Bell & Evans, Fredericksburg, Pa., broke ground on a 560,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art European-plus chicken harvesting plant in Fredericksburg. This plant is said to be the first new build of a chicken harvesting facility in the northeast United States in over 40 years. The operations at this facility will mimic those at the existing harvesting facility, with humane animal welfare as the primary focus. The new plant is slated to begin operations in early 2020.

At full capacity, the new European-plus chicken harvesting plant will process 2.6 million birds per week. Bell & Evans’ existing chicken harvesting plant will continue operations, processing another 1 million birds weekly. Bell & Evans is also expanding its broiler breeding and grow-out programs to support production growth.

The new chicken harvesting plant will primarily support Bell & Evans’ retail and foodservice sectors, and will enable the family-owned business to expand its organic line of products. It will also be one of several new facilities built at the 112-acre, multi-building complex in Fredericksburg. The land was purchased in 2014 in anticipation of this build.

The new European-plus processing plant will be designed and constructed by Stellar, Jacksonville, Fla., and will boast many of the same unique design features as Bell & Evans’ other builds by Stellar, including its packaging and further processing facility (completed in 2015) and its organic-certified and Humane Animal Welfare-focused chicken hatchery (completed in 2017).

The build is projected to add an estimated 1,800 full-time employees.

Simultaneously, in 2018, Bell & Evans will fully transition to a higher-welfare, slower-growing, more flavorful breed of chickens.

“This is a very exciting time for us,” says Scott Sechler, owner. “We’re investing a lot of time and money on innovative equipment, processes and facilities to grow our business and fulfill our commitments to raising chickens humanely and providing healthier, more flavorful poultry to our customers. I’m excited that we can do all of this while continuing to support our local community through our growth and job creation.”