March 8, 2021

Fully Feathered and Exceeding Expectations


Some may think a free-range, single-cycle, fully feathered flock past 100 weeks of age may be unattainable. Egg Innovations is proving this wrong.

Despite entering lay a little under the standard for body weight for Hy-Line Brown, Mr. Anthony Harman, Head of Farms, and his team tackled the challenge. The flock was still persisting at 86% at 80 weeks and was maintained until 106 weeks of age single-cycle and fully feathered.

“We prepared the flock for long-cycle lay by adjusting the rations and lighting to control body weight and bringing the birds a little slower into lay to compensate,” said Harman, applying his unique and deep level of experience from his more than 25 years of experience in UK free-range operations.

In order to manage Egg Innovations’ 55 laying barns and 5 pullet farms, Harman said, “I spend a lot of time looking at the farm performance with my key staff, making changes to the nutrition and day-to-day management to help keep bird performance at its best.” Harman additionally commented, “We buy Hy-Line due to the great technical support we get from both Hy-Line North America and Hy-Line International, which comes with purchasing a great bird that delivers good shell color and quality and low floor eggs.”

According to Harman, the Hy-Line Brown has good feather cover, good size eggs, great livability and a calm nature, which will help as Egg Innovations continues to expand their free-range operations.

“Feather cover is very important to us, as it a great representation of the health and wellbeing of the bird. Good feather cover also helps with feed conversion,” said Harman. “One key thing we do is give the birds early access to the range which lowers the stocking in the barn.”

In addition to Hy-Line Brown, Egg Innovations also uses Hy-Line W-36 and W-80 to meet the demand for white-shell, free-range eggs.

“Hy-Line birds are a great bird to work with, and the technical support is second-to-none,” commented Harman. “I think it’s the best bird to use for free-range production.”

Egg Innovations, founded in 1999 by Dr. John and Cathy Brunnquell, is committed to allowing chickens to live and behave like chickens, believing that happy, healthy chickens lay better tasting, nutritionally dense eggs.

Dr. Brunnquell, president and CEO, was raised on his family’s chicken farm in Port Washington, Wisconsin, USA. But it was a visit to a cage-free facility in 1993, that shed light on new possibilities for layer production and was the impetus for starting Egg Innovations.  

“We are constantly looking to improve what we do here at Egg Innovations. We start early-on with the pullets to give them the best environment possible to thrive,” said Dr. Brunnquell. “Then, with good management, we place them in our layer barns, where we encourage early outside access and the natural behavior of the birds.”

In 2020, Dr. Brunnquell completed his doctorate in Avian Ethology, and continues to lead Egg Innovations to the forefront in animal welfare, family farming and responsible agriculture management.