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Cobb-Vantress' Brazil division on Monday announced plans to invest more than $1 million in a high-tech fleet of trucks with increased capacity and improved climate control, designed to curb the mortality rates of chicks in transit.

The investment stemmed from poultry-related transportation challenges Cobb experienced in Brazil, a spokesman said.

The region's elevation changes, temperatures and spread-out farms led to lengthy transportation times, said Stacy Vaughn, a Cobb spokesman, prompting the company to figure out a way to solve transport issues.

For help, Cobb's headquarters in Brazil reached out to a nearby transporter, Facchini, and a decades-long partner, Smithway, a global trucking manufacturer, to design the trucks.

In a news release, Lucas Lima, Cobb's logistics manager in Brazil, said the purchase fell in line with the company's overall goal: that chicks are delivered to customers in the same condition they left the hatchery.

"During their first days chicks need to be kept in constant warmth to ensure good early development," he said. "Conventional trailers depend greatly on the external climate as they are only equipped with humidification, exhaust and ventilation systems. We needed a trailer equipped with independent climate control to ensure the wellbeing and ideal environment for our chicks."

Siloam Springs-based Cobb tested one of the transporters, designed to withstand extreme temperatures with a heavier bird supply, for its Brazil operations in November.

After the truck designers delivered on their promise of fewer transit-related deaths paired with higher bird quantities, Cobb agreed to purchase another six state-of-the-art trailers by the end of March, according to the company's announcement.

Each of the new Cobb-Brazil transporters feature two fuel-powered generators, which allow for cooling while the engine is turned off; improved internal air quality; and a 100,000 BTU air-conditioning system.

They can also hold 60,000 chicks, twice the number for conventional trailers in Brazil.

"We have been working with near-zero mortality during chick transport as a result of the excellent temperature control and comfort within the trailers," Lima said.

Tom Arnold, a systems analyst with Smithway, said the basic technology that's been tested by Cobb in Brazil has been Smithway's design standard since 2000.

"[So] what you're seeing in Brazil isn't really a new technology," said Arnold, who's been with Smithway for 25 years.

Similar technologies developed by Smithway are used by Tyson, Simmons Foods, Cargill, Cal-Maine, George's and Cobb's American fleets, according to the chick-transport company. Arnold said each company requests customization for its operations.

This "particular configuration" that Cobb's investing in is exclusive to Brazil, Vaughn said.

Cobb's U.S. trucks, which use similar technology, can hold up to 54,000 chicks, while some larger ones can handle as many as 72,000 chicks.

Business on 03/06/2018

Print Headline: Chicken carriers focus of initiative

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