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

The Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 oz milk or semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 4 oz dark chocolate chunk, or your preference
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars, salt, and butter until a paste forms with no lumps.
  2. Whisk in the egg and vanilla, beating until light ribbons fall off the whisk and remain for a short while before falling back into the mixture.
  3. Sift in the flour and baking soda, then fold the mixture with a spatula (Be careful not to overmix, which would cause the gluten in the flour to toughen resulting in cakier cookies).
  4. Fold in the chocolate chunks, then chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. For a more intense toffee-like flavor and deeper color, chill the dough overnight. The longer the dough rests, the more complex its flavor will be.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Scoop the dough with an ice-cream scoop onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, leaving at least 4 inches (10 cm) of space between cookies and 2 inches (5 cm) of space from the edges of the pan so that the cookies can spread evenly.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges have started to barely brown.
  8. Cool completely before serving.
"This is the day which the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalms 118:24