Madison company has worldwide impact

John Oncken
Owner Tim Jacobson is proud of his new construction from where outgoing products are stored and shipped.

When I was a youngster growing up on a dairy farm every meal was cooked and prepared by my mother (with help from my sister) and usually contained some meat, potatoes and vegetables and was eaten at the kitchen table.  

Times changed over the years and nowadays families often eat at different times, at different places and eat different things. The family may eat at a fast food place and order a variety of foods: included in the order may include a variety of plain hamburgers, maybe a double cheeseburger, all with fries. And, of course, milk shakes and soft drinks. Why that selection? Because it all tastes so good, and we’ve been eating this combination for years – ever since fast food appeared on the scene. 

Or we order an organic, vegetarian stir-fry meal with lemon cake and thick frosting for dessert and rice milk to drink. Why? Because we read somewhere that organic vegetables are good for us and that we might live happier and longer with nondairy milk.

But, do we consider the calories involved? Maybe, but only in general terms. What about the dry matter, fiber, vitamins, salt, potassium, zinc and copper? We probably never ask or even think about such things nowadays even though most restaurants have posters listing the contents of much of their menu. 

Livestock are nutrition-balanced

Not true for our farm livestock. Chances are the livestock – poultry, pigs, goats, sheep or beef and dairy animals – are eating a more balanced and nutritious diet than are the people who eat the milk, eggs and meat produced by those farm animals. Think about it: that chicken that produced the “wings,” the beef that gave you the T-bone and the cow that produced the milk and meat for your hamburger were all eating very defined diets.

The company truck tells part of the story.

Don’t forget the manure used to raise your organic vegetables was probably eating a diet nutritionally balanced to include dozens of factors from vitamin A to zinc. Not only does that animal diet include the best possible combination of ingredients for health and production, it was put together by a professional with years of education and experience

A special ration

The hundreds of animal nutritionists who work with Wisconsin farmers provide rations to fit each farm situation —  hay and silage quality, feed access and availability, livestock numbers and feeding systems and costs. The farmer can then buy the feed at a feed mill, which will deliver the animal feed in a big truck for the farmer to mix in his total mixed ration (TMR) equipment. 

One of three production lines blending products.

The big poultry, swine and beef operations do the same thing. A nutritionist plans the needs and wants in terms of needs in the feed the animals will eat and orders the vitamins, minerals and micro nutrients needed to make the final feed the animals will eat.

Where does the nutritionist, feed provider or farmer get those feed ingredients? They probably don’t keep a bag of calcium, a package of vitamin D or any of the micro ingredients on the back porch or out in a shed.

For over 60 years

But Tier 1 Nutritionals located on a dead end street in east Madison does and has done so for over 60 years. As explained by owner Tim Jacobson “Tier 1 Nutritionals is a leading provider of contract manufacturing services for commercial direct-fed microbial feed supplements, feed enzymes, dry granular silage inoculates and other high value, non-medicated feed additives." 

Lisa Turner Gundlach, office manager and accountant has been with the company for over 40 years.

“We provide contract services to leading feed ingredient manufacturers/marketers and complete feed manufacturers throughout the U.S. and the EU with our products being used to fortify livestock and poultry feed throughout North America, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America,” Jacobson added. 

Was T.C. Products

The company was formed in 1957 as T.C. Products Company as a  manufacturer of milk replacers and vitamin and mineral premixes. The name was changed to Tier 1 Nutritionals in 2015 to better meet the changing farming and marketing scene and the company exited the milk replacer and farm delivery known as Country Mix business in 2012.

The company operates out of the original building built in 1983 and a new 24,000-square foot addition just completed that serves as a loading dock, a shipping/receiving office, men's and women's lockers and storage areas for outgoing shipments. 

There are three production lines of various sizes where products are mixed and blended. Interestingly, Jacobson says “the largest cost item in our recent renovation was the dust collection/air quality management system. Air from the production area is moved through 24 inch pipes to a large capacity air filtration system located in an new building next to the 105-foot high ingredient tower. This system creates a cleaner and safer work environment and minimizes the potential of airborne contamination of commercial products.”  

A 24-inch exhaust pipe moves air to the filtration system.

From a humble beginning as a manufacturer of calf milk replacer in 1957 to local farmers to today’s worldwide impact, the company has seen many changes in animal nutrition, farming and the rules and regulation affecting those industries. Jacobson points out that Tier 1 Nutritionals is FDA licensed and HACCP and Safe Feed/Safe Food certified  and are audited annually by the Feed/Food Safety  program. 

Some history

Tim Jacobson joined T.C. Products in 2007 and became majority owner in 2012. He graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in Ag Economics and spent over 20 years working in the vitamin sector of the feed, human nutrition and personal care industries.  

The new 24,000-square foot building addition. In the foreground is one of two specialized water retention ponds the company installed to allow runoff to slowly seep into the soil.

When H.H. Thomsen, a salt salesman, and R.M. Comstock, a feed mill operator , founded their company in 1957, the state’s livestock farming was a whole different world from today. Dairy farms were small (18 cows) and operated with family labor. Chickens were still raised on most farms, and pig farming was a major enterprise. There were no mega poultry, swine and dairy operations.

There was a feed mill (or maybe two) in each small town. Livestock was fed more or less by “guess and by golly.” Milk production on Wisconsin’s 95,000 dairy farms averaged about 8,000 pounds per cow, and automation had not yet arrived on livestock farms. Dairy goats were unknown.

A long time business

Six decades is a long time for an agricultural company to prosper and stay in business.  Tier 1 Nutritionals attributes its success to employee longevity and production skills. A strong commitment to consistently providing customers with safe, high quality functional animal feed additives, high end probiotic and other  products is our company policy, Jacobson says. 

Production materials are stored in big totes.

At one time this company was mostly dairy-based, today poultry is their top market. “No we’re not well-known the general public,” Jacobson says. “We’re in the deep background but extremely important to the livestock industry. We’ll continue to grow with the changing agricultural economy."

John F. Oncken is owner of Oncken Communications,  He can be reached at 608-572-0747 or e-mail him at