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Egg Innovations – Commitment to Contractors

12/28/2017

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.

Introduction

Egg Innovations is the creation of John Brunnquell, a third-generation poultry farmer. John approached the concept of Egg Innovations with the benefit of a Master’s degree in Poultry Science from the University of Wisconsin and 40 years practical experience in egg production.

In 1999, the Brunnquell family decided to establish a cage-free egg production enterprise. Their requirement was to locate East of the Mississippi to serve metropolitan markets. Accordingly the McDaniel Family Farm near Warsaw, IN, was acquired.

 Structure

Egg Innovations applies the integrator–contractor model with approximately 60 participating farmers supplying a central packing plant. Egg Innovations supplies feed from its mill and started pullets. Contractors assume the cost of housing, labor and utilities. Farms are located within a 100-mile radius in Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois.

Operations

Brunnquell believes that careful selection of contractors and their supervision is critical to quality and safety. He prefers involvement of the entire family in the operation of a contract farm and he expects attention to detail and compliance with company procedures. Brunnquell has extensive experience in managing floor flocks and he recognizes that a knowledge of science and flock behavior are important to achieving genetic potential

Since Egg Innovations was an early entrant to cage-free production using contractors, it was possible for the company to introduce uniformity with respect to housing and equipment. Brunnquell considers that standardization with respect to flock size, housing and installations facilitates management and contributes to the superlative performance, which in many flocks, exceeds breed standard.

 Houses are approximately 520 foot in length by 50 foot in width. Access to the exterior is allowed on both sides of the building. Colony nests are installed over a plastic slatted area and the litter area on either side of the house comprises 25 percent of floor area. LED lighting is installed and houses are equipped with cross ventilation using European fans and controllers.

Perches within houses are in excess of American Humane Association and Humane Animal Farm Care requirements. A high proportion of the flocks supplying Egg Innovations are designated “free range” with an allowance of 22 square foot per hen. Each flock of 20,000 birds has eleven acres available. The remaining flocks are designated “pasture reared” with each farm having 25 acres of pens allowing 100 square foot per bird corresponding closely to U.K. standards. Free range hens are allowed outside access at temperatures above 32F, although there are no temperature restrictions on pastured hens. Outside pens have covered shade areas and water is provided through nipple lines except in winter. Each house is equipped with a farm packer and cool room sized to hold production equivalent to a week. Egg Innovations uses plastic flats and pallets which can be decontaminated. This is an important component of the comprehensive disease-prevention system.

Products and Packing

Currently Egg Innovations produces four categories among the USDA egg sizes. Product is either designated non-GMO or USDA Certified Organic and can be supplied as either cage-free or pasture managed.

In 2015, Egg Innovations erected a new processing plant equipped with a MOBA Omnia FT 330 installation. Currently, the plant operates on a two shift basis five days per week.

Based on the fact that Egg Innovations operates its own feed mill, diets can be formulated to supply eggs enriched with Omega-3 or other additives according to customer requirements. Although Egg Innovations has its own brand, the majority of eggs are packed under private label for upscale supermarket chains.

(SMS 2,018-17 December 28th 2017)