Feed company saves big with switch to rail delivery

Suwannee Valley Feeds Vice President Will Lloyd made a discovery about shipping soy hull, corn gluten and dolomite via railcar during a pandemic.

It saves time, and money.

Lloyd and his crew were transferring loads of Min-Ad, a calcium magnesium carbonate supplement that farmers add to feed for cattle and horses, from a rail car in Newberry last week.

The additive used to be delivered to the feed store in Trenton via semi trucks, but in November, the feed company tried having a shipment of soy hull delivered by train and then rigged conveyor equipment to move the load from the rail to the trucks.

Almost a year later, Lloyd said his company has continued shipping soy hull that way and added corn gluten and dolomite to the list.

According to Lloyd’s math, using rail instead of having the Min-Ad driven from the mining company in Nevada saves about $50 per ton. Each railcar holds 100 tons of Min-Ad, so that adds up to a $5,000 savings per car.

Lloyd added a professional mobile conveyor rental from Rail Barge Truck (RBT) Services, Inc. in Kentucky to streamline the process.

“We were looking at this for a while,” Lloyd said about bringing in goods by train. “We wanted to reach back into the supply chain to gain more control over the product.”

The mobile conveyor belt rental has been added to the process because it also has a vacuum device that minimizes loss of the fine powder as it transfers.

“We tried one of these mineral products one time and were not set up to handle dust,” Lloyd said. “But now the new machine controls that.”

Once the product is transferred to a truck, it travels about 12 miles to Trenton instead of the 2,000-mile haul from Winnemucca, Nevada.

Lloyd said he is keeping his eye on President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, aimed at investing $80 billion in reliable passenger and freight rail service. He’s hoping there will be incentives in the plan for rail users like himself to get their hands on equipment funds so that his company can buy the mobile conveyor he is renting. Elaborate conveyor systems can cost upwards of $400,000.

“I’ll be watching and keeping an eye on taking advantage of some capital investments,” he said.

Workers use conveyor to load feed onto truck
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