New and upgraded product development facilities are being established by broiler breeder Cobb in the Netherlands. The parent stock facilities will be centered near Eindhoven in the southern Netherlands, studying all aspects of broiler breeder management. A commercial broiler unit in Flevoland in the central Netherlands will focus on how to achieve optimum results from the Cobb 500 broiler line.

This investment takes place as construction work progresses on a $16 million project to double the size of the Cobb pedigree breeding complex at Herveld, in the province of Gelderland. The enlarged complex will have 26 rearing, production and broiler development houses built to comply with the tightest biosecurity standards. The labor force is being increased to 100 to cope with the enlarged program of developing Cobb products for future market needs.

Roy Mutimer, general manager of Cobb Europe, said, "These very significant investments in the Netherlands are part of our continuing commitment to the broiler industries of Europe, Middle East and Africa. These facilities will enable us to continue to provide our customers with the best technical advice and most balanced products for many years to come."

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The trials facility includes one house with 26 different compartments to accommodate males and females through the hatching egg production cycle from 20 weeks to 60 weeks of age. The pullets will be reared in a separate unit on site, to reduce the risk of disease. Individual feeding and drinking provision for each compartment enables the uptake to be measured separately. Eggs are collected by compartment and automatically marked. Automatic bird weighing will give daily data that will help in providing body-weight curves to achieve optimum results.

The commercial broiler unit is an addition to two broiler trial farms that Cobb uses as part of the research and development program in the Netherlands. This farm, with capacity for 40,000 broilers, provides 25 different sections with separate recording of feed and water uptake and weight by individual pen.

"This facility will provide a true commercial environment which is vital to understand how different breeds perform in the field," said Tom Procter, product manager of Cobb Europe. "A multiple silo enables the feed trials to review nutritional requirements of the Cobb 500 broiler to help achieve optimum economic performance. Ventilation and heating is installed to Cobb global specifications, with a heat exchange system adding to the farm's sustainability."