Voermol: Here’s to 60 years of feeding ruminants

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

This year, Voermol Feeds celebrates its 60th year of existence. Traditionally, the stone representing a 60th anniversary is a diamond and thus it is fitting that Voermol was recently awarded six PMR.africa Diamond Arrow awards for excellence in the livestock feed industry.

Up until 1958 the removal of molasses was a challenge for the Tongaat Sugar Company, which tried exporting it, selling it in 200ℓ drums and using it for fertiliser. Peter Boyes, an engineer, and Dr Geoff Cleasby, an agronomist, were tasked with finding a satisfactory solution to the disposal of molasses and bagasse, which are both by-products of the sugar milling process. However, molasses was a difficult-to-handle product and the challenge was to convert it to an animal feed that could be conveniently fed.

From humble beginnings to a feed industry giant

Peter and Geoff began experimenting and Peter asked his wife to fetch a sausage machine from a butcher in Tongaat. The mixture of molasses and bagasse was given to a few farmer friends to feed their livestock, who consumed it readily. By 1962 the process was sufficiently advanced to allow for the construction of a pilot plant behind the sugar mill’s bagasse shed.

During the same year, the first bags of Voermol meal were produced. Voermol Feeds became the first company in Africa, and possibly the world, to successfully commercialise a combination of molasses and bagasse. Thus, the company converted molasses from a difficult-to-handle product to one which could be conveniently fed by itself or mixed into other feeds.

Molasses is not only a good source of energy, with vitamin B and trace minerals, but is also a good binder and is very palatable. Consequently, the feed’s dustiness is reduced, which results in livestock being more likely to get a balanced intake since they are less likely to feed selectively.

A new company, called the Moreland Molasses Company, was formed on 4 August 1962. At the time, Douglas Saunders, chairperson of the Tongaat Sugar Company, announced that Tongaat’s ‘bull calf’ had been born. The new company’s name was later changed to Voermol Products Ltd, then to Tongaat Milling (Pty) Ltd and finally to Voermol Feeds.

On 27 April 1990 a contract was signed with Robinson-MacForman Milling (Pty) Ltd for the construction of a new production facility for Voermol Feeds to cope with the complexity of new products and growth in volume. Some nine months later, at the end of January 1991, Voermol meal was produced in the new factory.

Noteworthy milestones for Voermol

Some of Voermol’s most noteworthy achievements in the animal feed market to date include:

  • Introducing liquid feeds in the early 1960s.
  • Pioneering the uses of dry season maintenance licks.
  • Feeding of whole maize in beef fattening diets.
  • Developing a simple, fool-proof cafeteria system for fattening livestock for farm-scale feedlots.
  • Packaging of liquid feeds in containers as a ready-to-use liquid feed for grain enrichment.
  • Developing the Beefmaker system, which involves ad lib feeding of a concentrate, which enables the farmer to use homegrown maize without any milling or mixing required.
  • The introduction of supplement feeds to dry and wet season grazing in block form. These blocks are easy to handle, ready-to-use and supply a wide range of essential trace minerals.

Today, Voermol offers an extensive range of products that are scientifically formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of ruminants during various production stages, and on all types of grazing. The effectiveness of Voermol’s products and cost-effective feeding systems has been proven in the field, time and time again.

As a leading role-player in the ruminant feeds industry, Voermol is committed to the development of commercial and new era emerging livestock farming sectors, improving the productivity of beef, sheep, goat and ruminant game producers.

Popular stories