Craig Akers and his wife, Lindsay, and their two daughters begin each day by collecting eggs from their 350 hens on their family-run hatchery. The process begins by placing eggs in an incubator, where they stay for 21 days until the hatching occurs. Akers choose not to bring poultry in from other locations, so they produce new hens out of the existing flock. The chickens usually don’t start laying eggs until they’re about 5 months old.
Indiana is ranked No. 3 in the nation in egg production which means that the eggs in your refrigerator probably came from The Hoosier State. In 2011, the Indiana Agriculture Statistics Service valued the state’s egg industry at more than $422 million, thanks to the success of both small-scale operations and large-scale operations.
“We’re fairly self-sufficient, “Craig says. “We raise our own chickens and breed for what the standard of that chicken is.”
The family carefully monitors the birds and also grinds their own feed which consists of corn, alfalfa, calcium and a protein supplement. They also make sure the chickens always have plenty of water. “We have an automatic water system that catches rainwater and pipes it through the coops and buildings,” Craig says. “But in the winter, we have to carry fresh water out to the chicken houses every day.”
Craig says that attention to detail is very important. Since they don’t supply to grocery stores, being able to offer the best product to local consumers is vital. “There are so many other places that people can go and get eggs, but we have very loyal customers that come to us year round in the snow, sun, or rain. People like our product and what we do.”
Akers Hatchery produces between 15 dozen to 18 dozen eggs per day and also has chicks for sale, which allows consumers to start raising their own hens for eggs. For visitors who drive to Akers Hatchery for eggs, the eggs were likely laid that morning. Craig says, “I have even gone to gather eggs while people wait for them.”