United States
Jan. 26, 2017 - Poultry genetics company Aviagen has reported that its new hatchery in Watertown, N.Y. is now fully operational and began shipping chicks to customers in early November.

Located in upstate New York just south of the Ontario border, the Watertown hatchery is strategically situated to efficiently supply Canadian customers with broiler breeding stock.

“Aviagen continually makes investments that result in better service to customers,” says Kevin McDaniel, president, Aviagen North America. “The new hatchery enables us to keep up with the region’s expanding demand for our products, while at the same time promoting the success of our customers by offering them the highest quality of chicks possible.”

The Watertown facility has become Aviagen’s seventh commercial breeding stock hatchery in the U.S.

With a hatching capacity of up to 135,000 high-quality chicks per week (7 million per year), the new hatchery is able to effectively keep up a growing demand in the region. It is equipped with advanced technology equipment such as Jamesway Platinum incubators and hatchers, which are designed for heightened biosecurity and energy efficiency. Sophisticated environmental controls ensure consistently exceptional hatch results and provide the highest level of care available for our eggs and chicks.

The new hatchery boasts a favorable strategic location. Its nearness to Aviagen customer farms translates to minimal transport times, which safeguards the safety, health and welfare of day-old chicks. And, the close proximity to JFK airport in New York makes it a logical location to safely and securely export choice broiler breeding stock.

The new hatchery also contributes to the economy of the Watertown community, by employing 40 local people.
Published in Companies
Jan. 11, 2017 - The National Chicken Council (NCC) is urging consumers, the foodservice industries and non-governmental organizations to invest in studying the impact of the growing market for "slower growing" broiler chickens in the United States (U.S). 

A study released by NCC details the environmental, economic and sustainability implications of raising slower growing chickens, revealing a sharp increase in chicken prices and the use of environmental resources - including water, air, fuel and land.  NCC is also calling for more research on the health impact of chickens' growth rates, to ensure that the future of bird health and welfare is grounded in scientific, data-backed research.   

"The National Chicken Council and its members remain committed to chicken welfare, continuous improvement and respecting consumer choice – including the growing market for a slower growing bird," says Ashley Peterson, NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. "However, these improvements must be dictated by science and data – not activists' emotional rhetoric – which is why we support further research on the topic of chicken welfare and growth rates."

Environmental implications

In assessing a transition to a slower growing breed, the environmental impact is an important component often left out of the equation.  If only one-third of broiler chicken producers switched to a slower growing breed, nearly 1.5 billion more birds would be needed annually to produce the same amount of meat currently produced – requiring a tremendous increase in water, land and fuel consumption: 
  • Additional feed needed: Enough to fill 670,000 additional tractor trailers on the road per year, using millions more gallons of fuel annually.
  • Additional land needed: The additional land needed to grow the feed (corn and soybeans) would be 7.6 million acres/year, or roughly the size of the entire state of Maryland.
  • Additional manure output: Slower growing chickens will also stay on the farm longer, producing 28.5 billion additional pounds of manure annually.  That's enough litter to create a pile on a football field that is 27 times higher than a typical NFL stadium.
  • Additional water needed: 5.1 billion additional gallons of water per year for the chickens to drink (excluding additional irrigation water that would be required to grow the additional feed).
Economic implications

If the industry did not produce the additional 1.5 billion birds to meet current demand, the supply of chicken would significantly reduce to 27.5 billion less chicken meals per year.

The additional cost of even 1/3 of the industry switching to slower growing birds would be $9 billion, which could have a notable financial impact on foodservice companies, retailers, restaurants and ultimately – consumers.  This will put a considerable percentage of the population at risk and increase food instability for those who can least afford to have changes in food prices.

A reduction in the U.S. chicken supply would also result in a decreased supply to export internationally where U.S. chicken is an important protein for families in Mexico, Cuba, Africa and 100 other countries.

NCC's commitment to welfare and consumer choice

"Slower growing," as defined by the Global Animal Partnership, is equal to or less than 50 grams of weight gained per chicken per day averaged over the growth cycle, compared to current industry average for all birds of approximately 61 grams per day. This means that in order to reach the same market weight, the birds would need to stay on the farm significantly longer.

For decades, the chicken industry has evolved its products to meet ever-changing consumer preferences.  Adapting and offering consumers more choices of what they want to eat has been the main catalyst of success for chicken producers.

"We are the first ones to know that success should not come at the expense of the health and wellbeing of the birds," said Peterson.  "Without healthy chickens, our members would not be in business."

All current measurable data – livability, disease, condemnation, digestive and leg health – reflect that the national broiler flock is as healthy as it has ever been.

"We don't know if raising chickens slower than they are today would advance our progress on health and welfare - which is why NCC has expressed its support to the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association for research funding in this area," says Peterson. "What we do know is there are tradeoffs and that it is important to take into consideration chicken welfare, sustainability, and providing safe, affordable food for consumers.  There may not be any measurable welfare benefits to the birds, despite these negative consequences.  Research will help us identify if there are additional, unforeseen consequences of raising birds for longer."

