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Feed company expands;Supplements shipped to western Kansas

Staff writer

Countryside Feed LLC at Hillsboro was established to provide feed for area dairies, which numbered in the 30s. As dairies began to go out of business, the company’s business declined, so it had to find new customers.

Some of those new customers were large 2000-head dairies in western Kansas. Since 2004, the company has provided pre-mixes of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients for them to add to grain purchased from western farmers.

Countryside Feed developed a relationship with Livestock Services, Inc. to produce feed for contracted hog producers. Thirty-five percent of the feed it produces goes to hogs.

“We own hogs,” quality management supervisor Tim Diener said. “We feed them. The combination of pigs and dairy provides a steady business year-round. Our success is due to the relationships our salespeople have with area farmers and nutritionists at big dairies.”

Seventy-five percent of the bagged feed produced at the plant is custom-made for individual farmers and ranchers in consultation with a nutritionist and sales representatives. The remainder is bagged as registered Purina feed.

Bagged feed goes to beef cattle, dairy, sheep, goats, rabbits, horses, and poultry for egg production.

The busiest months are November through February. The mill has 33 employees and operates around the clock, producing an average of 400 tons a day. Three employees work at a leased feed mill in Moundridge, which produces hog feed.

Years ago, every town in Marion County had a grain elevator, and every elevator had a mill to provide local farmers with ground feed for their livestock.

As time went on, these feed mills became worn.

That was the case in the mid-1990s, when Cooperative Grain and Supply’s mill was wearing out and needed to be replaced.

It would have been a major expense, so the co-op contacted other co-ops in the central Kansas region about joining to build a mill.

Interest in the proposed project grew over a couple of years, and in 1998, construction began east of Hillsboro.

Cooperative partners with CG&S included Walton, Halstead, Hope, Andale, and Land O’Lakes. The company was named Countryside Feed LLC.

Other mergers have occurred since 2003. Mid-Kansas Coop and Agri-Trails Co-op have joined, expanding member ownership and area served.

CG&S and MKC are the largest shareholders.

The longest tenured employees are Luke Lindsay, operations manager; Kyle Cederberg, nutritionist; and DeLayne Herbel, accountant.

Diener came on board as quality management supervisor in 2012 to ensure compliance with a tripling of regulations under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011. Tom Stoppel was hired four years ago to assist him.

A veterinary feed directive took effect in January 2017, requiring the company to upgrade its software to record agreements between individual customers and veterinarians in regards to use of certain antibiotics in feed.

The company has concerns about the upcoming corn crop. It tests for aflatoxins in corn, which could be more prevalent than usual this year because of drought. The plant may have to go outside the area to get corn.

“There will be corn available,” Diener said. “It just won’t be as handy.”

Countryside Feed participates in Food for Kids, a program in which beef sticks and shelf stable milk are provided to schools and churches for distribution. It also supports summer lunches for kids.

Last modified Aug. 15, 2018

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