FREDERICKSBURG, PA. – In July, Bell & Evans used design-build firm Stellar to place pre-cast walls for a new 411,500-square-foot organic chicken harvesting facility. The company has the new plant scheduled to begin operation by late 2021. Bell & Evans business consists of roughly 60% raised without antibiotics chicken and 40% organic chicken. The additional capacity will provide Bell & Evans to increase organic production to approximately 50% of total production to meet an increase in customer demand.
Stellar is using high-quality materials and finishes for food safety and longevity to build the new “European-Plus” facility. Thermomass precast concrete exterior walls with superior thermal ratings will house the operations area while corrosion-resistant acid brick flooring will cover all production floors. Six inches of extruded polystyrene will insulate freezer floors to prevent frost heave. White concrete walls will cover the inside of the precast walls with windows to the outside with no wood or painted surfaces in any production areas.
“I have been all over the world, including Europe dozens of times, visiting poultry operations and suppliers,” said Scott Sechler, owner of Bell & Evans. “I have a really good grasp of what’s out there, and I like to take the best practices I find and make them even better to fit our Bell & Evans model. In Europe, producers have the right mindset. They build to last. I describe our project as ‘European-Plus.’”
The new facility will utilize an automated transport system to eliminate the use of forklifts for unloading chickens, as well as a slow-induction anesthesia system modeled after Bell & Evans 2011 version. Also, the plant will utilize a fully computerized utility system that ensures water and energy efficiency and reusage. Marel processing equipment and an upgraded 100% Air Chill system will dramatically reduce water usage in the plant. Waste heat generated by an organic rendering plant will heat water for sanitation systems to offset daily carbon production and reduce boiler system use. The use of hot water instead of chemical agents is an important aspect of organic certification, and Bell & Evans recycles water from its onsite wastewater treatment plant to wash live haul transportation components.
Rabobank is financing the new facility with the first green loan in US poultry. The plant sits on the company’s 112-acre greenfield chicken harvesting campus where, in 10 years, Bell & Evans will build a second, similar scale facility.
“I spent more than 50 years in the chicken business making upgrades to old processes and retrofitting facilities with the most innovative equipment, and now to be building these beautiful, state-of-the-art chicken plants from the ground up is a dream come true,” Sechler said.
All Bell & Evans operations reside within a 3-mile radius of Fredericksburg and are organic certified.