Work is progressing on Turkey Run Farms in southern Gage County.
The farm northwest of Odell will welcome its first birds in January, but opened its doors to the public on Thursday for an open house to showcase what progress has been made.
Tim and Jill Scheele, owners of Turkey Run Farms, will raise the birds for egg production and collect around 960,000 eggs per year.
“We’ll raise them up for about 29 weeks,” Jill Scheele said. “Then, they’ll transfer over to the lay barns and they are in the lay barns about 29 weeks also. In that time period, they will lay about 100-105 eggs each.”
She added the eggs will be collected 11 times per day, all by hand, as the farm operation does not use conveyers.
Each of the two lay barns will house 3,000 hens and 200 toms on 20,000 square feet.
The farm is implementing biosecurity measures to keep out disease, including properly disinfecting items that are brought in, such as cell phones and lunch containers, and requiring employees to shower before entering certain areas.
Turkey Run Farms will employ four full-time workers, in addition to part-time workers for the weekends.
The eggs collected at Turkey Run Farms are exclusively for Hybrid Turkeys, the company that owns the birds.
It was announced last June that Hybrid Turkeys was building a hatchery in a northwest area of the industrial park.
Hybrid Turkeys is part of Hendrix Genetics, a multi-species breeding company, with primary activities in turkeys, layers, pigs, aquaculture and traditional poultry. Once fully operational, the facility will hatch 2.5 million parent females.
Scheele said the couple was looking for ways to diversify its farm, which consisted of corn and soybeans.
“When the hatchery came, in we just asked questions to see what they would be looking for,” she said. “We first met with Hybrid Turkeys last August, and in December, we went to Canada and visited their grandparent and pedigree stock farms and have just spent about a year in the process deciding if we wanted to do it and learning more about it.”
Walker Zulkoski, director of the NGage economic development group, said Turkey Run Farms is a testament to what bringing large business, like Hybrid Turkeys, to a community can provide.
“This is economic development at its finest,” he said. “This is why you want big manufacturing in town, because you start to get all these things that pop up. You get a $7-$8 million project in town and then you start to get another $3 million win here that would have never happened. Not only are you creating jobs in town for the hatchery, they’re getting new jobs down here, plus investment in the county.”