, the weather changed and the snow and... So I went down south of Saskatchewan to [inaudible] to just try to help my uncle out for some of his work during the lit- the time we were out there. That was a, quite an interesting experience. And I think from an agricultural point of view it probably taught us a little bit.

Henry (Hank) Orr (12:04):
In those days, of course, it was still the student thrashing. And, you had to get up in the morning and harness your team, rope, take your wagon. You were on your own. And you loaded your wagon and you unloaded. It was somewhat different than the conditions I was used to here in, ah, in farming in Ontario.

Ed Brubaker (12:21):
And how many, ah, of a crew would there be working on that one thrashing machine?

Henry (Hank) Orr (12:28):
I don't recall, but it was... I had forgotten how many teams we had. Ah, it was quite a large crew. Um, of course, you sat out in the middle of the field, the thrashing machine and, you would catch your load and brought it to it. So, I can't remember just how many teams there were at that time. I know there were a number.

Ed Brubaker (12:48):
And it would be a custom thrasher or, ah, ah it would come around with a-

Henry (Hank) Orr (12:52):

Ed Brubaker (12:52):
Big gasoline engine?

Henry (Hank) Orr (12:53):
I don't recall. It probably was. Yes, it probably was. This was a rather large farm I was on. Ah... I don't remember whether the old, that operated or not. It's, ah, I can't recall those things.

Ed Brubaker (13:06):
And why, ah, didn't you get much work there?

Henry (Hank) Orr (13:10):
Well, the weather closed in. Up where I was, the, ah, you ended up, we ended up in a snowstorm. And so it was going to be delayed several weeks. So, ah, I, I didn't stay there. And that's when I went down to the southern part of the province to see if I can do any work in...

Henry (Hank) Orr (13:25):
And I hadn't seen my uncle for, ah, a number of years. And it, ah... Chance for me to visit there and him and his family which I enjoyed it very much.

Ed Brubaker (13:36):
Okay. Then after you graduated you went in the Army?

Henry (Hank) Orr (13:40):
Well I went, ah, I graduated in the normal time in-

Ed Brubaker (13:43):
In 1943?

Henry (Hank) Orr (13:44):
In '43 in June. And, ah, so I decided I was going to go through the COC in the Army. But because of some, ah, conditions I, I didn't continue with that. Ah, so I went home. My father needed some help. So I went home to help with the harvest, ah, at the... For that, remained there until the Fall. Then I went back into the Army.

Henry (Hank) Orr (14:12):
And, ah, was sent down to the East coast and trained there. And, ah, was in Saint John, ah, where I met my wife, New Brunswick. And then we were stationed in, ah, Goose Bay, Labrador. I stayed all the time in Landed Command.

Henry (Hank) Orr (14:26):
I, they discovered I had been... Ah, was part of the trouble was flat feet. And I had something on my lung and they said I couldn't go overseas. So, I had to spend my time on the East coast.

Henry (Hank) Orr (14:36):
But, ah, following the War, when the War was finished, ah, we came back to... I had been married that, just before the War had ended. And was post... I was posted back to London for a while. And then I decided that I could see and maybe I needed to get thinking about my field.

Henry (Hank) Orr (14:59):
So, I came down to Guelph and inquired, ah, through the Poultry Department and there was an opportunity to take the Poultry Specialist course. I had always been interested in poultry. I guess some of the... I always feel that, ah, the money... That my mother always looked after the hens. And, ah, I always figured it was the chicken money that put me through university. So, maybe I thought I owed them.

Henry (Hank) Orr (15:23):
So, ah, I was accepted, ah, in the, ah, Poultry Specialist Course. And returned to Guelph in November of, ah, 1945. And spent a year as a Poul- with the Poultry Specialist Course.

Henry (Hank) Orr (15:35):
And then I was fortunate enough to be taken on on the staff there. And, of course, in those days, ah, before you can do any lecturing it was a policy in the university or the department was in charge of all the Ontario breeding station policy, which did all the bug testing and all the inspection of the birds in those days, all the farm flocks.

Henry (Hank) Orr (16:02):
So, the theory was then that in order... If you were ever going to be a lecturer or do some work at the university you had to get out in the field for a while. So, I was sent out one Fall. And I ended up banding, and I think, and inspecting all the chickens in Oxford County.

