Omtron Ltd, the new owner of Townsends North Carolina operations, is reported to be ceasing operations in Siler City and Mocksville, which include chicken processing plants, hatcheries and feed mills, as of October 1.  Meanwhile, Pilgrim’s Pride announced plans today to close its chicken-processing plant in Dallas, Texas within 60 days.

Omtron brought the North Carolina operations of Townsends in February as part of a $24.9 million deal while Townsends was under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.  Townsends cited the impact of “record high feed-ingredient costs on the one hand and low chicken pricing on the other” as the reason for the bankruptcy.

There are 550 employees at the Siler City location and 150 in Mocksville.  The company, which has contracts with 150 growers in the five area counties,  is Siler City’s largest employer.

The Pilgrim’s Pride Dallas plant is scheduled to close by September 30.  Production for the plant will be consolidated into several other company facilities in the region, including the processing and prepared foods plants in Mt. Pleasant, Texas.  Other live production operations in Northeast Texas will continue to function.  Pilgrim’s contract growers who supply birds to the Dallas plant will begin supplying the other company plants following the consolidation.  The company said there will be no disruption in supply of product to Pilgrim’s customers.  Approximately 1,000 employees who work at the Dallas facility will be affected by the plant closing.  The company expects to be able to offer positions at other facilities as well as provide transition programs to employees who are not retained.

“While the decision to close a plant and eliminate jobs is always painful, we must make better use of our assets given the challenges facing our industry from record-high feed costs and an oversupply of chicken,” said Bill Lovette, Pilgrim’s president and chief executive officer.  “A key component of that effort is improving our capacity initialization through production consolidation and other operational changes.”  Lovette said there are no plans to close any other processing facilities at this time.