ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — Four U.S. feed manufacturers were recognized as category winners for the 2018 Feed Facility of the Year program by the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and Feedstuffs.

Famo Feeds of Freeport, Minnesota, U.S., was named the winner of the commercial dry livestock feed plant category; Koch Foods of Morton, Mississippi, U.S., won the integrator category; Quality Liquid Feeds of Clovis, New Mexico, U.S., was the winner of the liquid feed plant category; and Trouw Nutrition of Highland, Illinois, U.S., won the premix manufacturing plant category.

“Each of these facilities has shown it is very deserving of being considered a top plant in its respective category in the 2018 Feed Facility of the Year program,” said Gary Huddleston, director of feed manufacturing and regulatory affairs at the AFIA. “After months of thoroughly reviewing applications and touring facilities to determine these winners, AFIA is thrilled to announce them, and we look forward to naming the overall winner (soon) at the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE). We hope all applicants receive the value the benchmarking program tool provides in helping them on their journey toward continuous improvement.”

The FFY award program is recognized as a first-class benchmarking program for the animal food industry. It compares and recognizes top-performing facilities in four categories: commercial dry livestock, integrator, liquid feed and premix; from those, an overall winner is selected to receive the FFY award.

The overall FFY winner will be announced Feb. 13 during AFIA’s Feed Production Education Program, which will be held as part of IPPE, happening Feb. 12-14 in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.

Famo Feeds has served livestock producers in the Midwest since 1903. It is an animal nutrition business that manufactures and markets a full line of livestock and poultry feeds.

In the last few years, Famo Feeds has made a number of improvements and upgrades to the plant, including adding a new automation system, rebuilding a pellet mill and mixer and upgrading a boiler. The new Repete FLX automation system has allowed Famo Feeds to increase its production efficiency while at the same time improving its working environment.

Tom Beste, vice-president of Famo Feeds, said he has seen almost a 10% improvement in capacity while making individuals’ jobs easier.

“Every day, we build upon Famo Feed’s commitment to creating quality nutritional solutions for livestock and poultry,” Beste said.

Koch Foods’ Morton plant produces more than 700,000 tons of poultry feed each year. The plant has to be extra careful with good housekeeping practices and biosecurity measures, as it is located in the Mississippi Flyway, where wild birds that could be infected with avian influenza spend their winters.

To address this issue, the plant added a biosecurity spray station in the fall of 2015. The station operates through one lane, with trucks waiting to enter/exit through the vertical spray arms and tire baths. Another lane has an overhead barrier to prevent anything taller than a van from entering without being sprayed. All mill employees go through this tire bath when entering and leaving the facility.

“The stakes are just too high for us not to be protected from disease,” said Frank Garczynski, feed mill manager.

Garczynski noted that the Morton mill has not had a lost-time accident in four years of heavy production. The mill is considered in the top 5% of individual mill capacities worldwide, and it is all produced in just five days a week.

Quality Liquid Feeds (QLF) is a full-line liquid feed and cooked low-moisture block organization that serves the animal feeding industry nationwide.

Every angle of the Clovis plant is designed to grow. A new elevator leg on the company’s dry system is the latest addition and has helped speed up operations and minimize bottlenecks. The Clovis plant also just completed installation of a new plant control system. In addition, the facility has three separate mix lines that are kept totally separate in order to prevent any potential contamination.

“QLF is always looking for ways to improve our feed and help the consumer,” said Jason Brawley, QLF plant manager.

Trouw Nutrition’s Highland plant has been manufacturing vitamin, mineral and base premixes for companion animals for more than 35 years.

The Highland plant uses more than 500 distinct ingredients to custom formulate more than 550 different companion animal formulas. The plant produces premixes that range from fine-powdered products to dry whole fruit trail mix-type products to peas, carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and more. The plant has 29 full-time employees.

“The pet food industry is a very confidential business and very competitive,” said Monty Barker, plant manager. “Required are a lot more layers of validating and testing. We have to make it baby food safe.”

 AFIA and Feedstuffs have conducted the FFY and its predecessor program since 1985, recognizing 71 total companies for outstanding performance in animal food manufacturing.