NCC in 2017 will also be updating its Broiler Welfare Guidelines, last updated in 2014, and having the guidelines certified by an independent third party.  The guidelines will be updated with assistance from an academic advisory panel consisting of poultry welfare experts and veterinarians from across the United States.

"NCC will continue to be in the business of providing and respecting consumer choice in the marketplace," Peterson concludes.  "Whether it is traditionally raised chicken, slower growing breeds, raised without antibiotics or organic, consumers have the ability to choose products that take into account many factors, including taste preference, personal values and affordability."

For additional information and resources about how chickens are raised, visit www.chickencheck.in

Study methodology

The study was conducted August-September, 2016 by Elanco Animal Health, in consultation with Express Markets, Inc., using a simulation model that estimates the impact of slow-growing broilers on feed, land, water utilization, waste/manure generated, and production cost.  The model used average values of conventional vs. slow-grow broiler for mortality, grow-out days, feed conversion, days downtime, and placement density.  A full copy of the study is available here.
Published in Production
Nov. 9, 2016 - All eggs, pork and veal produced and sold in Massachusetts will be required to come from humanely-caged animals by 2022 as Massachusetts voters decided in favor of Question 3 on Nov. 8.

The Associated Press declared Yes on 3 had prevailed at about 10:15 p.m.

Effective Jan. 1, 2022, the law makes it illegal for any farm owner or operator to "knowingly cause any covered animal to be confined in a cruel manner," and for any business in the state to buy eggs, pork or veal "that the business owner or operator knows or should know is the product of a covered animal that was confined in a cruel manner." | READ MORE.
Published in Business & Policy

September 1, 2016 - The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in a wild mallard duck from a state wildlife refuge near Fairbanks, Alaska. READ MORE

Published in Broilers

August 19, 2016 - Mike Pruitt, who joined Cobb-Vantress, Inc. three years ago as General Manager for North America, has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Support Services and Pedigree Production.

He succeeds Randy Vardeman, who has announced his retirement at the end of this year after serving Tyson Foods and Cobb for the past 22 years. 

“Mike brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this role as he has served in senior leadership roles with OK Foods, Con Agra/Pilgrims and Foster Farms prior to joining Cobb, “said Joel Sappenfield, President of Cobb-Vantress.  

Mike Pruitt graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and began his career with Tyson Foods in the Dardanelle complex in Arkansas.  He is widely respected throughout the U.S. broiler industry in which he has worked for well over 30 years.

He moved to OK Foods where he became President in 1990 and then in 1999 to ConAgra Poultry as Executive Vice President of Live Operations. After ConAgra’s poultry division was purchased by Pilgrim’s Pride, he became Senior Vice President of Technical Services at Pilgrims in 2004. From 2007 until he joined Cobb-Vantress, he worked at Foster Farms as Senior Vice President of Live Operations.

Published in Company News

August 11, 2016 - Earlier this week Yum Brands investors filed a shareholder proposal requesting that it phase out antibiotic use in its meat supply, with a particular focus on the company's Kentucky Fried Chicken chain. READ MORE


Published in Researchers

August 2, 2016 - Attendee and exhibitor registration and housing for the 2017 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) is now open. IPPE has secured more than 1,060 exhibitors with more than 507,000 net square feet of exhibit space already booked. The Expo is expecting to attract more than 30,000 attendees through the collaboration of the three trade shows - International Poultry Expo, International Feed Expo and International Meat Expo - representing the entire chain of protein and feed production and processing. The event is sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY), the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and the North American Meat Institute (NAMI). 

Register online and receive a discounted price of $50 (USD) through Dec. 31. Online registration is the only way to receive this discount. Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, the registration fee will increase to $100.

The IPPE website, www.ippexpo.org, offers easy navigation with access to important information including attendee and exhibitor registration, hotel availability and reservations and a schedule of 2017 educational seminars and activities offered during IPPE. The annual global feed, meat and poultry industry trade show is scheduled Tuesday through Thursday, Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, 2017, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga., USA.

Resuming for 2017 is the popular “Members to Atlanta” (M2A) program, which waives the registration fee through Dec. 31, for attendees from member firms of all three associations engaged in the production of poultry, eggs and meat for consumption and feed and pet food manufacturers. The program is supported through the sponsorship of elite IPPE exhibitors. They include Arm & Hammer, Aviagen, Biomin, Ceva Animal Health, Cobb-Vantress, Diamond V, Elanco Animal Health, Heat and Control, Huvepharma, Incubation Systems, Inc., Jamesway Incubator Co., Kemin, Soybean Meal Information Center, Watt Global Media and Zoetis. 

The Expo will highlight the latest technology, equipment and services used in the production and processing of meat, poultry and animal feed. The week of Jan. 30 – Feb. 3, 2017, will feature dynamic education programs focused on current industry issues. The International Poultry Scientific Forum, Spanish Technical Seminar for Maximizing the Efficiency of the Poultry Industry, Pet Food Conference and the Environmental Conference for the Meat & Poultry Industry will kick off the week’s education programs. Several Tech Talks programs will also be offered on Tuesday and Wednesday. In addition, the Animal Agriculture Sustainability Summit, Worker Safety Conference for the Meat & Poultry Industry, Poultry Market Intelligence Forum and the International Rendering Symposium education programs will return for 2017.

