By Stan Maddux
NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – The Strauss family was primarily a supplier of feed until producing eggs a half century ago.
Now, the family has reached out of state to add one million hens to the 10 million hens already housed at their egg production facility in northern Indiana.
MPS Egg Farms, formerly known as Midwest Poultry Services based in North Manchester, has acquired the egg production facilities owned previously by Feather Crest Farms out of Texas. The move gives MPS Egg Farms, one of the nation’s largest shell egg producers, 11 million hens and capacity to produce 9.35 million eggs a day.
“We knew of Feather Crest Farms by reputation. They are solid and well- respected within the industry,” said Sam Krouse, vice-president of business development for MPS Eggs.
Since MPS Egg Farms is a sixth-generation family owned and operated company, Krouse said, ‘’it was important that Feather Crest Farms share the same values and commitment to customer service and quality that we hold important.”
Feather Crest Farms was also family owned since at least the 1970’s.
Dan Krouse, vice-president of operations for MPS Egg Farms, said all 96 employees of Feather Crest Farms were hired giving his company a workforce of 630.
He said each of the farms in Texas will continue under their existing names..
No immediate changes are expected but a remodeling of the facilities and growing production are part of the long-term plans, he said. “For now, it’s business as usual,” Krouse said.
Because of COVID-19 and capable staff in Texas, MPS Egg Farms said transition of the two out of state farms is happening electronically to avoid the risk traveling could pose for spreading the virus. “Thankfully, no one from Indiana was planning to spend extended time in Texas because the expertise and strength of the Feather Crest team is already strong,” Krouse said.
According to the company website, MPS Egg Farms is rooted with Daniel Strauss in 1875 building a water powered grain mill along the Eel River in North Manchester.
The company to meet the changing needs of the community evolved over the years into selling everything from coal, to ice and animal feed. Under the leadership of the founder’s great grandson, Donald Strauss, the company in 1960 purchased a Purina feed franchise serving local egg producers after noticing how the egg industry was becoming more consolidated.
That allowed MPS to become a direct supplier no longer going through a third party to get feed into the hands of its customers.
Eight-years later MPS started raising hens to produce eggs and built one of the world’s first automated egg farms housing 300,000 hens at a single location, the company said.
According to the company, MPS Egg Farms in 2005 started building cage free housing systems in response to growing consumer demand and converted its original Sunnyside Farms into a totally cage free operation.
Indiana, according to USDA, was the nation’s second leading producer of eggs in 2018 at 9.6 billion. The leading producer was Iowa at 16 billion eggs while Texas was third at 6.1 billion eggs, according to USDA.