HOUSE of Raeford Farms announced last week plans to exit turkey production over the next four to six months and to focus on expanding its chicken production over the next two to three years.
The company, headquartered in Rose Hill, N.C., is the ninth-largest turkey company and chicken integrator in the U.S.
Raeford said its decision reflects continued record-high corn costs, "multiple years" of flat to lower turkey consumption, "rapidly falling" turkey markets and historic losses on turkey production.
By contrast, the company said, its chicken business, which represents more than 90% of sales, has grown significantly in recent years.
Raeford said it will close its poult hatchery in Rose Hill and its turkey processing plant in Raeford, N.C., and begin working with its 140 turkey growers in eastern North Carolina to determine their interest in transitioning their turkey farms to chicken growouts.
The hatchery and plant employ almost 1,000 people who will be offered jobs at other Raeford facilities or provided with relocation services and severance packages.
The company said it will continue to operate its chicken and turkey cook plant in Raeford and procure turkeys from outside sources.
Raeford is a family-owned, third-generation poultry producer that also has operations in Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina. It markets chicken and turkey products under the House of Raeford and Columbia brands.