Three barns within three years: farmer Sven Sangel relies on Big Dutchman mobile housing systems
Sven Sangel from the Northern German district of Nordwestmecklenburg has been in charge of his family’s arable farm for years. In 2019, he additionally started producing free range eggs. It all began with a mobile housing system from Big Dutchman – today, Sven Sangle owns three of these mobile houses, and a stationary barn is in the planning stages. In an interview, Sven Sangel talks about how the new production branch got off the ground and what he likes about Big Dutchman’s animal welfare solutions.
Your family has managed an arable farm for a long time. How did you find your way towards egg production?
Sven Sangel: In the past years, we started looking for alternatives to arable farming more and more, because the yield and profits from arable farming have unfortunately not been very good. While looking for a second string to our bow, the option of egg production came up.
Mobile housing system
Natura Camp II with a shelter for protection in the expansive range
Why did you select a mobile housing system?
Sven Sangel: It is always very difficult to integrate a new production branch into the continuing operation. You can never be sure whether everything will work as you expect it to work.
Our main focus is definitely regional marketing. We wanted to create something sustainable for our farm, and the mobile housing system was an obvious solution.
We were also looking for something that would not add too much to our workload. But at the same time we needed to have a certain number of birds if we wanted a reasonable compensation for our work.
What was the main reason for your decision?
Sven Sangel: Definitely the degree of automation.
To meet animal welfare requirements and to minimise the workload, we wanted as many processes as possible to be carried out automatically, for example manure removal, feeding and ventilation control.
Big Dutchman technology tipped the scale.
Why did you opt for a Big Dutchman mobile housing system?
Sven Sangel: Animal welfare was important to us. Moreover, we wanted to use the technology to full potential while keeping the costs per bird place as low as possible. Based on these requirements, we quickly realised that Big Dutchman offered the perfect solution.
What convinced me most is the system’s user-friendliness. Our main focus on the farm is still arable farming. But due to Big Dutchman’s modern technology, both production branches were easy to combine.
From zero to three mobile housing systems within three years
You started producing eggs in 2019. How many barns do you have today?
Sven Sangel: Three. We started in the fall of 2019 with Natura Camp II, a mobile housing system on runners. We sold the eggs directly to local food retailers and small restaurants.
The Sangels’ three mobile houses from a bird’s eye view
After demand from direct customers grew more and more, we had to consider expanding quite early on. At the beginning of 2020, we purchased a second Natura Camp II system.
Since the demand for regional free range eggs has been increasing constantly, presumably also a bit due to Covid, we took another step towards expansion and invested in a Natura Caravan system. In contrast to Natura Camp II, Natura Caravan is moved on wheels. The aviary and all the technology are practically the same.
Natura Caravan mobile housing system
Tips for beginners
When looking back on your experience with the new production branch: what should egg production beginners consider?
Sven Sangel: When starting off with a new production branch, make sure you have all the necessary information on the birds’ needs. Animal welfare is always what’s most important.
It is also essential not to underestimate personal requirements. The birds have to be taken care of 365 days a year – even over Christmas or when you are ill.
Farmer Sven Sangel and his family are there for their laying hens all year round.
Another important point is marketing. It would be a mistake to approach this topic without a plan. Marketing channels should be ready when the first flock is housed.
Afterwards, customers need to be attended to intensively. Beginners should also make sure that they are up to date regarding new marketing options to make the most of their potential. Don’t forget that Easter and Christmas only come around once a year!
Small gifts from the farm
Letting chickens be chickens! Tasty gifts from the farm.
On the table in front of us is a bottle of egg liqueur next to the eggs. Pasta was sold out. Why are these products here?
Sven Sangel: We have pasta and egg liqueur produced from our eggs here in our region. We believe that these products nicely complement our product range.
They also allow us to offer our customers something a bit out of the ordinary. Particularly the egg liqueur is very popular among tourists.
How are things going on your farm at the moment; can you meet the demand?
Sven Sangel: No. We have decided to take another barn into operation at the beginning of next year.
This one will be a stationary barn. We will receive an animal welfare certificate from the German Animal Welfare Federation for it.
Especially with regard to animal welfare, we want to offer the customer a product that creates a positive feeling.
Big Dutchman’s Natura Step aviary system is a worldwide classic.
The Natura Step aviary speaks for itself
Will you equip the new barn with the same technology as the mobile houses?
Sven Sangel: Yes. We will again install the Natura Step aviary in our stationary layer house. Similarly to the mobile housing systems, the new barn will be controlled by a ViperTouch computer and an alarm system.
And there is yet another special feature about your barn ...
Sven Sangel: Very true! In the future, we will connect our stationary layer house to the internet via a microwave link network. We will then be able to integrate the mobile houses so all barns are connected to one another through the BigFarmNet management and control system, which also allows controlling the barns. It’s a big plus!