Our New $360 million Plant
Welcome to the world’s most innovative poultry plant. This 411,500 square foot organic-certified chicken harvesting facility is located in Fredericksburg, PA, within a one-mile radius of our Hatchery and other processing operations. 100% of Bell & Evans chickens are processed at this plant.
Our $360 million facility began operating in December 2021 and was named the 2022 Food Plant of the Year by Food Engineering for its innovations, automations, and high scores in all categories including team member welfare, animal welfare, product safety and quality, and sustainability.
Learn more about what makes our new plant groundbreaking in the poultry industry.
Take a Virtual Tour of the New Plant
Meaningful Animal Welfare Improvements
We take animal welfare seriously at Bell & Evans, and we’re always looking for ways to improve the process for our chickens. From arrival to harvest, our chickens are never handled by humans while conscious, creating a better experience for both them and our team members.
We installed new, spacious trays that provide more headroom and better ventilation during transit. An automated live receiving transport system eliminates the use of fork trucks to offload chickens from trailers into the facility, where they’re taken to a temperature-controlled live receiving room with blue lighting that’s dark and calming. This new system, the first of its kind in the U.S., minimizes stress by reducing noise, light, sound, and movement for a smooth transition from trailer into Slow Induction Anesthesia (SIA). Our original SIA system, which has garnished praise by animal welfare groups, was also upgraded to combine oxygen with tempered CO2 gas for a gentle, controlled process of putting our chickens to sleep.
Thorough Food Safety Measures
Our facility is organic certified and chlorine free. To ensure the health and safety of our product and our workers, hand and boot washing stations are placed at every entrance into processing. Our equipment and surfaces are made of stainless steel for cleanliness and durability, including 100% stainless steel piping in our ammonia system to maximize safety. There are no painted, wooden, or porous surfaces within the production facility to prevent bacteria from forming.
Specialized air dryer and filtration units minimize moisture in the air that could breed bacteria, an important food safety measure. Rooftop makeup air units (RMAUs) contain ultra-violet (UV) lighting to keep bacteria and viruses from entering the facility. Our upgraded scalders, along with an innovative singe-er pioneered by Bell & Evans, remove the finest pin feathers and reduce common surface bacteria like Salmonella.
Superior Product Quality
Every tray and shackle contain tracking technology to follow the path of the bird for complete traceability. Chickens are vision-graded three times during processing, a first in the U.S. for poultry, to ensure only the best make it to supermarket shelves. 100% of our boneless products are hand-trimmed and then x-rayed with bone detection equipment originally designed for the fish industry to identify very small bones.
Our upgraded 100% Air Chill system quickly cold sears the exterior of the bird to lock in its natural juices, giving you a better-tasting chicken. A second, longer phase slowly equilibrates the overall temperature of the bird. Livers, gizzards, hearts, and necks are also 100% Air Chilled.
Real Sustainability Efforts
Sustainability was a huge factor when designing our plant. High-quality building materials were used throughout the facility, including precast concrete walls and acid brick production floors, and we use energy efficient LED lighting. Case boxes used at the facility are made of 100% recyclable material, with no wax coating, and are fully recyclable after use.
41% of potable site water is reconditioned for use again in first processing. Combined with 100% Air Chill processing, Bell & Evans saves 400,000 gallons of water per day and is 40% more water efficient than the rest of the poultry industry. 55% of the facility’s heat requirements (in BTUs) come from recycled waste heat from its own neighboring rendering facility. 250 gallons of recycled water is heated a minute without additional fuel, reducing our carbon emissions by 55%.
We also aimed for efficiency in our heating and cooling. There are no typical steam boilers at the facility. Our direct fired gas heaters achieve 99% efficiency compared to the best boilers, which operate around 89-90% efficiency. Cooled interstitial space for utility access above production creates a thermos effect for energy savings in the below refrigerated spaces.
Bell & Evans uses lightweight live haul trailers that get better fuel efficiency than the standard models. An automated case packing system streamlines the packaging process and eliminates manual case packing. Seven palletizing robots and four pick-and-place robots are used for packing, and Bell & Evans is currently testing a prototype Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) in its warehouse.
Designed for Team Member Safety and Comfort
We designed our plant with the safety and comfort of our team members in mind. White concrete interior walls and plentiful windows to the outside create a bright environment, while adjustable work platforms at every station and athletic trainers on the production floor offer superior ergonomics. For greater worker safety, we’ve included automations that minimize fork trucks, heavy lifting, and high-traffic areas.
Our plant also includes a full-service kitchen that offers daily hot meals, made-to-order salads and sandwiches, soup, fresh juices, free coffee, and more. We offer free on-site healthcare at our Care Center, as well as a mother’s room for nursing mothers.