BLUE SPRINGS, Neb. — An Iowa-based egg producer is expanding into southeast Nebraska to reduce the risk that a poultry disease could cripple its operations.
The Beatrice Daily Sun reports (http://bit.ly/NoPlMW ) Hy-Line International is building a new chicken barn on a farm near Blue Springs to expand and protect its business.
Hy-Line wanted to have some of company's chickens laying eggs at a site away from its West Des Moines headquarters to protect against disease, said Antonio Paraguassu, global production director.
"The first motivation to go outside of the state was want to kind of secure our stock," he said. "We wanted to make sure that, in the event of an influenza or any other major disease in Iowa, we still have a facility in another state. Being in Iowa, the natural place to look was Nebraska."
McClure Farms, owned by Ed and Glennis McClure, is partnering with Hy-Line and will own the barn, but Hy-Line will own the chickens. The company chose McClure because of his experience raising chickens and his location.
Ed McClure raised chickens from the late 1970s until 1995 before switching over to raising hogs. But he said the hog farm has become too labor-intensive, so he's switching back.
The barn is expected to be ready in early March. It will hold 15,000 hens and 1,600 roosters of six different breeds. Most of the eggs Hy-Line produces are exported.
"Once the chickens are in here, it's a high bio-security barn," McClure told the newspaper. "I'm going to have to shower in every time I come in the barn, and any employee would have to do that, too."
The cage-free barn will use automation to make it possible for a single person to take care of most chores.
Conveyor belts will collect the eggs hens lay and carry them to a central location within the building. The eggs are collected twice a day and taken to freezers where they will be kept until they're either ready to be shipped or hatched.
The entire production area is elevated with a grated floor that will allow chicken droppings to fall down to a concrete area below for cleanup.
Information from: Beatrice Sun, http://www.beatricedailysun.com