Cargill has initiated modernisation works at its turkey hatchery in Harrisonburg, Virginia, US, in order to improve turkey health, biosecurity and worker safety.

The $7m upgrade will involve the installation of a new incubator/hatcher system that is easy to clean and sanitise between uses.

The new system has been designed to enhance biosecurity to reduce cross-contamination from bacteria that could affect turkeys or people.

The improvements are expected to be completed over the next two years.

"We will be better positioned to help deliver on our promises to meet customer and consumer expectations."

Cargill Protein Harrisonburg hatchery manager Connie Isenhart said: "We are replacing equipment that has served us well for more than 30 years.

"The new technology reduces stress on the hatchlings due to advancements in environmental control technology, which improves the survivability of day-old turkey poults. Healthy poults convert feed more efficiently and result in the best bird possible for Cargill turkey farmers and consumers."

The deployment of the new incubator/hatcher system is expected to further improve personal safety, as its controllers can be easily accessed by the workers, eliminating the need for them to climb over the equipment.

Isenhart added: "When our new system is operating at capacity, we will be setting more than 112,000 eggs daily to meet the needs of our turkey business.

“By investing in our business for future growth, we will be better positioned to help deliver on our promises to meet customer and consumer expectations."

Cargill currently operates a feed mill, turkey hatchery and processing facility, as well as cooked meats facility in the Harrisonburg area. It employs more than 1,800 people in this region.