Hot on the heels of headlines covering everything from changes to antimicrobial use and high mycotoxin risk, to biosecurity threats such as African Swine Fever, a wave of advancements at the feedmill level is poised to help producers and their industries address these challenges while transitioning to the future.
Feed mills and manufacturing facilities have long held a prominent role in the fabric of farming, ranching and animal production – serving as a critical central hub of activity for ensuring quality feed, healthy animals and efficient, profitable operations. Today that role is reaching an unprecedented new level of importance as a new era takes hold for agriculture in 2019.
“I’ve been involved in the feed industry for a long time and for me this is the biggest time of change and evolution yet,” says Darrell Kimmel, Manager of Country Junction Feeds. “We’re getting a lot more questions. We’re being asked to handle a lot more demands. Feed requirements are a lot more sophisticated and tailored. But at the same time, we are ready. We have never had better knowledge, resources and capabilities to help customers navigate the latest challenges and opportunities, and get the best results for their animals and operations.”
Upheavals such as the changes to antimicrobial use in medicated feed are generating lots of talk on coffee row (the U.S. is still transitioning and Canada’s new rules take effect Dec. 1, 2018). But these are things that proactive feedmills such as Country Junction Feeds addressed long ago by choosing to operate antibiotic-free facilities. The same mindset of embracing change, while proactively shaping the future, has initiated a broad array of similar approaches by the Westakiwin, Alberta-based team.
Led by top nutritionists such as Bernie Grumpelt and Dr. Nancy Fischer, the emphasis of the company has always been on utilizing the best knowledge, technology and ingredients to optimize results. Opportunities to enhance producers' success have come via continual refinements in formulations, combined with increasingly tailored strategies to address the specific needs of each customer in an evolving environment.
“Change is a constant and there is always a need to continually improve,” says Grumpelt. “But we have the expertise and tools to do that. With the pace of knowledge, technology and science-based innovation we see today, we are well equipped to provide safe high quality feed, and highly effective feeding programs for animals at all stages of life.”
Right feed, right program
The transparency demands of the marketplace continue to ramp up. At the same time, the opportunities for nutrition- based innovation have never been greater, says Fischer. “For us it always comes back to the specific customers we are supporting. Livestock producers have a lot on their plates. They have a lot of requirements and demands to deal with. They need the right feed, in the right program, to get the best results. We view ourselves as an extension of their team to help their animals and their operations achieve their full potential.”
There are more details and considerations involved today, she says. “But we also have greater capability to get it right. The payoff is that much higher because of the growing importance of feed and nutrition as factors in management, economics and marketing – everything that contributes to the ultimate success of the operations.”
The period from early November to the end of the year has become a major focal point as there are new rules that govern antimicrobial use. The move of many formerly readily accessible animal feed and over-the-counter antimicrobial medications to the veterinary prescription drug list, has made it more complicated to address specific health concerns.
At the same time, the spotlight on feed safety has intensified dramatically in the wake of threats ranging from African Swine Fever to seasonal mycotoxin challenges. Scientific advances – many of which will be showcased at upcoming industry meetings internationally – have expanded the knowledge base and toolbox for feed and nutritional innovations, including a rising emphasis on bio-based feed supplements. Additional key progress includes enhanced precision and tailored program development which also addresses welfare improvements and reduced environmental footprint.
Feedmill of the future right now
“At the center of all of this activity, what you’re seeing take shape is the feedmill of the future,” says Kimmel. “That’s something we want to be not just down the road but also right now . . . . because our customers and their industries need that right now.”
Today Country Junction Feeds facilities are fully antibiotic-free, ionophore-free and provide a full range of both conventional and certified organic feed options to an expanding customer base across Canada and the U.S.. Country Junction Feeds specializes in quality bulk and bagged feeds for beef, dairy, equine, poultry, swine, goat, lamb and more. All feeding programs are developed through a commitment to alignment with the latest advancements as well as a wealth of experience and local knowledge. In recent years the feedmill has also invested in a range of mill and production line upgrades including new state-of-the-art formulation and bagging systems.
Advanced biosecurity measures
Country Junction Feeds has also raised the bar with advanced biosecurity measures and quality control protocols, along with the adoption of new leading-edge nutritional, manufacturing and production technology. This ensures consistent top quality formulations and product, all produced and delivered quickly and efficiently.
As a member of the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada (ANAC), Country Junction Feeds follows biosecurity standards aligned with the ANAC National Biosecurity Guide. Since 2003 they have also been a certified facility under FeedAssure, which is a comprehensive feed safety management and certification program developed by ANAC for the Canadian feed industry. FeedAssure was the first feed industry HACCP program developed in North America and one of the first in the world. To maintain certification, FeedAssure members undergo annual independent audits.
“There are a lot of moving parts today when it comes to the feed business,” says Kimmel. “Ultimately, you need to be able to address all major needs, because all are critical to getting the best results and having strong market acceptance. Our aim is to keep ahead of the game with safe top quality feed that checks all the boxes.”