Cargill has begun a $7 million modernisation programme its Harrisonburg turkey hatchery in the US state of Virginia.
The upgrade will focus on improving turkey health, biosecurity and worker safety, and includes investment in new incubator technology that reduces the potential for bacterial cross-contamination. The project is expected to last two years.
Hathcery manager Connie Isenhart said: “We are replacing equipment that has served us well for more than 30 years. The new technology reduces stress on the hatchlings due to advancements in environmental control technology, which improves the survivability of day-old turkey poults. Healthy poults convert feed more efficiently and result in the best bird possible for Cargill turkey farmers and consumers.”
The new incubator and hatcher system is easier to clean and sanitise between uses, and will eliminate the need for Cargill employees to climb onto the equipment in order to access controls. The company said this would ‘reduce the potential for injuries while improving workplace safety’.
“When our new system is operating at capacity, we will be setting more than 112,000 eggs daily to meet the needs of our turkey business,” Isenhart continued. “As always, our goal is to hatch – then place with farmers – high-quality, healthy turkeys that produce the great protein products our customers and consumers have come to expect from our Honeysuckle White, Shady Brook Farms and Honest Turkey brands.
“By investing in our business for future growth, we will be better positioned to help deliver on our promises to meet customer and consumer expectations.”
Poultry is becoming an increasingly significant part of Cargill’s business; in June, the company announced that it would invest €500 million in Colombia after completing the acquisition of local chicken producer El Bucanero.
And it is currently weighing up a bid for Pilgrim’s Pride, the poultry processing business owned by scandal-hit JBS.
Agriculture is the top economic driver in the state of Virginia, generating $70 billion in annual financial impact based on a newly released study by the University of Virginia. Rockingham County, where Cargill’s turkey and cooked meats facilities are located, accounts for more than $4.2 billion in annual economic impact.
Cargill operates a feed mill, turkey hatchery, turkey processing facility, cooked meats facility and distribution centre in the Harrisonburg area, which is 100 miles southwest of Washington DC, employing more than 1,800 people.
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