NEW Cooperative continues to expand its feed division

ROWAN — In just a few short years, what was once a cornfield has now been developed into a multi-million bushel grain elevator, agronomy warehouse and, most recently, a home to a new feed mill.

NEW Cooperative hosted an open house for the new feed mill, which made its first batch of feed on July 6, at the company’s Rowan site.

Dan Dix, New Cooperative’s general manager, spoke to customer-members and company officials during the celebration on the growth the company has seen at their Rowan location and within their feed division.

“The Rowan site was a cornfield in 2014,” said Dix. “Our board and myself pulled up to a driveway across the road and our intentions, shortly after the merger was complete with Dows and Rowan, was to look at building a new elevator and an agronomy facility and at the time, we didn’t really have a mill in our sights, but as our feed business grew, it shortly became apparent it would be a great site for a feed mill.”

Dix said they first built an office and an agronomy warehouse, as well as 1.8 million bushels of storage.

“We had a little concern the first fall we may not fill that. We feared we may have built it too big,” he said. “But we filled that and filled the old elevator in town, which we were not planning on.”

He added the grain business coming into the cooperative’s Rowan facility has only continued to grow.

After having to store corn on the ground as well as fill the old Rowan elevator, it was decided to add another 105-foot bin to provide 650,000 bushels of additional storage, which put the total to 2.4 million bushels.

But that has proven to not be enough yet.

“This past fall we filled that and still had to fill old Rowan and the last thing you want to do is, one, stop taking grain. It’s not what we do,” he said. “And two, make you wait in line. We simply try not to do that.”

To help alleviate any additional storage issues, and to also help keep corn available for the feed mill, New Cooperative is adding to the site once again. Dix said they are adding additional grain storage that will take the capacity up to four and a half million bushels, which will be enough grain to supply the new feed mill for half of a year once it is up and running at full capacity.

“Today, we are running at 25 percent capacity, working on getting the bugs out of the system,” Dix said. “Once things get rolling, we should be chewing through eight to 10 million bushels of corn a year.”

One of the new bins currently being constructed at the Rowan site is a 132-foot diameter structure that will hold 1.2 million bushels. This particular bin, Dix said, is the biggest bin that New Cooperative has built so far.

“We have come a long ways in a few short years,” he said.

The new feed mill, which has the capabilities to produce both pellet and mash feed, features 2,000 tons of load out space, 2,200 tons of ingredient storage space, state-of-the art automation, and will have a total production capacity of 500,000-plus tons of pelleted or mash feed per year with a maximum expected capacity of 800,000 tons.

The feed mill’s staff of nine employees has been training at other mills throughout New Cooperative for several months, Dix said. Ten feed trucks will be dispatched from the Rowan feed mill; four of them are independent contractors.

The concrete mill was built last May and, with cooperation by Mother Nature, they were able to have a continuous pour of concrete that lasted seven days.

It took 150 people with 75 people working on each 12-hour shift.

The new Rowan feed mill is one of six feed mills owned by New Cooperative, according to Dix. The others are located in Pomeroy, Lidderdale, Duncombe, Bode and Palmer. Those mills combined, this year, will utilize roughly the same amount of corn as a 100 million-gallon ethanol plant and, as a company, will feed about 5.6 million hogs and 6 million chickens annually.

“If you translate that into acres of corn and soybeans, it uses up to 175,000 acres of shelled corn and 240,000 acres of DDGS and 288,000 acres of soybeans,” said Dix, who added the new Rowan feed mill will be serving customers in a 50-mile radius from the site, filling a strong demand in the area.

The demand, he said, comes from existing livestock producers, new growth within the livestock industry and the lack of updated facilities.