Rick Roedl, Daybreak Foods capital projects manager, gave an update on the construction of the new Daybreak facility on Crossman Road at the annual meeting of the Town of Lake Mills April 16.
Roedl said their project is on schedule.
“Things have been very successful for us,” Roedl said. “We have our three pullet buildings up and all three are populated.”
The first pullet barn was populated in December. Daybreak sets their schedule by bird dates, because they order chicks or pullets when they are about one day old. They populate those buildings first.
“As they mature and get up to 16, 17 weeks of age they will be moved into a layer house. Tomorrow (April 17), the first flock is going from the first pullet house into the first layer house on Crossman Road,” he said.
It takes three days to get the birds into the first side of the layer house.
“Our first big push, which is the first three pullet houses, is nearing completion,” Roedl said.
In six weeks, the next pullets flock will move into the layer house and six weeks after that the third flock will move up.
“The processing plant is up, and the equipment is starting to come into that building.”
The plant won’t be up and running until July, Roedl said. “In the mean time when the chickens start to lay eggs they will be packed in the building and shipped to Minnesota.”
Roedl continued, “A little bit closer to the road on Crossman Road is our biosecurity building. That houses our new offices, all of our showing facilities and our laundry care…Eventually our stakeholders will come into that building shower in and take a hallway back and go into either the processing plant or the layer houses.”
Currently contractors needing to enter the building are showering in temporary trailers. Anyone who was doing last minute work on the bio secure building starting April 15 has to take a shower before entering.
“I think I had 82 people going through showers this morning. Once that’s in operation it only takes about five people.”
The birds were moved into the building April 17.
“We won’t generate any manure out of that building for about two weeks,” Roedl said. “The reason is we need to build up the manure in that building and let the internal drying system in the building do its job.”
When they get enough manure built up it will go into the secondary drying system in the building.
“It will dry that manure down to about eight percent moisture.”
The manure will then go into the back of the manure building.
“We need enough manure to calibrate all that equipment before we can start it.”
The large manure building will be equipped with dust curtains and manure will stay in the building for up to a year if necessary.
“The president of our company said no dust leaves the site. That was in the directive design. We are pretty proud of what that will mean,” Roedl said.
The last phase is the feed mill, which will be completed this fall.
“We have some final pieces to bring to the town board to finish the easement process and make sure you are all comfortable with that. We are putting up some towers right now, but we would never do anything without the final approval.”
Roedl acknowledged they’ve had some issues around the site including dirt on the roads, heavy traffic to the site and litter. They have put up signs to try to help keep trucks from stopping or parking on the road.
“We will work with the board to see what we can do to improve that surface after we get to completion.”
He said the work isn’t scheduled to be completed before September 2020.
“The last process will be the removal of the existing pullet and layer buildings there. That’s where this really ends.”
He said people shouldn’t be afraid to stop and talk with him if there is an issue.
“We will always try to deal with it. I got reports that people had come in a few times and didn’t know who they were looking to talk with and they weren’t treated very hospitable and I was very upset about that.”
They have a crew who is picking up litter each weekend to help clean the fields and area lawns.
Roedl said he believes the smell at the site has gotten better.
“I would never say it is gone, but the frequency of the challenges has gone down and the severity.”
Roedl touched on the fire that happened at the site in January.
“We originally thought it happened from the incinerator we put in. It was later determined by our insurance company it was started in a different location nearby.”
The incinerator had to be removed because of the proximity to the fire.
“We went with the incinerator because it was a good solution brought up at one of these meetings, but now we are trying to figure out the best answer before investing in a new one.”
They have been sending dead birds to a landfill in a closed container in the meantime.
“We are hanging tight and waiting to find out what the best answer is.”
With the new buildings Roedl said the mortality rate of birds is down.
“They are cage free and happier birds,” he said. “We are looking at options.”
“I would like to think we are going to continue to be better neighbors to you and we are going to try to be as least intrusive as we can be. It’s a large project and a lot of activity. I hope there is some payback to area businesses.”
Anita Martin spoke about cracks she said were identified in November 2017 in the floors of the manure storage barns at the Creekwood site.
“When will these cracks be fixed to prevent runoff and when will photo documentation of repairs be provided to this board, the taxpayers, the county and the Wisconsin DNR?”
When completed Daybreak’s Creekwood facility will be home to 2.75 million chickens. Daybreak undertook the expansion to meet customer demand for cage free eggs and to replace the outdated barns and facilities built in the 1970s.