by Danny Wade
For those who have driven through Fruitland this week, they may have noticed a spectacle rising into the air. Tyson Foods has begun work on the feed mill.
The feed mill is located next to the former Andersons Granary in Fruitland. Last spring, Tyson purchased the granary, along with granaries in Dyer and Kenton, according to Tyson Complex Manager Tom McCue. McCue will oversee all Tyson operations in Gibson County including the processing plant, hatchery and feed mill.
A process called “slipping” is being used to erect the feed mill. Special concrete forms with hydraulics are used to construct the mill. As concrete is poured into the form, the form is slowly raised. McCue said this is most important to create a seamless structure.
The original plan was to pour concrete eight days straight, 24 hours a day. McCue said the rain slowed the process a little but never stopped the project. Last week he said the project should be completely finished by the middle of this week.
Running the operation 24 hours a day and for eight to 10 days straight takes a lot of manpower. McCue said there are 60 workers who specialize in this type of concrete construction. Plus, there are safety crews, along with management staff on site.
The pour began Monday, February 18, using four concrete trucks per hour. In all, 720 truckloads of West Tennessee concrete, about 6,200 cubic yards, will be used to construct the feed mill. When finished, the feed mill will be one of the tallest, if not the tallest, buildings in Gibson County. McCue said it will be 186 feet tall, which is 35 feet taller than the granary next to the mill.
The feed mill will hold ingredients to produce chicken feed and the finished feed product. Ingredients to make the feed are 65-percent corn, 25-percent soybean meal, with the remainder being vitamins and fillers such as bakery meal.
McCue said whole kernel corn will be brought in, ground up and stored in bins. The feed is made in batches, 10 tons at a time. Every ingredient is measured out and mixed in the 10-ton mixer for three minutes. From there, the mixture is dumped into mash bins that create pellets. Conveyors move the pellets into holding bins where they can be loaded into trucks. The trucks then carry the feed pellets to the poultry houses.
This feed mill will be Tyson’s largest and capable of making 14,000 tons of pelleted feed per week. Another Tyson feed mill is also in the works and will be even larger than Gibson County’s. That mill will supply two existing Tyson plants.
McCue said the feed mill will produce different variations of feed. There are two types of feed for the breeders (egg layers) and four types for the broilers (meat chickens). The first feed is for the young chicks and as they grow, they move onto different types of feed.
Think of it as humans—we start off with milk/formula, graduate to baby food, then to more substantial baby food, then onto meat and potatoes—or fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. The same goes for chicks growing into fully-grown chickens.
For over a year now, Gibson County has been buzzing with the news of Tyson locating here. With construction going on at the hatchery offices and the hatchery, and now construction of the feed mill, the excitement keeps getting bigger and bigger. And with a 186 ft. feed mill towering into the sky, it doesn’t get much bigger.