A FAMILY-OWNED animal feed company has invested £1m in a purpose-built blending plant.

Dugdale Nutrition has built the facility alongside its existing mill and headquarters at Salthill, Clitheroe.

The plant is capable of producing more than 50,000 tonnes of blend a year and is expected to start production this month.

Matthew Dugdale, managing director, said: “At a time when the animal feed sector is consolidating, with three independent compounders being taken over in the past year alone, this is a significant investment from the shareholders of Dugdale Nutrition, showing their long-term commitment to supplying the ruminant sector.

“This is based on the belief that the future for dairy, beef and lamb is positive, and we believe that as a 100 per cent independent family-owned business, we are perfectly positioned to adapt to the changing needs of our customers in the years to come.

“This facility will allow the business to continue its recent expansion, while staying true to its roots of openness, high-quality products and aiming to deliver exceptional customer service.”

The unit includes 17 100- tonne capacity bulk raw material bays and eight bays for finished blends.

Blending will be done through a large capacity static mixer and distributed to loading points using a highthroughput elevator system.

All blending processes will be accurately controlled using the latest mill control technology.

Andy Galling, commercial manager, said there was a large and increasing demand from farmers for both proprietary and bespoke blends which the new unit would help meet. He said: “It is very much a state-of-the-art facility able to produce and handle blends with great accuracy, including the inclusion of a wide range of nutritionenhancing micro-nutrients.

“Our mill currently produces compound feeds, plus ground meals. The new blend shed will produce bespoke unground blends.

“While the majority of sales will be in bulk, the shed will also offer smaller amounts in one-tonne tote bags and the option for farmers to collect blends if they wish.

“It will also increase the capacity for further compound feed tonnage, since a proportion of meal production will transfer out of the mill into the new blend shed, freeing up mill capacity.”

An open day and official opening will be held in July.

The business began as a small feed merchant alongside a village grocery business.

It started compound feed production in 1957 and moved to its present base in 1979.

Mill capacity has steadily grown and output in 2012- 2013 hit a record 140,000 tonnes.