$10m upgrade to met animal feed demand

Darryn McDonnell, operations manager of Seales Winslow's Ashburton plant, inspects product with plant operator 
Cassie Songhurst. The plant is to be expanded and upgraded.  Photo  by Maureen Bishop
Darryn McDonnell, operations manager of Seales Winslow's Ashburton plant, inspects product with plant operator Cassie Songhurst. The plant is to be expanded and upgraded. Photo by Maureen Bishop

In a bid to meet the demand for supplementary animal feed at peak times, Seales Winslow is to spend $10 million upgrading its manufacturing facilities, including those at Winslow, near Ashburton.

Graeme Smith, general manager animal nutrition, said the upgrade was intended to remove all bottlenecks in production, and most of the investment was aimed at increasing efficiency.

One year on from becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of farm nutrient co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrients, the company was making significant investments in its service and manufacturing capabilities to better meet the needs of its customers, Mr Smith said.

''It can be a challenge to deliver on orders fast enough during peak seasons, and we are really looking to up our game to make sure we have product for all of our customers where and when they need it.''

The project is due to be completed before the coming spring season.

It will include new production plants for Ashburton and Morrinsville, which will produce textured feed - known as muesli - thereby extending the capacity to deliver a range of compounded muesli-style feeds.

There will also be improved production capacity at these two plants to improve delivery of dry pellet compound feeds. An upgrade of the Ashburton molasses block plant would increase production threefold and involve employing extra staff, Mr Smith said. Five or six extra staff will be employed during the season.

Robotic stackers will be installed at Ashburton, along with increasing the bagging capacity of products. This will speed up the process and reduce heavy-lifting hazards for employees.

The Wanganui plant, which opened last year, will get enhanced production and bagging facilities to boost capacity.

Improvements will also be made to information systems and computerised plant process control systems.

''We are also increasing the field force in sales and in the science extension team,'' Mr Smith said.

Two new field consultants in Northland and North Otago will join the current team of 12 and additional science extension officers will be appointed in both the North and South Islands.

An animal nutrition science manager had been employed, who would focus on working with the market to demonstrate the economic benefits of the strategic use of animal feed, Mr Smith said.

''The New Zealand farming market has changed, particularly in Canterbury, as farmers look for supplementary feed on top of pasture. We must grow to meet the demand.''

- by Maureen Bishop