Perdue Farms, Salisbury, Md., plans to invest $3.7 million to expand production at a hatchery on Delmarva and another in eastern North Carolina. The investment is expected to increase hatch production by 40% at one of the company's Salisbury, Md., hatcheries and nearly double hatch production in Kenly, N.C.

As part of the plan, Perdue will close its hatcheries in Showell and Bishopville, Md., in May next year. The company said it will offer the affected employees jobs in other Perdue facilities.


"The Showell and Bishopville facilities are outdated and require significant investment in facility maintenance and equipment to continue operating," said Mike Roberts, president of Perdue's food products group. "Maximizing production in our hatchery operations is in line with our ongoing strategy to improve asset utilization and competitiveness," he said.

Perdue farms is the third-largest broiler producer in the U.S. and produced 54.81 million pounds of ready-to-cook chicken weekly in 2008, according to WATT PoultryUSA's annual rankings.