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New Life Mills building five new barns for free run egg production

Egg sales have increased by 1.5 per cent and free run egg sales account for half of that percentage

By Samantha Haverkamp, University of Guelph Agricultural Communications Student, for

Five new free run layer barns are being built by New Life Mills to meet consumer demands.

With increasing interest in free run eggs, and existing barns needing repairs and located away from farm managers, the company decided to build five new barns in Ayton, Ontario. This interest was mainly prompted by animal welfare concerns, which is being addressed in the new codes of practice for layer production.

“We always make sure to follow new regulations,” says Bill Revington, general manager of farm operations at New Life Mills. “It’s what consumers are looking for.”

In this year alone egg sales have increased by 1.5 per cent and free run egg sales account for half of that percentage — a substantial number, considering the amount of eggs sold annually.  It is thought that the main reason for the switch is changes in consumer perception of animal welfare. 

The new barns, when completed, will be able to house 60,000 hens and will eventually hold up to 70,000.  One barn will be for pullet rearing and the other four for laying hens. The eggs produced will be marketed as free run eggs to receive a premium price. 

Another issue that could be addressed is the code of practices for layer production.  Research being reviewed for rewriting the codes of practice covers many different problem areas.  For example, the research on housing systems shows costs and benefits to animal welfare with all housing styles.  It has been shown that enriched cages could actually be more beneficial to hen welfare than free run systems.  Overall, improvements can be made in all systems, but, the driver of production is economics, and there is a significant demand for free run eggs. 

The current New Life Mills production facility uses conventional battery cages and is located relatively far away from the farm managers in Hanover, Ontario.  The distance, along with aging facilities and changing consumer preferences, were all factors in the company’s decision to build new barns. 

This article is part of Samantha Haverkamp’s course work for the University of Guelph agricultural communications course, instructed by Prof. Owen Roberts.

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