Weld County egg producer attracts national media | TheFencePost.com
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Weld County egg producer attracts national media

photos by MALLORY OLENIUS/gtphoto@greeleytribune.c"From the time the egg is laid to the time it is put in the carton, it is not touched by humans," said Derek Yancey, of Platteville, to a tour group before watching eggs go through a wash at Morning Fresh Farms east of Platteville on Thursday morning. Yancey is the president and one of the owners of Morning Fresh Farms, the largest fresh-shell egg producer in the state. To put the number of eggs produced at the farm daily - 700,000 - into perspective, Yancey said, "That's a dozen eggs in every seat of Invesco Field" every day.
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PLATTEVILLE – A Weld County egg producer became the showcase for a national media tour Thursday when Morning Fresh Farms hosted the group put together by the United Egg Producers.

About 50 media, food service and university officials spent three hours touring the plant east of here. Gene Gregory, president of United Egg Producers, said the tour was scheduled in response to animal activist groups that have painted a picture that is different from reality.

“We want people to see what is actually going on. We’ve done these tours in the past for retailers, but this time we decided to do it for the media,” Gregory said.



Morning Fresh was chosen because Colorado is centrally located and the facility has been open to tours in the past, Gregory said. Participants came from throughout the country, he added, including New York City, Atlanta, Chicago and California.

Morning Fresh, which has been in business for 40 years, is the state’s largest fresh egg producer and is considered one of the best in the nation. Derek Yancey, the company’s president, said Morning Fresh produces enough eggs to put a dozen of them in every seat at Invesco Field – every day.



During Thursday’s tour, participants were taken inside one of the facility’s seven cage-free barns – which contain about 17,500 hens in each of the 43-foot by 330-foot barns.

Yancey said the cage-free operation has been reduced by 20 percent in the past year as the demand for those eggs, which are about 70 percent more expensive because of labor costs, has fallen off with the economy.

Larry Hatcher, the production manager for the cage-free operation, said flocks are brought into the barn at 21 weeks old and each determines its nesting area. Once that is done, they are free to roam throughout the barn, but always return to their nesting area to lay eggs.

The eggs drop to conveyors in every barn – including the 36 conventional flocks – and are taken to the processing area without the need of human contact.

Hatcher said none of the birds at Morning Fresh is given hormones or antibiotics during its life span, which lasts about 70 weeks. At the end of that time, they are euthanized and sent to a rendering facility.

In the conventional barns, there are four to eight birds per cage, depending on the size of the cage.

Morning Fresh, Yancey said, differs from the industry norm in that it has 24,000 to 47,000 birds in its caged barns, compared to the industry average of 100,000-250,000. Each of the caged barns are about 50 feet by 350 feet.

“That gives the chickens a lot more room and fits our management style, which was started 40 years ago,” he said.

The temperature in each barn is about 72 degrees, although that varies during hot summer and cold winter days, but not by much, Yancey said.

Once in the processing facility, the eggs are washed twice as they move along the conveyor system, rinsed, then dried using room temperature air. There are electronic crack, dirt and blood detectors that reject bad eggs automatically. They are then weighed and assigned to one of 14 packing lanes. The plant has a USDA inspector who randomly checks the eggs as they move through the process.

Morning Fresh has its own feed mill. Hens are given a ration that is mainly corn and soybean meal. About 850 tons of feed is delivered to the 43 layer houses every week.

PLATTEVILLE – A Weld County egg producer became the showcase for a national media tour Thursday when Morning Fresh Farms hosted the group put together by the United Egg Producers.

About 50 media, food service and university officials spent three hours touring the plant east of here. Gene Gregory, president of United Egg Producers, said the tour was scheduled in response to animal activist groups that have painted a picture that is different from reality.

“We want people to see what is actually going on. We’ve done these tours in the past for retailers, but this time we decided to do it for the media,” Gregory said.

Morning Fresh was chosen because Colorado is centrally located and the facility has been open to tours in the past, Gregory said. Participants came from throughout the country, he added, including New York City, Atlanta, Chicago and California.

Morning Fresh, which has been in business for 40 years, is the state’s largest fresh egg producer and is considered one of the best in the nation. Derek Yancey, the company’s president, said Morning Fresh produces enough eggs to put a dozen of them in every seat at Invesco Field – every day.

During Thursday’s tour, participants were taken inside one of the facility’s seven cage-free barns – which contain about 17,500 hens in each of the 43-foot by 330-foot barns.

Yancey said the cage-free operation has been reduced by 20 percent in the past year as the demand for those eggs, which are about 70 percent more expensive because of labor costs, has fallen off with the economy.

Larry Hatcher, the production manager for the cage-free operation, said flocks are brought into the barn at 21 weeks old and each determines its nesting area. Once that is done, they are free to roam throughout the barn, but always return to their nesting area to lay eggs.

The eggs drop to conveyors in every barn – including the 36 conventional flocks – and are taken to the processing area without the need of human contact.

Hatcher said none of the birds at Morning Fresh is given hormones or antibiotics during its life span, which lasts about 70 weeks. At the end of that time, they are euthanized and sent to a rendering facility.

In the conventional barns, there are four to eight birds per cage, depending on the size of the cage.

Morning Fresh, Yancey said, differs from the industry norm in that it has 24,000 to 47,000 birds in its caged barns, compared to the industry average of 100,000-250,000. Each of the caged barns are about 50 feet by 350 feet.

“That gives the chickens a lot more room and fits our management style, which was started 40 years ago,” he said.

The temperature in each barn is about 72 degrees, although that varies during hot summer and cold winter days, but not by much, Yancey said.

Once in the processing facility, the eggs are washed twice as they move along the conveyor system, rinsed, then dried using room temperature air. There are electronic crack, dirt and blood detectors that reject bad eggs automatically. They are then weighed and assigned to one of 14 packing lanes. The plant has a USDA inspector who randomly checks the eggs as they move through the process.

Morning Fresh has its own feed mill. Hens are given a ration that is mainly corn and soybean meal. About 850 tons of feed is delivered to the 43 layer houses every week.


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