October 8, 2007


Cobb 700 enters Brazil's chicken market



Brazil, a heavyweight chicken exporter, may soon be exporting heavier chickens as poultry research company Cobb-Vantress Inc launches its Cobb 700 broiler breeder in the country.


The Cobb 700 broiler breeder was first sold to select customers in the US last year and was launched in Brazil and Italy last week.


The Cobb 700, designed to compete in the heavyweight division of the poultry business, can grow to 8.169 pounds in 61 days, according to the company.


The world market has shown strong demand for heavier broilers that achieve high meat yield, officials at Cobb-Vantress, a subsidiary of Tyson Foods Inc., said recently.


The Cobb 700 was probably the company's answer to UK's Aviagen Inc's Ross 708, Aviagen Inc is reportedly the world's largest poultry breeder. Ross 708 has been out for nearly 4 years and is already established in Latin American and Europe, according to analysts.


While the Cobb birds generally grow fast throughout their lives, the Ross reserves its growth spurt until near the end, according to poultry experts.


However, Cobb-Vantress said the Cobb 700 would gain most of its weight in the later weeks.


While animal rights activists worry that broilers are bred to put on so much weight they cannot even stand up, the Cobb bird has strong legs to support its weight and good feed conversion rates for growing breast muscles. 


Larger birds are becoming popular with poultry companies as the industry moves towards further-processed products like deboned and precooked meats.


Recently Tyson announced plans to produce 8-pound birds on farms in the Berryville-Green Forest area, one of its major chicken production base. However, it also stressed that it would not be changing sizes for its farms all across the country.


Brian Cosgriff, director of marketing for Cobb-Vantress said Cobb 700's efficient conversion of feed to meat would help European companies defray high production costs.


The US has seen an unrelenting quest for bigger birds in the last four decades, with chickens averaging 3.4 pounds in the 1960s, rising to 4.7 pounds in the 1990s and finally to 5.3 pounds in 2004.


Bird size grew in tandem with demand, with per-capita consumption rising four-fold from 20 pounds in the 1960s to 90 pounds today.