ROSE HILL, NC – House of Raeford Farms plans to phase out its commodity turkey growing and slaughter business. The Rose Hill, NC, hatchery, a turkey slaughter plant in Raeford, NC, and turkey growing operations in eastern North Carolina will close over the next four to six months.

The move is designed to focus the company's resources on increasing chicken production and expanding its fully cooked turkey and chicken product lines, the company said. The company will continue operations at its Raeford, NC, cook plant and plans to expand production of ready-to-cook chicken, tray pack ground turkey and chicken, battered and breaded nuggets and patties and fully cooked turkey and chicken products.

“We intend to further expand the chicken business over the next two to three years so that our increased chicken volume will replace the turkey production we are phasing out,” said Bob Johnson, CEO of House of Raeford. “This expansion will provide opportunities for as many of our growers and employees as possible to transition into the chicken business."

The turkey slaughter plant will be idled after producing holiday turkeys affecting 950 people, the company said. The turkey hatchery currently employs 30 workers, most of whom will be offered jobs at other company facilities in the surrounding area.

The decision will not affect the cook plant — which employs 400 workers — or the remaining 5,300 House of Raeford employees, of which approximately 2,300 are employed in North Carolina.

House of Raeford said it would assist all employees affected by closures through severance packages, priority employment opportunities at other plants, job placement counseling and retraining. Management will also survey individual turkey growers to determine interest in transitioning their turkey farm operations into chicken operations.

“We’re grateful to the employees and growers who have been an active part of our turkey operation and we are committed to helping each one of them during this transition,” Johnson said.

The company cited high corn prices, declining turkey consumption and falling commodity turkey prices as factors influencing the decision to exit the commodity turkey business. House of Raeford's chicken operations currently represent more than 90 percent of sales, ranking the company among the nation's top 10 chicken producers and processors.