An effort is currently underway to advance the research and development base of Hubbard in Walpole, N.H. This planned improvement is made possible by a $10 million investment following Aviagen Group's acquisition of Hubbard in February 2018, according to an announcement.
The project will involve adding, expanding and modernizing the pedigree farm base and hatchery with state-of-the-art technology and equipment. The company said the effort will benefit Hubbard customers in the U.S. and internationally by boosting the performance, health and welfare of their conventional male and female broiler breeder lines.
The upgrade of the Walpole facilities is slated for completion by the end of 2020 and will enable Hubbard to triple its pedigree program in the U.S. Additionally, the workforce in Walpole will be tripled, as new jobs have been added and recruitment for new positions is in progress.
To increase the accuracy of genetic selection methods, the Hubbard farms and hatcheries will add the latest technology and techniques — which are also used in Aviagen research and development facilities — to further progress bird performance, the announcement explained. An example is advanced 3D imaging to improve selection for skeletal health, meat yield and quality.
The Walpole facilities also will incorporate lifetime feed conversion ratio (FCR) technology — a method that observes FCR and feeding behavior during a bird's lifetime in order to aid selection for birds that are the most efficient in converting feed to bodyweight. Great strides in FCR improvements in recent years means that it requires less feed (the single highest cost in poultry production) to produce healthy and productive birds, the company noted.
“This investment in Hubbard's research and development will further enhance an already-proven portfolio of conventional broiler breeds. It will help streamline our supply not only for our international markets but also to the U.S., which remains the largest broiler industry in the world,” Hubbard global managing director Olivier Rochard explained. “At Hubbard, we're proud to be part of the Aviagen Group. Our customers around the world will greatly benefit from the combined synergies of two companies that work daily to champion the success of their businesses and the health, well-being and performance of their birds.”
The Hubbard poultry story began in 1921, when Ira Hubbard and his sons started a poultry farm in Walpole. The family then partnered with the University of New Hampshire for genetic selection, and together the partnership resulted in a genetically selected strain of poultry able to resist disease, thus setting the pace for genetic development that has led to improvement in traits such as robustness and livability throughout generations. Hubbard now has grown into one of the major international broiler breeding companies in the world. It continues to operate as independent breeding company within the Aviagen Group.
Although they operate as two separate companies, Aviagen and Hubbard share knowledge, expertise, technology, resources and a strong commitment to continuous and balanced breeding improvement, the announcement said.
Another major goal of both companies is to secure the global supply of quality breeding stock. The Walpole facilities follow strict biosecurity standards and have an additional biosecurity advantage of their relative geographical isolation from other poultry in the country.
Hubbard develops and markets breeding stock for both conventional and premium markets, offering products ranging from conventional, cost-efficient broilers to slower-growing chickens. Hubbard operates its selection programs in North America and Europe.