The work, which will start in December, is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 and includes the construction of a new building designed for receiving birds and conducting CO2 anaesthesia, as well as the addition of new equipment for the operation of this new slaughtering method and other stages of production.
Réjean Nadeau, president and CEO of Olymel, said: “By this strategic investment, Olymel continues to modernise its poultry sector installations. The completion of this project will enable us to achieve our objectives in terms of enhancing animal welfare, while significantly improving the working environment and the safety of our employees. This investment will also have a positive effect on the Berthierville plant’s production capacity, placing us in a position to better respond to the growing demand for quality poultry products.”
Olymel’s Berthierville poultry processing plant in Lanaudière specialises in chicken slaughtering, cutting and deboning, and has a weekly capacity of nearly one million birds. The plant employs more than 425 people. The majority of its production consists of fresh products, such as trussed chickens for rotisseries and various cuts. The plant also supplies other Olymel further processing plants with fresh poultry meat.
Animal welfare at heart of decision
The CO2 bird anaesthesia system to be installed in the Berthierville plant is expected to improve animal welfare by reducing bird stress, in particular due to a 40% larger crate.
This system does not require changes to farm buildings. In addition, one of the great features of CO2 anaesthesia is that the company said it significantly improves the working environment for employees assigned to slaughtering, who will work in an area with better lighting and air conditioning, as well as far less dust. Finally, the installation of this system will also increase the plant’s production capacity in terms of volume.
The CO2 anaesthesia system that Olymel has chosen meets the industry’s highest standards for animal welfare, said the company.
It intends to implement the same slaughtering method by 2019 at its other primary poultry processing plants in St-Damase, Montérégie and Clair, New Brunswick. The latter is jointly owned with the Westco Group, one of the largest poultry producers in Canada. In 2011, Olymel installed the same type of CO2 anaesthesia system for turkeys at its St-Jean-Baptiste-de-Rouville turkey plant in Montérégie, jointly owned with Exceldor.