The 2017 IPPE will also feature several new educational programs including important sessions on food safety, consumer trends and international trade. The following programs are new for 2017: Worker Safety Conference for the Meat & Poultry Industry; Listeria monocytogenes Prevention & Control Workshop; Meat Quality Workshop: Know Your Muscle, Know Your Meat; FSMA Hazard Analysis Training; Pork 101; Family Businesses Strategies for Success; Beef 101; Feed Production Education Program; U.S. Employment Law Regulatory Update; Meat Industry Regulatory Update and Compliance Session; Setting Up for Success: Processed Meat Product Introductions; Get the Facts with Meat Mythcrushers; Whole Genome Sequencing 101; Understanding and Achieving Operational Excellence; and Toxic Release Inventory Reporting Guidance Workshop.

For more information about the 2017 IPPE, visit www.ippexpo.org


Published in New Technology


The revelation that a bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort was found in a Pennsylvania woman prompted a flurry of media activity in late May. Increased consumer concern on an already-sensitive topic is understandable in light of such headlines as, “Nightmare Superbug Shows Up in the United States” and “Infection Raises Specter of Superbugs Resistant to All Antibiotics.”

The Washington Post conducted a Q&A with an infectious disease doctor at the University of Pittsburgh who tried to put the development into perspective. He said, “While certainly concerning and something to keep a close eye on from a public health point of view, there is no evidence that this is a widespread problem at this time. Even in the rare event that you get sick from this bacteria, there are treatment options available.”

Since the bacteria has also been detected in pigs, the Post asked about food safety concerns. The doctor stated there is no risk as long as meat is properly handled and cooked to the recommended temperature.

There’s growing consumer concern and rising pressure on the food system about the use of antibiotics in food animals. Antibiotic resistance is a serious issue and one farms and food companies are taking seriously, but the connection between antibiotics used in animals raised for food and the risk of human antibiotic failure is a complex issue not easily distilled for widespread understanding. Several things must happen before resistant bacteria from a farm can affect people:

  • Antibiotic-resistant bacteria must be present in an animal when it leaves a farm
  • The bacteria must survive sanitation steps during the packaging process
  • The meat must be undercooked, enabling bacteria to survive
  • The bacteria must cause human illness
  • The ill person must receive medical attention and the antibiotic therapy must involve the same class of antibiotic used on the farm
  • The patient must get worse or fail to recover due to the resistant infection

There’s also the perception that antibiotic resistance results from eating meat containing antibiotic residue, but there are strict federal laws in place to prevent unsafe residues in meat. By law, since the 1950’s, the FDA strictly audits and enforces that unsafe levels of antibiotics may not be present in meat before it enters the food supply.

Leading drug companies have recognized the concern about the resistance issue and are making antibiotics available only for treatment and prevention of disease — not growth promotion. Beginning next year in the U.S., antibiotics important to human medicine will only be available under a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), which is essentially a prescription from a veterinarian.

There are unanswered questions on the link between animal antibiotic use and human resistance and the issue is still being studied. Until those questions are conclusively answered, the best source of information is sound science in the form of peer-reviewed and published studies. Dr. Peter Davies, BVSC, PhD, professor of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota, says, “There are almost no documented clinical cases where antibiotic resistance was unequivocally tied to animal antibiotic use. So while the risk is not zero, in my opinion, it is extremely low.”

Animal antibiotics must be used responsibly to minimize agriculture’s contribution to antibiotic resistance. But much of the current discussion about antibiotic use is highly polarized, pitting commercial interests against public health interests. It’s important to remember that preventing disease and treating sick animals through the responsible use of antibiotics is the ethical thing to do.

Reprinted with permission from the Center for Food Integrity (CFI).  CFI’s vision is to lead the public discussion to build trust in today’s food system and facilitate dialog with the food system to create better alignment with consumer expectations. For more information, visit: www.foodintegrity.org




Published in Consumer

July 20, 2016 - The National Chicken Council (NCC) recommends revising or clarifying several key aspects of the proposed rule  from the National Organic Program (NOP), announced in April, to enhance bird health, protect food safety, and maintain a viable organic program.

"NCC is concerned that the proposed rule imposes unreasonable costs and requirements of doubtful benefit on organic farmers, presents grave risks to animal health… and undermines ongoing international efforts to develop poultry welfare standards," said Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., NCC Senior Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, in comments submitted yesterday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The proposed standards are assumed to increase the mortality rates for laying hens and broiler chickens from 5 to 8 percent, a 60 percent increase. Mortality rates are a key indicator of animal welfare and flock health, yet the proposed changes would increase mortality, significantly decreasing bird welfare and farmer economic viability.

The proposed standards are also in direct opposition to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recommendations for biosecurity. In light of the recent, devastating outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), it is vital farmers retain the ability to make timely preventive measures to protect their flocks. Under the current proposed rule, a "documented occurrence of a disease in the region or relevant migratory pathway must be present before outdoor access can be restricted," with unclear definitions of what constitutes a region or documented occurrence.

