Whether you like them scrambled, fried, hard-boiled or sunny-side up, Ohio’s egg farmers work hard to provide the protein-packed kitchen staple. In fact, Ohio is one of the nation’s largest egg-producing states, with more than 31 million hens who produce approximately
9 billion eggs per year.
Several of Ohio’s hardworking egg producers belong to the younger millennial generation, and they’re committed to not only continuing their family’s operation, but bringing their knowledge of food trends and consumer needs to the forefront.
See more: Farmers Bring Fresh Eggs to Ohio Schools
Located in the west-central village of Versailles, Weaver Eggs was founded in 1929 by George Weaver and his brother, Donald. Today, George’s great-grandson, 33-year-old Alex Weaver, is the vice president of the company and oversees all operations.
“I joined the business when I was 14,” Alex Weaver says. “I grew up there and my duties ranged from sweeping floors and stacking egg cases to taking care of the birds and just learning as much as possible.”
From there, he spent several years learning each area of the business, from sales to managing, and built a solid foundation for leadership.
Weaver Eggs produces about 6 million eggs per day and also supplies high-quality egg products. Alex says that as a millennial, he’s been able to bring a significant impact to the business and its products in terms of technology and updated environmental control systems, as well as understanding the consumer base.
“Millennials make knowing exactly where their food comes from a high priority, and they care about environmental sustainability and animal welfare,” he says. “I’m immersed in those realms in our business.”
He adds that Weaver Eggs has also been expanding their cage-free and free-range operations.
“Today’s consumers often reach for cage-free or free-range. We’re working hard to meet that demand.”
Nature Pure LLC
Nature Pure LLC, located in Raymond, is a cage-free organic egg farm operated by 29-year-old Sandra Lausecker, her brother, Daniel, and her father, Kurt. The farm was founded in 2007 after Kurt had the opportunity to purchase part of a farm he had been working on for his whole career as president of the company. The operation is fully vertically integrated, which means the Lauseckers have their own feed mill, raise their own pullets, care for the layer hens and process eggs for distribution. Sandra and her brother take care of the day-to-day operations.
Sandra says that while carrying on the family legacy is important, it’s more important to her to carry on a farming legacy.
“I feel so strongly about this that we have designed an educational exhibit for Outward Farms [Nature Pure’s new brand]. My goal is to connect all generations of consumers with where their food comes from by being transparent and educating on egg farming and the practices of our family farm.”
She says that being a millennial farmer allows her to be a credible voice for the company, relating better to consumers and peers.
“As a young leader within our company, I have embraced the opportunity for growth and change,” Sandra says. “Perhaps it’s my lack of experience that causes me to be a risk-taker with optimistic returns, but I strongly believe education, transparency and the ability to connect with today’s market drivers is essential in order to be successful.”
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Hertzfeld Poultry Farm
Over in Grand Rapids, fourth-generation farmer Jordan Hertzfeld farms with his father, Tom, and several aunts, uncles and cousins at Hertzfeld Poultry Farms, Inc. He is 29 years old.
The farm was founded in 1996, and provides high-quality table eggs to the Toledo area and surrounding communities, as well as markets in the eastern U.S.
Jordan, who grew up near the family farm, says that having younger generations involved in the business is incredibly important to move forward.
“If we can continue getting the fourth and fifth generations and so on to continue working here, I think we can stay fresh with new ideas and maintain that family environment that makes it a great place to work,” he says.
See more: Millennials: The Future of Farming
Jordan says he’s aware of the knowledge he brings to the table, but also of the wisdom that older generations provide within the industry.
“I don’t know if being a millennial plays an advantage,” he says. “But I think it can help when all generations can have an open conversation and grab opinions and ideas from everyone.”