OAKWOOD, Ga. – To accommodate the growing demand for its Ladybird line of poultry products, officials with Wayne Farms LLC announced plans to expand its Laurel, Mississippi fresh poultry processing plant. The $16.9 million project will expand the 116,000 sq.-ft. slaughter and processing facility, adding capacity as well as about 200 jobs, which will push total employment to about 500 people. Recruitment for the 190 hourly workers and 11 salaried supervisory and management positions is underway.

Construction is scheduled begin in approximately one month with a completion date of May 2020. Along with the expansion, officials plan to invest in automated equipment for its processing line, which includes cutting, deboning, portioning and packaging as well as new X-ray detection technology. Plant officials have pre-bid meetings scheduled with contractors and suppliers in mid-January.

Craig Ballantine, complex manager at the plant, said the updated plant will include cutting-edge equipment to ensure the company can meet the growing demand for the Ladybird products, which are sourced from humanely raised, all-female birds. “We’re ready to get this project underway,” he said. “Demand for the products we produce is increasing, and this expansion will give us the capacity we’re going to need to meet it.”

Besides the Laurel facility, Wayne Farms operates fresh processing plants in Albertville, Jack, Dothan, Union Springs and Decatur, Alabama; Danville, Arkansas; Pendergrass, Georgia and Dobson, North Carolina. It also operates two further processing plants in Decatur, Alabama.