The Scottish Government, vets and the farmers’ union have united to ensure animal welfare is not compromised as broiler producers and the Covid-hit 2 Sisters processing plant cope with the implications of the factory’s closure.
The Coupar Angus site will remain closed until the end of the month, and broilers which were destined for slaughter there this week are being transported to be processed at other 2 Sisters plants in England after veterinary checks on farms.
It is understood the first local birds left farms on Monday and, by tomorrow, arrangements will be in place for all planned uplifts from farms to be resumed.
Earlier this week First Minister Nicola Sturgeon raised concerns that the closure of the plant could bring possible animal welfare issues, however regulations allow for birds to be transported for up to 12 hours.
NFU Scotland’s poultry policy manager Penny Middleton said: “NFUS has offered the company support and, along with other stakeholders, is helping the company and officials with the process of minimising any implications for the company’s farms and livestock whilst protecting the health of workers throughout the business.
“From the farming perspective, we hope the prompt actions taken and the biosecurity measures in place at the plant will see a timetable for reopening quickly established.”
In addition to the company’s own units, around 12 independent local growers supply the plant which is believed to process more than half a million birds a week. Broiler production has a tight schedule and there is a turnaround of only 10-14 days when premises are cleaned and disinfected before the next batch of birds is delivered.
Just last month the Coupar Angus plant was awarded a £1 million Food Processing, Marketing and Cooperation (FPMC) grant towards a £5,159,700 upgrading project which includes a spiral freezer and plant room, equipment and infrastructure to support the production of value-added meal ingredients, plus external improvements to the site and roof.
2 Sisters was contacted for comment.