Dr. Peterson also noted the proposal drastically underestimates, or neglects to estimate, the cost of the requirements and the impact of those costs. "NOP does not include the cost of an avian illness outbreak, the likelihood and magnitude of which is materially increased through the proposed outdoor access requirement." In other words, avian illness outbreaks like the 2015 HPAI outbreak will be more likely to occur, and the effects will be more likely to be greater, under the proposal. The direct economic consequences of the 2015 HPAI outbreak were estimated to be approximately $3.3 billion, far overshadowing the anticipated maximum benefit of $62.6 million per year in the proposed rule.

The full comments can be accessed by clicking here.

Published in Researchers

July 12, 2016 - The National Chicken Council (NCC) strongly supports efforts to create a more reasonable and sustainable approach to the nation's biofuel fuel policy, as the compelled diversion of corn from feed to fuel continues to exact a heavy toll on U.S. chicken producers, and American consumers at the pump and the plate.

"NCC believes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is properly proposing to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to reduce ethanol blending requirements below the statutory levels," said NCC President Mike Brown in comments submitted to the agency in response to their proposed renewable fuels volume requirements.  "However, NCC believes the volumes proposed for 2017 are overly aggressive and based on faulty assumptions about the fuel market and thus should be further reduced to limit the disruptions to the corn market and nation's feed supply."

The EPA on May 18 proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that are lower than statutory targets for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel, however they are increases from 2016 requirements. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set renewable fuel percentage standards each year, which the agency has consistently failed to meet since the RFS was implemented. 

Brown wrote to EPA Administrator McCarthy that the use of corn for ethanol has created an uneven playing field for chicken producers. "In short, EPA's proposal to set the 2017 implied conventional ethanol mandate above the blend wall reignites the food versus fuel inequity inherent in the structure of the RFS." (As EPA notes, the e10 blend wall, "represents the volume of ethanol that can be consumed domestically if all gasoline contains 10 percent ethanol" and "marks the transition from relatively straightforward and easily achievable increases in ethanol consumption as e10 to those increases in ethanol consumption as e15 and e85 that are more challenging to achieve.")

The impact of the food versus fuel pressure on feedstock has been severe.  Since the RFS was enacted, chicken producers alone have faced $53 billion in higher actual feed costs due to the RFS.  During the RFS era, at least a dozen chicken companies have ceased operations – filing for bankruptcy or having been acquired by another company.

"Given the unpredictable weather right now throughout the Corn Belt and the volatility in the corn market this past week, it is obvious that chicken producers are again only one supply shock, flood or drought away from high volatile corn prices as in 2009 and 2012," Brown continued. "Where chicken producers have to adjust production and limit flocks due to corn prices, the RFS protects ethanol producers from having to make the same type of adjustments."

Additionally, Brown pointed out that the rapid rise in ethanol exports in 2014 and 2015 is indeed a spillover effect that applies further pressure on the corn and feed market beyond Congressional intent under the RFS and is an urgent emerging resource constraint.  For the four years of 2013 through 2016, ethanol exports will likely consume nearly 1.2 billion bushels of corn in addition to the corn consumed by domestic ethanol.

Congress, through Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, set the 15 billion gallon cap on corn ethanol under the RFS to prevent ethanol production from diverting too great a volume of corn from feed, food, and seed use to energy.  At the time Congress set this cap, ethanol exports were not envisioned. While increased exports of ethanol put upward pressure on corn prices, they do nothing to improve domestic energy independence as is the stated goal of the EISA legislation.

Published in Trade

July 6, 2016 - A U.S. federal appeals court upheld jail sentences Wednesday for two egg industry executives whose Iowa-based company caused a nationwide salmonella outbreak in 2010. 

In a long-awaited decision, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals backed three-month jail sentences issued last year to Austin "Jack'' DeCoster and son Peter DeCoster. 

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett ordered the jail time last year, citing a "litany of shameful conduct'' that happened at their large egg-production company, Quality Egg. But Bennett allowed them their freedom while they appealed the sentences, which the DeCosters argued were unconstitutional and unreasonable for the misdemeanour crimes to which they pleaded guilty. 

Business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, took up their cause. 

But in a 2-1 decision, an appeals panel ruled that the DeCosters "are liable for negligently failing to prevent the salmonella outbreak'' and that jail time is appropriate. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked 1,939 illnesses to the outbreak, but officials estimate that up to 56,000 people may have been sickened. Investigators argued the DeCosters knew their Iowa egg facilities were at risk for salmonella contamination before the outbreak. 

Dissenting Judge C. Arlen Beam said the government failed to prove the DeCosters had intent or were even negligent, and therefore they should not face jail time. 

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

Published in Researchers


June 27, 2016 - Perdue Foods announced June 27 a four-part a plan that it feels will accelerate its progress in animal care, strengthen relationships with farmers, build trust with multiple stakeholder groups and create an animal care culture for continued improvement.

Titled 2016 and Beyond: Next Generation of Perdue Commitments to Animal Care, the plan was developed with input from stakeholders such as farmers, academics and leaders of animal advocate organizations who were invited by Perdue to help shape this progressive animal care plan that sets new industry standards.

