Canadian Poultry Magazine

Clark Poultry Ltd. Builds State-of-the-art Complex

Jim Knisley   

Features 100th anniversary Key Developments Business/Policy

March 2003

Clark Poultry Farms Ltd. faced a decision. Some of its broiler barns required upgrading and expansion to provide the efficiency demanded in today’s broiler industry.

The question was whether to retrofit and expand on existing sites or build for the future on a single site. The decision was made to build for the future.

Clarks acquired a 180-acre farm, added 135 adjoining acres near Hagersville, Ont. – southwest of Hamilton – and put up four new state-of-the-art barns. The site is close to Clark’s head office in Caledonia, Ont. and offers three-phase power and natural gas service. The new barns were built 1,350 feet from the nearest house, and 1,300 feet off the road. The new barns are two stories, and 60 by 450 ft., collectively housing 240,000 broilers. There is also a separate building containing an office, generators, water treatment equipment and pumps.


Two construction firms were employed to oversee the project, each building two barns. Braemar Building Systems of York, Ont. and Cor Pannekoek Construction Ltd. of Burgessville carried out the construction, which took about four months. Harold Bundy of Braemar said that while it was a large project it was straightforward because Clark knew exactly what was required.

“Everything was decided before the barns were built,” he said.

Pannekoek agreed this was a big project, but that isn’t what makes it stand out. It stands out because of the demanding specifications Clark put in place.

“These barns were not built to cut corners, they are the best of the best,” he said.

Bundy added, “They employ the latest design and materials. They did everything to ensure the barns are easy to clean and operate. This included the use of fibreglass panels in each barn, which is a new concept in poultry production houses.” The panels are extremely durable and very easy to clean.

The barns also employ steel support beams, which means the supports can be spread over greater distances providing more space inside the barns. This makes for durability and easier cleaning, as well as a brighter, airier appearance.

Overall “the quality amazes everyone,” Pannekoek said. Even the insulation is the very best. The concrete foundation is “sandwich wall” construction with Styrofoam insulation. The framed walls are insulated using Roxel insulation, which is an extremely durable slag product that provides an insulation value of R 21.5.

W. Murray Clark Limited supplied and installed all of the production equipment to the same exacting standards. The Clark Poultry Farms facility uses Big Dutchman automatic pan feeding systems and Ziggity watering systems. It also uses the Thevco Proline system to monitor and control every aspect of production. The system provides readouts on feed and water consumption, barn temperature, humidity, and the weight of the birds. The heating system is also fully monitored and computer controlled.

An air inlet controller operates within three distinct zones and generates continuously variable settings based on temperature and humidity.

The Target Bird Weighing System tracks the average weight of the birds, the standard deviation and uniformity, and daily gain.

There is also a MISTer misting system, a Megola Scaleguard system and an ozone water purification system. The MISTer System manufactured by MEC Technologies and distributed by W. Murray Clark Limited provides cooling in hot weather. The system is designed to produce micron-size water particles that flash evaporate in hot air. This cools the air without wetting the birds or leaving residual moisture.

While the site has more than adequate water supply from a well, the water is hard. The Megola Scaleguard system provides a unique electronic water treatment that prevents scale buildup. Clark has tried the Megola system at other sites and decided to include it in the new barns. The system was developed in Germany in the early 1990s and not only prevents new scale formation, but also eliminates previous scale buildup. The system works by inducing scale to remain suspended in the water rather than coating surfaces in the water system. The system itself is small, consisting of insulated electrical wire wrapped around the incoming water line to form a series of closed coils. The wire is connected to a computerized control unit, which passes electricity through the coils generating magnetic fields that pass through the water at a pre-programmed frequency. The frequency of the signals resonates with the natural vibration frequencies of the water molecules and the dissolved ions. (An extensive review of the Megola system can be found in the July 2002 edition of Canadian Poultry.)

The ozone water treatment system consists of a generator and mixing tanks to ensure full treatment. Iron is oxidized when exposed to ozone and sulphur is reduced to sulphates. Ozone also effectively deals with pathogens.

While the combination of a descaler and ozone system is common in Europe, this is a first for Canada. Rob Chambers of Hunsingers, the Fisherville-based company that did the installation, said both the Megola descaler and the ozone treatment system were installed quickly and easily.

For ventilation, each floor has five 18-inch, six 24-inch, and eight 48-inch fans as well as 11 circulating fans. These Canadian-made Vic fans can operate at slow speeds providing “a beautiful flow of air,” according to Clark’s production director, Ron Shoup.

Biosecurity was also in the forefront in the planning. The barns are set well back from road and strict access protocols are utilized, Shoup said

Clark is also trying a bit of an experiment with the heating system. In one of the barns, the heaters are vented to the outside. In theory, this may improve the air quality in the barn, but to date it is just a theory and Shoup wants to see how it works in practice.

There are eight feed tanks with twin flex augers for maximum control. The Reliable Scale system is also set up to track daily consumption, deliver precise amounts of feed, immediately detect consumption problems and calculate feed conversion. “We can get a feel for everything,” said Shoup.

There are also two 350,000-watt Sommers generators, which provide a backup power system. This is a good idea in an area where an ice storm knocked out power lines and left many places without power for four days last February.

There are also wide gravel areas around the barns to ensure accessibility for feed and chicken trucks, and straw chopping service equipment.

The sensitive issue of manure disposal has been carefully considered. Clark Poultry Farms has created and implemented a comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan that will see much of the manure generated on this farm shipped to mushroom growers across Ontario.

Clark has built an efficient, state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly facility.

The four new barns are two stories each, and 60 by 450 ft., collectively housing 240,000 broilers.

The combination of the ozone system and the Scaleguard system, both from Megola, is common in Europe, but this is a first for Canada.

Ron Shoup, Clark’s Production Director

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