Egg Industry Articles

Vital Farms is Committed to Pasture Housing for Flocks


Vital Farms was established by Matt O’Hayer in 2007. Matt, a serial entrepreneur with a solid business track record and his spouse Catherine established a small farm on a 27 acre property they owned near Austin, TX.

At the onset of his enterprise, O’Hayer elected to follow U.K. standards applicable to outside access for pastured flocks allowing each hen a minimum of 108 ft2 of outdoor pasture.  Initially, moveable shelters were used followed by a hub-and-spoke approach, then allowing outside access to pasture from each side of a barn.


Egg Innovations – Commitment to Contractors


A feature article highlighting Egg-Innovations is the first in a series reviewing specialist egg producers in the U.S. EGG-NEWS will consider ownership, structure and features of the enterprises which contribute to success in a competitive marketplace.


Problem of Cystic Left Oviduct in Ovulating Non-Layers Investigated


Presentations by poultry health professionals at recent regional meetings have disclosed a field problem of cystic left oviducts associated with false “internal” layers termed ovulating non-layer (ONL) syndrome. The topic was recently the subject of an interactive discussion on a webinar arranged by the American Veterinarians in Egg Production.

Sporadic outbreaks of ONL were described in the late 1960s in the expanding and consolidating U.S. egg industry in the Northeast states. Strains of infectious bronchitis virus (presumably Mass.) prevailing in the U.S. in 1971 were shown to induce ONL following infection of day-old pullets presumably devoid of maternal antibody. There is anecdotal evidence that in the mid-1950s in the U.S. Connaught strain IB vaccine induced up to 3 percent prevalence of ONL when administered to pullets at three weeks of age. The condition gained new attention in Holland following introduction of the D388 serotype of the QX genotype of infectious bronchitis virus resulting in cases of ONL in commercial flocks. The pathogenicity of D388 including induction of ONL was demonstrated in a comprehensive series of experiments conducted by the Dutch Animal Health Service*  


EFSA Report on AI in the E.U.


At the request of the European Commission, The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has prepared a review of avian influenza as it has affected the EU. In consecutive years. The following conclusions are contained in the published report dated October 16th, 2017*.

The panel representing epidemiologists and regulatory veterinarians noted the following:-



Summit Livestock’s Wrap-the-EquipmentTM Construction Speeds Erection


The Lone Cactus Complex located near Bouse, AZ., was conceived by Marcus Rust in 2015 to produce cage-free eggs to be marketed in California and Western states. Rose Acre Farms initially elected to convert to cage-free production by erecting new buildings on existing complexes in Indiana.

The Lone Cactus project represents refinement of design features based on the experience gained with an initial group of five houses. Expansion to Arizona by the Nation's second largest egg producer provided an opportunity for their design-build general contractor, Summit Livestock Facilities to apply a unique approach to construction by integrating the house with equipment in the "wrap-the-equipment" concept.

The origin of Summit Livestock Facilities is steeped in 60 years of designing and building facilities for agricultural and commercial purposes from the parent company, FBi Buildings. This specialized company was formed to address the needs of protein producers from a commercial aspect as well as addressing the growing concerns with animal health and wellbeing.  This includes facilities in all livestock segments.

Lone Cactus Egg Farm represents a collaboration between Summit Livestock as the architect, coordinating engineer, and general contractor, FACCO the supplier of modified aviaries and installations, Rose Acre Farms as an involved and participating client and a number of subcontractors.

The Bouse site in Arizona was selected on the basis of proximity to western markets and isolation from concentrations of commercial poultry. Distance from flyways used by migratory waterfowl represents a direct application of the principles of Conceptual Biosecurity. 

As planned, the completed project will ultimately comprise two complexes each of six houses with a total of 4.4 million hens.  An additional ingredient-receiving facility to handle grain and bulk feedstuffs delivered by rail has yet to be erected. A distribution cold store and warehouse facility to be located equidistant between the Lone Cactus Complex and the second facility will be required.

Based on the stated commitments by members of the Food Marketing Institute, the National Restaurant Association and food service distributors to source only cage-free eggs by 2025, Rust opted for a novel design which would incorporate speed of erection and minimize capital cost compared to conventional aviary housing. It is estimated that each house with aviaries, electrical, water, alarm and ventilation systems including evaporative cooling will cost less than conventional housing estimated to range from $30 to $35 per hen. 

Additional expenditures are obviously required for site development, structural biosecurity, feed mixing, egg packing, roads and reticulation of power and water. It is estimated that it requires four months to erect and equip a house although on a complex it is possible to stage consecutive phases of construction or to increase manpower and resources to expedite completion.

Each of the Lone Cactus houses will be approximately 180 feet by 540 feet.  Each house comprising two levels is subdivided into two compartments by a longitudinal wall.  Each of the four compartments will house approximately 95,000 white-feathered hens.  Each of the seven rows of aviaries in each compartment comprises three tiers with the center tier modified to brood day-old pullet chicks to 12 weeks. At this time they are individually vaccinated and then distributed among the available modules which have movable cage fronts. 

The aviaries serve as rearing cages but after training, cage fronts are folded back to allow the mature flock complete access to the volume of the house. Each house is designed to hold approximately 380,000 white-feathered hens at a stocking density approved by U.S. welfare certification agencies. Actual floor area provides a density of 0.5 ft2 per hen but since these are aviary systems, the effective bio-density is 6.0 ft3 per hen.

The aviary modules were manufactured by FACCO of Italy with extensive modifications as requested by Rose Acre Farms under the directions of CEO Marcus Rust.

The houses incorporate a patented "Wrap-the-Equipment" design conceived by Summit Livestock to satisfy the requirements of speed of market and optimal cost.


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