Hy-Line weighs closing or upgrading Dallas Center farm

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The Hy-Line International hatchery in Dallas Center was a familiar site in the center of Dallas County.

Hy-Line International general Counsel Thomas Jorgensen
Thomas Jorgensen

Rumors about the impending closure of the Hy-Line International poultry farm in Dallas Center were quelled recently — or maybe superseded — by the unofficial announcement of a large-scale upgrade to the facility.

“I know there’s been talk about it,” Thomas Jorgensen, general counsel for Hy-Line International, said about the rumored closure. “Some of the buildings need to be refurbished in a huge way.”

The Dallas Center farm is the largest layer breeding stock hatchery in the world. The 120-acre facility at the intersection of U.S. Highway 169 and Iowa Highway 44 consists of four office buildings and about 20 hen houses, some dating back more than 40 years.

About 25 people work at the Dallas Center site.

“We’ve got birds at other farms,” Jorgensen said. “So the D.C. farm, as we call it, what it’s current status is I don’t know. I know we’re looking for potentially a third site to house more birds, and where that happens I don’t think has been finally determined yet. I would say some of the structures on the D.C. farm are quite old and need to be updated.”

Jorgensen said Hy-Line International plans further growth in Dallas County, but he could not say for certain whether the Dallas Center farm would be part of the plan.

“I think we’re actually looking at building new buildings,” he said, “but that site has yet to be determined. I don’t know the exact status of the Dallas Center farm, if it’s actually closing.”

Along with the hatchery and laboratory in Dallas Center, Hy-Line International operates a pedigree hatchery in Perry, various trucking facilities and two other research farms, in Minburn and Woodward. The Woodward site is “relatively almost brand new, built and finished two years ago,” Jorgensen said.

A longtime worker at the Dallas Center farm, who wished to remain anonymous, said the latest information he received suggests the company’s flagship farm will be updated and refurbished. Improvements could include “new techniques, newer equipment, but what the numbers would be, that’s beyond my pay scale,” he said.

Founded by Henry A. Wallace in 1936, Hy-Line International was the first of the modern layer genetics companies to incorporate hybridized breeding on a commercial scale. It is estimated that 80 percent of the eggs consumed on the planet contain genes traceable to Hy-Line International labs.

Hy-Line International distributes its product in more than 120 countries worldwide and has “developed a presence in the worldwide industry that has never been equaled,” according to the company’s website.

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The Hy-Line International plant in Dallas Center at the intersection of U.S. Highway 169 and Iowa Highway 44 houses about 100,000 breeding chickens. The plant employs about 25 people. About 100,000 more birds are housed by Hy-Line's contract producers around Dallas County.
The Hy-Line International plant in Dallas Center at the intersection of U.S. Highway 169 and Iowa Highway 44 houses about 100,000 breeding chickens. The plant employs about 25 people. About 100,000 more birds are housed by Hy-Line’s contract producers around Dallas County.

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