Rose Acre Farms Opens New Testing Lab

by Clay Brown | May 14, 2019
SEYMOUR, Ind. — Rose Acre Farms recently started operations in their new testing lab located near their corporate office in Seymour. The facility was previously housed at the company’s former headquarters, west of Cortland.

The lab is used to test various types of samples from all of the company’s layer, breeder and pullet farms. Testing is done for all types of pathogens, but primarily focuses on Salmonella and, specifically, Salmonella Enteritidis, as mandated by the FDA beginning in 2009.

The building was purchased by Rose Acre Farms over two years ago and was periodically used as storage by various departments. After a period of renovation, the lab crew started bringing in equipment in January and the first samples were tested on March 25.

Lab Manager Wanda White was asked for her input on the layout of the new facility.

“They let us decide what we wanted and said ‘do what you want and make it nice,’” said White. “I came up with at least 10 different layout designs for this building.”

White mentioned that the new facility makes more sense logistically being located closely to the Rose Acre Farms corporate office. The new facility also has more storage space and is more secure in terms of biosecurity.

“When you come up with each design, you start to see what does work and what doesn’t work,” said White. “We have more control and more space. Everything functions better here.”

The building was renovated by Matt Darlage and John Wetzel of J&M Construction. Rose Acre Farm’s own Ron Pranger, along with other electricians, designed and installed the electrical, heating and air for the building.

“The actual construction was a collaboration between their suggestions and what we thought would work,” said White. “Eventually, this is what we came up with and it's perfect to me.”

Manager Wanda White is joined by technician, Casie Willman, in the lab. Willman does a majority of the testing and White schedules when samples are taken at the farms. The lab tests anywhere from 150 to 200 samples a week.

“I think we’re a really good team,” said Willman. “We know exactly what we need to do and what needs to happen when a sample comes in.”

Both White and Willman feels that having this testing lab helps separate Rose Acre Farms from their competition.

“Customers want to know that their products come from a suitable environment,” said White. “I feel that we do a very good job here. We are one of the only family-owned companies with a lab that does what we do.”

The new Rose Acre Farms Lab goes through a certification process every year. In previous certifications, the lab at Rose Acre Farms was ranked amongst the top labs in the state.

“Ranking up there with all of those state labs is an important component of our company because it shows we are just as capable of the same type of testing as they are,” said White.

Occasionally, customers request that a third-party lab do sample testing for pathogens at the layer farms. White expects that this practice will become obsolete because of the capabilities at the new lab.

“I see us eventually not needing a third-party lab’s opinion for any type of testing,” said White. “We are just as good as other labs and we can do all the testing that they do.”

Wanda White and Casie Willman have been working together in the lab since 2012. White and Willman have been with Rose Acre Farms for 34 and 15 years respectively. White’s favorite aspects of the job include the variety of jobs offered by the company.

“I feel like I’ve grown with the company,” said White. “There’s enough variety within the company to do a different job if I felt I needed a change. I’ve learned a lot.”

Rose AcreTM Recipe of the Month

Saint Nick's Eggnog

  • 6 large EGGS
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 12 cinnamon sticks for garnish
  1. BEAT eggs, sugar and salt in large heavy saucepan until blended. STIR IN 2 cups milk.
  2. COOK over low heat, stirring constantly but gently, until mixture is just thick enough to just coat a metal spoon with a thin film and temperature reaches 160°F, about 15 minutes. Do not allow to boil. REMOVE from heat immediately.
  3. STIR IN remaining 2 cups milk and vanilla. REFRIGERATE, covered, until thoroughly chilled, several hours or overnight. 
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