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November 13, 2020 | Elise Schafer
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New Feed Mill Completes Texas Poultry Complex

The Sanderson Farms’ mill in Mineola, TX, supplies 8,500 tons/week of feed

Sanderson Farms, Inc., the nation’s third-largest poultry company, recently opened a state-of-the-art 8,500 ton/week feed mill in Mineola, TX, as part of a $225 million poultry complex that includes a hatchery in Lindale, TX, and a processing plant in Tyler, TX. In total, the complex — the Laurel, MS-based company’s fourth in the state — employs 1,700 people and processes nearly 1.3 million birds/week at full capacity for retail chill pack. 

Although the feed mill is only one component of the company’s massive investment, its contributions are felt near and wide, providing feed for approximately 80 contract growers in Wood, Smith and surrounding counties.  

“When you think about how the company is processing 13 million birds a week in total, you can’t underestimate the importance of our feeding operation,” says Pic Billingsley, director of development and engineering, Sanderson Farms, Inc. “Every day, our Mineola team produces a high-quality corn and soy-based feed for our birds in the field to supply this complex.”

Thinking back to the project’s beginnings, Billingsley described the siting of the mill, the engineering, construction and the startup as smooth and methodical. The steady start was thanks to Sanderson’s experience building seven other feed mills and its long-standing partnership with builder Todd & Sargent, Inc. of Ames, IA.

Timeline and construction

In the summer of 2016, planning began for Sanderson Farms’ feed mill, which took roughly 30 months from inception through completion, according to Billingsley. The first six to nine months were spent on site selection, 18 months for construction, and the remaining on the permitting process.

Once the company selected Tyler as the location for the processing plant, they mapped out where the grower support and the nearest rail access was located. Based on those parameters, there was no shortage of options where to build the mill.  

“We looked at two counties, so we started with many different potential locations,” Billingsley begins. “Once we evaluated all those sites, Mineola stood out, but we did conceptual layouts on 21 
different feed mill sites.”

How did Mineola beat out 20 locations? It was the combination of the rail and highway system with proximity to their contract growers. The tiny town, with a population of fewer than 5,000 people, is situated on the major east-west running I-20, as well as U.S. Hwy. 80 and the newly paved loop 564. The highways, along with access to the Union Pacific’s mainline for a loop track, were an infrastructure dream for Sanderson Farms.

By the summer of 2018, Todd & Sargent crews began site work on the project. Billingsley said construction at Mineola would have gone flawlessly if it weren’t for the weather. The year 2018 was the second wettest in the Dallas-Fort-Worth metro’s history. 

“Every project has its unique challenges that you have to deal with,” he explains. “Weather was an issue on all of our construction sites for this complex. Crews would get the site ready, rains would come, and we’d have to redo everything to get ready to work again. It impacted the hatchery, the feed mill and the processing plant but we managed to hit our start date just as we had planned.”

The mill ran its first batches in December 2018 and 11 months into operation it was operating at 70% capacity, producing 6,000 tons/week. The mill will be running shifts around the clock and producing feed at max capacity by the end of the first quarter 2020. It currently employs 31 people in total, including 15 feed delivery drivers.  

Equipment highlights

Inside the new plant is top-of-the-line conveying, mixing and batching, milling and grinding, pelleting and loadout equipment. Corn and soy come in by a rail receiving system rated at 45,000 bushels/hour, automated by CPM Beta Raven of St. Charles, MO. The site features a loop track for unloading a 100-car unit train. Their bucket elevator by Hayes & Stolz Ind. Mfg. Co., Burleson, TX, drops grain into one of two slip-formed concrete corn bins with a combined storage capacity of 650,000 bushels.  

Its soft stock ingredient receiving capabilities are rated at 14,000 cubic feet/minute, and there’s storage for 3,860 tons of ingredients — including 1,500 of soy alone — in 19 steel bins. Micro ingredients are contained in a 20-bin Beta-Raven microsystem. 

Grain is ground with a 50 ton/hour hammermill by Waterloo, IA-based CPM. It comes together with the ingredients through a 160 ton/hour batching system in an 8-ton Hayes & Stolz Ind. Mfg. Co. mixer. They selected an 85 ton/hour, 600-hp CPM pelleting system with a horizontal pellet cooler and crumbler. 

Finished feed storage capacity is 3,000 tons, with 20 tons situated in bins overhead the dual loadout drives. The Mineola mill loads roughly 50 trucks of feed/day, all automated through its CPM Beta-Raven system. 

For product consistency and training purposes, Billingsley says equipment and automation are almost identical across its eight feed mills. 

“We try to maintain consistency amongst our operations to manage assets more effectively,” Billingsley says. “We want people to walk away from our plants or feed mills and know, ‘That’s a Sanderson. That’s the way they do things.’ We can easily transfer employees when they know how to operate equipment from location to location. It’s also a time saver from a maintenance perspective.”

Building on Sanderson’s strategy of consistency, Billingsley said the company had selected Todd & Sargent, Inc. to construct every one of its feed mills for nearly 30 years. 

“They’re a good company and they do things the right way by providing a good quality product at completion,” Billingsley said. “It became obvious to us back when we did our first project with Todd & Sargent that the cultures of our companies are very similar.” ■

At-A-Glance: Sanderson Farms

Headquarters: Laurel, MS

Year Established: 1947

Number of Employees: 17,000

U.S. Footprint: Operations across Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas

Processing Plants: 12

Further Processing: 1

Feed Facilities: 9

Hatcheries: 1

U.S. Ranking: Third largest poultry company

Website: sandersonfarms.com

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