Henry (Hank) Orr (16:18):
In those days, ah, those were a lot of small hatcheries. And there were was the co-op there. And so I, ah, I don't... I can't recall how many flocks I worked with. And, ah, of course, there were only two, three hundred of them... If you had 500 you had a big flock and I was there.

Henry (Hank) Orr (16:35):
So following that then I, ah, I turned into the university. And I think... I can't remember exactly but it, '46, '47, somewhere in there, I was given the opportunity of doing a little lecture to form a course. And fortunately, I started to work with the late professor Snyder, who was sorting the products down there. And I became interested in poultry products.

Henry (Hank) Orr (17:01):
And, and, ah, I seemed to hit it off with Professor Snyder. And then we got along really well together. And so, that, I spent New Year's... And then he persuaded me in 1951, I think it was, to go down to Pennsylvania and take a Masters degree in Poultry Products there. And when I completed that I came back and continued my work. So the main specialty was in the Poultry Products there and...

Ed Brubaker (17:28):
And that, ah, products meaning eggs? Er?

Henry (Hank) Orr (17:33):
It was the eggs, poultry meat-

Ed Brubaker (17:34):
Poultry meat.

Henry (Hank) Orr (17:36):
Mainly... So I became interested in the product, ah, after it was really, the processing, and the marketing. So I did a lot of work with, ah, egg quality, looking at that. Of course, in those days we worked very potent as it were, daily, small farm box. And we did a lot of extension going out and a lot of our work was visiting these farms when there was problems.

Henry (Hank) Orr (18:02):
And there was many in those days.

Ed Brubaker (18:05):
What kinds of problems? What, ah, sorts of help or advice would you give-

Henry (Hank) Orr (18:07):

Ed Brubaker (18:07):
Often to the farmers?

Henry (Hank) Orr (18:10):
Part of it was with, ah, the quality. I think one of the bigger is we got called in, was, in those days everybody had an egg washer on the farm. They, there was a lot of difficulties because some of them didn't realize, how the poultry was, the sanitation looking after these little egg washers.

Henry (Hank) Orr (18:32):
And so there was many cases of problems from bacteriums that developed. So, many times we had to look, see where the problems were and we tried to, to solve them. And of course, a little later then, [inaudible] got in plant washing and got away with a lot of that, as I recall.

Henry (Hank) Orr (18:51):
But there was a lot of problems with cracked eggs, things like this, that's going out. Just handling, ah... Sometimes there's hookworm problems and things like that. So, it varied with various things like this. And maintaining of quality.

Henry (Hank) Orr (19:04):
The lack in those days of refrigeration is critical. I tried to convince people who, you know, moving, where we can re- reserve the quality of the eggs.

Ed Brubaker (19:14):
And eggs were just, ah, stored at room temperature?

Henry (Hank) Orr (19:18):
But in the earlier days they were, yes. Or, in the coolest part of the basement, in the cellar of the house, you know, before we got into modernity. And of course we did a lot of studying on how egg quality deteriorated, how rapidly it deteriorated and under those conditions.

Henry (Hank) Orr (19:33):
And we use this information then. Ah, I remember going out and talking into a lot of meetings using all these charts, saying building temperature... Quality deteriorates this percent, you know, over the period of a few days. So, this is how we got, how to convince to do the better.

Henry (Hank) Orr (19:50):
And this even carried through the stores, too, as well. But, ah...

Ed Brubaker (19:57):
And, ah, about that time, ah, the broiler industry was starting, too, wasn't it?

Henry (Hank) Orr (20:01):
Yes. I can't remember the exact dates of this. But I can remember being in probably one of the earlier broiler houses, I think, it was [inaudible] in Dundas. And I had forgotten how many... It was five or six, seven, eight, ten thousand, I can't remember the exact number, but in that day, that seemed like a, a kind of big (laughs) operation.

Henry (Hank) Orr (20:23):
And, I think, as I look back I think as far as the poultry industry concerned, I think we lived through a very interesting period in there while I was at the university. Again, we started in indicated earlier with the small farm plots, ah, with a dual purpose bird and most of them at that time because they would give you both egg production and the, and the, can use part of them for, ah, reasonable meat production.

Henry (Hank) Orr (20:52):
The old Bar and Rock, which was quite famous, who, as the efficiency became more important I think you looked at a smaller bird for egg production. And then there was the breeding and things for the selection for the meat type bird. So, we ended up with two different branches completely. And really, they separated out into these.

