Canadian Poultry Magazine

Peter Koch’s New Egg Laying Facilities

By Canadian Poultry   

Features 100th anniversary Equipment Poultry Equipment Technology Poultry Production Production

November 1978

It’s apparent soon after you talk to him that Pete Koch is an experienced poultry businessman who knows where he is going.

Peter and his wife, Elsa, own and operate the Cedardale Poultry Ranch Ltd., 32926 King Road, Abbotsford, B.C.

For years the Cedardale Poultry Ranch has been a “slat barn” operation. But the Koch’s knew that they would have to modernize in order to compete in today’s marketplace.


After investigating several types of new facilities and equipment, Koch employed John and David Pankratz, partners in Northwest Agrinomics Ltd., Abbotsford, B.C., specialists in agricultural management. About that same time, Koch had a visit from Ian Peacock, manager of Peacock Equipment Ltd., Cloverdale, B.C.

“I had heard about Peter’s modernization plans, so I called on him to introduce one of my newest lines, Favorite Poultry Equipment,” Peacock said. “I felt certain we could meet the needs of Cedardale Poultry Ranch with Favorite’s new Cal-Aire reverse cage system in a 4-deck configuration.”

Koch says the type of cage system he would install in the new facilities was critical.

“I was interested in the operating plusses offered by the reverse cage system,” Koch admits. “The idea of greater bird density, more eggs per bird, better feed conversion, lower mortality and cracks and especially no dropping boards, scrapers or plastic sheets to clean, convinced me that Favorite’s Cal-Aire System was my best choice.

Checked in Atlanta

Nonetheless, last January, Koch visited the Southeastern Poultry & Egg Association Conference and Exhibit at Atlanta, Georgia to evaluate all brands of equipment. The trip reaffirmed his choice of Favorite.

With the assistance of the Pankratz brothers, financing for the project was secured through Perry Creighton, manager of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Abbotsford.

Upon Peacock’s suggestion, Koch decided on the Cal-Aire 4-deck reverse cages, four rows to a house. This allows for 62,720 birds at four birds per 18″ x 12″ cage, or 31,360 birds per barn.

Two Barns

The cages were put into two fully automated, 390′ long by 42 ½” wide deep pit, total confinement layer barns. Barns are 20′ apart and connected by an enclosed passageway. On one side there is a 20 ft. x 30 ft. egg room and a 30 ft. x 30 ft. cooler room to serve both barns. Eight ft. deep manure pits run under the entire cage system of each barn; barns are metal clad wood frame construction on 3 ft. high concrete foundation walls. A skid steer loader can be used for manure removal.

The cage feeders are Favorite flat-chain-in-trough type, travelling at 60 ft. per minute, powered by 1 ½ HP 3 phase electric motors through a new industrial type gear box that has a 3 year manufacturer’s warranty and is claimed to need less power than competitors’.

A unique system of feed supply using the Favorite multi-flex hoppers is used to give maximum flexibility i.e. immediate ration change and to ensure that the old feed is used up before the new. In front of each barn there are 4-8 ton feed storage bins to make a total of 8. The bins are paired, standard 4″ augers from each pair of bins supply feed to a multi-flex hopper located between them. Each multi-flex hopper has two flexible coreless augers. One flexible auger going to each cage row supplying the manifold that keeps the flat chain feeders filled. The bulk feed bins have a new design of boot developed by Peacock Equipment that completely cleans out the feed in the bins. The 4″ augers have ½ HP 1 phase motors; the 2 7/16″ flexible augers have ½ HP 3 phase motors. All motors are controlled by high/low feed level switches. The flat chain feeders are controlled by time clocks.

