About Us :: Four Generations of Agriculture
Cotner Farms is a family owned and operated egg layer, grain production and feed mill farm with agricultural roots dating back to the early 1900s. The state of Pennsylvania recognized us as a Century Farm in 2012 for farming the same land for 100 years.
From the turn of the century through the early 1970s, Cotner Farms operated a dairy, produced fertilized eggs for a poultry hatchery, and produced eggs for market. Throughout this time period, Cotner Farms planted and harvested grains and forages which were sold at market and also utilized by the farm’s livestock and fowl. Presently, the grain operation produces corn, soybeans and hulless barley at the farm for use in feed for the egg laying hens.
Beginning in the mid-1940s through 1972, Cotner Farms milked a herd of approximately forty dairy cows. Throughout this time period, Cotner Farms was a family-operated business. This is still the case in the current business operations, although the services of a number of additional employees are required.
Through the combined efforts of Don Cotner Sr. and his wife Janie, their six daughters, and Don Cotner Jr., the milking was completed each day. Although there have been many jokes and stories told (and likely embellished!) about the ‘Milk Maidens’, Don Jr. and Don Sr. over the years, it’s safe to say that each of the Cotners contributed to the farm.
Due to the changes in the dairy industry and the agricultural industry as a whole, Cotner Farms decided to abandon the milking in 1972 and focus its efforts on egg production. Beginning in 1972, Cotner Farms, Inc. began full-scale commercial egg production. That year a commercial egg-grader was purchased to process the eggs produced from approximately 50,000 laying hens.
Don Cotner, Jr. headed this new endeavor and began marketing eggs to local groceries, restaurants, and food distributors. In an effort to ensure customer satisfaction, Mr. Cotner personally delivered eggs to the farm’s customers on a routine basis. His belief was that by producing the highest quality of farm-fresh eggs and providing unparalleled service, the business would develop a core of dedicated customers and the foundation for future business expansion. The theory has proven to be true. The business has seen tremendous growth and many of our original customers are still with us today.
In these early stages of the business, less than ten people were required to maintain the hen housing area, operate the egg processing machinery, and deliver the eggs. From the modest beginnings in 1972 through the mid-1980s, Cotner Farms, Inc. experienced a steady and substantial business growth. The number of laying hens increased, the egg collection and processing equipment was updated, new delivery routes were established, and additional delivery trucks were purchased.
On June 22, 1987, the farm suffered a major but temporary setback. Lightning struck an electrical panel within the egg-processing room and ignited a fire which spread throughout the complex. A majority of the laying hens were lost in the fire as well as the processing equipment, egg inventories, and packaging material inventories. Following the 1987 fire, the business rebounded. Construction of a new processing plant was initiated and new egg-processing equipment was purchased.
Cotner Farms, Inc. has since continued to expand. The number of laying hens has increased and the delivery area has extended as agricultural markets and egg demand dictate. As has been the case since 1972, Cotner Farms, Inc. builds its business by providing the highest quality farm-fresh eggs with unequalled service.