3.2 The chicken meat industry in Australia - Distribution of production
In each chicken producing region, chicken meat processing companies typically locate the various parts of their operations in close proximity to each other. For example each company’s hatcheries, broiler farms, processing and further processing (cooking) plants will typically be within a two hour drive of each other.
Meat chicken growing farms are generally located within 100km of a processing plant, minimising transport stress on the chickens on the day of processing. Growers need to be near a feed mill, with guaranteed water, power and access for trucks, as well as access to labour and services. The farms themselves are relatively small in area, with 75 per cent of the 765 farms in Australia in 2008–09 under 50ha (ABS, 2010).
Primary processing plants (where chickens are slaughtered) are generally located close to consumer markets, helping to keep distribution costs down and ensuring access to labour and other services. Most are within 2 hours drive of a capital city.
Further processing plants or cooking plants (where processed raw meat is converted into value-added cooked products) are generally located close to consumer markets, to reduce distribution costs and to ensure access to labour and other services.
Feed mills are located with a view to both access to ingredients and proximity to farms.
Hatcheries are located close to major chicken growing areas to ensure that transportation times for day old chicks being moved from the hatchery out onto the farms on which they will be reared is kept to a minimum.
Breeding farms are located across Australia, but with a tendency to keep the most valuable birds – the great grandparents and grandparents of the meat chicken birds – in more isolated areas to protect them from disease. Fertile eggs from the breeder farms are sent to hatcheries.