One would never guess that the brand new $150,000 Blumenort Poultry Co-op Produce building with its $30,000 egg grading station had its beginning as a $700 a cooperative effort of seven farmers dissatisfied with the egg-grading system 11 years ago.
In 1947, Blumenort poultrymen had to ship their eggs to Winnipeg to be graded and a poor delivery system combined with a deterioration of their product on the way was seriously cutting into their profits.
Looking at the successful Blumenort’s Co-op cheese factory, the farmers decided they would try something similar. With $700 as working capital, the seven charter members of Blumenort Poultry Co-Op acquired a loan and built a 24-foot by 40-foot egg candling station with some equipment.
From that humble beginning, the Blumenort enterprise has grown to what is today, adding a killing plant for chickens and turkeys and an evisceration plant for processing the birds along the way.
President Ben L. Reimer, who was one of those charter members, says the cooperative they started in 1947 lost a little bit of money the first year, broke even the second and made a little money in the third year of operation.
From that incredibly small beginning, the cooperative has mushroomed to 275 members with a total of $300,000 in assets.
The existence of the plant in a large poultry-producing district has stabilized and even raised prices all over Southeastern Manitoba.
It was in the fall of 1956 that plans were drawn up for the present building at the Blumenort corner of Highway 12. The former premises was located about half a mile to the west and would become a turkey hatchery, with the move of the poultry plant to the larger premises.
Work got underway the following spring and the plant was finished by Nov. 6 of last year, in time for the busy Christmas rush. But the co-op wasn’t finished with its expansion plans just yet, and members decided to postpone a grand opening of their new plant until a new egg-grading station beside it could be constructed.
That long-awaited grand opening will take place this week.
To see the skilled production line workers in action when the turkeys are going through at 3,000 a day is a real eye-opener. The turkeys are placed a foot a part on a conveyor chain that moves them through each step of the eviscerating process, under the watchful eye of the government’s veterinarian, Dr Jablonski.
For readers who did not get the opportunity to tour the plant in operation, The Carillon News provided a graphic description and photographs of the assembly line and every step of the eviscerating process.
At the height of the killing season, the Blumenort Poultry Co-op has 70 employees.
Supervision of the whole operation is ably handled by three men. President Ben L. Reimer gave up farming so he could run the Co-op better. General manager Alvin Doerksen, who at 27, is longest serving employee and the hard-working plant foreman Pete Cornelson who has been on the job since 1951.
But not to be left out are Henry Plett, who runs the new egg-grading station and feed sales and Esther Plett, the head egg-grader.
Following the cooperative’s example and taking a “do it yourself” approach, the area’s turkey producers have started their own hatchery in Blumenort.
The larger commercial hatcheries in the area which had always hatched all the turkeys for the district decided to switch over entirely to chickens and drop the turkey business entirely.
The net result was that a couple of dozen turkey raisers were left with the dilemma of having no place to get their turkey eggs hatched.
It didn’t take long before 11 of them decided they were not going to be left stranded and bought some special turkey incubators from two hatcheries in Steinbach and went into business on their own. They rented part of the former Blumenort Co-op Produce killing plant and set their eggs.
Many other turkey raisers, besides the 11 company shareholders have been taking advantage of the services offered by Southeast Turkey Hatchery, which is expected soon to become the main hatchery supplying turkey eggs to this area.