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Summit Livestock’s Wrap-the-EquipmentTM Construction Speeds Erection


The Lone Cactus Complex located near Bouse, AZ., was conceived by Marcus Rust in 2015 to produce cage-free eggs to be marketed in California and Western states. Rose Acre Farms initially elected to convert to cage-free production by erecting new buildings on existing complexes in Indiana.

The Lone Cactus project represents refinement of design features based on the experience gained with an initial group of five houses. Expansion to Arizona by the Nation's second largest egg producer provided an opportunity for their design-build general contractor, Summit Livestock Facilities to apply a unique approach to construction by integrating the house with equipment in the "wrap-the-equipment" concept.

The origin of Summit Livestock Facilities is steeped in 60 years of designing and building facilities for agricultural and commercial purposes from the parent company, FBi Buildings. This specialized company was formed to address the needs of protein producers from a commercial aspect as well as addressing the growing concerns with animal health and wellbeing.  This includes facilities in all livestock segments.

Lone Cactus Egg Farm represents a collaboration between Summit Livestock as the architect, coordinating engineer, and general contractor, FACCO the supplier of modified aviaries and installations, Rose Acre Farms as an involved and participating client and a number of subcontractors.

The Bouse site in Arizona was selected on the basis of proximity to western markets and isolation from concentrations of commercial poultry. Distance from flyways used by migratory waterfowl represents a direct application of the principles of Conceptual Biosecurity. 

As planned, the completed project will ultimately comprise two complexes each of six houses with a total of 4.4 million hens.  An additional ingredient-receiving facility to handle grain and bulk feedstuffs delivered by rail has yet to be erected. A distribution cold store and warehouse facility to be located equidistant between the Lone Cactus Complex and the second facility will be required.

Based on the stated commitments by members of the Food Marketing Institute, the National Restaurant Association and food service distributors to source only cage-free eggs by 2025, Rust opted for a novel design which would incorporate speed of erection and minimize capital cost compared to conventional aviary housing. It is estimated that each house with aviaries, electrical, water, alarm and ventilation systems including evaporative cooling will cost less than conventional housing estimated to range from $30 to $35 per hen. 

Additional expenditures are obviously required for site development, structural biosecurity, feed mixing, egg packing, roads and reticulation of power and water. It is estimated that it requires four months to erect and equip a house although on a complex it is possible to stage consecutive phases of construction or to increase manpower and resources to expedite completion.

Each of the Lone Cactus houses will be approximately 180 feet by 540 feet.  Each house comprising two levels is subdivided into two compartments by a longitudinal wall.  Each of the four compartments will house approximately 95,000 white-feathered hens.  Each of the seven rows of aviaries in each compartment comprises three tiers with the center tier modified to brood day-old pullet chicks to 12 weeks. At this time they are individually vaccinated and then distributed among the available modules which have movable cage fronts. 

The aviaries serve as rearing cages but after training, cage fronts are folded back to allow the mature flock complete access to the volume of the house. Each house is designed to hold approximately 380,000 white-feathered hens at a stocking density approved by U.S. welfare certification agencies. Actual floor area provides a density of 0.5 ft2 per hen but since these are aviary systems, the effective bio-density is 6.0 ft3 per hen.

The aviary modules were manufactured by FACCO of Italy with extensive modifications as requested by Rose Acre Farms under the directions of CEO Marcus Rust.

The houses incorporate a patented "Wrap-the-Equipment" design conceived by Summit Livestock to satisfy the requirements of speed of market and optimal cost.

Perspective view of Lone Cactus Complex under construction

Gable wall showing evaporative cooling pad

Side wall during construction showing vertical supports,
white panels incorporating air passages.
Wall cladding yet to be installed but aviaries are visible within the interior

The house is constructed in stages comprising:-
• Terracing and preparation of the platform for the house
• Laying of the concrete floor which is leveled using lasers to achieve a tolerance of one-quarter inch over the length of the base
• The first phase of construction involves erection of two "book ends" representing the gable walls of the house
• Cylindrical foundations located at approximately 50 foot centers are installed parallel with the long walls of the house to take wind-load
• Light-gauge tubular steel columns extending from floor level to the eaves are installed
• Aviary modules are positioned in the house extending from the floor to the roof level and are tied to purlins to provided integrity to the structure and transfer dead-load to the foundation
• Hollow panels are installed along the sidewalls to facilitate ventilation during brooding
• Wall cladding comprising insulated metal "sandwich" panels are installed.  The cladding is fabricated using a dense foam core with metal surfaces to provide a seamless and impervious finish to the exterior and interior. Wall surfaces exclude entry of rodents from outside and burrowing of litter beetles from the inside of the house.
• Roof cladding is installed
• Evaporative cooling pads are installed on one gable wall which allows air to pass through to a plenum
• Extraction fans are installed on the opposite wall to achieve longitudinal (tunnel) air movement

According to Summit, the buildings are designed to withstand a wind loading of up to 105 miles per hour by ASCE 7-10 specifications.

A significant question relating to the integrity of equipment and house instruction relates to the need to replace equipment within the life span of the building.  An assurance was provided that individual sections or complete rows of aviaries can be removed without affecting structural integrity, allowing replacement with updated equipment. In 25 years, roof cladding will have to be replaced with more efficient materials that will become available. Vertical supports including the installations incorporated into the gable wall "book ends" can be reused.

Since the complex is located in an arid region with temperatures which may exceed 110 F, evaporative cooling and extraction were designed for optimum efficiency. A custom-designed computerized ventilation control system incorporating alarms was designed and installed by AEI.

The conceptual plan developed by Rose Acre Farms incorporated a remote ingredient-receiving and storage facility with a rail siding.  All ingredients will be transported to the mixing plants located on each of the complexes.  Balanced feed will be transferred by overhead conveyor to a cluster of four silos adjacent to each house. Separate silos supply each of the four compartments in a house.

Water supply is an important consideration and the Lone Cactus Complex has four wells drilled to 800 foot to abstract water from an aquifer.  It is calculated that water requirements will attain or exceed 200,000 gallons per day when the complex is at full capacity.

In view of the reliance on power ventilation and a constant water supply, redundancy has been incorporated into the design of the emergency electrical installations.  Each of the houses has its own generator and adjacent units are inter-linked so that in the event of possible equipment failure, the affected house will have an available power supply.

The in-line packing plant is designed to accommodate the output of the complex over an eight- hour shift.  A MOBA Omnia PX 700 grader is installed with 24 packers.

The Lone Cactus Complex represents the most significant change in house design since the introduction of in-line aviary production. The "wrap-the-equipment" design developed in cooperation between Marcus Rust and Summit Livestock Facilities with the corporation of FACCO, attests to the advantages of inter-company collaboration and thinking outside the box.