Egg-citement is growing at Allen Harim’s Dagsboro hatchery operation

State Rep. Ruth Briggs King holds a chick during Allen Harim’s groundbreaking for a new hatchery in Dagsboro. From left: Rep. Dave Wilson, Rep. Rich Collins, Rep. Briggs King, Gov. John Carney and Sussex County Council president Michael Vincent.

DAGSBORO – Egg-citement is growing at Allen Harim’s hatchery operation in Dagsboro.

State Sen. Gerald Hocker chats with Allen Harim president/CEO Joe Moran at the groundbreaking.

Company officials, joined by local, county and state dignitaries broke ground Wednesday afternoon on a $22 million state-of-the-art hatchery for Allen Harim’s non-antibiotic poultry operation.

The new 70,000 square-foot facility will be built on Allen Harim’s 19.84-acre site on Nine Foot Road (SR 26) just west of Dagsboro.

It will have an egg-set capacity of 2.5 million eggs per week.

“This is an exciting moment for this company and a significant investment for our company on Delmarva,” said Allen Harim President/CEO Joe Moran. “Our ‘No Antibiotic Ever’ chicken requires us to have the healthiest and strongest chicks right from the start and the new hatchery will ensure that. This facility will be energy efficient, environmentally friendly and the most technologically-advanced hatchery on Delmarva.”

“Today is an exciting moment for us here as we start our project to build a new hatchery,” said Rory DeWeese, senior director of live operations for Allen Harim.

Allen Harim announced plans for the new hatchery in October of 2016.

Using water reuse technology, up to 80 percent of the water used at the hatchery will be recycled.

Sussex County Council last year approved tying into the county’s sewer and water infrastructure which will alleviate the need for on-site spray irrigation.

Gov. John Carney, in Sussex County Wednesday for the Sussex County Today & Tomorrow Conference at Delaware Technical Community College, attended the groundbreaking. He thanked the company for continuing to invest in Delmarva.

Other dignitaries on hand: state senators Gerald Hocker and Brian Pettyjohn, state representatives Rich Collins, Ruth Briggs King and Dave Wilson, Sussex County Council president Michael Vincent and county councilman Rob Arlett, Sussex County Economic Development Director Bill Pfaff, Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson and Dagsboro Mayor Brian Baull, Delmarva Poultry Industry representatives and several others.

Rory DeWeese, Allen Harim’s senior director of live operations, speaks at the groundbreaking for the company’s new state-of-the-art hatchery on Nine Foot Road in Dagsboro.

Mr. Moran anticipates the new hatchery will be operation within a year. “My timeline is nine months, or 10,” he said.

Mr. DeWeese said projected completion is by Christmas of 2018.

When completed, the 70,000-plus square-foot facility will double the size of existing hatchery, built in 1973 by Cargill. The current 38,000 square-foot facility, which was purchased by the former Allen Family Foods in 1988, is being used as the backup for Allen Harim, due to age of the equipment and infrastructure.

Allen Harim’s main hatchery operation is located in Seaford.

The new facility’s footprint will encompass the old structure and will require all new equipment and systems throughout.

Dagsboro’s gain will be Seaford’s loss.

“The Dagsboro facility along with our Seaford facility both were in need of upgrades,” said Mr. DeWeese, noting the company opted to combine the two hatchery operations into one. “So, when we complete this facility … then we will be closing down Seaford and bringing all of our operations here.”

Employees at both facilities will be offered jobs at the new hatchery or at other Allen Harim operations.

Allen Harim, headquartered in Seaford, currently operates a chicken processing facility in Harbeson, a hatchery in Dagsboro, a hatchery and feed mill in Seaford and a breeding operation in Liberty, N.C.

The company employs more than 1,750 people in the United States as well as more than 220 independent growers and 20 company farms across Delmarva.

Allen Harim, part of the Harim Group based in South Korea, was hatched with the acquisition of components of Allen Family Foods, which filed for bankruptcy in June of 2011.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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