Danny Tindell – Dothan Eagle


Via – Dothan Eagle – http://bit.ly/2ihlNAm

NEWTON – It takes a lot to feed more than 2.5 million chickens per week.

Three busy feed mills have been providing feed for three local Wayne Farms poultry processing plants, sending trucks and trains scurrying from Defuniak Springs, Fla., to Enterprise to Troy. Recently, since Wayne Farms relocated and expanded its Dothan plant to process 1.3 million chickens per week alone, there seemed to be a better way.

Tuesday, Wayne Farms unveiled a massive feed mill in Newton that will serve as a central location to serve Wayne Farms’ three area processing plants. When the new mill is entirely online, it will be one of the largest in the United States.

 The mill will be able to send 180-200 loads per day along rail or truck to feed chicks, pullets, breeders and broilers, many of which will eventually wind up on Wiregrass tables. It represents a $55 million investment and will directly result in 36 jobs on site.

Executives on hand for the official unveiling Tuesday said the mill will feed chickens at 165 Wiregrass poultry houses, some of which already exist and some of which will be built to keep up with the increase in production locally. Wayne Farms hopes to rely on local farmers for as much as 5 million bushels of corn, which will be used to make much of the feed. Soybeans and grain will also be used. Dale County Commission Chairman Mark Blankenship cited other ancillary benefits including additional electric and water revenue and the expansion of Dale County Road 18, necessary to handle the increased traffic to and from the mill.

“This could be one of the biggest boosts for Dale County since Fort Rucker,” Blankenship said.

The mill is expected to begin production next week. It sits on 165 acres and includes multiple silos that stand 232 feet high and storage areas that can store up to 6,000 tons of feed. A newly constructed 1.4-mile train track loop will allow up to 90 cars to be filled at the mill before hooking back on to the CSX tracks in Newton.

“This is a big deal,” Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture John McMillan said. “All of us know how big poultry is in this state, from bottom to top.”

The feed mill is the final piece of the Wayne Farms Wiregrass expansion. The Dothan plant has doubled production from 650,000 chickens processed per week to 1.3 million and will soon add a refrigerated storage component. Other production plants are already operative in Enterprise and Union Springs.

Wayne Farms COO Clint Rivers estimated the company employs 3,000 from the Union Springs facility south.

“It was an easy decision to expand in the Wiregrass,” Rivers said.

Wayne Farms’ three existing area feed mills will phase out as production ramps up at the new site.