Ortly A. Odsen
Ortly A. Odsen was born in the Congress area of Saskatchewan in 1922. He attended school there and in Assiniboia. While at the School of Agriculture in 1941-42 he won the Canada Packers Medal for poultry. Drew Davey of the Saskatchewan Department of Agriculture saw him for the bright young man he was and hired him as a part time poultry fieldman. For the next thirty winters he worked his assigned areas, testing poultry, selecting stock and enthusiastically talking poultry. He was in many mud holes, on many snow clogged roads and in many dark or low-ceiling chicken houses. His famous gas lantern came in handy but not his extra height.
In 1943, Andy Smith of Smith Hatcheries gave Ortly the chance to learn the hatchery business. After three weeks at Tisdale, he was sent to Prince Albert where he ran the hatchery for two seasons. In 1944 he sent breeding stock chickens to farmers in Assiniboia who produced the eggs for Assiniboia Hatcheries in 1945. In May 1946 he married Dorothy May McKinnin of St. Victor. She has been his partner in raising two children as well as in the hatchery for over 40 years.
When the industry started to change from small farm flock to commercial poultry farms, Ortly also changed. In 1960 he formed a partnership with local farms anxious to sell their grain and put up a commercial broiler chicken barn. This grew to over 50,000 chicks per flock.
In 1963 he became a member of a committee formed to look at ways to stabilize the marketing of broiler chicken. He was a member of the Provincial Chicken Board and then elected to the board when it was formed in 1966. He was chairman from 1972 to 1977 and a member until 1979.
Ortly has been active in the Saskatchewan Hatchery Association and the Saskatchewan Poultry Council. He was a Charter member of his church, a school trustee or board of education member or executive for 25 years and was 10 years on the Credit Union board. He also worked 10 summers as a hail adjuster.
It hardly seems possible but he has participated in the time from 50 bird farm roaster flocks, New York Dressing and small local hatcheries to 20,000 bird broiler chicken flocks, ready to cook frozen poultry and large specialized hatcheries. To quote from something he wrote: “We met people of a special breed. People that were very, very hospitable, almost everyone leaving you with something you could carry on to other flock owners. Many, many nights we spent talking poultry until 3 o’clock. I enjoyed every night.”
Poultry men are indeed special people.