On Farm Feed Mill

Farm: Jones Family Farm
Operator: Jeremiah Jones
Production: Feed, Vegetables, Livestock
Certifications: Naturally Grown
Location: Burgaw, Pender County, NC
“Exciting does not even begin to describe how we feel about farming. The idea of a sustainable farm, providing a natural product that solely comes from the land, providing a bright future in agriculture for all our children if they so choose, and connecting the consumer to the farmer who grew their food is our mission.” – Jeremiah Jones

The Jones focus their operation on livestock, raising a diversity of animal products like free range broiler chickens, eggs, pastured pork, grass-fed beef, and dairy goats. The livestock operation has allowed their full time farming business to be very successful, by providing natural, high quality meats to consumers in Pender County and the Wilmington area.
Although the livestock operation has allowed them to stay afloat as a full time, small family farm, the cost of feed, their largest expense, keeps them from being able to grow and invest in their business.

Jones Family Farm was awarded a TCRF grant in 2011 to initiate a project that would allow them to create an on-farm feed mill system. With this system, they intend to grow their own grains, process it, and mix custom feeds based on specific nutritional needs. The on-farm feed production increases sustainability on several levels: it cuts fuel costs on trucking in feed, eliminates the need for feed bag waste, and allows them to mix custom feeds that are the most efficient for the season and age of the animal. It also makes it possible to produce feeds with non-GMO grain and a mix of herbal supplements that reduce or eliminate the need for antibiotics, hormonal injection, or any other kind of artificial medicines.

The TCRF grant specifically funds the purchase of a new seed press, a feed grinder and mixer, grain storage bins, and a loading auger. The seed press will allow the Jones’ to make protein cakes out of their grain, making it easier to feed to the livestock. (As a byproduct, the extruder creates oil which could possibly be used as a biodiesel to run the generator for the feed mill machinery.) The other tools are to make it possible to process and store the grain.

“Eventually, we feel that with the feed mill in place, growing our own non-gmo grains, the ability to save seed, and the natural fertilization placement we receive from our intensive management program, we can ultimately decrease our feed expense to just the cost of fuel. The savings could one day be one of our children’s salaries for keeping them here on the farm.”- Jeremiah

Making feed on the farm with their own grain is allowing the Jones family to reduce their greatest expense for their livestock operation. They expect to be saving money in feed cost and re-investing it into the business by buying more livestock and expanding the operation. They hope that they can eventually pay some of their children a salary for taking care of the farm. The Jones family also hopes that the feed system can be a model for other farmers to see how increasing sustainability on the farm will actually save them money in their operations. Jones also believes that the system can show farmers the importance of providing customized mixes for specific nutritional needs and how the on-farm feed mill can give farmers the ability to make these feeds themselves instead of having to pay extra for a manufactured supplemental feed mix.