Henry (Hank) Orr (21:13):
And so the broader production grew fairly rapidly. It was quite a change. And with that, of course, I was very interested and involved in the processing end of it. And we saw tremendous changes there.

Henry (Hank) Orr (21:26):

Ed Brubaker (21:28):
Such as?

Henry (Hank) Orr (21:29):
Well, we started off with small disparate, almost hand-operated with a, ah, a dunker and a, and a small hand picker. And I can remember, ah, if one or two processing plants today, which processed several thousand birds that I've, I used to take students to these plants. I pointed to this little building and I said, "That's where processing visually started." So you went to a few hundred today where they do several thousand per hour, ah, on a line. And of course, during those years.

Henry (Hank) Orr (21:59):
And just, but the time I was retiring, I took a sabbatical in 1980 and went to England in one of my areas. And I could see there that tremendous change was taking place in the automation of processing. And shortly, just, of, of the time I was retiring that was taking hold here. Because the year after I retired there was a visitor came from Brazil and they asked me to take them around.

Henry (Hank) Orr (22:24):
And I went over to one of the plants. And the last time I've been in this plant, I think there was, um, I don't know. 30 or 40 people on one line. And on this day there was only two or three. So, that was part of the change. And that's even gone way beyond that in present times. And that was part of the changes in there.

Henry (Hank) Orr (22:43):
Then the other change that came in there was to meeting the demand, ah, of the, the industry. I mean, we had to, ah, take the restaurant trade, for example. And we had to develop to these chicken restaurants, the take-out trade. And in order to meet that demand there had to be a change in the type of bird, the size of bird.

Henry (Hank) Orr (23:04):
And, which involved efficient management and everything. And then, also, the processing of these things. So, that was a major change that had a great influence, demand, of this type of product and how that would change the production end of it. So, we had to change to meet that, that.

Ed Brubaker (23:23):
You said even the size of the bird? A chicken was not a chicken? Ah...

Henry (Hank) Orr (23:27):
Well, there's different, ah... I mean for some of these take-out trades they demanded one size, which they could cut into several equal pieces.

Ed Brubaker (23:34):
About what weight?

Henry (Hank) Orr (23:36):
Ah, as I recall it was about a three pounder, two and a half, three pound bird in those days. I mean, a little less than three pounds. And then if you wanted to get in, what we called, the roasting chicken you have five or six pounds.

Henry (Hank) Orr (23:46):
Now, for a while in there, there was a bigger demand for this smaller bird. That was the thing. But then as we got into further processing where you start making different products.

Ed Brubaker (24:00):
Such as?

Henry (Hank) Orr (24:02):
Well, well, making it, ah, for take-out trays and things like this, breasts, you know, fillings, some breasts. All these chicken various products, whether it being made. Then we soon discovered, and through some of our research work we just found that if you had the bigger birds, you got a much higher percentage yield, and was more efficient to produce.

Henry (Hank) Orr (24:25):
So, then there was a swing back, partially, swing back you get this type of bird. And it used... This was very evident in turkeys. And today you can hardly... It's pretty difficult at Christmas, I find, to buy a big, big, big turkey because these are all going into further processed products.

Henry (Hank) Orr (24:43):
Because that trend came through-

Ed Brubaker (24:45):

Henry (Hank) Orr (24:45):
This era.

Ed Brubaker (24:47):
And what did you call, what weight would this bigger bird be? And then these turkeys, these big turkeys?

Henry (Hank) Orr (24:53):
Well, in there, and of course, at the same time the chicken broiler and shortly after that, which developed, we got into the turkey product. And that, even I can remember some of the work that we did at the university. You know, the first turkey broilers.

Henry (Hank) Orr (25:07):
Now, Dr. Stan Slinger, who was one of our outstanding nutritionists, Stan was feeding these turkey broilers and... Ah, for... I can remember the first experiments that Stan did. And he thought he had really accomplished something. And, I looked at these birds. Well, there was no fat or anything on them.

Henry (Hank) Orr (25:23):
And I kind of insulted Stan at the time, and we were good friends. But, it did, then he will say, they will develop, and a few other nutritionists. Then we developed a small turkey about eight, 10, 12 pounds. We call them the turkey, small turkey, or turkey broiler.

