DUGDALE Nutrition, the Lancashire-based farm animal feed company, has officially opened its new £1m feed blending unit.

The plant can produce more than 50,000 tonnes of blends per year, and stands alongside the company’s existing mill and headquarters at Salthill, Clitheroe.

It includes 16 100-tonne capacity bulk raw material bays, one large bay for bagged “hand tip” raw materials, a 40-tonne capacity molasses tank and eight bays for finished feeds.

Its height ensures all delivery vehicles can discharge directly into raw material bays, keeping unloading times to a minimum.

Blends are processed through a 24 cubic metre capacity Hi-Spec static mixer and distributed to loading points via a high throughput elevator system.

Up to ten tonnes of dry raw materials at a time can be accurately mixed and molasses added when required.

Finished blends can be stored in one of eight finished product bays or loaded directly onto the delivery vehicle. All products are weighed over a pit-mounted weighbridge within the blend unit. All blending processes are accurately controlled using the latest DSL Systems mill control technology.

Two fully-trained personnel operate the unit on a twoshift system to ensure all blends are made on time. The lead operator has more than 20 years’ feed blending experience.

The unit was commissioned in April and has since manufactured more than 4,500 tonnes of bulk blends.

At the official opening, Matt Dugdale, managing director, told visitors that Dugdale Nutrition remained a fiercely independent family owned firm.

As the sixth family member to lead the company in its 164-year history, Mr Dugdale said: “We remain passionate about farming and are committed to its future. We also have huge confidence in the future of milk, lamb and beef production in the UK. The new blend shed is part of the long-term commitment by the company to supplying the ruminant sector.”

From annual sales of 30,000 tonnes/year following the foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001, the business currently outputs 140,000 tonnes a year.

Mr Dugdale said: “There has been a £5.5m capital investment plan implanted over the past decade, culminating in the new blend plant opening. This is providing job security and a positive future to the workforce of around 70 people largely drawn from the local farming and rural community.”

The new unit aims to meet the current and future needs of ruminant livestock farmers while easing pressure on the existing mill. It also allows the company to supply a full complement of feed products to customers in one wagon.

Adam Collantine, company ruminant consultant, said the blends could be tailormade to suit each customer’s requirements and re-formulated as often as necessary.

He added: “All of the blends manufactured are extremely accurate and have full traceability. The computer software monitors how much of each raw material is added to the blend, against how much the formula requires. This ensures a very high level of accuracy.”

  • Adam Henson, farmer and BBC Countryfile presenter, was guest speaker at the official opening. He said the future of farming was very much about sustainability, social responsibility and relationships.

“It is about our responsibility to our families, so we have a good work and life balance, so we hold that family unit together,” he said.

“It is about our responsibility to our staff, so we recruit good staff, train them and retain them. We must invest in good staff.

“It is about relationships.

My dad used to work on a handshake and had a good, solid working relationship with his suppliers.

“When I came out of college, life was fast and we were rushing around with everyone trying to make a quick buck.

“We had forgotten about the value of food and, perhaps, a little of the value of life. We were undercutting one another all the time and changing our suppliers all the time.

“That was tiring and hard work, but I think more recently, the recession has taken us back a step in time and now businesses are thinking about long-term relationships. It is about the next five to ten years, not next month, and I think that is absolutely essential.”