Sanderson Farms, Inc. (Laurel, Miss.) today announced May 10 that its board of directors has approved an expansion project for the Company's Collins, Miss., poultry processing facility and hatchery. The Collins facility is currently dedicated to servicing both retail and big bird deboning customers and will be converted to process exclusively for the big bird deboning market. The conversion project will include an expansion of the Collins hatchery, retrofitting certain equipment in the Collins processing plant and the construction of a new feed mill. The board of directors has approved a $20 million capital budget for the project. As a result, the Company's capital budget for fiscal 2005 will increase by $6.5 million to $138.7 million, while the budget for fiscal 2006 will include $13.5 million for this project. Joe F. Sanderson, Jr., Sanderson Farms' chairman and CEO, commented, "Our strategic market shift over the past several years to focus our production and processing on higher margin products has served us well. We have timed this conversion at Collins to coordinate with the opening of the Company's new Moultrie, Ga., processing facility. Initial operations at the new complex are scheduled to begin during the Company's fourth fiscal quarter of 2005. The Georgia facility will be dedicated exclusively to serving retail customers and our new state-of-the-art poultry complex is closer to our growing list of customers located in the southeast. With the conversion of the Collins plant to a larger weight bird, and the additional capacity of 150,000 head per week created by the expansion project, Sanderson Farms will add approximately 2.2 million pounds per week of fresh chicken processing capacity, approximately a 7.3% increase over current capacity."