The Feed Mill here has been certified as organic, becoming the first feed mill in Southern Idaho to meet the stringent requirements.
“We started getting new customers for our organic chicken feed almost before the ink was dry on our certificate,” said Jos Zamzow, chief operating officer of Dynamite Marketing, which owns the mill.
“Most people today want feed that is both local and organic,” he explained. “Before you could either buy local animal feed or you could buy organic feed. The ‘green’ customer wants both. Now it’s possible at the Meridian Feed Mill.”
The Feed Mill, built in 1911, has long produced all-natural feed for poultry, horses, cattle, swine, goats, sheep, llamas and small animals. Its special feed blends for state fair animals have produced award-winning swine and cattle almost every year.
“We’ve had more requests for organic feed every year,” Zamzow said. “People know that organic means quality. Even though we met most of the requirements already, we had been hesitant because the record-keeping required for organic certification is time-consuming and expensive. However, it became a business imperative. Our customers like the independent verification of quality that the organic feed certification gives us, and we are already seeing the payback in terms of increased sales.”
Alicia McFergy, a registered nurse in Boise, is one of the customers who is excited about obtaining organic feeds locally. McFergy raises chickens and goats to produce eggs and milk for her family and had been paying to have organic feed shipped to her home from other states.
“More and more people are turning to organic food to avoid pesticides and GMOs,” she said. “I am so happy that a local company is offering the animal feed that we need to have truly organic products.”
Typical customers are people like McFergy with small flocks of chickens and a desire for better eggs, as well as young people raising pigs, cattle and other animals as 4-H projects, Zamzow said. The Feed Mill serves some larger poultry operations as well.
The all-natural feed produced at the mill has always been free from antibiotics, meat and bone meal, pesticides and urea. No meat is permitted on the premises, as herbivores such as poultry and horses are sensitive to meat contamination. All feed batches are mixed by hand from premium grains.
“Becoming certified as organic was a year-long project,” Zamzow said. “It requires a map of our processes. We have to show where every ingredient originates, where it enters the mill and the path it takes through the mill, as well as locations where it might touch other ingredients.
“We also had to provide information on our procedure for flushing equipment between producing different batches of products, and to submit our first product, organic pellets for laying hens, for further inspection.
“A lot of people think of organic certification as providing proof that food is chemical-free, but it goes much further than that. We have to keep a paper trail documenting the entire operation,” he added
The mill is such as iconic part of Meridian that its image is on the city signs designating the historic downtown district.
The mill produces more than two dozen poultry feed blends for chickens and turkeys, including special blends for laying hens. Its popular products with 4-H members include State Fair Pig Grower, State Fair Steer Feed and State Fair Lamb Grower.
The all-natural animal feeds produced at the mill were developed by Jim Zamzow, a member of the family that owns Zamzows garden and pet centers in Boise and the surrounding communities. He also developed the Dr. Jim Z and Grandma Z lines of all-natural dog food and other products sold at Zamzows and produced at the mill. Custom-processing services also are available.
Located at 611 N. Main Street, the mill is open Mondays through Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. For additional information or to schedule a tour of the mill, call (208) 888-4477. The website is meridianmill.com.