He likes free enterprise and competition, he says. “There are too many restrictions – government regulations, and oppressive tax structures, more heavily than here. I wanted to produce more freely as you can here in America. I looked at many areas and farms before selecting this one, and I like the grain-producing potential of the area.”
So this company earlier this year bought this 1,400-acre farm for a figure reportedly in the $2 million-plus bracket, which he acknowledges is approximately correct.
Why so much acreage for an egg farm? Grain production. According to Zimmerer’s American general manager of Daylay Egg Farm operation, B. Hall Davis, grain will be grown on shares with the farm’s previous owners, the Wedding brothers. The Weddings have a cattle feeding operation through which they will put some of their grain and will feed high moisture poultry manure from Daylay.
In addition to his German egg holdings, Zimmerer is a major principal in the Salmet Corp., a German poultry equipment manufacturer, and will use those cages in his Ohio egg operation.
Hall Davis may have hit on an additional reason when he noted, “Since Daylay will be the sole outlet for Salmet equipment in the U.S., we expect many visitors. We’d like to impress these visitors favorably with our equipment, and also demonstrate the fact that we can produce eggs as economically as anyone else.”
One obvious alternative to building his own egg plant would have been for Zimmerer to buy an existing unit. “We like to start new and incorporate our own ideas from the start. It is more costly to convert old units to these new ideas.”
Poultry Tribune asked Davis: What is Zimmerer doing in Germany that might be considered innovative here? Davis, who had recently visited the German site, said: “It’s pretty standard so far as procedures are concerned, in-line collecting systems and other automation. But the thing that impressed me was their efficiency and sanitation measures. They do the job with much less labor than we ordinarily do. Their employees are dedicated to doing a good job. They watch those little details and are very efficient. That’s what I’ve got to pay attention to here.”
Another difference in the German approach is a loose sort of integration composed of several groups. One will own the feed mill, another processing plant, etc. “It’s an overlapping thing,” as Davis describes it.
Shareholders’ eggs are sold through a marketing association which handles eggs from about 4.5 million layers from all over Germany. Philipp Zimmerer recognizes Ohio is an egg deficit state and would hope to concentrate egg sales among its many large population centers. However, neighboring Indiana is an egg exporting state.
How can these Ohio markets be captured except by cutting prices? “Cutting prices benefits no one. We don’t want to do that,” Zimmerer responds.
Hall Davis is examining an alternative; have an established, large-scale marketer handle some of their eggs, at least at the start.
“Price is one way to break in, but usually the present supplier can meet any price thrown at him. So I’ve got to talk the basics of quality and service, and I think we’ll produce eggs as efficiently as anyone. But at least until we get our feet on the ground and get acquainted with the needs of chain-store buyers in this area, I’ll probably market some of our eggs through firms specializing in that function. We’ve had two or three such concerns express an interest in going that route with us,” Davis explains. In the U.S., Davis is the man to talk to about Daylay Egg Farm business. He has Zimmerer’s power of attorney and the authority to carry out policy.
“They set the policy and I make the day-to-day operational decisions,” he explains. “However, I’ll check with them before making major decisions which deviate from that policy.”
What will Daylay look like in the future? Ultimately, that may depend on many things, but in the near future it will consist of four 65 x 340 ft. laying houses which will house a total of 384,000 birds. The first house was started in September. February-March, 1978 is planned for startup time, with day-old chicks to be placed in the same cages in which they will spend the rest of their days.
Work on the laying houses will overlap. That is, before one is completely finished, crews will be starting on the next. The last unit to be completed will be a 100 x 125 ft. egg processing plant.
The laying houses will be deep-pit type houses with the cages 7 ft. off the concrete floor.
“We’ll have fans pulling air in through the comb of the building,” Davis says, “and out each side across the droppings for drying effect and to cool the birds. To keep water out of the pit, we’ll use a plastic trough under the nipple-drip system. We can’t afford to have that manure get wet.”
Davis hasn’t decided on all of his equipment choices yet. He is looking at quality and price right now. Neither has a bird strain been finally selected.
In addition, the farm will have a feed mill with about 80,000 bushel grain storage capacity, and a grain dryer. With a constantly vigil eye on total U.S. hen population figures as they affect supply-demand balance, many U.S. eggmen are nervously wondering whether the influx of foreign capital may become a trend in the egg business, thus jeopardizing that delicate balance.
According to Davis observations, “I’ve heard of other financial interests in poultry here. The rumor is not far enough along yet to comment further, but I expect to see some more.”
Philipp Zimmerer puts it a little more cagily. “I don’t think it indicates a trend at this time. However, if we can come over here and produce eggs profitably, it could become a trend.”
Daylay Egg Farm’s progress will be under sharp scrutiny from both sides of the Atlantic in the next several years.
WATT 90th Anniversary Special From Poultry Tribune, December 1977