The future is a many splendored thing. It is something we can sit and think about and dream and work for.
Right now, we have the future divided into two pots: The Near and The Farther Out.
The Farther Out was something we did not think would happen so soon. One of the things you realize as you age is that "youth" is always yesterday. We doubled down and reached for the brass ring and, well ... you know, found we could reach it! It is certainly not everything that was in the dream, but that is the thing about dreams (and particularly big ones) - there always has to be more. If you get everything, life becomes way more mondane than you might like. We have achieved most of the Farther Out. We have a bunch of bills to pay, but the girls have all offered to pitch in and help (you can too, if you want!). Take a gander at where we are (the Now) and where the dream still is (still Farther Out):
We have realized the first part of our dream. We have created a stunning system that pairs natural light and automated operation in a durable facility that can operate at any temperate sub-climate (with a couple tweaks).
The basic operating flow is a central nest box with automated water lines and feeder loops on each side over a raised floor which seperates the birds from the manure. Then there is a scratch area with almost twice the square footage as the living/roosting space on either side with 3 "pop-holes" per side, each 120 sq ft ( they are huge orange roll up doors!).
This is all under a translucent fabric that soars to 26', allowing heat to rise out of the way. Several "destratification heaters" pull warmer air from the ceiling, reheats it and broadcasts it in all directions creating a circulating flow of air. The exhaust fans can exchange the entire volume of air within 5 minutes ensuring no build up of ammonia or other gasses.
For winter lighting we use full-spectrum cfl lighting that produces a shadowless environment at 6500K with enough lumens so that the night stays outside. We would love to be able to dim the lights, rather than just do on/off, but we were not able to afford the LEDs, and so in their staid, we stagger the lighting so that the ultimate effect is a gradual "sunset" in Egg-Town!
The automated nests bring the eggs into the processing room where we have a brand spanking new Sanitouch 10 with a full grader on it. We can process all of our eggs within 90 minutes.
Our obective is to demonstrate how a family can create a large enough pasture raised egg flock to provide a reasonable income, using state of the art technology and automation whilst keeping a holistic balance with the land.
The work that will be required is:
Development of a regional market for the eggs and other byproducts (think soup and dog treats as well as other related items)
Sourcing for reasonably priced feedstock
Finding appropraiate state of the art automated (robotic) egg handling and husbandry equipment (much of this is available in Europe... check out Rondeel.org)
Finding the funding to support the expansion (automation is not cheap) and developing a way to repay the investors over time.
We enjoy hosting interested parties to see how we are doing this, if you want to be part of the revolution, please feel free to schedule an appointment to see how we do this and walk trhough the operation.
Moving forward, our goal is to add automated manure handling with an anerobic digestor capable of producing enough power to run the system (though we will still want to have a back up generator, just in case).
Click on the image above for a more detailed look at the original design concept from Wageningen University.