Premium poultry producer Bell & Evans began construction on a new 411,500 square foot, Organic-Certified Chicken Harvesting Facility in Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania.
The project, which will cost approximately $330 million and double the company’s current production capacity, should be operational in late 2021.
Bell & Evans’ New Harvesting Facility sits on the company’s 112-acre greenfield Chicken Harvesting Campus where a second new harvesting facility of similar scale will be built within the next ten years to triple current production.
In addition, company officials said extra hatchers were added to our Hatchery to increase capacity to support the growth. A new wastewater treatment plant is also currently under construction.
The new “European-Plus” Chicken Harvesting Facility, so named by the company because of the durability of European counterparts, “is being built from the most durable and highest quality materials and finishes for food safety and longevity,” company officials said. “The entire operations area will be constructed with Thermomass precast concrete exterior walls that provide superior thermal rating. All production floors will have acid brick flooring to hold up against corrosion, and freezer floors will be insulated with six inches of extruded polystyrene to prevent frost heave. There will be no wood utilized in any production areas nor any painted surfaces in processing spaces. The interior sides of the precast walls are white concrete to offer a bright environment for production team members, and many areas of production will have windows to the outside to allow in natural light.”
“I spent more than 50 years in the chicken business making upgrades to old processes and retrofitting facilities with the most innovative equipment, and now to be building these beautiful, state-of-the-art chicken plants from the ground up is a dream come true,” said Sechler.
Animal welfare continues to be top priority for Bell & Evans. The New Harvesting Facility will include upgrades to an already superior live receiving area. An innovative automated transport system eliminates the use of fork trucks to off-load drawers of chickens from transportation into harvesting. An upgraded Slow Induction Anesthesia system will also be utilized in the new facility, modeled after the version Bell & Evans pioneered in 2011 that received great praise from leading animal welfare advocates, company officials explained.
At Bell & Evans, sustainability is largely considered in every aspect of construction and operations. The entire new Chicken Harvesting Facility will operate from a fully computerized utility system that ensures water and energy efficiency and reusage. State-of-the-art processing equipment from Marel and an upgraded 100% Air Chill system will dramatically reduce water usage in the plant. Sanitation systems will utilize hot water generated by waste heat at the Organic Rendering Plant, offsetting daily carbon production and reducing the use of a boiler system. The use of hot water instead of chemical agents is an important aspect of organic certification. Additionally, Bell & Evans recycles water from its onsite wastewater treatment plant to wash live haul transportation components.