Tuesday, April 8, 2014

We are Indiana Agriculture: Supplying Eggs for Kroger a Family Affair

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

If you buy Kroger brand eggs from any Kroger store in Indiana, then you are supporting Indiana agriculture. Bob and Sally Krouse are fifth generation egg farmers at Midwest Poultry Services in Mentone, Indiana who supply eggs to Kroger stores across the state. The operation has been family-owned since 1875. There are currently 9 buildings housing 2.5 million chickens that produce about 2 million eggs a day. Bob and Sally are proud of the quality of food they produce and the number of jobs they are able to provide for their community.

Midwest Poultry Services is dedicated to the health and welfare of their hens and ensure their houses are run with great care and safety. “Thirty years ago, when Sally’s dad owned the operation, it was customary to keep the birds outdoors, Bob explains. This made it very difficult to keep the birds healthy and protect them from extreme weather. Since then, we’ve been able to move the birds indoors into a modern caged system to provide a much healthier and safer environment.”

“One of the issues that seem to be foremost in consumer’s minds is how much space hens need to be comfortable, “Bob says. “Adequate space means the birds need to be able to stand comfortably, lie down, that they have proper access to feed and water and they need to be able to turn around and preen. A caged system allows us to monitor their health and welfare better than you could in a free range or cage free system.”

Once the hen lays the eggs in the hen house, the eggs are carried forward to the processing area on a series of conveyor belts. The eggs are then washed, graded and packaged for the local consumer. “It’s interesting to note that from the time the hen lays that egg to the time the consumer takes the egg out of the carton, that’s the only person that has ever touched that egg,” Bob explains. “We go to great lengths throughout this whole process to make certain eggs are made an inexpensive and safe, high-quality choice of pro food.”

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