Aviagen has recently completed the first phase of a more than €35 million investment in its UK breeding programme, with the aim of benefiting Aviagen’s customer base through the provision of broilers and breeders of the highest genetic merit and product quality.
As the demand for Aviagen products continues to grow worldwide, the company’s infrastructure is being strengthened accordingly. “Continual investment in our facilities is an integral part of our strategy,” says Alfons Koerhuis, chief technical officer, Aviagen Group, “and we are consistently strengthening our balanced breeding programme to optimise the health, welfare and production traits of our core products. At the same time, we continually develop our range of products so that we can offer our customers a product portfolio to suit different market requirements. All of this requires ongoing and substantial investment in our facilities.”
Expansion to pedigree farming base further enhances R&D capabilities
The company’s pedigree farming base in the UK, which is 1 of the 2 breeding programmes at the core of Aviagen’s operation, now has the advantage of more than 40% additional space as a result of a series of farm expansions. This allows for even higher selection pressure and associated delivery of genetic progress for customers worldwide.
The expansion and upgrades to existing facilities have brought with them increased space for state-of-the-art technology to aid Aviagen’s balanced selection process. This includes further expansion of transponder-based feed intake data capture as well as novel selection techniques for leg health, yield and meat quality. “With feed being the largest poultry production cost, improved FCR brings huge economic and sustainability benefits. We have always put FCR at the top of our agenda for our selection, and this increased investment allows us to deliver even higher amounts of progress to the field – which is good both for producers and for the environmental impact of the broiler industry,” comments Magnus Swalander, general manager, Aviagen.
All farms feature the latest design features, including cross-ventilated buildings, high insulation, efficient heating and temperature control with the construction of covered walkways providing industry-leading biosecurity and welfare.
Commitment to UK as long-term supply base
In addition to the investment at pedigree level, a brand-new GGP farm has been built with one of Aviagen’s contract farmers. Investment in the new facility, which can house 20,000 birds, is in excess of €1.75 million and adds another 5% production capacity to the company’s high-generation facilities in the UK. The new farm is designed to the most modern specifications and uses innovative technology to provide the highest welfare standards and achieve excellent biological performance.
UK hatchery portfolio widened in response to growing demand
As part of the ongoing investment programme, a new high-generation hatchery is currently under construction. Located at Rugby in Warwickshire, UK, it will commence operation early 2019. With a setting capacity of 180,000 eggs/week, the new hatchery will be built to the highest industry standard and will incorporate state-of-the-art equipment to operate under the most exacting welfare and biosecurity conditions.
“With the Rugby operation added to our UK hatchery portfolio, we can ensure the safe, continuous supply of Aviagen chicks from prime British locations that are strategically placed for export to international customers as well as for deliveries to the domestic market,” adds Magnus.
UK investment part of EU-wide R&D programme
“The UK investments are just part of the overall investments we are making in the future of our business and the industry,” concludes Alfons. “In an EU-wide investment programme we are also expanding our trials facilities to consistently increase product knowledge and development across a range of different production environments and customer requirements. This long-term project underlines our commitment to supplying our customers with quality products, backed by cutting-edge R&D, welfare and biosecurity.”