Town council has approved a development permit which will see the modernization and expansion of the existing Hay River Poultry Farms facility on Wildrose Drive, on the southern side of the community.

The company plans to replace its existing barn with a new 48×400-foot barn and a new

8,500-square-foot egg grading and processing facility.

The existing barn would remain as a shop, storage and maintenance facility.

All three buildings would be tied together to modernize and build one seamless farm complex.

The development permit was approved at a Sept. 17 special meeting of council.

In a presentation to council, Kevin Wallington, manager of marketing and sales for the company, said the new development would create a strong foundation for the operation to move forward.

“Because it isn’t just the poultry operations, it’s our vision that we have as a company for food, not just for ourselves but for our community, as well,” he said.

Kevin Wallington is the manager of marketing and sales for Hay River Poultry Farms. NNSL file photo.

Wallington noted that changing regulations will see space double for each hen.

“So obviously that means that we need to increase the size of the housing units for our birds, which means we need to build new housing units,” he said.

Wallington noted the project will also streamline operations, especially production.

For one thing, the egg grading and processing station will move from the Industrial Area to the farm.

“Right now, we are having three or four people touch the eggs before they get into a carton,” Wallington explained. “So they’re unloaded, put on a pallet, they’re trucked into town, offloaded by hand, through the grading station and loaded again. So it’s not very effective when you have four people that are doing that.”

The new facility will also have a new manure management system.

“We have years and years of manure at our current facility that’s about 19 and a half kilometres out of town,” Wallington said. “We want to look at taking care of that manure right on site so that it is turned into compost. So we’ve been working with a couple of different organizations to take a look at what we can do for new technology there and it’s exciting.”

Representatives of Hay River Poultry Farms assured council that the new manure treatment process would be odourless.

Wallington said the overall project would be completed without stopping production of eggs, sold under the brand name Polar Egg.

“We did take a look at retrofitting our current facility, but really the challenge is we have to maintain egg production,” he said. “We can’t stop Polar Egg for six months.”

Wallington said making the grading station competitive is important to the company’s market growth.

“We’re up against graders that are putting millions of eggs through a day. We’ve got 30,000 eggs going through our system a day,” he noted, adding the process needs to be streamlined.

Wallington said the new project will mean a reduction of overall traffic to and from the farm.

“We’ll see a reduction in that simply because we’re not going to have trucks running twice, three times a week delivering eggs into town,” he said. “So the box truck won’t be moving. It will all be processed on site.”

There also won’t be trucks taking manure off the site.

While there will be a new barn, Wallington said that doesn’t mean a doubling of the number of hens on site.

Council was supportive of the proposal, but asked a few questions.

Coun. Keith Dohey wondered if people would believe that the new manure treatment process would actually be odourless, although he noted he has seen the pilot project on site and believes it will be effective.

Coun. Kandis Jameson asked if more hens will be added to the site in the future.

Wallington explained that quota – perhaps 1,500 birds a year – may be added under the supply management system in Canada.

“Right now, we have 118,000 layers in there,” he said. “So we could see an addition of probably between I would say over the next decade between 10,000-15,000 layers that would be able to be added to that, but that would be able to fit within what we have right now.”

Mayor Brad Mapes observed that the project will mean more employment for the town.

Wallington said the first phase of the project will begin in February with groundwork to prepare for relocation of the grading station from Studney Drive to the farm site.

Construction of the project is expected to begin in the spring.

Wallington also noted there will be a retrofit of the existing chicken barn to give the operation the capacity to expand.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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