Talking chicken

More information for potential Tyson poultry growers next week in Belleville

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A grower meeting for producers interested in raising chickens if Tyson Foods locates in North Central Kansas is scheduled for next Thursday, December 14 at 10 a.m. at the Blair Theater in Belleville.

Presenter will be K-State Research and Extension poultry specialist Scott Beyer. The meeting is sponsored by the Citizens National Bank, Cloud County Farm Bureau, Republic County Farm Bureau, Ottawa County Farm Bureau, River Valley Extension District, K-State Research and Extension, Central Kansas Extension and American Ag Credit.

Growers meetings are also set for December 13 at 7 p.m. at the Cloud County Fairgrounds in Concordia, and December 14 at 2 p.m. at the Ottawa County Courthouse in Minneapolis.

Cloud County has been picked as one of three potential locations in Kansas for a $320 million poultry complex Tyson recently announced plans to build a similar plant in Tennessee, the first new facility the company has built in 20 years. CloudCorp director Ashley Hutchinson said economic development officials in Cloud County continue to develop plans to attract Tyson.

“We understand Tyson is moving forward with their plans to continue evaluating Kansas for a second fresh tray pack plant,” she said in a Facebook post in November. “They have tremendous demand to meet. The announcement (of the Tennessee plant) was not unexpected. CloudCorp and the 81 Corridor partners will continue to work hard to show Tyson we are eager for an opportunity to partner with them.”

The proposed plant in Kansas is expected to employ 1,600 people and contract with farmers and ranchers in the area to raise chickens. Locations in Southeast Kansas and Sedgwick County have also been identified as potential locations for a plant. CloudCorp has identified 500-acres for a plant southeast of Concordia.

Modern poultry production

“I want to make people aware of modern poultry production practices at farms that typically contract with a major processor such as Tyson,” Beyer said in a news release.

“An integrated farming operation of this size will require employees with a wide range of skills,” he says. “The job base will require high-school grads, tech school grads, university degrees and probably advanced degrees in areas like management and veterinary care.

“There will be specialized jobs in grain handling and feed manufacturing. And don’t forget all the IT and accounting people required in payroll.

“There aren’t many enterprises that will offer jobs with the breadth of skills and educational levels than integrated poultry production.”

Beyer says a poultry farm does not use much water, (less than the average irrigation pivot) and buildings are computer-controlled.

“I consider a typical broiler farm to be a part-time job, with a few full-time days here and there,” he says. Most poultry growers also are teachers, grow crops, run cattle, etc.”

Beyer says modern poultry production buildings minimize odor.

“Many people think the birds are crowded but what they are observing is the gregarious nature of birds,” he says. “No matter how much space you give them, birds want to flock together, so they will all end up in one place in a barn anyway.

“They are never in cages so the birds can move about wherever they want in the entire building.”