Hatchery helps boost Rochester’s econ­omy

Campaspe News - - FRONT PAGE - By JES­SICA LAMB

AS ONE door closes in Rochester, an­other one opens.

Still reel­ing from the news Mur­ray Goul­bourn will close its fac­tory, the town has a new and grow­ing busi­ness with the Spe­cial Breed­ers Aus­tralia (SBA) hatchery fa­cil­ity on Railway Rd now fully op­er­a­tional.

And it is here to stay ac­cord­ing to pro­ject man­ager and fifth-gen­er­a­tion dis­trict lo­cal Derek Shot­ton.

“Egg con­sump­tion in Aus­tralia is in­creas­ing and to fuel that you need egg lay­ing birds – which is what we sup­ply,” he said.

“We are quite con­fi­dent for the fu­ture.

“The nor­mal life ex­pectancy of a hatchery is 35 years be­fore a ma­jor re­fit is needed but we be­lieve with all the for­ward plan­ning, we can get more out of it as we have al­lowed for a space to in­stall new tech­nol­ogy as it arises.

“Thirty per cent of our work­force is lo­cals and we make sure we ad­ver­tise all our open po­si­tions lo­cally.”

The jour­ney started seven years ago when the com­pany de­cided it needed a new hatchery and re­search be­gan into the best tech­nol­ogy and prac­tise, re­view­ing equip­ment from around the world.

Five years ago when the time came to select a site, SBA needed a lo­ca­tion in the mid­dle of its ex­ist­ing farms – with ac­cess to town wa­ter and sta­ble power sup­ply.

SBA se­lected Rochester for things like ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture, link­age to cus­tomers and re­sources and a work­force with skills that over time the com­pany could ac­cess.

Mr Shot­ton said at full ca­pac­ity the fac­tory could de­liver a max­i­mum of around 155,000 chicks in a day.

“It all de­pends on the or­ders we get and the ebb and flow of the busi­ness,” he said.

“We de­liver all through Vic­to­ria, NSW, Queens­land, Tas­ma­nia and South Aus­tralia and oc­ca­sion­ally to West­ern Aus­tralia.”

The $17 mil­lion pro­ject has not been with­out op­po­si­tion but was given the green light last Oc­to­ber af­ter a Vic­to­rian Civil and Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal dis­missed ob­jec­tions from nearby res­i­dents.

Mr Shot­ton said be­sides the VCAT hear­ing most of the sup­port lo­cally has been pos­i­tive.

“We have al­ways had safe­guards in place from day one and we didn’t have to ad­just many as a re­sult of the VCAT hear­ing,” he said.

“I think peo­ple don’t re­alise the live chicks are only on site for six hours and eggs are in the in­cu­ba­tor for 21 days.

“We have waste treat­ment plants and it’s carted away, the whole build­ing is self-con­tained and the sani­tis­ers smell more than the birds do.

“It’s a very clean en­vi­ron­ment, to come in you have to shower in and out - we take it very se­ri­ously, all trucks go through a sani­tis­ing and clean­ing sta­tion to pre­vent dis­eases be­fore en­ter­ing the fa­cil­ity grounds for bio se­cu­rity.”

Mr Shot­ton said he wasn’t for­get- ting the busi­ness’ role in the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

“Dur­ing the build­ing process all the sub­con­trac­tors were lo­cal and we made sure our other con­trac­tors stayed at lo­cal ac­com­mo­da­tion and we con­tinue to do so for on-go­ing train­ing,” he said.

“We have opened trad­ing ac­counts with any lo­cal busi­ness we could con­ceiv­ably do busi­ness with in the fu­ture.

“We don’t keep any fuel on site, in­stead we pur­chase through Rochester and El­more BP and we make sure we use lo­cal cater­ers for team build­ing and staff lunches.”

ECO­NOMIC BOOST — Spe­cial­ist Breed­ers Aus­tralia's Katie Mead­ows and man­ager Derek Shot­ton out­side the re­cently-com­pleted Rochester hatchery.

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