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Cass County Courthouse photo

PLATTSMOUTH – Cass County Board of Commissioners members heard an update about the expected water usage rate of a new chicken breeder operation Tuesday morning.

Cass County Zoning Administrator Mike Jensen addressed commissioners about a chicken breeder operation that will be located two miles east of Elmwood on U.S. Highway 34. It will house up to 65,000 chickens on rural, private land owned by the Tom and Kaylyn Jackman family.

The facility will collect eggs laid by the hens and send them to a hatchery run by Lincoln Premium Poultry. The company has opened several chicken operations at sites in eastern Nebraska over the past few years.

The chicken breeder operation would be housed in four enclosed barns situated on eight to ten acres of property. It would be in service 45 weeks of the year. Commissioners approved a conditional use permit for construction of the facility in September.

Jensen said he wanted to make sure the operation would not surpass a water usage rate of 50 gallons per minute. That would put the facility in violation of local natural resources district rules.

“There were some questions about the wells near the site, and I wanted to verify that they had enough water to do what they wanted to do,” Jensen said.

Jensen said the facility would use two 60-gallon wells. One would be a primary-use well and the second would serve as a backup well. Their average usage rate would range from 3.5 gallons per minute to 7.4 gallons per minute.

“Their peak use would be 7.4 gallons per minute, which is well less than the 50-gallon number,” Jensen said. “The average home requires anywhere from seven to ten gallons per minute, so the number for the chicken operation should be fine for what they want to do.”

Opponents of the chicken breeder operation had raised concerns earlier in the year that the facility would use a large amount of water. They felt that would potentially harm water pressure at existing homes.

Jensen told board members the recent research indicated that would not be the case.

“I wanted to make sure it wasn’t well beyond what a normal house would take, and it will not be,” Jensen said. “That was my main concern at this point.”

Board members did not take any action on the topic as it was a discussion-only item on the agenda.

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