EFA caught up with egg manager Darrel Mandel early in the new year, to find out why the colony decided to get involved in the net-zero egg barn project in the first place.
Darrel went on to mention some of the key features of the barn that he hopes will help it achieve a true net-zero status, where energy inputs and energy outputs are balanced.
In preparation for welcoming their first flock of birds into the new egg barn, installing the hen housing system is a critical step. The layer barn is almost complete, in anticipation for placing the first flock in late January.
Darrel talked to us about the hen housing system they chose to install, as well as the number of birds that will soon call the net-zero barn home. The number of birds depends on whether they decide to place a flock of brown birds or white birds.
Here’s a real bird’s eye view of this free-run aviary system, from the deck just outside the nest boxes. Not only does it give the hens a place to socialize while they wait to use the nest boxes for laying their eggs, but it also gives the farmer a way to access the system for cleaning and maintenance.
All the birds will have unlimited access to fresh water and nutritious feed, at a variety of levels and locations throughout the system. Water nipples are shown on the left, the feed belt is in the middle, and the mechanism for operating the feed belts is on the right.
Speaking of the nest box, here’s a better view both outside and inside. The scratch pad inside the nest box allows the hens to express additional natural behaviors, while also providing a cushioned landing pad for the eggs as they’re laid. The floor inside the nest box is slightly slanted, so the eggs will roll back onto the egg belt. We’ll follow the journey of the egg more closely in a future blog post!
At the opposite end of the barn from where the mechanisms are for the feed belt, is where the manure belt is emptied. We’ll also follow the journey of the manure in another future blog post, as manure management is an integral piece of the sustainability puzzle on egg farms.
Everyone at EFA and Brant Colony – especially Darrel – is getting excited for the first flock of egg laying hens to be placed into this eggscellent free-run aviary system in the net-zero barn!