ELMWOOD – There’s a new scene on the farming landscape of Cass County.
And, depending on where one travels on U.S. Highway 34, it can be seen from quite a distance.
It’s a chicken breeding farm owned and operated by Thom and Kaylyn Jackman for Lincoln Premium Poultry.
It’s the only poultry barn in the county.
An open house on July 15 attracted around 150 people, according to Thom Jackman.
“It went well,” he said. ”We were very pleased.”
Lincoln Premium Poultry spokeswoman Jessica Kolterman added, “People were very excited to see the building and its operation in person, and to understand it more clearly.”
The event drew positive comments from many who attended.
“This is great,” said Jennifer Serkiz, executive director of the Cass County Economic Development Council. “I love how it will diversify our farm income.”
“I like it,” said Janet McCartney, a county commissioner. “It’s laid out nice and it’s good for the economy.”
The purpose of the operation is for roosters and hens to mate, collect the eggs laid by the hens and then send them to a Fremont-area Lincoln company hatchery, the next step in the process that will eventually bring rotisserie chickens to the dinner table.
Within a few weeks, approximately 65,000 chickens – 54,000 hens and 11,000 roosters—will be trucked to the four enclosed barns on 10 to 12 acres set back some 650 feet from Hwy. 34 two miles southeast of Elmwood.
To handle that many chickens, each barn is 600 feet long.
A 14-foot-wide scratch pad with wood chips, or shavings, will be installed on the main aisle in each barn where the roosters and hens will mate, and possibly intermingle in a general way, with the roosters sleeping on the pad and the hens having a separate sleeping area.
There will be separate and different methods when feeding the hens and roosters. The roosters will eat out of orange-colored plastic trays lowered to the ground by a pulley system. Otherwise, the trays will be suspended in the air when not in use.
The hens will eat in individual pods or “wire cages,” Thom said. These are near their nests and away from the roosters.
These feeding cages are big enough for the hens to fit into to eat, but too small for the larger roosters.
“You want to make sure the hens get ample feed and not be dominated by the roosters,” Thom said.
The roosters and hens will drink water in a similar fashion, but in different areas.
The birds will peck at a silver nipple for water with a cup underneath to catch any runoff. The birds can drink from the cup as well.
The hens will lay their eggs in nests elevated from the floor. The nests are tilted in the back so that eggs will roll off the nest and onto a conveyor belt taking them to a back area packing room for shipment to the hatchery.
Large fans will keep the facility at comfortable temperature levels for the birds at all times.
The operation will be shut down about seven weeks each year for cleaning with the entire flock sent to an out-of-state processing plant.
“We won’t have multiple flocks, just one flock per year,” Thom said.
The manure, which is considered dry manure, will remain inside until the plant is shut down for that seven-week period.
Then, the manure might be spread onto his land, Thom said, or sold to other farmers.
“It looks like it’s going to be a good facility, a good location,” said Mike Jensen, the county’s zoning administrator.
Thom added, “It’s been a long time in the making. We’re excited about it.”
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