A new brand of locally produced eggs has been hitting the shelves in grocery stores around town. Cory and Carly Pochop raise cage free chickens for their egg business, Dakota Prairie Farms, located just south of Aberdeen. In the past four years they have grown from keeping about 30 chickens and collecting enough eggs for themselves and to sell here and there, to owning 800 chickens and selling their eggs in Kessler’s, Ken’s, and The Junction. Cory says they plan on continuing to expand. “In the next year or two our goal is to hopefully have around 2,200 birds.”
Their growth has involved making parts of the operation more automated. The Pochops converted an old hog barn into a space where the chickens can reach nesting boxes that are connected to a central conveyor belt, creating a system where all the eggs end up in the same location. Even with this in place, there’s still plenty of hands-on work to do. They manually put each egg into the egg washer and drying table, candle them for quality, and grade, package, and deliver them.
Outside of this remodeled barn, which gives the chickens an option to go indoors, they are putting up a 5,000 square foot pen so their birds can roam outdoors and still be safe from predators. “It took a lot of cleaning and redoing to get everything just right,” Cory explains. “It’s been a learning process and it’s still a work in progress.” // — Jenny Roth