By Cindy Huitema
Our December progress report and some notes on key differences between conventional and enriched housing.
By Cindy Huitema
This is my fourth blog in regard to our journey from conventional housing to enriched housing.
Of course, each week brought deadlines and we always had to keep an eye on the weather forecast. We were hampered once mid-December with lots of snow that stayed for a week, but that all disappeared until December 22.
We completed the cooler and pack room concrete work and framed these areas. The vast size difference between the new barn and our present one is now obvious.
The enriched colony system has a few unique features. First, there can be up to 35 hens in each living area. We will likely have around 30 due to our quota and leasing numbers, leaving us with room for future expansion.
Second, the larger area allows for a few different things. The hens can roam about within their living quarters. There’s space for a curtained nesting area for privacy when the hen lays the egg. It also has two perches that run the entire length of all housing units and scratch pads to cater to a hen’s natural instincts.
When explaining this system to consumers and urbanites, we tell them that this would be like you going from your average car to a limousine!
Because the space for the hens is so much larger, the barn is, thus, larger too.
The barn needed more stone around it, and after we framed all the walls it was time for the trusses to go up.
This occurred on December 12, and although it was not sunny, it was nicely above freezing and not cloudy or rainy.
A crane operator from Vic Powell Welding proved to be an expert at moving the trusses and the main barn had three-quarters of them up before the workers’ lunch break.
They did the remainder of the main barn quickly after lunch and then the smaller trusses for the cooler and pack room at the front.
The shape of the barn structure was now easily visible to us, and I can better visualize what I will see from my kitchen window.
Once all of the bracing was put in place, the steel went on the roof next. It took two days with no wind. All of the screws were put in place and the ridge cap was installed.
We put particleboard on the front of the barn and installed the windows so that it was at least closed in for the winter weather over the Christmas holidays.
In December, Nick sought more pricing and quotes. This included getting a price on a scissor lift for the packing room. This will be used in the pack room and will be level with the floor.
That said it could be lowered below floor level to make it easier for taller people to place stacks of eggs. Nick is 6′1″ and I am 5′1 ½″ (sorry, but to me that extra half inch is important!) so this will come in handy.
We wrestled a bit with whether we needed the scissor lift or not. In the end, this is a family egg business and we considered the next generation in making it more convenient to operate the packer.
We know two other egg farmers in our immediate vicinity that want to order scissor lifts too.
Therefore, we had a meeting at our place with a salesman from the Kitchener area to go over size and weight specifics, our needs and pressed for the best price with having a quantity of three in such close geographical proximity. This decision was still pending at blogging time.
As the year-end approached, the deadline to pay invoices that came in came as well. We want to split the expenses between the two calendar years to spread this out for our tax situation.
We’ll plod through and are aiming to have the entire barn insulated and concrete floor poured in January. Hopefully the weather cooperates!
Till next time,
Cindy Egg Farmerette
CLICK HERE to read more about Cindy’s experience transitioning from a conventional to an enriched layer barn.