“As we continue to learn about innovative and better ways to raise animals through our No Antibiotics Ever journey and our experience in raising organic chickens, we are adopting a four-part plan which will result in changing how we raise chickens,” said Chairman Jim Perdue. “Transparency is very important to Perdue consumers, who are interested knowing how we raise, care for and harvest our chickens. Our vision is to be the most trusted name in food and agricultural products and animal care is a big part of that journey.”

“Poultry production as a whole has made great progress in keeping chickens healthy; however, we can improve by implementing policies that go beyond meeting chickens’ basic needs.  We want to create an environment where chickens can express normal behaviors,” said Bruce Stewart-Brown, DVM, Perdue’s senior vice president of food safety, quality and live production. “Over the past five years, we’ve been exposed to and learned some husbandry techniques associated with organic production.  And, through the brands that have recently joined our company, we’ve been able to learn from some of the pioneers of a more holistic approach to animal well-being. When we talked to farmers they responded very positively to these improved husbandry methods.  In addition, we hear from consumers that how animals raised for food are treated is important to them.” 

The first major company to commit to implementing such progressive practices in raising and harvesting animals system-wide, Perdue’s Commitments to Animal Care goes well beyond most other companies’ commitments to encompass not only the animals but the people who care for and handle them, as well as stakeholders who have an interest in this area.

Perdue’s four Commitments to Animal Care

The Perdue Commitments to Animal Care summarizes current progress and details next generation initiatives for each part of the plan. Perdue is putting program measurements in place, including audits by third parties, and will release an annual report announcing its progress in reaching specific goals. 

Specifically the four-part plan commits to:

The wants and needs of the animals

Based on The Five Freedoms, an internationally recognized standard for animal husbandry, Perdue’s commitment document lays out where the company is today on each of the five aspects as well as future goals. For instance, the majority of chickens today are raised in fully enclosed barns without natural light.  Perdue is committed to retrofitting 200 chicken houses with windows by the end of 2016 to compare bird health and activity to enclosed housing.   

The farmers that raise the chickens

Appreciating that chickens spend most of their time in the care of farmers, the plan stresses improved relationships with farmers.  This includes creating an open dialogue about best practices in animal care, considering the farmer’s well-being and connecting animal care to pay and incentives. 

Openness, transparency and trust

The plan also calls for Perdue to be open to criticism of its current policies and procedures when deserved, share information about animal care initiatives, and proactively engage with a wide variety of animal welfare stakeholders, including advocates, academics and animal care experts. 

A journey of continuous improvement

The fourth part of the plan commits to ongoing learning and advancements in the company’s animal care programs to ensure the health and well-being of its birds through next-generation initiatives. This commitment will be driven by Perdue’s active Animal Care Council, which has been in place for more than 15 years.  

“Our four commitments have one goal and that is continued improvement in animal care. We know we’re not where we want to be yet but we want to allow others to take the journey with us,” said Stewart-Brown.

“From lessons learned from organic chicken houses, it’s clear that there can be a general health benefit with increased activity—and that is a big focus of our plan.  Short-term goals that support increased activity include window installations in 200 existing poultry houses by the end of 2016 and studying the role of enrichments such as perches and bales of hay to encourage activity.  Our goal is to double the activity of our chickens in the next three years.”


Published in New Technology

June 16, 2016 - The 2017 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) has already surpassed 490,000 net square feet of exhibit space and has secured more than 1,010 exhibitors. Made up of the three integrated tradeshows – International Poultry Expo, International Feed Expo and International Meat Expo – the IPPE is the world’s largest annual feed, meat and poultry trade show. The event is sponsored by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY), the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and the North American Meat Institute (NAMI).

“More than 90 percent of the show floor has already been booked, and we anticipate exceeding 30,000 attendees. The 2017 IPPE will provide a great location for attendees to learn about new products and services, network and discuss common topics facing the animal protein and feed industries,” stated the show sponsors.

IPPE will be held Tuesday through Thursday, Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, 2017, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga. The Expo will highlight the latest technology, equipment and services used in the production and processing of feed, meat and poultry products. Combining the expertise from AFIA, NAMI and USPOULTRY, IPPE will also feature dynamic education programs focused on current industry issues.


Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

For more information about the 2017 IPPE, visit www.ippexpo.org.

Published in Researchers

May 1, 2016 - Wholesale giant Costco reportedly wants to build a poultry processing plant in Dodge County, Nebraska to produce one-third of the chicken it sells every year. READ MORE 

Published in Consumer Issues

April 28, 2016 - Joel Sappenfield, who has more than 25 years of experience in poultry and prepared foods with Tyson Foods, Inc., will become the next president of Cobb-Vantress.

He will succeed Jerry Moye, who has been president since 2007 and announced earlier this year that he would be retiring in 2017.

“We’re excited to have Joel join our team.  He brings more than 20 years of poultry experience to Cobb,” said Moye.  “Since 1990 he has served in numerous poultry leadership roles in Tyson Foods.  His work ethic, commitment and values make him well suited to lead Cobb into our second century.”

