Pilgrim's Pride files for bankruptcy protection

PITTSBURG, Texas (AP) _ The nation's largest chicken producer today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Pittsburg, Texas,-based Pilgrim's Price has been hobbled by itsdebt load and volatile feed prices.

The company filed for bankruptcy reorganization in federal court in Fort Worth.

Pilgrim's Pride, as of Sept. 27, had $3.75 billion in assets and $2.72 billion in debts.

Pilgrim's Pride spokesman Ray Atkinson says the company will keep operating throughout the reorganization.

The chicken producer has been saddled by the debt from its $1.3 billion acquisition of rival Gold Kist in 2007.

Pilgrim's Pride controls nearly one-fourth of the U.S. market. It's also a large chicken producer in Mexico. The company's bankruptcy protection filing -does not- include operations in

Mexico or certain ones in the U.S., though it did not specify which ones.