Farmers’ Grain & Feed unveils new state-of-the-art feed mill
ALLENTON, WI – As farms get larger and more efficient the companies that serve them must do the same.
The owners and operators of Farmers’ Grain and Feed, a division of West Bend Holdings and a leading Wisconsin feed producer hosted an open house on Nov. 13, 2021, for its new state-of-the-art feed mill located at the corner of State Highways 175 and 33 just west of Allenton.
The grand opening event included guided tours of the brand new facility with explanations of each aspect of the new business by those who operate the facility on a daily basis.
“We designed our new mill for consistency and efficiency, using the latest technology and automation,” said Tim Kreilkamp, president of Farmers’ Grain & Feed. “With this new operation, we can now serve more customers, and we can serve more consistent higher quality feed to customers as well. That means healthier cattle and better business for our customers.”
The new feed mill is continuing existing operations, which include dairy nutrition consulting, as well as grinding, rolling, roasting, and developing custom feed mixes for farmers.
The company also sells small farming supplies and animal health products.
“Even though this new mill is a similar size to our current one, because of the automated features and optimized design, we will be able to do about double the production,” Kreilkamp notes.
The company’s mill in downtown Allenton ceased operations on Friday, Nov. 12. The County W facility will still be viable, according to Kreilkamp.
He says, “We will use it for grain storage and some drying but most activities will be out here and all the production will be at this facility. We will also use it for seed storage (the company is a Dairyland seed dealer) and soybeans will be roasted there.”
Kreilkamp says this new mill has been more than three years in the making. It took a year to design it and another 24 months to build it.
In February, 2019, the company suffered a drier fire. The same year in October, construction began on this facility.
Wisconsin Feedmill Builders designed the entire system specifically to be safe and efficient using state-of-the-art equipment, monitors and systems.
“In 2018 discussion started on how to improve the current mill that is 108 years old, so that we could still provide the highest quality of feed to our customers in a timely manner," Kreilkamp said. "Management and an advisory board concluded an investment in the building of a new feed mill was the best option. With new structures come increased safety, efficiency, and capacity along with some very exciting new options for all our customers.”
The day's tour began in the huge warehouse that boasts a 500 pallet capacity and bar codes that use Warehouse Management Software to store all information about each pallet’s material, quality and location.
Next was a stop to visit the liquid tank room that features 23,000 gallons of tank capacity for products such as molasses, fat and vegetable oil. All liquid is weighted out in scales, pumped to the mixers then the lines are blown out with air to ensure all product goes to the mix. The heated room eliminates problems pumping and mixing with cold liquid.
Glenn Schellinger, manager at Farmers’ Grain and Feed, said safety throughout facility is top notch.
"One of the ways to prevent the chance of fire or dust explosions is to have split basements,” Schellinger said. “ We put the legs outside to control dust better and avoid the possibility of a heat induced explosion from a hot bearing.”
The facility includes a 162-foot leg tower (elevator). It would be 182 feet if you count the pit below ground, he notes.
With the new system they are able to double check weights when a truck leaves and make a final check on quality.
The Harvestore silo holds cotton seed which can present challenges for moving and adding to a mix
Schellinger grew up on a 60-cow dairy near where the new facility is located. He started his career with Farmers Grain and Feed in 1987.
“The feed business is a fascinating and complex business because each dairy operation has its own unique business model," Schellinger said.
He is excited about the new facility and says, “This is a complete new operation for us.
Schellinger describes some of the new unique features including the new Pellet mill.
“Making pellets is an art form,” he says. “We begin by making a mash feed and then condition it and make pellets.”
Schellinger says the business is already good at providing the right nutrition for the animals but strives to serve customers who want to use their own grain or add their own flavoring.
“The unique thing about this new system is that farmers who use pellets in their robotic milking systems can now use their own grain in the pellet if they so choose,” he said, adding that a pipe leads right from the storage facility so no trucking is involved.
Visitors also viewed the ingredient mixing area that features 54 bins located overhead for storing. The system has a 4 million pound product capacity. Each bin holds 16-80 tons and the product is conveyed from bins to seven different scales. After weighing, the product is gravity-fed to the mixers.
Forty micro bins are used for measuring small quantities of ingredients before sending them to the mixer. These include vitamin and trace mineral mixes, humates, bentonite and yeast.
In another area, six 2000 pound sacks are used for measuring ingredients before sending them to the mixer. These include palm fats, urea, vitamin and mineral mixers.
“These materials used to be measured and added manually to each mix. The micro bins and tote sacks eliminate manually handling hundreds of 50 pound bags each day,” Schellinger pointed out.
This new facility provides the latest technologies in order to meet customer demands regarding feed digestibility and maximizing feed efficiency. A hammer mill grinder and a triple pair of 12-inch by 36-inch roller grinders are used to process grains into feed suitable for those using a TMR or those who top dress feed.
Of the construction, Kreilkamp says, “One of the things we focused on is we wanted to stay as Wisconsin as we could. The computer control company we worked with is located in Sussex but sells this system all over the world. We expect potential buyers for their equipment will come to our facility in Allenton to see how it works.”
As far as grain storage goes, in total the company has 1.8 million bushel of storage for corn and beans combined on both sites with one million bushel storage on this new site.
“Keeping beans out in Allenton is more efficient,” said Kreilkamp. “All we are doing here is operating a great big vending machine – dispensing ingredients to come up with a final product according to a recipe.”
Some compare it to mixing cookie dough with all the ingredients measured to create a consistent, perfect product. Others say it’s like making a casserole with all the ingredients for a healthy meal included in one dish including spices to make it taste good.
The company has on staff three nutritionists, 17 full time and 3-4 part time workers. The company also works with with over a dozen independent nutritionists.
Company officials contend that their goal is to concentrate on buying quality ingredients – not always the cheapest ones.
History of Farmers' Implement
Farmers’ Implement opened on Main Street in Allenton, Wis., in 1913 as a farmers’ cooperative originally called Farmers Mercantile of Allenton and Kohlsville. The company sold the store in Kohlsville in 1946, and two years later renamed the company Farmers, Inc. It was then divided into General Store, Elevator, and Implement divisions.
In 1949, Farmers, Inc. relocated the implement division to Railroad Street in Allenton, where it still operates. In 2006, another period of restructuring created the present-day Farmers’ Implement and Farmers’ Grain & Feed, LLC, organizations. In 2007, a second Farmers’ Implement store was launched in Columbus, Wisconsin.