Aviary System

Collecting eggs with Meggsius saves a lot of labour

5 min read published on 8 May 2024

The Netherlands - After keeping broiler parent stock for many years, the Slenders family switched to layer stock. After this switch, it was time for a renovation in 2021 and they opted for the Bolegg Terrace aviary. "With the large number of hatching eggs to be collected, we invested in latest technology from the Meggsius family. I am still amazed every day how well the fully automatic egg packing works. Just great," says Stan Slenders.

He remembers egg packing back when his grandfather started as a broiler breeder 80 years ago. "From 100 per cent manual packing to this fully automated packing line. It's just fantastic what modern technology can do," says 51-year-old Stan Slenders from Hoogeloon in the Netherlands.

Klantverhaal Vencomatic Group - Slenders (2)


After keeping broiler parent birds for years, the Slenders family decided to make the change in 2018. "A good decision that we still fully support. Our farm was rebuilt in 2021 and completely changed, not only the houses and inventory, but also the management," says Stan Slenders.

He tells us about the history: "In 2005, we bought my parents' farm. We kept 18,000 broiler parent animals then. In 2008 we expanded to 26,000 birds by extending and rebuilding the houses. In 2010, we added a new house so that we could keep 38,000 broiler parent animals." In 2016, the hatchery operator terminated the contract due to an overcrowded hatchery market. So the Slenders Family started thinking about the future.

One thing led to another; a former business advisor from a feed supplier who had meanwhile been working at Pluriton Rearing Integration, regularly came for coffee and asked if laying parent animals would be something for the Slenders family. Within a short time, the contract was signed. Now they keep 77,500 laying parent animals in three aviary barns and one floor barn with tube aeration.

''I enjoy fully automatic egg packing every day''

Stan Slenders

Layer breeder farm


Animal numbers doubled

In 2017, Stan immediately started updating the permit. But that backfired. Laying stock animals fall into the animal category of “E2 laying hens instead” of “E4 broiler parent animals”. "I thought adjusting the permit will go quickly because we are reducing in emissions but that permit took over four years. Eventually it came around and we keep over 12,000 kilos of nitrogen remaining on the Nature Conservation Act permit. So in terms of emissions, we have plenty of space."


Stan initially wanted to switch in stages because of the high investment cost. However, that wasn’t possible according to provincial rules. The last option was to install an aviary system with litter scrapers; this produces an emission of 20 grams of ammonia per animal. "This did mean doubling the number of animals; then we got the financing and could also pay it back. At farm level, we realise 88 per cent less nitrogen emissions with doubling the number of animals. The rearing integration also agreed to this," Stan looks back.

Klantverhaal Vencomatic Group - Slenders (1)

Aviary house

The houses' equipment was 10 and 12 years old, respectively. So breaking down did hurt for a while. The houses were gutted and completely rebuilt in September 2021. "We closed the pits, poured new floors, new roof, insulation, automatic daylight windows, LED lighting, silos, ventilation computers, mist cooling, an aviary and installed a completely new Meggsius packing line with packer and palletiser." Stan Slenders has always worked with Vencomatic Group. "Since Cor van de Ven started automatic laying nests here in the neighbourhood, we have always worked with them. It's a nice company to work with; if there is something they always try to solve it, like an automatic egg separator on the Vencobelt." He thinks the egg bumper in the middle of the nest works well. "Especially for breeder eggs, it is important that the eggs do not have hairline cracks because then no chick will hatch." He also thinks the nest with a movable floor for clean nests combined with the rubber laying mats is a good invention.

For layer breeding, Stan chose a widened Bolegg Terrace aviary. "Working with aviary is completely different from ground housing and requires more control time. Also with the roosters; an aviary is not set up for roosters. They join and cause more stress. With the widened top floor and extra stairs, you have more peace and quiet in the house."

Twice a week, he turns off the manure and every fortnight he delivers manure. Every vacancy he wet cleans because of the higher hygiene status of the breeding animals. "After that, we lubricate all the rotating parts so that everything works properly again," he says.

'With smart techniques super quality hatching eggs'

Stan Slenders

Layer breeder farm


Meggsius family

Previously, Slenders collected hatching eggs with a Prinzen PSPC5 packer. With the larger number of hens and eggs, the family invested in a completely new fully automatic Meggsius packing line. The Meggsius system consists of four modules: the Meggsius Count for counting eggs, the control system Meggsius Control, Meggsius Detect for signalling leaking eggs and Meggsius Select for automatic egg inspection and grading.

Meggsius Control (2)

Labour saving

The Meggsius Count and Control regulate the constant egg flow using cameras that count the eggs just before the transition to the cross-belt. It is now possible to collect all the eggs with one person. "Before, you needed a person to operate the machine and a few helping hands. You had to continuously sort eggs. Now the Meggsius Select takes eight photos of all the eggs; abnormal eggs come on the grading scale. Those eggs need a second opinion; a feather just sweeps off and it's a first-class hatching egg again." Slenders now only has white eggs from three different breeds, LSL White, H&N Super Nick and H&N Coral. Per house, the settings for detection can be adjusted."

The labour savings are huge. All the eggs come in an equal line. "One person can collect all the eggs from 7am to 12pm. Each belt then turns twice. Because of the different breeds, we have to turn off house by house and change pallets," Stan explains. Operating the machine is quite simple. The work has become more of a process operator function.


Previously, a broken egg contaminated other eggs. The Meggsius Detect, placed between the cross belt and the egg packer, detects leaking eggs. The belt stops and the egg packer resolves the fault. "You can walk up and down more and don't have to worry about a bad egg being packed. It gives peace of mind and works more pleasantly than constantly standing in the same place," Stan explains. They turn off eggs twice a day in a row. "My wife Nicole operates the packing line and in four and a half - five hours all the eggs are packed. It's relaxed and efficient egg collecting." Every day, Nicole cleans the machine. Slenders bought the Meggsius range for the labour savings.


More time managing chickens

Stan mentions the differences with broiler breeders: "The biggest difference, though, is that I spend more time with the chickens and monitoring in the aviary. Broiler breeders limit your time with feed. It is quite difficult to make a hen eat more feed if they are not hungry and then still stimulate feed intake. That does make a difference but it's nice when it works in the end. Rooster management is very different. There are big differences between species of roosters. The trick is to suppress fierceness and get balance in that department." Stan mentions another big difference from broiler parent stock: "Now we don't own the chickens. Pluriton owns the chickens and we depend on their planning. Additions to feed, for example, go in consultation. We have less risk and less stress. In a market where the buyer sets the price, you are never your own boss, only good enough to absorb the risk, and you don't have that in integration."


Slenders is one of the largest layer breeder farms in the Netherlands. "We have three sons but for now there is no successor. The houses are fully equipped for the future and the permit is valid for the next 15 years."                                                      The results are great. High hatchability, low failure rate. "We are happy with the conversion and are very happy with our investments. We work fine and have a lot of job satisfaction." 

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Vencomatic Group

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