Miller Feeds Inc.

A family venture of dairy feed and equipment in Michigan
Written by: 
Tom Faunce
Produced by: 
Drew Taylor

Originally founded in 1973 as Miller Dairy Equipment and Feeds, Miller Feeds Inc. was started as an effort by Norman Miller and his wife Doris to find a quality source of feed and supplies for their dairy farm. With two locations in Prescott and Spruce, Michigan, Miller Feeds has become one of the leading manufacturers of dairy feed in the Midwest. As an independent feed provider, Miller Feeds maintains the flexibility and advantage of carrying feed products from many of the top animal feed companies.

Norman and Doris started the company with two simple yet critical principles: provide high-quality products with the best customer service. As the company grew, new products and services were gradually added each year until a choice had to be made between dairy farming or the feed and farm supply business. “Our service and independence are what makes us different,” says Travis Miller, owner of Miller Feeds and son of Norman Miller. “We work with a wide variety of customers. We’ll manufacture feed for anyone who has a prescription.”

A multiservice company

In addition to manufacturing dairy feed, Miller Feeds is also a fertilizer and chemical business and operates a precision application division, run by Todd Miller. With fully trained applicators, the company uses the latest technology and equipment to provide custom applications of fertilizer and pesticides. Miller Feeds supplies its sprayers with custom-designed nurse trailers to make mixing and loading efficient and accurate. The company also maintains 1,000 acres of farmland from which it grows and sells its own corn.

In order for growers to benefit as much as possible from every acre, Miller Feeds offers conventional grid and electrical conductivity (EC)-directed zone sampling. By doing this the company is able to provide the information necessary to treat each acre individually for pH balancing and nutrient management.

Conventional grid sampling uses a GPS- enabled, handheld field computer to map a field’s boundary, and then divides the field into a grid of 2.5 acre sections. In each section of the field, 9 equally spaced soil probes are collected into a composite soil sample, which is tagged with the georeferenced ID representing that grid section. When the results are received, the data are then merged with the recorded GPS locations allowing for maps of available soil nutrients to be created, which are included in a report for the customer and used to create prescription maps for variable rate (VRt) applications.

With EC directed zone sampling, an EC soil mapping is performed. Due to the fact that soil texture does not change, this mapping does not ever need to be repeated in the future. Using the EC soil map, soil probe sites are selected, labeled for the appropriate lab sample and then loaded into the field computer. In the field, the sampling technician is guided by the GPS enabled, handheld computer to the exact site of each soil probe. The technician then collects the soil probe and adds it to the sample indicated in the computer.

Building relationships

Miller Feeds welcomes outside companies to incorporate pre-mixed minerals into its facility in order to do nutrition work. The company often works with companies such as Vita Plus, JBS United and ADM Alliance Nutrition, among others. “We also have a few independent nutritionists who run feed out of our facility,” says Miller. “We’ll work with whoever the customer wants us to.”

With an on-staff nutritionist, Miller Feeds is able to work directly with dairy herdsmen on a regular basis. The position’s duties include testing and analyzing feed ration inputs, monitoring production reports and recommending ration adjustments to achieve desired performance. The independent staff nutritionist also works closely with and has the support of specialists from the company’s premium suppliers such as ADM and Purina. Mycogen Seeds also provides the nutritionist with advance feed testing, diagnostics and nutritional and digestibility consulting services.

Miller consistently performs upgrades to the company’s facility. In the past few years, Miller Feeds has increased its efficiency by 60 percent. With the addition of a 100-foot-by 150-foot clear span storage facility, the company is now able to utilize mobile commodity bays with conveyors and augers for loading and unloading feed. The company also has a 42,000-bushel bin for dairy feed as well as a 10,000-bushel bin for oats and corn. “All of the upgrades we have made make things much more convenient for us as well as the customer,” says Miller. “We’re now able to move a much higher volume of feed in less time than it took us a few years ago.”

With a strong dairy presence in the area, Miller is confident and optimistic about the future of the company and the industry. Miller Feeds Inc. will continue to evaluate and bring new products and services to northeastern Michigan while providing exceptional customer service and quality products.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
ADM Nutrition