In order for Sanderson Farms to keep up with the expectation of processing 1.25 million chickens weekly at its future big bird deboning complex in Palestine, Texas, it will need plenty of contract poultry growers. The company will have plenty of choices, with about 250 people expressing an interest, Sanderson Farms Chief Operating Officer Lampkin Butts said October 18 during the Sanderson Farms 2013 Investor Day.

"We'll need 496 broiler houses, 48 hen houses and eight pullet houses. The estimated annual contract payments for those growers will be $39.4 million, so we are in the process now of taking applications and meeting with potential growers," said Butts. "There's a lot of interest. We're very comfortable with the waiting list."

Sanderson Farms personnel will visit the potential growers and look at their land before deciding if they are an appropriate fit for Sanderson Farms. Pullet growers will be signed first, Butts said.


Sanderson Farms broke ground on its new complex on October 1, starting with the hatchery and feed mill. The 65,000-square-foot hatchery will be capable of hatching 1.3 million chicks per week. The feed mill, to measure 200 feet tall, will have the capacity of producing 16,000 tons of finished poultry feed per week.

The Palestine poultry complex's opening is scheduled for January 2015, although it will take between 12 and 15 months before the processing plant reaches its anticipated full-production levels of 2.5 million chickens per week.

For the complete project, Sanderson Farms will invest about $130 million, while contract producers will invest about $167.9 million to build the necessary broiler, hen and pullet houses. Butts expects the new poultry complex to create 1,200 new jobs with an estimated annual payroll of $28.4 million, and another $39.4 million will be paid in contract payments to growers.