MainFeeds is a division of Mainland Poultry Limited – a Dunedin-based company in New Zealand which, in addition to the feed business, also markets eggs under Zeagold Foods.
MainFeeds specialises in the formulation and manufacture of non-ruminant feeds for layers, broilers, pigs, rabbits and dogs.
The company has national production capability, with three mills, in the following areas - Otago, Auckland and the Manawatu. Together, they produce about 140,000 tonnes of feed annually – as both bulk and bagged product.
MainFeeds recently acquired the NRM Levin (Manawatu) and Wiri (Auckland) mills. Wiri is one of the most modern feed mills in Australasia, operating with state-of-the-art European technology.
The MainFeeds’ story started in World War II 1942, when 51 Auckland poultry farmers (running 25,000 birds) pooled resources to develop their own integrated feed-milling feed operation and egg marketing/distribution business. Known collectively as Poultrymen’s Co-operative Society Limited (PCL), its primary objective was to improve the position of poultry farmers by marketing eggs more efficiently and cutting out middlemen.
It has been more than 60 years since the co-operative built the “mill on the hill” (Massey), which has stood as a landmark on the Waitakere foothills ever since.
The importance of innovation
Over its long history, PCL has earned a reputation for being innovative in the face of adversity.
During a post-war wheat shortage, the co-operative began investigating alternative feed ingredients, such as lucerne meal. Gradually, PCL developed a range of high-energy feeds, which were ultimately endorsed by the Department of Agriculture and the Poultry Board.
However, these high-energy feeds were often “mashes” and the old hammer mills were no longer suitable for production. PCL staff developed and patented a machine to crack wheat to the necessary consistency. This resulted in an increase in feed sales, which – while positive – was problematic, coming at a time of limited supply.
Sales continued to rise dramatically during the 1950s, as the company instigated several innovations based on overseas developments. Among the innovations was the move to become the first feed manufacturer to supply mash in multi-wall bags. It was yet another signal that PCL was at the forefront of the industry.
Specialist feeds introduced
By 1962, PCL introduced an effective quality control system and the co-operative was including maize in its rations. The following year, pelleting equipment was installed at the Massey plant and the company began producing specialised broiler, pig and dairy feed.
During the 1970s, the co-operative’s pre-mix feeds became the product of choice.
Recognising the need for different nutritional requirements for different ages and types of birds had a major, positive impact on the business.
A fire in 1970 reduced PCL’s milling capacity in Auckland by two thirds,but the company’s other mills increased output and – alongside the help of other manufacturers – the co-operative was able to maintain supply to its customers.
For the past 30 years, PCL has been a major player in the industry. The co-operative’s success was due to the reduced number and increased size of New Zealand’s poultry farms and the consequent move away from bagged feed to bulk supply. Technical expertise, quality assessment and raw materials/ ration control were also major influences.
PCL evolves to become MainFeeds
Since the purchase of PCL Feeds by Mainland Poultry Limited in 2001, the non-ruminant business became Mainland Feeds. The company has moved from strength to strength.