Cobb Doubles Capacity on European Research Facility27 May 2014
NETHERLANDS - The €12-million (US$15-million) investment in doubling the capacity of the Herveld pedigree farm - the hub of Cobb research in Europe - was celebrated at three customer events at Kastel De Haar during VIV Europe last week.
Explansion of the Dutch farm, which came to Cobb when it purchased Hybro breeding company from Hendrix Genetics in 2008, is the latest move in increasing the company's global research and development programme.
Jerry Moye, president of Cobb-Vantress Inc., said: "The Herveld farm investment reflects out commitment to the importance of the European market sector to our business, Europe remains a key focus for Cobb's long-term growth, and so this investment in part of our overall strategy for the future."
Roy Mutimer, general manager of Cobb Europe, added: "These are exciting times for Cobb in our region. Expanding and renovating Herveld has transformed it into a world-class research and development facility, and our expanded R&D team will deliver accelerated genetic progress to all our customers.
"With the equally impressive investments in our European great grandparent facilities, we have an operation to ensure continuity and quality of supply to Europe, Middle East, Africa and markets beyond."
Herveld is set in Gelderland, the largest and least populated province in the Netherlands, and is now developed as a state-0f-the-art pedigree complex that will ensure continuing breed improvement.
With the Hybro purchase, Cobb saw this as an opportunity to expand and re-model the farm, along along the lines of its five other research complexes in the United States.
The investment, which brings around 70 additional jobs in Herveld, is in three phases. The initial work was to renovate on on-farm hatchery in a €1.0-million ($1.25-million) project to increase capacity and install the latest incubation technology. Thirteen new poultry houses have been built, with renovation of the original Herveld accommodation now well advanced.
The Herveld project is alongside ongoing investment in Europe and the Middle East, where €4.5 million ($5.5 million) has been spent in re-building and re-equipping great grandparent farms in the UK, with a further investment in opening a hatchery in Turkey to produce five million parent stock a year.
The new development at Herveld takes advantage of local landscape features to reduce its carbon footprint. Lake water is used to help cool the chicken houses in summer while ground-source heat is used in winter. It is believed to the the first combined system to be adopted in the Dutch poultry industry.
Strictest levels of biosecurity are routine, with staff taking a shower and a full change of clothing when moving from one group of birds to another. To guard against air-borne pathogens, all air entering each house is filtered and positive pressure is maintained - a policy that has helped to keep the location free from disease for over 25 years.
The initial selection is at market weight for the product being developed, with the emphasis on phenotype, assessing bodyweight, conformation and any potential defects, of which more than 10 focus on leg traits.
The European breeding programme, like its US counterpart, place great emphasis on feed conversion efficiency, while advanced technologies such as digital X-radiography (using the lixiscope), blood oximeters and ultrasound ensure continuing development of the robust, high-yielding broilers customers expect. At a later selection, the focus is on breeding values using all the family information to ensure a good balance between breeder and broiler traits.
Gosse Veninga, European research director, said: "Genomics is becoming a more important part of the selection process. Genomics brings a higher accuracy of breeding values, especially for those traits which have not been measured at a later selection, such as reproductive traits or where we apply disease challenges off-farm on sibs or even cross-breds. Those data will be used via DNA analysis for pure line selection.
"Currently, we measure more than 50 traits. That does not mean every individual birds is selected on the basis of 50 traits - but if you look to the pedigree population as whole, we are definitely measuring over 50 traits altogether.
"Based on our experience, and the experience of our customers, we beleeve that the Cobb50 is really a good, balanced bird," he added.
The commercial trial farms that Cobb has also opened in the Netherlands over the past year are an integral part of the European breeding programme and offer challlenge testing environments to supplement the genomics efforts to generate an increasingly robust broiler for a world where responsible use of antibiotics is key.
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