2019 - Volume #43, Issue #6, Page #04[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Mobile Henhouse Designed To Be A Money-Maker
“We were using sheds on wheels for our pastured poultry, but they would blow over in high winds and were not efficient,” says Cliff. “The pastured poultry egg market is extremely competitive in this area. You have to be efficient, get good production, and have healthy birds. Our mobile chicken house allowed our operation to survive and thrive.”
When Josh took over the pastured poultry business from an older brother in 2006, it consisted of 600 hens. Since designing the new mobile houses, he and Cliff have expanded to between 3,000 and 4,000 birds on pasture. They deliver eggs to wholesale and retail customers throughout the state of Pennsylvania and surrounding areas.
While the design has gone through some fine-tuning, the basics remain the same. Each 12 by 25-ft. house has more than enough roosting space for the recommended 650-bird capacity. Houses sit on 6 wheels with rear tandems and are easily pulled by a UTV or ATV. Each is equipped with an automated 1-ton feeding system, a 150-gal. watering system, and a 2-tier, roll-out community nest.
An excluder keeps birds out of the nests at night. During the day, hens lay eggs on conveyer belt floors in each tier of nests. Eggs are gathered at the end of the house as the conveyer belt revolves, powered by a hand crank.
“Initially we had metal side panels, but our newer houses have the woven poly fabric all the way to the floor,” says Cliff. “It is practically indestructible and makes it easy to access the back of the nests if needed.”
Lights can be adjusted at the control panel for the desired amount of light each day. Exit ramps are easily adjusted for height.
The perforated plastic floor is designed to be self-cleaning, and the fabric cover keeps the interior warm and bright. In fact, it allows enough light in that Cliff recommends adding shade cloth to reduce light and heat in the summer. A mounted, 230W solar panel and battery bank provides automation and lighting power.
Within 5 years they were getting requests for similar units, and 2 years ago they began marketing them. They have sold them as far away as Bellingham, Wash., and are starting to make sales in Canada.
The standard house is priced at $24,000. Options include an automated, light sensor-operated lighting system.
“You set it for the hours of light you want, and it automatically turns the interior lights on and off based on available, outside light,” explains Cliff.
Other options include automated exterior doors and a water freeze prevention system (recommended for colder areas).
“We’ve recently introduced the 300 model for 300 birds or less,” says Cliff. “We had a lot of interest from farmers not ready to start with 650 birds.”
The 300 bird unit is priced at $13,500 and is not as automated as the larger unit. Cliff notes that prices will be increasing the first of the year.
“Our steel prices have gone up 17 percent, and we simply have to raise our prices,” he says. “The 650 bird house will increase by $1,500 on January 1.”
The Stoltzfoos brothers build to order. Place an order today, and a mobile chicken house will be ready in 3 to 4 mos.
“We require 50 percent down and the remainder on delivery,” says Cliff. “The deposit can be reduced if we are given a longer lead time to build the house.”
The brothers also sell their 2-tier community egg nests separately for producers who already have a mobile house.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Stoltzfoos Layers, 1003 Gap Rd., Kinzers, Penn. 17535 (ph 717 826-0371; www.stoltzfooslayers.com).
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