Cooper Farms has been busy with expansion projects, with the completion of a cooked meats plant expansion, a new vehicle maintenance and repair shop, and a truck disinfecting station.
Cooper Farms, a family owned business since 1938, is involved in the production of pigs, turkeys and eggs.
Cooked meat plant
Cooper Farms has completed a 15,000 square foot expansion of the Cooked Meats Plant in Van Wert, Ohio. The expansion provides a 20 percent increase in capacity for the plant, which produces cooked deli products.
Director of Production, Tom Wisvari, believes this expansion was necessary to keep up with the increased customer demand of Cooper Farms products.
“We needed this additional 20 percent to keep up with the growing demands of our customers,” Wisvari said. “We want to have this plant in the best possible position to serve our customers with whatever their needs may be.”
The expansion includes the addition of two new ovens, two new rapid cooling cells, additional processing space, team member welfare area, maintenance space and dry storage. Due to the location’s current configuration, expansion in certain directions was limited, making it difficult for Cooper Farms to pull off this expansion without some creative thinking. Therefore, the plant had to do some innovative rearranging.
With the addition of the two ovens, the plant can now cook 90 million pounds of meat each year. When the plant was reconstructed after tornado damage in 2007, it was expected it could max out at 1 million pounds cooked per week. After many expansion projects since, the plant has far exceeded those numbers and can now reach an average of more than 1.7 million pounds of meat cooked per week.
Truck disinfecting station
With the threat of avian influenza and other diseases always looming, biosecurity must remain a top priority for Cooper Farms. With those efforts came the recent addition of a new truck disinfectant station at Cooper Grain and Feed in Paulding, Ohio.
The station will allow feed trucks to disinfect on their way in or out, depending on the truck’s contents. This is to ensure no disease is brought into the mill or on to a farm, one of many biosecurity measures Cooper Farms follows.
“We try to make sure that all of our animals stay as healthy as possible,” said Cassie Jo Arend, corporate communications manager. “It’s part of why we have our animals in barns, because external factors are the biggest issues when it comes to our animals being unhealthy.”
In Paulding, the company averages around 80 truckloads of feed traveling to farms throughout the week. The feed produced at the Paulding mill is delivered to many Cooper Farms breeder and growout farms, making it even more crucial that biosecurity measures are followed.
Vehicle service center
Cooper Farms has purchased the former Les Wenning Motors location in Fort Recovery, Ohio. Cooper Farms will utilize the service area of the dealership as a maintenance and repair shop for company vehicles.
The front of the building will be the new home to the hog farm service team.
Eric Ludwig, director of corporate development, says one of the biggest reasons for the purchase was for biosecurity purposes.
“Our turkey service team and our hog service team had been housed in the same location,” he said. “This additional service space will allow us to separate the two teams to avoid cross-traffic between the two species.”
Another benefit to the new location will be the chance to bring multiple vehicle service areas together, as opposed to multiple locations.
“We had several vehicle service locations in the Fort Recovery area,” he said. “This allows us to combine service areas for our trucks, fleet and other equipment into one space.