Henry (Hank) Orr (25:40):
So, the turkey industry then developed two sizes there. One for the smaller bird and one for the larger bird. So that was another change that took place in the industry at the time. And of course, as those changes take place, you know, we had to, they had to develop another nutrition, different nutrition. And different management to produce that particular type of bird.

Ed Brubaker (26:03):
Henry, in your career, you have seen the poultry industry, ah, particularly the laying industry change from the multi-, ah, purpose type of bird, the large bird that laid maybe seven or 70 or 80 eggs per year; to the specialized layer that now lays probably 300 eggs per year.

Ed Brubaker (26:28):
Ah, and it's really just an egg factor. And, from the small farm flock to a, flocks of multi-thousands of birds now, ah, ah, what's your opinion of all of these changes? And, ah, how did you see them coming about? And has it been to the benefit of the farmer, or benefit of agriculture in, ah, Ontario? Or only to the benefit of the consumer?

Henry (Hank) Orr (27:00):
Well, I think the changes you, ah, mentioned are, are quite true. I think this has been a, a good benefit to, to all concerned. I think the producer has gained, as you had mentioned. We, we increased egg production. And this has come about through genetics, nutrition, better management. And this has partly resulted in this increase in, in the number of... And they increased the efficiency of production.

Henry (Hank) Orr (27:37):
And, of course, I think this has meant, there's a better product, or uniform product, possibly. And some people would argue about that one. But, I think, in general, we can say that it has improved all facets of the poultry industry.

Henry (Hank) Orr (27:52):
And there's been a lot of changes in there. And I think part of it we can follow this through what we used to do in extension work. The first few years that... And I mentioned this earlier, that, we don't with... For the individual producer.

Henry (Hank) Orr (28:07):
Then as we got into this larger production, possibly reduction in the number of producers. Producers got larger. That we were dealing more with people who were maybe a niche manufacturers and, ah, other people in this area. We were dealing more through them taking it back to the, ah, production end of it.

Henry (Hank) Orr (28:29):
So there was a change in there. And these are all changes that come about. Possibly, some of them by necessity because of the changes taking place in the industry. So, otherwise, to meet certain demands, certain changes have been, take place.

Henry (Hank) Orr (28:45):
I often used to tell students you may make a change, but you might create half a dozen headaches, which you much have to solve because of that change. And I think this has been quite true in our industry. Of course, we had the, great changes came about with the introduction of the marketing boards.

Henry (Hank) Orr (29:01):
Ah, I remember there was a lot of controversy at the beginning of that. And, ah, so I was, ah, used to be accused of being both pro and anti board at the time. But, ah, as a teacher, ah, I sort of looked at it, I had to look at both sides and make the students understand what the principles were here.

Henry (Hank) Orr (29:23):
That the basic, I think we agree that the basic principle of supply management is, it was okay. And if you, if you can produce what you need, it's probably the, the ideal. Now, you don't always produce that ideal. Now, there were, there were other things that, implications to come in there.

Henry (Hank) Orr (29:40):
There used to be a lot of arguments about the, the price of quotas and all this sort of thing. And, certainly, today, this all has to be influenced in, in the cost of production because of the cost of [inaudible]. So there's, there's probably some consumers would argue that they have a lot cheaper product than what's put on the market for us.

Henry (Hank) Orr (29:58):
Well, I think there other advantages, which, come into here.

Ed Brubaker (30:02):
Yeah, what advantages do you see for that marketing are?

Henry (Hank) Orr (30:06):
Well, I think with, they have done an excellent job. They've been very, they have there... You know, they got rid of these ups and downs sort of thing, yeah, where we used to have high peaks of ups and lows. And I think, basically, we have to give them credit for level years of production out.

Henry (Hank) Orr (30:21):
And I think it's been just... We can give them credit for working on quality. Ah, I know we did quite an extensive work. But the egg marketing board supplied us with the funds. And we did an extensive survey of the industry, particularly for the quality input right from the, we followed this right from the time the eggs are produced, right to the consumer picked them up in the stores.

Ed Brubaker (30:50):
Henry, you talked a bit about the change in the laying industry. And, and earlier you referred to changes in the broiler industry from that first, ah, broiler operation that you visited in the, in the Dundas area. Ah, what is a broiler in- industry like today?

