ATLANTA – Nilsen Farms, Wilton CA, was one of six farms across the United States to receive the Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award during the 2009 International Poultry Expo here. U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, based in Tucker, GA, sponsors the annual awards in recognition of exemplary environmental stewardship by family farmers engaged in poultry and egg production.
Applicants were rated in several categories, including dry litter or liquid manure management, nutrient management planning, community involvement, wildlife enhancement techniques, innovative nutrient management techniques, and participation in education or outreach programs.
Monty Henderson (left), 2009 chairman of the board of U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, and president and chief operating officer of George’s, Inc., headquartered in Springdale, AR, presented the award to Ben Gutierrez (center) and Tim Nilsen.
Applications are reviewed and farm visits conducted by a team of environmental professionals from universities, regulatory agencies, and state trade associations in selecting national winners in six regions.
Nilsen Farms was established in the 1950s when Norm Nilsen Sr. began raising chickens in the high desert of Southern California and sold them directly to the public in Los Angeles. The operation later evolved into an egg farm, selling to a wholesaler. It soon developed enough volume for on-site processing and cartoning. With an engineering background, Norm Sr. set up a poultry watering system he named Swish. Following his unexpected death, his son Norm Jr. developed the system into Swish Manufacturing. As he managed the new company, he turned the egg farm over to Jesus Gutierrez.
Norm Jr. later sold the manufacturing rights to Swish and relocated to Wilton in Sacramento County.
He built a 550,000 square foot poultry operation and contracted with Foster Farms for turkey production. Nilsen Farms now consists of three turkey facilities with 650,000 total square feet of turkey production. In 2002 Norm Jr.’s son Tim became active and, along with Jesus’ son Ben Gutierrez, continued to develop the company, adding tunnel ventilation to better control the growing environment, improving performance, litter management, and enhancing bird welfare.
Mortality management is handled through Foster Farms’ rendering service, ensuring a clean environment. Litter is moved to a composting facility which produces fertilizer, most of which is sold to farmers and bagging companies. A nutrient management plan was implemented in 2005 to protect local streams.
Nilsen Farms is actively involved in the local community and was chosen as a feature farm to educate the public on poultry production and animal welfare methods.