Hamilton the community


— Photo by Rebecca Mines
Alice Heinrichs, Van Diest Medical Center Chief Financial Officer and Lisa Ridge, VDMC Chief Executive Officer, look over a bag of pellet feed at Ag Partners LLC. The two travelled to Ellsworth with Supervisor Rick Yoiung to learn about businesses in other parts of Hamilton County.

“Hamilton The Community,” knowing your neighbors. This is what Rick Young, Hamilton County supervisor and Hamilton Hometowns board chairman, will work to do over the coming months. He will escort a few individuals “out of their own community silo” and take them to another Hamilton County community.

The first individuals were from the Van Diest Medical Center in Webster City, Lisa Ridge, Chief Executive Officer and Alice A. Heinrichs, Chief Financial Officer. Last Wednesday they journeyed with Rick to the eastern edge of the county near Ellsworth. What they learned from Doug Pittman, Jewell resident and plant manager at Ag Partners LLC and Kim J. Reis, who lives south of Webster City and is owner of the Ellsworth Turkey LLC one of the eleven independent turkey farmers was impressive.

In our very own Hamilton County backyard there are two thriving businesses. Doug gave us the lowdown on the feed mill operation on Vail Avenue near Ellsworth. It is owned by 11 independent turkey growers within about 15 miles of the mill and Cargill/Albert City Elevator Cooperative (Alececo) based out of Albert City, Iowa.

The original operation started in the 1960’s with one small feed mill. In 1998 it was purchased by its present owners. This was when Doug joined the company. He played a large part in the designing of the plant which has gone from making 65 thousand tons of feed annually, using one mill in 1998, to today’s 725 thousand tons of pelleted feed annually using two newer mills.

They employ 50 people whose jobs not only include making the pelleted feed and maintaining the plant, but also delivering it to their 11 independent turkey farm owners and other customers. They only service turkey and swine operations.

To make all this pelleted feed, the main ingredients, corn and soybean ratios, are ground and made into a mash which are then run through rollers and pelletizing dies. Pellets are about 97% of their product with 3% being dry ground feed.

In Hamilton County last year they needed a lot of feed produced! According to Kim, 3.2 million turkeys were raised in our county last year. All those turkeys alone required 3.2 million bushels of corn. It is turned into 9 different pelleted feed formula rations fed to the turkeys over their 18 week lifespan to get them to a 42-44 pound finished weight. These turkeys are not destined for your Thanksgiving dinner table.

Instead, 7 of the 11 independent growers along with up to 20 turkey growers in southeastern Iowa own the West Liberty Foods plant where the turkeys are processed and the sliced product is sold to Subway and many retail outlets throughout the United States and beyond.

So, the next time you order a turkey sub at Subway, you are helping support the 50 employees at the Ellsworth location of Ag Partners and about 80 people at the 11 turkey farm operations, which include the owners, their wives, sons, daughters, and their employees. Who would have known?

Lisa and Alice didn’t. Even though Doug and Kim were pretty familiar with the services the Van Diest Medical Center offered, especially through the Jewell satellite clinic. Lisa brought them up-to-date on some of the newest services which have been recently added. The four discussed the medical services and ways they could work together to meet the wants and needs of the companies and their employees.

Feed mills, turkey growers, and medical services who knew they would end up having things in common.

The first visit of many to come, we will keep working to know your neighbors in “Hamilton, The Community.” For information about the feed mill go to; https://www.agpartners.com/. For more information about Van Diest Medical Center go to ; https://www.vandiestmc.org/.