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Nelson Sensenig Family Farm

Lebanon County, PA

Nelson Sensenig grew up on a farm where his father raised steers, hogs and crops. Nelson worked for his father until he was 17, when he had to get a job away from home. He worked as an electrician doing residential and agriculture wiring. He and Susan met through friends when they were 15 and have been married for 33 years. They eventually bought and remodeled a 180-acre dairy farm next door to his father in 1988. They ran it as a dairy farm until they sold their herd in 2004, and Nelson along with his three sons started a custom manure hauling business. Nelson and Susan bought the home farm from his father in 2011 and put up two 18,000-hen layer barns there to produce eggs for Pete and Gerry’s. Their son, Joel, took over the manure hauling business. Nelson had no real experience with laying hens, but that didn’t deter him. “I have brothers who raise broilers, so I knew what that was like,” he states. “I choose laying hens because of the cleaner environment and less manure handling.”

Susan and Nelson visited Pete and Gerry’s home farm in NH in 2014 and liked the fact it spanned three generations. They built two 20,000 layer barns on their farm next door and sold the home farm to their son, Daryl. But disaster struck when both of the new barns burned to the ground in the middle of their second flock. “The fire was difficult, but a lot of things came together to in a positive way,” Nelson recalls. “It was unfortunate, but it also gave us the opportunity to improve. When we built the new barns, we made some improvements. We added firewalls between the barns and the egg room, we raised the conveyor system off the floor, and we added evaporative cooling. The evaporative cooling system keeps the interior of the barn below 82° even on the hottest days.” In addition to the egg barn, Nelson cash crops about 250 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat. “I enjoy farming. It has changed a lot. We don’t spend as much time in the fields due to no-till cropping, but we are getting a better yields and less erosion of the soil,” Nelson explains. ”Harvest is the busiest time and the most rewarding. Every day is harvest time with laying hens.” “A farm is the best place to raise a family. There are a variety of things that we can work on together,” Susan adds. ‘We plan to do this as long as we can and then turn the farm over to the next generation.” Nelson is positive about the future. “I see a real future for small family-owned farms.

Consumers are willing to pay more for products they believe in, and the Pete and Gerry’s model gives small farmers access to large retailers.” “I’m also involved in Ministry work and feel blessed that poultry gives me the flexibility to follow that calling. I care about people. Life is short, but there are things we can do for others. We bring nothing with us into this world and cannot take anything with us when life is over, but we can be good stewards while we are here.”

Pets

Rottweiler named Macy

Favorite Recipe

Deviled eggs

Hobbies/Interests

Trout fishing & Gardening

“We plan to do this as long as we can and then turn the farm over to the next generation.”

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