On joining Tyson Foods in the Berryville complex in Arkansas in 1990, Sappenfield quickly moved up the management ranks.  After working at poultry operations in Sedalia, Missouri and Dardanelle, Arkansas, he became director of Poultry Sales in 2000 and later promoted to vice president of Poultry and Prepared Foods Sales. 

From 2006 to 2010 he served as vice president of operations for complexes in Arkansas, Missouri and Indiana, and was responsible for the Springdale plants in Northwest Arkansas. Then from 2011 to 2014 he was vice president and general manager of the Cornish business unit and responsible for four complexes in Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky. 

Sappenfield graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science in finance, and spent one year as a commodity broker in Oklahoma City before joining Tyson Foods. 

He will transition from his current position as senior vice president of Bakery in Tyson Foods’ Prepared Foods Unit and join Cobb in June.  



Published in Companies


On April 27, 2015, Center Fresh Group in Iowa was hit with avian influenza. Within a matter of weeks, Center Fresh Group lost 9.9 million birds – 8 million layers and 1.9 pullets. Just six weeks earlier, Center Fresh Farm, which suffered a 3.8-million layer loss, had passed a full government-audited biosecurity inspection. The audit went so well, in fact, that it received a score of 100 per cent. When AI hit the U.S., Jim Dean, CEO of Center Fresh Group, thought that they’d be fine. “We thought we had the most robust biosecurity program that we could even think of,” he told the crowd at the 2015 International Egg Commission conference in Berlin, Germany. “We thought that we were fine.”

When all was said and done, though, they weren’t fine, and Center Fresh Group suffered enormous losses. Center Fresh Egg Farm lost 3.8 million layers; Sioux County Egg Farm lost 1.7 million layers; Centrum Valley Farms lost 2.5 million layers, and Sioux Center Pullets lost 1.9 million pullets. Since that time, Center Fresh Group has been working to repopulate its operations. The process began in September 2015 and will carry on into the first quarter of 2017.

When did you first find out that AI had hit your operations?

JD: I was in Las Vegas at the Urner Barry conference. My son received a call from our company veterinarian who said that we had high mortality and textbook clinical signs of avian influenza. Considering how fast the disease was moving and the number of infected farms, I had mentally prepared for the worst. I told my sons that we would get through this and that we will recover. Put your best face on and go out and tell the industry we’ve been hit… Hopefully to help others to get better prepared.  

What steps did you take to stop further losses to AI?

JD: We lost both Center Fresh and Sioux County on the same day; the farms are four miles apart. When Centrum Valley was infected in mid-May, my son decided to euthanize the infected flock that night to stop the spread of the disease. We were able to save one farm about a half mile away, which ultimately saved 3.5 million birds within four miles. Due to our success in stopping the disease our government is now recommending euthanizing infected flocks within 24 hours.      

How prepared would you say you were for this event?

JD: We had initiated extra measures to fight off the disease, but we feel there was so much of the virus in the air that it was attaching to almost anything that moved, including wind, so it broke through the best bio-security programs.  

How bio-secure would you say your facilities were at the time?

JD: On March 11, 2015, Center Fresh Farm went through a full government audited bio-security inspection. We received a score of 100 per cent without any deficiencies. We were infected April 27, 2015.

What happened following that first call?

JD: We notified the appropriate government agencies and started to develop an action plan. It would be impossible to list all the measures taken to try to mitigate the spread. There were many lessons learned.

How does one go about removing so many infected birds?

JD: It took a lot of people. We were euthanizing and removing 200,000 birds per day. We couldn’t keep ahead of the spread of the virus. The disease causes a horrible painful death for the birds over a three to four-day period.  

Managing the mass depopulation of our flocks was overwhelming, time-
consuming and difficult for our teams. What was terrible is that the disease was killing our hens more quickly than we could remove and humanely depopulate them. We also learned that swift depopulation was critical to limiting the spread of the disease. Working closely with our veterinarian, we used a variety of approved methods, including carbon dioxide gas. Again, our focus was on moving swiftly to prevent the disease from spreading to other flocks.

A challenge with disposal of mortality was that there were a number of options, including: burial, landfills, incineration and composting. But all had their barriers. Specific protocols varied from farm to farm and were based on a number of considerations. On our farms we used a combination of burial and composting for mortality disposal, always working collaboratively with the USDA and state and local authorities to ensure the process was properly and responsibly managed.

One of the partners with Center Fresh owned the adjacent farm, which we could use for composting. We did have days where we could remove more birds, but the birds had already died from the disease. There’s work being done to find better alternatives for mass euthanizing, it must be completed humanely and should be done within 24 hours of contracting the virus to stop the spread.

Did you ever find out how AI made its way onto your operations?

JD: I’m not sure anyone will know for sure. Two complexes broke on opposite ends of the complexes. One was not near a doorway, so we believe wind. The other one broke possibly by a door, so a worker could have tracked it in.

During the crisis, did you receive help from any outside organizations? If yes, who and how?

JD: Our community, Sioux Center, IA, had prayer services for our staff and companies, and the federal government provided for removal, disposal and disinfecting. It was the government and private industry working together.

