Construction of a Sanderson Farms big bird deboning complex in Palestine, Texas, is nearing completion, company officials said October 16 during the Sanderson Farms 2014 Investor Day.

The future complex will include a hatchery, feed mill and processing plant, with each facility set to begin operations on different dates.

Lampkin Butts, president and chief operating officer of Sanderson Farms, said the hatchery will be the first of the facilities to be up and running. Half of the machines have already been installed there, Butts said, and the company will begin to set eggs there on November 15. Once fully operational, the hatchery, which sits on 18 acres of land, will employ 72 hourly employees and 34 salaried employees.

The feed mill, which will sit on 200 acres, will have the capacity to make 16,000 tons of feed per week, according to Butts. It will employ 60 hourly workers and nine salaried workers. Butts said construction of the feed mill is on schedule so feed production can begin there on January 15, 2015.

The processing plant – a big bird deboning plant – will be the same size and have the same capacity as Sanderson Farms’ big bird deboning plant in Waco, Texas. It also sits on 200 acres and when fully staffed will have 1,000 hourly employees and 75 salaried employees. The first birds will arrive at the plant on February 9, 2015, said Butts.

Training has been in place for the salaried employees that will work in Palestine, with the training so far taking place at the complex in Waco.

Butts said Palestine is a good location. The plant will sell its products in Texas and in states west of Texas, and much of the dark meat processed there will be exported to Mexico.

Joe Sanderson Jr., CEO of Sanderson Farms, stated that when the plant is fully operational, it will add 15 percent capacity to the company.

Potential plant in North Carolina

While Sanderson Farms is in the midst of adding one plant that will add 15 percent capacity to the company’s operations, it is hoping for another. Sanderson Farms has been eyeing building another plant in North Carolina. Two counties are being considered for a site.

According to Sanderson, the timing is right financially to add another processing plant, and North Carolina is the ideal place to do so.

“We already have a tremendous amount of sales in the northeast corridor in Carolina and north of that. We’re doing our due diligence. Our balance sheet is screaming for us to start building a plant there. I just want to assure you that we are aware of the need. We’re working hard, and I’m pushing, and we’re doing everything we can for our shareholders,” said Sanderson.

Sanderson added that if everything works out during the due diligence period, construction on a new plant in North Carolina could begin in the spring. He estimated that once construction starts, it will take about 15 months to complete.