Cargill, Minneapolis, announced plans to modernize its Harrisonburg, Va., turkey hatchery, with a focus on improving turkey health, biosecurity and worker safety. 

Cargill tapped Nielsen Builders, Inc., Harrisonburg, Va., to complete the $7 million project, which includes installation of new cutting-edge equipment. The plant is expected to be completed in 24 months.

“We are replacing equipment that has served us well for more than 30 years,” says Connie Isenhart, hatchery manager. “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/hatcher system is also easier to clean and sanitize between uses, enhancing biosecurity by reducing the potential for cross contamination from bacteria that could pose health risks to turkeys or consumers. Additionally, with all controls easily accessible, workers will no longer need to climb onto the equipment, reducing 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,” adds Isenhart.  “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.”