Egg Collecting

For egg collection Koch chose the Favorite system using 4″ poly web belts to collect the eggs from the cage rows to the collector towers at the row ends. The eggs are moved on to the escalator belts with the new flexible finger cups and conveyed down onto the 12″ wide cross conveyor belt. The cross conveyor belt runs under the floor picking up the eggs from each row end in both buildings, taking them to the egg room. The eggs are then elevated to an accumulator before being candled after which the eggs are packed onto plastic flats by a Seymour 60 case per hour farm packer. The egg flats are then stacked on pallets and moved into the cooler, which has a 2 HP 3 phase egg cooler to maintain quality until they are picked up by Canada Safeway for grading and cartoning.

Control of all egg belts and the counters for each of the 64 cage belts are mounted in impressive panels located in the egg room.

For watering Koch chose Swish, as this is what he was using in his rearing barns.

Importance of Ventilation

The ventilation system is another first. At Peacock’s suggestion Variable speed fans were not necessary. A number of single speed fans of sufficient volume would give the variety of air movement required. Twenty 48″ dia. belt drive fans powered by 1 ½ HP 3 phase motors individually controlled by thermostat met the required air movement of 6 c.f.m. per bird. The fans are mounted 10 per building in 5 banks of 2. Koch also pioneered the use of a new air intake system that Peacock offered. This continuous air intake vent can deflect incoming air either up or down or both at the same time. Intake can be automatically controlled by the static pressure to maintain a steady velocity of the incoming air.

Standby Generators

Koch is especially proud of his standby electrical power system: two Winpower 600 amp. 3 phase, liquid propane fired generators. Each unit has an 85 KW capacity. The primary circuit powers all lights, fans and water; this is easily handled by one generator. Koch figures his standby system is good for eight 24-hour days of full power before his liquid propane tank would be exhausted.

In addition, a complete alarm system monitors barn heat, water pressure, burglary, fire and the proper operation of fans throughout the barns. A radio-controlled paging system sounds the alarm. The system was supplied and installed by Ashley International Electronics.

Two Age Groups

“We have two age groups of birds,” Koch explains. “One age group in each barn. Within each age group there is spacing of two weeks representing his pullet growing facilities.

Because of age-group spacing, an entire flock can be replaced over an eight-week period. This allows sufficient time for vaccination and precision debeaking of new birds, as well as in/out handling. “Further,” Koch states, “our processing plant has a capacity of about 8,000 birds per killing lot, so we’re geared to their capacity.”

Month’s Mortality Less

Dr. Douglas McCausland, Cedardale’s Veterinarian, worked out a plan to move 28,000 birds already on the ranch and at six to eight months of lay, from older facilities to the new barns. The results: little or no loss of production, and only about half again the normal mortality for one month.

Koch and Dr. McCausland keep all birds under a health maintenance program, which includes blood testing, vaccination/medication, and vitamins to assist stress. A complete bird health history is constantly maintained.

Aart Spyker, manager of Ritchie-Smith Ltd., Abbotsford, has supplied feed to Cedardale Poultry Ranch for years. “We’ve found the ‘preventative’ health maintenance program works best for our mutual needs. Our company nutritionist, Dr. A.J. Leslie, works closely with Cedardale’s Dr. McCausland, to set rations and contents. Weekly visits check progress. We put heavy emphasis on least-cost production and lots of cooperation.”

Lucerne Foods Ltd.’s Plant Manager, Don Martin says, “As far as I’m concerned, the product quality out of Cedardale’s new facility is tops and improving weekly! We see one of the lowest Grade B outputs in the area, and the eggs are definitely at the low end of the percentage of cracks and checks. We purchase Cedardale’s total output, and pick up 3 times a week.” Lucerne Foods is located at Langley, B.C.

The bottom line was, of course, the cost to produce eggs. For Peter Koch, that led him to select equipment from Favorite Manufacturing of New Holland, PA, U.S.A. a the heart of his system.

“Equipment quality, low maintenance features, and thus, the projected lifetime of the equipment, were all high in my mind when making my choice,” Peter Koch relates. “With every day that passes, I’m more convinced that we’ve made the right decisions for Cedardale’s future.”

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