Inside Wayne Farms new feed mill

by Arvin Donley
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Wayne Farms
Standing in front of Wayne Farms' new feed mill near Newton, Alabama, U.S., are from left: Frank Singleton, spokesman for Wayne Farms; Kris Torbert, area live operations manager; and Brad Williams, area complex manager.
Photos by Arvin Donley.
Already heavily invested in poultry production in southern Alabama, U.S., Wayne Farms LLC recently increased its commitment to feed production in the region with the completion of a $55 million feed mill near Newton, Alabama.

The 50,000-square-foot facility, which has production capacity of 25,000 tons per week, is the largest startup feed mill in the United States, Wayne Farms spokesman Wayne Singleton told World Grain.

“Some have a bigger footprint because they’ve been added to over the years, but this is the largest startup feed mill in terms of the size of the facility and also the tonnage,” Singleton said.

Brad Williams, area complex manager for Wayne Farms, said about four years ago the company decided to expand poultry production at its Dothan, Alabama, plant that it acquired in 2012, doubling the size of that facility, which meant it needed to ramp up feed production to serve that plant. Williams said company officials debated whether to expand production in its three existing mills in that area — Troy, Alabama, DeFuniak Springs, Florida, and Enterprise, Alabama – or to build a new mill.

“Those three mills will be impacted by this and will eventually be on the market to be sold as the result of building this mill,” he said. “This mill will take on the production of all three of those mills.”

Elton Maddox, chairman and chief executive officer of Wayne Farms LLC, said he was confident the investment in the new mill would pay off for the company in the region for years to come.

“It will serve the farmers and our company well,” he said. “We couldn’t be more proud and we couldn’t be more grateful for the support we received in completing this facility — from our own team, our CSX partners, local, regional and state agencies, the cooperation has been outstanding.”

It took about 20 months from groundbreaking to startup of the new mill, which began operations in January. But before that, Wayne Farms had to purchase 165 acres of land from four different land owners. Once the transaction was completed, the company was confronted with an unforeseen problem.

“This piece of property appeared to be pretty level to the naked eye, but the main rail line that runs through here was significantly higher than this property so we had to move a lot of dirt around,” he said. “It presented challenges we didn’t foresee in the beginning.”

The 232-foot-tall slipform concrete structure features a rail-based receiving area with three receiving systems and a 4.4-mile, 90-car rail grain loop and 80-car ladder track soft stock storage loop.

“It’s a pretty unique receiving building,” said Kris Torbert, operations manager, South Alabama. “There are three pits — one is simply designed for trucks and can take a whole truckload of corn in six minutes. There’s also a combo pit that takes both rail and truck, and the other pit is exclusive to rail corn, and in that pit we can unload a rail corn 90-car unit in about 10 hours.”

Wayne Farms
About 80% of the mill's corn is received by rail on this 4.4 -mile, 90-car grain loop.
Williams said about 80% of its corn and other feed ingredients are shipped in by rail, with the rest coming in by truck. The facility has 1 million bushels of corn storage, about 4,200 tons of soybean storage and a small silo for DDGS storage. All storage units are slipform concrete silos. Inside the mill there are 26 bins, each with a capacity of about 240 tons, for ingredient storage.

“We use up to 27 million bushels of corn, and 3 to 4 million bushels of that will be local corn grown in Alabama, south Georgia and south Mississippi,” he said.

A dedicated scale house with a robotic sampling arm allows for precise measurement of incoming and outgoing ingredients and products, Torbert said.

He said the mill can mix about 15 feed formulations, using corn, soybean meal and various minerals and vitamins to produce multiple dietary preparations, ranging from baby chick feed to broiler, pullet and hen formulas.

The mill features primarily CPM milling equipment. It includes: a dual batching system with 162-tph capacity, dual 10-ton mixers, and two 20-bin microingredient systems; three pelleting lines each rated at 90 tph, three pellet mills, each with dual conditioners, horizontal coolers and crumblers.

“The really neat thing about this feed mill is that it’s basically two mills in one,” Torbert said. “There are two batching lines; two lines where product is being mixed. After that there are three pelleting lines. That’s a very unique thing about the mill.”

Wayne Farms used Todd & Sargent, Ames, Iowa, U.S., as general contractor for the project.