Spatial Separation for Egg Farmers

In these difficult times, many producers are faced with stressors from every side ranging from hard insurance markets and regulatory issues to the ongoing challenges from customers to increase cage-free production.

This requires new construction or converting conventional housing systems to cage-free housing.

Since most new layer houses are much larger, it’s important to be clear on spatial separation between buildings, both to prevent the spread of fire and also to improve your risk profile to mitigate long-term insurance costs.

New Scale, New Standards
In the past, 50 feet had been the standard separation, but as we’ve published in the UEP Newsletter, 50 feet is no longer enough when layer barns soar three to five stories and house two, three, or even four flocks.

For a while now, we’ve been encouraging a minimum of 75 feet separation for non-combustible and 100 feet separation for combustible frame houses in response to the increased scale.

In an effort to be as clear as possible about what separation is ideal for egg producers as it relates to reducing the likelihood of fire spread, we continue to have conversations with underwriters, engineers, and egg industry contractors and equipment providers.

Here are guidelines based on those discussions:

Non Combustible Houses (<150K layers)

  1. Minimum of 50ft separation
    Non-Combustible Houses (>150K layers)
  2. Minimum of 75ft separation
    Combustible Frame Houses (<150K layers)
  3. Minimum of 50ft separation
    Combustible Frame Houses (>150K layers)
  4. Minimum of 100ft separation

Our conversations with builders and engineers tend to settle on a minimum of 75 feet with a preference to 100 feet, based on the scale of most new layer and pullet facilities and the prevalence of wind gusts throughout the Midwest. And while 50 ft is the minimum for houses with up to 150,000 hens, we recommend stretching that further if at all possible. Some of you have much, much smaller buildings where 5 houses hold fewer than 100,000 hens total. These guidelines aren’t a ‘one-size fits all’ proposition.

What to Keep In Mind
The guidelines above are not UEP mandates nor are they legal requirements. But they will help (a) prevent the spread of a fire from building to building and (b) improve your insurance resume.

Always discuss your construction plans with your insurance agent or insurer. GRC, our loss control partner, includes an email address ( in every one of their loss control reports if you’d like an additional engineer’s review. Make sure to address fire spread prevention with your contractor when you’re planning your site.

Have questions about spatial separation and other ways to prevent the spread of fire between your buildings? Reply to this email and let us know. You’re probably not the only one.
Best Regards,

The Palomar Egg & Ag Team

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