Manager files permits to take over egg farms

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SALEM, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Agriculture has given a preliminary OK for Ohio Fresh Eggs to buy and take over operation of Buckeye Egg Farm’s Licking County barns.

Ohio Fresh has also filed permits to buy Buckeye Egg’s operations in Wyandot and Hardin counties in northwestern Ohio, according to Deborah Abbott, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Livestock Environmental Permitting Program.

“Those permits just aren’t as far along as the ones for Croton,” she said.

Ohio Fresh Eggs is owned and operated by Don Hershey and Orland Bethel.

Hershey is currently a manager at Buckeye Egg Farm. Bethel also owns Hillandale Farms, a major egg producer.

Changing hands. The draft permits are for the Croton Egg Farm only.

That branch of the egg farm includes four layer sites, four pullet sites, a hatchery and a breeder pullet site.

The farm has a current population of 4.9 million chickens.

Because the current permit holder – the notorious Anton Pohlmann – did not complete court-ordered renovations, the layer farms currently have only 45 of 64 barns open, housing 3.7 million laying hens.

Remodeling. Ohio Fresh Eggs has proposed remodeling these barns. After renovations they would stock up to 5.6 million laying hens, which is the total capacity specified in their draft permits.

As part of the remodeling, Ohio Fresh Eggs proposes to add one manure storage building at each of the four layer sites in order to maintain storage that is separate from flock housing.

The proposed structures are 100 feet wide by 325 feet long with concrete walls 10 feet high. Manure from the barns would be stored in piles throughout the naturally-ventilated buildings.

The four permits to install are for these manure storage buildings.

The draft permits to install are for an additional four manure storage buildings at the layer sites.

Manure systems. Ten layer barns would be remodeled to belt battery barns on a rotating schedule.

In a belt battery system, the hens are housed in wire cages stacked from floor to ceiling. Manure is deposited on belts below each cage row and dried on the belts as air is forced over them. The manure is removed to separate manure storage buildings.

Six barns are already remodeled to include the belt battery system.

Ohio Fresh Eggs permits said remodeling would be completed by 2006.

Taking out the trash. According to filed permits, all of the solid manure generated at the Croton facilities would be sold to local farmers and land applied by contract applicators.

The sites also generate approximately 45 million gallons a year of eggwash and stormwater, which would be disposed of primarily through center pivot irrigation and dragline irrigation to other land, according to permits.

Ohio Fresh Eggs would be required to keep land application records for all wastewater and land-applied manure.

In addition, anyone the Croton farm contracts with to spread manure must become a certified livestock manager through the department of agriculture.

The farm also has plans in place to control insects and rodents in the barns and manure storage areas.

A long history. Though Hershey is currently involved in Buckeye Egg, his connections don’t stop there.

Buckeye Egg started as Croton Egg Farm when German businessman Anton Pohlmann purchased 2,200 acres of farmland near Croton in early 1980.

Pohlmann leased the facilities to Don Hershey and business partner Richard McGrath. Together, the two men formed Croton Egg Farms in 1981.

McGrath and two other investors, under the name AgriGeneral Company, bought out Hershey in 1992.

In October 1993, Pohlmann bought out AgriGeneral Company and formed Buckeye Egg Farm.

(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com.)

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ODA takes comments on egg farm permits until Dec. 15

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Agriculture will hold two information sessions to answer the public’s questions about Ohio Fresh Eggs’ draft permits.

During the information sessions, a presentation about the draft permits will be made, followed by a question and answer session.

Two sessions. Sessions will be held Nov. 18 and Dec. 4, both at 7 p.m. at the Johnstown-Monroe High School Cafeteria, 401 South Organ St. in Johnstown.

Both meetings will be identical in content and format and are opportunities for the public to ask technical staff questions about the draft permits to install, draft permits to operate, and the public participation process.

On the record. The public meeting Dec. 8 at 7 p.m., also at the Johnstown-Monroe High School Cafeteria in Johnstown, will be a time where interested persons can submit oral or written comments on the record concerning the permits.

Oral comments will have time restrictions, depending upon the number of people at the meeting.

Written comments are accepted until Dec. 15 at 5 p.m.

Written comments can be turned in at the information sessions or public meeting, or they can be sent to the department of agriculture’s Livestock Environmental Permitting Program.

See for yourself. Copies of the draft permits to install and draft permits to operate may be reviewed at the ODA Livestock Environmental Permitting Program office, 8995 East Main St., Reynoldsburg. Call 614-387-0470 to make an appointment.

A fact sheet is also available on the Web at www.ohioagriculture.gov.

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