Fresh Texas Chicken




Feed Mill
2170 FM 108 South
Gonzales, TX  78629
(830) 437 - 2555
(830) 672 - 9100

Keith Staggs - Director of Live Operations
"As an employee of Holmes Foods, I can proudly say that Holmes Foods is committed to producing the highest quality of poultry products. This commitment is possible through our efforts of feeding highest quality of poultry feed, providing all of our poultry with state of the art housing, and following a strong animal welfare program. Holmes Foods will go into the future as a leader in the poultry industry using new and innovative management plans."

Gary Haynes - Feed Mill Manager

The Feed Mill has a direct effect on each and every chicken grown in an integrated poultry operation.  The Feed is nutritionally engineered to provide protein, minerals, vitamins, nutrients, and amino acids essential to bird health and development at various stages of growth.  Integrated poultry operations view Feed Mills as a "cost center" due to the fact feed manufacturing and delivery is only one of many costs essential to producing a marketable source of protein.

A Feed Mill can be broken down into three (3) basic departments:  nutrition & formulation, manufacturing, and delivery.

Nutrition & Formulation
Our feed is nutritionally engineered.  A nutritionist is employed as a consultant and utilizes computer programs to develop a recipe referred to as a feed formula.  The formula identifies ingredients to be utilized in specific quantities with an alpha-numeric code for identity.  Holmes Foods currently uses a three (3) formula broiler feed program.  These formulations are referred to as starter, grower and withdrawal.  Each formula provides essential ingredients to promote feathering, structural (or bone development) bird health and weight gain uniformly throughout each flock at various growth stages.

Ingredients such as corn, soybean meal, phosphorus, limestone, salt and vitamins are purchased, received, and stored at the mill.  Manufacturing and production is determined by feed required for each formulation per week.  The formulation is downloaded into a computer control system that is monitored by an operator.  When the operator prompts the control system to produce "x" number of tons of feed, the control system conveys each product one at a time into a scale, so that exact quantities of each ingredient are measured and recorded.  Upon completion of the weighing cycle the ingredients are conveyed to a mixer for homogonous mixing to prevent ingredient separation and promote proper blending.  The mixed product commonly referred to as "mash" is then conveyed to holding bins for pelleting.  The pelleting process is designed to utilize saturated steam, mixing, and mechanical force to produce pelleted feed. 

Major objectives of pelleting include:
Starch Gelatinization
Protein Plasticization
Increase Bulk Density
Product Integrity
Easily Consumed
Quickly Digested

Pelleting is a costly process and must be monitored closely as studies indicate a close relationship in pellet quality to feed conversion.

The pellets exit the mill hot and moist and must be cooled and dried to an acceptable storage temperature and moisture.  The product is then stored in bins for delivery to farms.  Feed deliveries are calculated by the number of birds per house, a  consumption table, storage tank capacities, and farm tank inventories. 

Once the required amount of feed is determined per house and per farm, the feed is dispatched for

"Feed from the feed mill is determined by placements in the field because birds are set up to eat so many pounds per bird of each type of feed and from there it is calculated into feed conversion ratio, which means the number of pounds of feed put in yields so many pounds of meat. Currently, we are feeding approximately 2100 to 2800 tons of feed per week."
-Gary Haynes

By examining each department it is easy to understand how the feed mill has a direct impact on each and every chicken grown.  And because the feed mill is approximately 65% of live operation's cost due to ingredient costs and the costs of manufacturing and delivering feed, it is imperative that the mills run at peak efficiency.  We, here at Holmes Foods, have committed ourselves to improving our feed mill operations and feed quality as it is the heart of live operations and effects each bird grown.
Gary Haynes, FEED MILL MANAGER "ItsFeed Mill Manager not the same place. 

In September of 2000 Holmes Foods purchased and incorporated the Feed Mill, formerly owned by S. R. Lester and Sons.  The owners of Holmes Foods, Inc. Pal, Ricky and Tommy Lester) had completed the incorporation of all the components of their integrated poultry operations under one company.

The original Feed Mill was constructed in the early 1950's .  As business grew and expanded the challenges grew exponentially for the Feed Mill.  In 1999 the Feed Mill installed a pellet mill  condition and began pelleting feed, which greatly enhanced the feed to conversion ratio, which immediately increased profitability.  During our first year as a part of Holmes Foods, Inc. (FY 2001) the Feed Mill produced 64,000 tons of poultry  form the integrated operation and was pressed to manufacture and deliver the feed in a timely manner.  The Holmes Foods Management Team and Owners knew changes had to be made quickly to feed our birds.  Capital projects such as additional storage, replacement of equipment, upgrading operating systems and improving safety became priority.  Another major challenge for the Feed Mill became Quality product (feed) in a timely manner.

As demand grew and new equipment replaced undersized or outdated systems the quality product challenge was met head on by training team members to understand that production without quality  was inefficient and unacceptable.  The Feed Mill now has team members who accept ownership of their responsibilities, such as plus/minus 1% variation for each ingredient of formulation, pellet quality, production quotas and the fact that we will make mistakes but [have a] 'never let it get to the bird' attitude.

In the eight years since incorporation into Holmes Foods, Inc., the Feed Mill has doubled our annual throughput of quality product (feed), manufactured and delivered in a timely, safe and efficient  manner.  You see 'its not the same place.'"