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Recruitment Drive for Contract Broiler Growers

by 5m Editor
24 February 2011, at 10:26am

AUSTRALIA - A profile of the chicken industry, which is dominated by two players – Inghams Enterprises and Baiada Poultry – and there is a drive to recruit more contact broiler growers, especially in South Australia.

Two players dominate the chicken meat industry and there are bullish forecasts for growth, according to ABC.

It is a surreal, even confronting, image. A football-oval sized, refrigerated factory floor. Rows of employees in beanies and polar fleece, breathing out vapour as they process tens of thousands of chicken carcasses. It is pristinely clean, but visitors (a rare sight) have to watch out for chicken 'juice' dropping from above as the killed-and-chilled chickens are propelled across the factory on overhead conveyors.

This is Inghams Enterprises primary processing plant at Bolivar in northern Adelaide, where whole chickens are prepared for barbecue chook (chicken) shops, marinated kebabs made for Woolworths and nuggets for KFC.

There are 950 people employed over two daily shifts and 160,000 chickens per day pass through.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) says Australians consume an average of 37kg of chicken meat each per year, up from about six kilograms in the 1960s.

Chicken has overtaken beef as the favourite mealtime meat and forecasts suggest chicken consumption will keep rising.

"The statistics coming out of ABARE suggest chicken meat consumption will go to 42 kilograms and we expect it to go beyond that," said George Schlahtych, a group executive manager for Inghams.

"In fact we're looking at getting ready for a doubling of this industry within the next 10 to 12 years," he said.

But current chicken sheds are at capacity and the industry is urging more people to take up chicken farming.

'Zero risk'

ABC reports that the big companies such as Inghams do all the breeding, but contract out most of the growing.

As for the risk to someone going into farming chickens, "There is effectively zero risk," Mr Schlahtych said.

He continued: "Inghams will enter into a contractual arrangement and give growers 10 to 15 years as an initial tenure. We harvest chicken every seven weeks. The grower gets a cheque every seven weeks."

He said the company supplied day-old chicks, all feed and veterinary care, then bought the grown chickens in under two months' time.

The $4 billion chicken industry in Australia is dominated by Inghams Enterprises and Baiada Poultry.

Both have scores of growers in South Australia and have built processing plants on the outskirts of Adelaide. Baiada markets itself under the Steggles and Lilydale brands.

On a national scale, South Australia sits in fourth in terms of chicken numbers, behind New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

The South Australian Government released a plan five years ago aimed at capturing at least 50 per cent of growth in the industry over the decade ahead, concludes the ABC report.