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Expo shows off the latest and greatest in poultry industry
Mike Jones, left, owner of Processing Equipment Solutions in Gainesville, shows poultry growers Elmer and Esther Yoder of Montezuma how the Intellijet Water Cutter works. The International Poultry Expo held Wednesday at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta showcased poultry-related technology like the Intellijet Water Cutter, which uses water pressure to precisely cut pieces of chicken. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

ATLANTA — If you have dealings in the poultry industry, this is the place to see and be seen.

Hundreds of people from every corner of Earth and facet of the poultry industry are spending the week in Atlanta for the annual International Poultry and Feed expos at the Georgia World Congress Center.

“It’s just like a Christmas party — everybody gets together,” said Jim Gutierrez, an international sales executive with Gainesville-based Avian Technology International.

Avian Technology, located on White Sulphur Road, specializes in exports of Georgia-produced hatching eggs, equipment for feed mills and chicken houses and has mostly international customers. The weeklong expo is one of Gutierrez’s only chances to meet personally with his global customers and give his international company exposure.

For other Hall County-based poultry companies, the expo is the time to shine up the stainless steel and show off the latest model of whatever equipment they manufacture.

Cantrell Machine Co. showed customers its latest gizzard harvester, which automatically “splits, cleans and peels the chicken gizzard,” said Tony Rice, an executive with the Gainesville company. The machine, along with other machines that aid in various stages of poultry processing — think neck skinners — is manufactured in Gainesville.

Brian Porter, sales engineering manager for Gainco Inc., displayed the company’s Accufill Dual Bagger, which weighs processed chicken pieces like breasts and paws and bags them once the desired weight accumulates on the scales. Gainco, a subsidiary of Bettcher Industries, assembles the bagger, the company’s Infiniti line of scales and its Accusizer high-speed classifiers in an industrial park in Hall County.

Porter primarily comes to the expo to see customers, making appointments throughout the week to show them Gainco’s newest products.

Of course, the company also puffs its feathers for the thousands of potential customers who roam through the exhibition hall, showing product demonstrations on flat-screen TVs and continuously spraying scales with water to show that the scale, “takes a spraying and keeps on weighing.”

“It’s the biggest poultry show in the world,” Porter said.

And big it is. Companies from Gainesville to Cairo, Egypt, spend months preparing for the expo that fills two large exhibition halls with feed supplements, processing equipment, farm supplies and people.

“There’s a lot of preparation that goes into it. ... We start planning, well, almost right after the last show I guess you’d say,” Rice, of Cantrell Machine, said.

And while the manufacturers and scientists are there to show, the farmers are there to see. Justin Fortson came to research equipment that might be available to improve lighting and odor control in eight broiler houses in Elbert County.

Fortson and his father-in-law, who owns the farm, raise about 220,000 chickens, and Fortson said having the best equipment means a better payout for the Northeast Georgia farmers.

“Stay ahead of the game, make more money,” Fortson said. “The more we can do to save us money and to better our sales, the more we make in the final end.”