Cobb Officially Opens New US Research Complex

US - The latest US Cobb-Vantress, Inc research complex, built in Deer Lodge, Tennessee, at a $22 million investment to increase its pedigree breeding activities, has been officially opened. Several guests spoke at a ribbon cutting ceremony including Jerry Moye, president of Cobb, Donnie Smith, president of Tyson Foods, and Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee.
calendar icon 15 March 2012
clock icon 5 minute read

Donnie Smith speaking at the opening ceremony

Jerry Moye president of Cobb-Vantress cutting the ribbon with [left to right] Julius Johnson, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Donnie Smith, president and chief executive of Tyson Foods, Don Edwards, County Commissioner, Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee and Randy Vardeman, vice president of Cobb-Vantress

The opening comes just over 12 months after Cobb purchased the 1000-acre (405 hectare) site in Morgan County, as part of global expansion of research and development.

“The pedigree research complexes are the heart of Cobb’s research and development efforts,” said Jerry Moye, president of Cobb. “The Dry Creek farm is at the very start of the supply chain and will play an important role in developing product that will sustain Cobb’s position as a world leader in broiler genetics.”

The project will create up to 115 new jobs over the next 12 months as the complex becomes fully stocked. It is also benefiting the local community through improved energy and water supply as a result of infrastructure investment aided by grants from the state of Tennessee.

Donnie Smith, president and chief executive officer, Tyson Foods, who graduated from the University of Tennessee and began his career with Tyson in Tennessee, said he was proud to see what Cobb was doing in his native state.

“Cobb has absolutely the best genetics in the world”, he said. “You are a competitive advantage for our company and I’m delighted to be here to celebrate such a fabulous facility,” he told more than 120 guests at the opening event.

He compared the complex to the 6000 family farms producing chickens for Tyson Foods across the US, and to the exceptional level of biosecurity protecting the pure line stock.

“How we protect this farm, and the security on these farms, is second to none. “We call it in Tyson biosecurity to the nth degree – they call it just another day at work,” he commented.

He spoke of US citizens spending just six percent of their net income on food or ten percent including restaurant meals.

“This is the lowest percentage of annual income spend on food of any nation in the world. We’ve got it good here. There’s a lot of people that don’t share that privilege and we have a responsibility to feed them and so being able to have a breed of chickens that can grow well in arid, warm climates and where you don’t have access to the utilities that we might have here, that’s going to be more and more important in 10, 15 or 20 years from now,”

Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee, described the opening as a ‘big day for Tennessee’.

He said the project recognized the three big priorities for the state — taking seriously their role to feed the world, focusing on rural economic development and bringing new high technology jobs.

This is the second major investment by Cobb in Tennessee in under two years. A $14 million parent stock hatchery was opened at Lafayette in November 2010, providing new opportunities for 21 contract farmers supplying hatching eggs from their breeder flocks and creating 59 new job opportunities.

Dry Creek is situated amid a large area of commercial forestry isolated from poultry — factors that led to choosing the site of the complex. It becomes Cobb’s sixth pedigree research complex worldwide.

Dave Juenger, Cobb director of support services, explains that locating the research complexes well apart, and in multiple states, provides additional security in supplying not only North America but also markets across the world.

“Dry Creek is a very secluded area of Tennessee with very little poultry activity,” he says. “We’ve been received with open arms by the authorities here and we’ve worked closely with them in the infrastructure improvements. Naturally they welcome our new Cobb job opportunities in today’s challenging economic environment.”

The complex comprises 34 poultry houses and a hatchery, involved in selecting and reproducing the pedigree lines, and producing the breeding stock that will in three generations supply the broiler chickens of the future.

A number of different pedigree lines will be housed at Dry Creek including some of the Hybro lines which came to Cobb in 2007 as part of the acquisition which included the Herveld research farm in the Netherlands. The first pedigree stock will be hatched at Dry Creek in late March.

Dr Frank Siewerdt, who has 20 years’ experience in animal breeding, has been appointed pedigree geneticist for the new operation. The complex manager is Craig Benich who has experience at a number of Cobb research farms over the past eight years.

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