Written by John Lindt
A tragic mixing error at Western Milling led to the death of scores of horses in 2015. Monensin, a livestock drug fed to cattle to improve digestion, was mistakenly added to horse feed made at the same manufacturing facility in Goshen. Monensin can be fatal to horses.
In a settlement with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFS) announced last May, Western Milling discontinued the manufacturing of horse and other specialty feeds at the Goshen mill and paid a $526,500 fine.
They were also required to implement $200,000 of new equipment in the Goshen facility to ensure that feed safety measures over and above industry standards will be met, according to a CDFA news release.
After the accident, Western Milling got out of the horse feed business for about a year, and has been contracting-out the manufacture of the feed since.
Now with lessons learned, Western Milling President Kevin Kruse said they are currently building a new $5.5 million “dedicated” horse feed mill located east of their cattle feed mill, on the other side of the tracks in Goshen.
The new mill ”should be open by the end of the first quarter of 2018,” said Kruse. It will have a capacity to make about 300 tons a day.
To insure quality, safety and sustainability Kruse plans to seek SQF (Safe Quality Food) certification, a world-recognized, independent food-safety auditor based in Virginia.
It’s not unusual for a feed mill supplying different animals to be separated. Consider Foster Farms in Tulare County, which recently built a new $15.8 million organic poultry feed complex apart from its conventional mill to insure best practices.
With about one million horses in the Western US, Western Milling sees an equine opportunity to not only get its customers back, but also gain new health-minded devotees, Kruse said. “We distribute to most of those states,” he added.
Statistics suggest the horse industry has a more-than-$100 billion economic impact across the US. There are some 2 million horse-owners in the US, with many being female.
In recent years, Western Milling has branched out to supply feed for free-range chickens, and a new division — Perfection Pet Food — for household pets beyond its staple cattle/dairy feed business.