Henry (Hank) Orr (31:11):
Well, I think probably the biggest change is the, is the larger units. And there's been a continually change in the, in the breeding aspect of it. I mean, there's been breeding for, ah, a meatier type of bird. And this has resulted from, we used to call hybridization.

Henry (Hank) Orr (31:31):
Of course, now, I... They tell me they're getting into genetic engineering. So this is playing a part, ah. Since I retired I think this is somewhere where changes that have taken place.

Henry (Hank) Orr (31:42):
But, certainly, the bird itself as you look back to the first broiler chickens and the ones today, I think, if you look at the size of the breast and stuff, there's been that change to that meatier bird, which has more muscle on the breast, particularly. And this is particularly evident, too, in the turkeys that were [inaudible].

Henry (Hank) Orr (32:03):
Broad-breasted bird I think from the original type of turkey that started many years ago.

Ed Brubaker (32:10):
And, ah, these are controlled by marketing boards, also, aren't they?

Henry (Hank) Orr (32:15):
Yes, the turkey industry is controlled, too, as well as the broiler and egg. Similar type of boards.

Ed Brubaker (32:23):
And, and you say the advantages and disadvantages apply, ah, to the broiler and turkeys apply to eggs-

Henry (Hank) Orr (32:29):
I think one can say, yes, that is true for all the boards.

Ed Brubaker (32:35):
Um, the feed industry, in particular, has taken a tremendously active role in inputting, ah, advice and, and help to farmers, probably even medical advice on, on, ah, a drugs and so on, ah, to these birds. Ah, has the feed industry done a good job in this regard?

Henry (Hank) Orr (33:02):
I think in general, yes. Er, it certainly had to keep pace with them. I think you find that most of our feed people today are, over the past few years, have been hiring nutritionists. And are certainly, I think, many have kept pace.

Henry (Hank) Orr (33:22):
I think all we have to look at, ah, I don't know if I can quote the figures correctly. I suppose when we started out we produced a pound of chicken, we'll say, ah, three pounds of feed or something to that figure. And we thought we were doing very well.

Henry (Hank) Orr (33:37):
Well, today you have to get it well down to one point something, that, or else you can't be in business. I think you have to give credit to the research that's gone in in the feed industry. If you... The feed companies themselves, the university, and others.

Henry (Hank) Orr (33:51):
And, I think this is a, a tremendous chain when we think into, how much we have reduced just repeat efficiency in the meat and chicken meat and broiler, and turkey industry. I think that's one of the big things that's interesting to industry in the history of our industry.

Ed Brubaker (34:12):
Yes, so that's good. And the breeders such as Donald McKee-Shaver and others, ah, had an influence on this also?

Henry (Hank) Orr (34:18):
Well, they, they certainly did. And that, I guess there's a, a big change there if we look at it as today. And many of those originally there's been an amalgamation of many of the larger companies. And so it's in fewer and fewer hands today.

Henry (Hank) Orr (34:33):
And probably because of the changes that have taken place in the industry and in the quality. And the amount of work that needs to be done it's come into fewer hands there, as well.

Ed Brubaker (34:43):
Very, very specialized industry.

Henry (Hank) Orr (34:45):
Well, it is. Ah, I think we can say that it is a whole poultry industry. It's very, very highly specialized.

Ed Brubaker (34:53):
And this is good?

Henry (Hank) Orr (34:55):
Well, in today's economics I think it is, yes.

Ed Brubaker (34:58):
Ah, I'm not sure of my figures, too. But I think at one time they used to figure ten weeks to raise a broiler bird to whatever weight it was needed. And now we do it in six or thereabouts?

Henry (Hank) Orr (35:10):
Yeah, right. We, ah, I think it was even longer than 10 weeks there when I, when we first started. I mean, with 12. But, certainly today, ah, you're producing certain size of birds in, ah, as you say about six weeks.

Henry (Hank) Orr (35:22):
And, ah, so, today that's another program that's all scheduled out. If you, you produce... The producers today, many produce for a particular market. Or... Ah, for example, as you mentioned earlier, about the size for the take-out trade that they...

Henry (Hank) Orr (35:38):
So, the producer A) may produce for this one; B) may for producing for another market. And I think this is part of this special business that is taking place.

Ed Brubaker (35:49):
And we have consumed... As consumers have benefited because poultry has become very competitively priced?

