Avícola Coliumo raises 30,000 Certified Humane® hens on a 1,300 hectare egg farm in San Carlos, Chillán, Chile. The farm got its start in 1962 by Don Patrico Reyes, the father of the current owner, Felipe Reyes. Reyes remembers the early days, working alongside his dad and taking care of their 100-bird flock.
“I’ve always helped with the different tasks involved on the farm, especially during the rearing of the pullets,” he says.
At 24, Reyes took over some of the farm’s management, which had grown from 100 to 15,000 hens. “In the beginning, we had the help of local workers, many of whom still work with us today,” says Reyes. “Little by little, we automated our system to improve the quality of care for the hens.”
Over the years, Avícola Coliumo has set the standard in Chile for implementing state-of-the-art technology in all stages of the egg-laying process, from sowing grains and feeding the hens to selecting and packaging eggs that are distributed from the Santiago Metropolitan area to the Lakes region.
Today, Reyes and his two daughters, Javiera and Antonia Reyes, are the third generation to operate the farm, along with 130 employees, many of who have been working on the farm since it was formed. Antonia, a veterinarian, wanted to see the hens free of their cages, so traveled to the U.S. and Europe to learn about the various multi-level cage-free aviary systems.
In 2018, she brought the new cage-free multi-level aviary system to Avícola Coliumo – the first such system in South America – to better provide for the hens’ natural behaviors. Some of the new additions included perches so the hens can roost, wood chip beds that allow the hens to dust bathe and scratch, and nests, which stimulate pre-laying and egg laying behaviors, Reyes says. The new line of cage-free eggs, called “La Castellana,” fits with the farm’s goal of providing a better quality of life for their hens.
“We believe that our birds deserve respectful treatment, since they are sentient beings just like us,” says Reyes. “When they cannot perform certain natural behaviors, they feel frustrated, which is detrimental to their welfare. By providing them with a cage-free aviary, we can support their natural behaviors.”
Once the cage-free aviary was in place, Reyes applied to Certified Humane® for certification. “I learned about Certified Humane® during a trip to the USA to learn about aviary systems,” says Reyes. “This organization has such great reach and relevance in the aviary industry in terms of animal welfare. When I read their Animal Care Standards, I realized they promoted animal welfare in an excellent way and gave us benchmarks, so we could properly manage our hens in a more humane way.”
In addition, the new aviary system ensures the excellent health for the hens, since it has manure belts that extract this by-product, creating a better environmental quality. The farm also feeds the cage-free hens a quality-feed diet, which consists of 60% maize that is planted and harvested on the farm. “We fertilize the crops with the manure the hens produce to obtain the best yields at the time of harvest,” says Reyes. “We call this our virtuous circle.”
Avícola Coliumo doesn’t just have the first multi-level aviary system in South America, but it also has solar panels, which supply 100% of the energy for the cage-free production. “We are measuring our carbon footprint and are the first laying hens farm in Chile to do so,” says Reyes.
The cage-free eggs will be sold in the HORECA channel: Hotels, Restaurants and Casinos, as well as at Walmart and other supermarket chains. For more information, visit www.huevoslacastellana.com.
To learn more, visit their website at: http://huevoscoliumo.cl/