Looking back now, is there anything you would have done differently?

JD: The governments, both state and federal, must do a better job of stamp out and eradication. At the time the state governments wanted to protect the identity of the infected operation as opposed to protecting the non-infected.

Are there any lessons you’d like to share with Canadian poultry farmers?

JD: If and when the virus hits, get the message out as quickly as possible through private industry and trade association. It’s imperative to act quickly – within 24 hours – to euthanize the birds to stop the spread of the virus. Centrum Valley proved that the virus could and can be stopped quickly. All producers are concerned about the well-being of their birds; it is much more humane to euthanize the birds quickly than to watch them die from the disease.

About Jim Dean
Jim Dean is the founding/managing partner and CEO of Center Fresh Group, which includes Center Fresh Egg Farm (3.8 million layers), Fremont Farms, L.C. (900,000 layers), Hawkeye Pride Egg Farm (4.6 million layers), Sioux County Egg Farm (1.7 million

layers), Centrum Valley Farms (7.5 million layers), Trillium Farm Holdings
(12.5 million layers), Center Fresh Africa, and Sioux Center Pullets (6 million annual pullet capacity). Jim was the founding partner/ CEO of Fremont Farms of Iowa.

Dean is the past Chairman of the Board of Directors of United Egg Producers (UEP), serving as Chairman until October 2015. UEP is a trade cooperative with membership that represents over 95 per cent of the egg industry in the United States. Today, Dean continues to serve on UEP’s finance committees.

Dean is also a past board member of the Iowa Poultry Association, the U.S. Egg Marketers, and the Midwest United Egg Producers.  In 2014, he was honored as United Egg Producer’s egg industries Producer of the Year. In 2009, he was inducted in the Iowa Poultry Association Hall of Fame.



Published in Biosecurity


The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) recently issued its annual report on how food companies around the world are addressing food animal issues. If you’re wondering if the food system is paying attention, the foreword in the fourth-annual report is authored by Donnie Smith, president and CEO at Tyson Foods.

Ninety of the world’s leading food firms, including 23 from the U.S., were graded on everything from management to transparency and grouped into six tiers based on their scores. There were no U.S. companies in the top tier. McDonald’s and Unilever (Hellman’s, Ben and Jerry’s) made the second-highest group. In its coverage of the report, UK-based Farmers Weekly reports six of the top 11 companies are British.

In the article The Golden Arches Earn High Marks on New Animal-Welfare Report at TakePart.com, food writer Willy Blackmore notes, “The report is not aimed at consumers or activists, but rather is designed for investors and the industry itself.”

Among the three organizations supporting the annual report is global private equity firm Coller Capital. Its founder, Jeremy Coller, is on a mission to “end factory farming within the next 40 years.” Says Coller, “Like the businesses they back, investors have an obligation to nurture the world they live in. Environmental, Social and Governance, or ESG, policies are rapidly becoming a vital part of investors’ toolkits. ESG is the investment community’s equivalent to corporate social responsibility… A very important part of this is animal welfare.”

In the foreword of the BBFAW report, Tyson’s Smith says, “As farm animal welfare moves up the business agenda and companies invest more resources in it, those who are serious about improvement need to ask themselves three questions: Are we curious — open-minded enough — to find better ways? Can we accept that we may not have all the answers ourselves? Are we telling our story openly, honestly and understandably?”

Most people have no problem consuming food from animals but they want to know they’re being treated right. However, too many consumers have doubts that animals on today’s farms are handled with care.

In CFI’s consumer trust research, more than half the respondents in a nationwide survey of 2000 people strongly agreed with the statement, “If farm animals are treated decently and humanely, I have no problem consuming meat, milk and eggs.” Problem is, only one in four strongly agreed that, “U.S. meat is derived from humanely treated animals.”

Today’s food producers need to embrace this skepticism and ramp up engagement and communication to show consumers that today’s farmers are committed to doing the right thing when it comes to animal well-being. CFI’s latest study proves that improved transparency increases consumer trust.

The study focused on six areas important to consumers — treatment of animals raised for food among them. Survey respondents said they hold food companies most responsible for demonstrating transparency on animal welfare. They said they want results of third-party audits on animal care shared on company websites. They also want the opportunity to ask questions via company websites and answers provided in easy-to-understand language.

Consumers inherently trust farmers because they believe they share their values. Unfortunately, consumers aren’t sure today’s agriculture still qualifies as farming. Generational and geographic distance between farmers and consumers, technological advances in farming, and changes in farm size and structure have consumers questioning where their food comes from and how it is produced.

As we increase both the distance most consumers have from food production and the level of technology used, the food system must dramatically improve its ability and commitment to build trust. Everyone in the food system needs to embrace consumer skepticism and increase their commitment to transparency. People need to take up the cause within their organizations and become champions for greater transparency, realizing it will ultimately enhance consumer trust.

