Good products, the right environment, a great time and a love for their work have helped a family egg farm in the heart of the United States achieve the 500 egg milestone.
Jason and Tracy Ramsdell run 1.3 million hens in 9 housing facilities at the farm at Flandreau, South Dakota. Each house is outfitted with an automated belt system programmed to deliver fresh feed and water, collect eggs for processing, and remove manure for storage in a compost facility.
Dakota Layers is the first farm in the US to reach the 500 egg milestone. Photo: Henk Riswick
These innovations ensure that the eggs are collected and processed for optimal freshness and have helped Dakota Layers become the first producer in North America to reach a production level of 500 eggs per hen housed over a period of 100 weeks.
Writing in the latest Hendrix Genetics Layer Vision publication, Mr Ramsdell said the benefit of having their own pullet facility, which was built in 2015, had also helped boost production, along with the investment work from Hendrix.
“We are lucky to have a great team under our roof. Our pullet manager does an excellent job with his team throughout the first pullet stage, and our production manager runs our layer farm with a great crew. Our electrician and maintenance crew ensures our fans are working to generate the best air quality, monitors the feed motors to guarantee the freshest feed for our hens, and ensures our lighting programme is working properly.
“We have a team in charge of waste management; they make sure the manure in the barns is removed on a consistent basis to maintain good air quality. We also employ barn walkers that regularly sweep the barns, check for mortality, and monitor the feed, water and lights to make sure the birds have the best quality of life along with clean, healthy feed and water to set them up for success.”
'500 egg milestone'
The farm is the first in the US to reach the 500 egg milestone and normally the Ramsdell’s run flocks of Shaver birds to 95 weeks as standard.
“With this flock, we had the opportunity to extend the cycle, and it was clear they were doing very well as far as livability, high production and good feed and water intake. As they got closer to 500 eggs, it was pretty exciting to watch them getting closer to hitting the mark, and when they hit, it was a phenomenal effect to see.
“We will continue to text extending their laying cycle longer to 95-97 weeks while keeping a close eye on the birds to see how they do. Our hope is to get to 100 weeks, but we will monitor the performance to make sure we implement this in the right way,” he added.