Southern States Valdosta mill wins runner-up

Southern States' feed mill in Valdosta, Ga., named recipient of 2015 Feed Mill of the Year Runner-Up award.

The Southern States Cooperative Valdosta Feed Mill in Valdosta, Ga., has been named recipient of the 2015 Feed Mill of the Year Runner-Up award by the American Feed Industry Assn. (AFIA) and Feedstuffs.

The Valdosta mill was built in 1970 by Gold Kist Inc. Its initial purpose was to produce catfish food for neighboring Brooks County, Ga. Very little fish food was produced, however, and hog feed ended up being plant's the main product. In 1989, a pet food plant, including a warehouse, was added, and a loading dock was built.

Southern States purchased the plant from Gold Kist in October 1998.

This is a "full-line" mill producing feed for fish, waterfowl, dairy animals, horses, swine, poultry, beef cattle and exotics, including alligators. It has the capability of manufacturing feed in pellet, crumble, textured, mash and extruded form.

The plant has 33 employees working two shifts.

Interstates Control Systems (I-Control) software controls the facility's manufacturing steps, including hand-add barcoding, batching, bagging and extrusion.

The facility's customer base consists of area farmers, independent dealers as well as Southern States-owned stores. Customers are located throughout all of Florida, southeast Alabama and the southern half of Georgia and South Carolina.

The Valdosta feed mill is the only Southern States mill with an extruder. It manufactures fish food for the entire Southern States territory. In addition to serving local customers, extruded products are shipped from Valdosta to other Southern States feed mills and distribution centers.

The mill produces an estimated 65,000-75,000 tons of feed annually.

The Valdosta mill distributes feed in bag and bulk form. The current tonnage ratio is about 75% bagged and 25% bulk. Pelleted feeds make up 58% of the tonnage, while mash or textured feeds comprise 42%. Liquid supplement feed also is loaded and distributed at the plant.

Its annual feed tonnage ratios are: 43% beef, 35% equine, 13% poultry and the remainder for fish, waterfowl, dairy and swine.

The plant relies on two independent bagging lines. A robot is used to stack all but the extruded feed.

The Valdosta mill is Safe Feed/Safe Food certified and hazard analysis and critical control points certified.

The Feed Mill of the Year program recognizes overall excellence in feed manufacturing operations, emphasizing safety, quality, regulatory compliance, operating efficiencies and overall industry awareness of feed safety.

"We, at the Southern States feed mill in Valdosta and the whole Southern States Co-op, want to thank AFIA and Feedstuffs for selecting us as runner up for Feed Mill of the Year. We feel that we stand out due to our diversity in feed manufacturing, logistics, support from our operations and corporate support staff and, most of all, our local employees," Larry Tabor, mill manager at the Valdosta plant, said. n

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