Henry (Hank) Orr (35:57):
I think that's... Too, I think it, competitively with other meats, it's very good. And then, also, because of the health concern, ah, I think maybe poultry has had an advantage here, as well. Ah, compared to some other meats.

Henry (Hank) Orr (36:12):
And certainly today, ah, I think the chicken consumption is certainly has not gone down in the, I mean with all the different types of products today, you can buy it in such a convenient manner it certainly entices people to buy it.

Ed Brubaker (36:30):
Henry, you haven't talked about any of your teaching here. Um, can you recall any particular highlights in your teaching? Or, can you recall, ah, the things that are outstanding or things that students have done, ah? I think you enjoyed teaching.

Henry (Hank) Orr (36:48):
Yes, I think I really enjoyed teaching, ah, ah, I... I was very interested in working with students. Ah, what interested me a lot was to see their, in coming into their first year, seeing the changes that would take place through, mainly through maturity until they graduated.

Henry (Hank) Orr (37:10):
And I enjoyed that for, ah, for a few years. I was a faculty advisor. And I guess I became a good listener because I think a lot of students used to come in to my office to get something solved. But I never really solved it. They always seemed to me they went out, 'cause I just listened to them. And I think that was one of the, the secrets of it.

Henry (Hank) Orr (37:31):
Others, I'm proud of a lot of students that went through our classes that have gone on to various phases in the, the industry. Ah, I did, ah, have, ah, two or three of the diploma, who, worked for me and with me in the, in our labs, who I encouraged them to go on and take further education. And, ah, those fellows have all gone on and they'd get into areas and become quite successful, I think, in their, their line of work.

Henry (Hank) Orr (38:04):
I feel rather proud and maybe I gave a little prod back then.

Ed Brubaker (38:07):
(Laughs) And I'm sure they remember you.

Henry (Hank) Orr (38:11):
Well, I still are friends with most of them. Yeah-

Ed Brubaker (38:13):
Yeah, yeah.

Henry (Hank) Orr (38:13):
I, and, ah... It's nice to meet with them occasionally.

Ed Brubaker (38:18):
In that same line, looking back to your student days, are there any professors or incidents that you think greatly influenced you in later life?

Henry (Hank) Orr (38:32):
Yes, I guess, ah, it was interesting while I, I was a student here there were probably two or three people who, of I, I admired as, as lecturers.

Ed Brubaker (38:46):
Can you give us their names?

Henry (Hank) Orr (38:48):
I... I think one of the ones that sticks in my mind who became a former president. The year was... Dr. McLaughlin. I always enjoyed his lectures. And he always impressed me. And, ah, there was others similar to that. Ah... McConkey out in the, I almost, ah... He was the, at that time, I guess he was teaching the plant breeding at that time.

Henry (Hank) Orr (39:11):
And I almost went into, ah, taking graduate work in plant breeding. But, ah, the War intervened there, of course. And, ah, in my field. I often kid, ah, students, saying, well, I've been a certain option. I'm going to be doing something.

Henry (Hank) Orr (39:24):
Well, I, I was always surprised them when said, well, believe it or not, I said, I graduated in Field Crops and ended up in, in Poultry Products (laughs). So... You ne- to illustrate that you really, you don't know where you're heading in some cases.

Ed Brubaker (39:39):
Yes, ah, Dr. MacLachlan was in Botany.

Henry (Hank) Orr (39:42):
That's right.

Ed Brubaker (39:43):
Too, and, ah, was a very, ah, very talented lecturer.

Henry (Hank) Orr (39:47):
He was. He can make things very interesting.

Ed Brubaker (39:49):
Yeah. And, ah, anyone else that you can recall, in particular?

Henry (Hank) Orr (39:55):
Well, I guess, ah, Mr. Snyder, who I mentioned earlier, I worked with probably had a great influence on getting me into the, the product area. And, ah, some people felt that, ah, he wasn't the easiest person to work with. But I always find that we get along fine.

Henry (Hank) Orr (40:13):
And, ah, as I say, I think I have to, certainly, he got me started in the direction of the product, working, he got me very interested in that area, and pleased that he did because I became very interested in sort of the food aspect of it, you know. And very interested in working with him.

Ed Brubaker (40:20):
And you had a good career working in that field?

