When Michael and Kelsey Gettelfinger changed their poultry operation from broilers to laying hens, it impacted how they handled manure. Broilers were housed on a dirt floor. Laying hens are cage-free, but on concrete with a manure scraping system. Litter is moved mechanically and transferred out of the building.
To handle it after it leaves the building, the brothers constructed two large poultry litter storage sheds — one shed for each set of three poultry houses. In each case, when litter leaves the poultry houses on a conveyor, it transfers seamlessly into another conveyor. The second conveyor takes it near the top of the large storage structure and through the wall, and dumps it inside onto a concrete floor.
They use a skid steer to move litter around inside the building. When it’s time to haul to the field, they use a self-propelled spreader they built themselves, starting with an older Case IH three-wheel fertilizer spreader.
Built to last
Having the poultry litter under roof on concrete prevents runoff into nearby ravines or streams. It also helps preserve the nutrient content inside the litter until they can spread it, Kelsey says.
The Gettelfingers applied for and received some cost-share help from USDA to build the storage sheds. The buildings qualify as structures that help protect water quality because they prevent nutrient runoff.
The building pictured above is 125 feet long and 60 feet wide with a steel roof. The brothers did a large part of the construction themselves.
“We have to give a lot of credit to our uncle Chris Gettelfinger,” Kelsey says. “He went above and beyond to help us build these structures.”
Tom J. Bechman
AUTOMATED TRANSFER: Poultry litter comes out of the corner of this laying hen building and is dropped into another conveyor, which moves it to the top of the adjacent manure storage facility, where it’s dumped into the concrete-floor building.
In each building, steel siding rests on top of a concrete wall, which forms the base of the building. The concrete walls forming the base are 8 feet tall and 10 inches thick, Kelsey says. They’re designed to hold up even if the building is filled with poultry litter.
“These buildings are an important part of our system,” Michael says. “They allow us to stockpile poultry litter and apply it when the timing and field conditions are right. We want to get as much value out of this resource as we can.”