Reprinted with permission from the Center for Food Integrity (CFI).  CFI’s vision is to lead the public discussion to build trust in today’s food system and facilitate dialogue with the food system to create better alignment with consumer expectations. For more information, visit: www.foodintegrity.org





Published in New Technology

February 19, 2016 - Despite an increase in the number of Americans turning to vegetarian diets and, more importantly, to flexitarian diets, the market for meat and poultry remains strong. Packaged Facts' report Meat and Poultry: U.S. Retail Market Trends and Opportunities projects a period of continued growth for the meat and poultry market, with retail sales to reach the $100 billion mark by 2019. 

The industries will continue to move forward, dealing with health crises, adjusting to regulations, improving animal treatment, and coming up with new products that keep consumers coming back for more. In fact, although about a third of the respondents to a Packaged Facts consumer survey said they were currently eating more meatless meals than in the past and 15% said they avoid red meat completely, 70% of those surveyed said they still prefer to get their protein from animal sources. 

In addition to reviewing the current state of the market, Packaged Facts looks at how conditions will evolve in terms of consumer preferences, the ongoing shift away from at home meals, economic issues, and the regulatory environment, including such important issues as how a government definition of the product description natural could impact the meat and poultry industry. 

Scope and Methodology

Market trends and market size estimates within Meat and Poultry: U.S. Retail Market Trends and Opportunities are based on both public and syndicated data sources. Sales, market size, and consumer data sources consulted and used include: 

IRI sales tracking through U.S. supermarkets and grocery stores, drugstores, and mass merchandisers (including Target and Kmart, but excluding Walmart) with annual sales of $2 million or more; U.S. Department of Agriculture reports Public information provided by meat and poultry producers and the associations representing these industries; grocery retailers; and foodservice operators. 
Packaged Facts also draws on a proprietary Packaged Facts National Consumer Survey, conducted in April 2015 and again inNovember 2015 with a sample size of 2,000 U.S. adults age 18+. The sample composition is representative of the national population by gender, age bracket, geographic region, race/ethnicity, household income bracket, and presence of children in the household. In addition, the report draws on data from the Experian Marketing Services, Spring 2015 Simmons NCS Adult Study 12-Month. 
Read the full report: http://www.reportlinker.com/p03631610-summary/view-report.html

Published in Researchers


When you are suspicious, it is very important to have fast lab results and quick depopulation of live birds if the results are positive. As the disease progresses through a farm, the environmental contamination grows and promotes the spreading,” said Dr. Jill Nezworski, Blue House Veterinary, during her presentation at the “Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza – Lessons Learned” education program held during the 2016 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, Ga. Nezworski discussed “Lessons Learned in the Layer Industry” in which she provided comparisons and contrasts between early detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) on farms and late detection due to mortality.

Nezworski observed that diagnosis of HPAI should be communicated to employees in an organized chain of command, and every hourly employee must also be educated and empowered. “False alarms may come up, but it is more important to create a culture in which it is fine to be wrong or overcautious,” she says. She emphasized that it is essential to have a quick and realistic depopulation plan, as well as a primary plan and a backup plan for carcass disposal. After depopulation is over, she underscored the need for the entire site to be decontaminated with the thought that even outside premises still likely accumulate viral contamination. Nezworski stressed that big risks should be addressed, and management should make it hard for the system to fail.

During his presentation on “Lessons Learned in the Turkey Industry,” Dr. Ben Wileman, Ag Forte, reflected that a clear sign of HPAI on a turkey farm is when a person enters the house and the turkeys are quiet. Wileman observed that when sick, animals develop neurologic signs, twist their necks and have tremors. He recommended, “When in doubt, test it.”

Dr. Lindsey Garber, USDA APHIS, Veterinary Services, provided an overview of the “Epidemiology of the Recent AI Outbreak” that addressed the results of two studies, one with HPAI infected layer farms and the other with turkeys. The two studies concentrated on potential risk factors for the spread of HPAI, including rendering and garbage trucks, shared equipment use, visitors, wild bird presence, etc. The result from both studies centered on the need for effective and efficient biosecurity measures at all levels.


Published in Farm Business

February 16, 2016 - The meat, poultry and feed industries work together to produce safe and healthy food products. Production and efficiency levels and genetic improvements have made tremendous gains in the last decade alone. However, many people still suffer from hunger. One in seven Americans, and an estimated 755,400 people in metro Atlanta, Ga., turn to food pantries and meal service programs to feed their families each year.

As part of the effort to fight hunger, the 2016 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) raised $10,300 for the Atlanta Community Food Bank through its “Giving Back to Atlanta” campaign. The donation was comprised of $5,000 from IPPE, $2,000 from Wyndham Jade, $1,500 from Hawkins Inc., and numerous individual donations were also received.

"The Atlanta Community Food Bank is incredibly grateful to all the companies who contributed to such a generous donation at the International Production & Processing Expo. For every dollar donated, the Food Bank can provide enough food for four meals, so this donation equates to more than 40,000 meals for families, seniors and individuals who struggle to put food on the table," said Kyle Waide, president & CEO, Atlanta Community Food Bank.

“IPPE would like to thank the exhibitors and attendees who contributed to the ‘Giving Back to Atlanta’ campaign. Your contributions will make a difference in fighting hunger in Atlanta, where the annual expo has been held since 1948,” said IPPE show organizers.

Published in New Technology
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