By Nancy Allen
The Ohio Department of Agriculture has issued final permits to Wuebker Farm, 2129 Wuebker Road, Maria Stein, to build a high rise chicken barn and add 177,000 layer hens to its farming operation.
The farm also has been issued a final permit to operate, which regulates farm operations with plans for manure management, insect and rodent control, management of dead animals and emergency responses in the case of manure runoff that could cause pollution. The Wuebkers would be required to renew the operating permit every five years.
Township trustees, the township clerk and a county commissioner attended a May 25 informational meeting held by the ODA to answer questions about the expansion. No written comments from the public were received on the expansion during a 30-day public comment period and no public hearing was requested, said ODA spokeswoman Deborah Abbott.
Permit applicants are Melvin, Julie and Dan Wuebker, Maria Stein.
The farm currently has the capacity for 600 hogs, 400 dairy calves and 125,568 laying hens, a total of 1,466 animal units. Upon completion of the expansion, the facility will be permitted to house the same number of hogs and dairy, and 302,568 laying hens, for a total of 3,266 animal units. The new 555-by-55-foot high-rise layer hen barn would have a 7-foot-deep pit to store manure to an average depth of 4 feet, providing 304 days of storage. All runoff water from the new facility would be drained from the barn and through a vegetative filter area and then into adjacent cropland.
Combined manure production from the hens in the new barn and a second existing barn would equal approximately 2,900 tons of dry manure. All solid chicken manure generated on the farm would be taken off the farm through a manure broker or cooperating farmer. All of the swine and dairy manure would be spread on 72 acres of land owned or controlled by the facility.
The final permits can be appealed within 30 days to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission, 309 S. Fourth St., Room 222, Columbus, OH 43215. A copy of the appeal must be forwarded to the Director of Agriculture within three days of filing the appeal.