A large crowd, loaded with questions, highlighted the presentation from Daybreak Foods at the Lake Mills Town Board meeting, Nov. 14.
Daybreak Foods, currently located at W7299 County Road A, at the Creekwood site in Lake Mills, is moving to a cage-free environment, which is different than a free-range facility, it was pointed out, as cage-free facilities have space for birds to roam within a building and free-range chickens are outside.
The facility is going through the permitting process to upgrade its capacity from 1.8 million to 2 million chickens, plus an additional 700,000 baby chicks in the pullet buildings. Daybreak currently has 1 million chickens at the location.
The company bought adjacent property and is looking to tear down the current facility and erect a larger plant that will accommodate more chickens and said the company has no plans to remodel the existing facilities.
Daybreak Foods Capital Projects Manager Rick Roedl has served in various capacities over a 26-year career and apologized taking so long to speak to the crowd.
“We wish we come to you sooner to make this presentation,” he said. “I am saying this because in the planning process, things kind of conditionally change and get upgraded.”
He told the group he wanted to come with the most factual content available, and in the process, it was slowed down, but he answered all the questions asked.
Roedl said Daybreak needed to decide on what type of aviary equipment it needed, which took almost a year.
“During that process, the options continued to change throughout that year,” she said.
The company bought the site in 2008, he said, and the company has grown through the acquisition of sites.
The plant was upgraded to a liquid product egg facility, he said, because customers demand the product.
Roedl said taking a building down and replacing it with another building won’t work because the company has contractual obligations to maintain a certain volume.
The company bought a farm across the road, he said, and the current site won’t be there anymore.
He said the company plans on pullet buildings so that the birds can be raised in a cage free
Each new building, five in total, will be 120 feet wide and 80 feet long, and 40 feet high and have two flocks of birds per level, so when you multiply that by five buildings, there will be a 2 million bird capacity. The current permit allows 1.98 million birds.
The old Creekwood site has three buildings, he said, and two will be taken down, while one will be cleaned up and remodeled to store equipment. There are multiple cells for the wastewater lagoon, and the company plans to add one more cell.
“We’re going to double the amount of eggs in the processing plant, so we need to add to the existing lagoon system,” Roedl said.
When the chicken releases excrement, Roedl said it will flow into a manure drying system in the center of the building.
“It’s a serpentine system where the manure will be dried inside the building and will mechanically go to a storage facility,” he said.
That process will take it down to 20 percent moisture, he said, which is far less than the 70 percent moisture content it has at the time of the event.
“It removes about 80 percent of the moisture, so it is very dry,” he said.
The bird excrement dries on a belt as well, he said, which no one else does.
“We think it is necessary to get to a level that everyone can live with,” Roedl said.
He called the proposed facility “close to no odor” but refrained from saying odor free.
“You can’t get any better,” he said. “There are companies that are doing this in Europe who turn some of the dryers off because it gets so dry.”
The facility will have a processing plant and a biosecurity building, he said, so the stakeholders can come in and go out.
The facility will also have trees planted around it, he said, which is also considered biosecurity because of its natural air filtration.
He said the buildings that house the chickens are tone ventilated buildings and air will come into the front of the building and exit out the back. They will install dust collection chambers at the end of the building, so it does not come out.
Roedl was given a directive by the president, he said, and was told that “no dust can leave the site” at the facility.
“We’ve been painstakingly working through that process,” he said. “Just to push a lot of the air through the building, just to keep the birds healthy, we’re going to push a lot of air through the building.”