Henry (Hank) Orr (40:33):
I enjoyed it.

Ed Brubaker (40:34):
Yeah, that's good.

Henry (Hank) Orr (40:34):
I enjoyed it very much.

Ed Brubaker (40:34):

Henry (Hank) Orr (40:35):
The best thing.

Ed Brubaker (40:37):
And you've been retired and all, for, what? 14, 15 years?

Henry (Hank) Orr (40:41):
Almost, ah, in 13 years now.

Ed Brubaker (40:43):
13 years.

Henry (Hank) Orr (40:43):
I've been retired.

Ed Brubaker (40:45):
And what have you done since retirement that, ah...?

Henry (Hank) Orr (40:48):
Well, I certainly got out of my work that I was doing. And I got involved with, with other things. I became, ah, very interested in some of the work in the church. I'm a member of our Presbyterian... I said, ah, I got involved in the politics of the, (laughs) at the church.

Henry (Hank) Orr (41:08):
And, and there I sort of followed up with a student because I'm Presbyterian. I became, a, a member of the, ah, student education committee. And where we interviewed all the candidates, and had the candidates under our jurisdiction that were going through for the ministry. And also became ah, interested in at conference in the internship committee there.

Henry (Hank) Orr (41:30):
So, I still follow through part of my educational program. And, ah, I found that very interesting to work with these people and, and I, I spent a... And I've become interested in, well, more what you're reading and things like this. You keep busy.

Ed Brubaker (41:50):
And you were involve with the Alumni in Action Committee?

Henry (Hank) Orr (41:52):
Yes, I was involved with that for, ah, four or five years. And I was president for one year. I found that very interesting. and, it kept you in touch with the university. and I've been able to, track the university.

Henry (Hank) Orr (42:06):
But I did a lot of some for a few years. I did volunteer work in the library, particularly with the, ah, poultry slides that were sent over there and all, their old pictures. And I spent a long time getting that all sorted out, trying to identify all the old pictures and things. And so, well, that is all under file now in the archives for future references.

Ed Brubaker (42:33):
And, ah, you've traveled a bit?

Henry (Hank) Orr (42:36):
Yes, we've done a fair amount of traveling, which we've enjoyed.

Ed Brubaker (42:40):
To where?

Henry (Hank) Orr (42:41):
Well, we've been over to Europe. And, ah, back down into the States. We've been to, just this last year, we're down Bermuda again for our second trip there. It's ah, it's nice to get away. Traveled out west a couple times.

Ed Brubaker (42:58):
Henry, ah, you have some children?

Henry (Hank) Orr (43:01):
Yes, we have three, family.

Ed Brubaker (43:03):
And where are they now?

Henry (Hank) Orr (43:05):
Well, our two, we have two girls and a son. And, ah, our oldest daughter is living in Kitchener. And she's working with Manulife, the office there. Our son is now, ah, heading up the Human Resources at Sick Children's Hospital. He started out with Nuclear Physics, worked for Hydro. And I'm... He's, I think he's in his fourth career now. And, ah, our youngest daughter is took Nursing at McMaster. And she's now working in public health here with Waterloo Dufferin.

Ed Brubaker (43:42):
So they're all fairly close?

Henry (Hank) Orr (43:44):
They're all close and handy.

Ed Brubaker (43:45):
And how many grandchildren?

Henry (Hank) Orr (43:47):
Ah, we have, ah, four grandchildren. And then we have ah, we call her, ah, my son's wife has a daughter and we call her our step-granddaughter, yeah.

Ed Brubaker (43:58):
(Laughs) just one of the family now?

Henry (Hank) Orr (43:58):
She's... We consider one of the family.

Ed Brubaker (44:00):
Isn't that wonderful. Okay, Henry, ah, thank you very, very much for your time. And this has been a, an interview with Professor Henry Orr of the Poultry Department of the University of Guelph, ah, known around the campus as Professor Hank Orr. And, ah, to many farmers, I think, around the country, poultry producers who will remember him very well from, ah, just visits to their farms.

The library is committed to ensuring that members of our user community with disabilities have equal access to our services and resources and that their dignity and independence is always respected. If you encounter a barrier and/or need an alternate format, please fill out our Library Print and Multimedia Alternate-Format Request Form. Contact us if you’d like to provide feedback: lib.a11y@uoguelph.ca