Essentially CALS: Feed Mill Team

Person driving a forklift

Instead of featuring an individual this week at the request of their leader, Adam Fahrenholz, we will celebrate the work of the Feed Mill Education Unit team.

Animals must be fed, no matter what the circumstances. And the Feed Mill Education Unit is keeping university animals fed throughout the pandemic.

“The entire team is exceptional, a word I don’t use lightly,” Fahrenholz says. “They have stepped up and adapted throughout this situation without hesitation. A lot of folks (and animals) are lucky we have them working here.”

A lot of folks (and animals) are lucky we have them working here

Curious where the Feed Mill Education Unit is located? Like many other university research field labs it is just off Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh. Traffic to the feed mill is typically low, which supports current distancing and tracing practices.

Nine individuals keep the feed mill up and running, one of whom just started in May. (Welcome, Jennifer Harrison!)In March and April, the team reduced their operation to two days a week out of caution, while still manufacturing enough feed for NC State and North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services animal units.

In March and April, the unit formed two separate teams, one for each day, to maintain a clear separation.

In May, to meet increased feed demand, the facility began to operate three days per week with the full staff and a student temporary worker, with others remaining off-site to act as backups. In June, the facility returned to a five day-a-week schedule, with all Feed Mill Education Unit employees returning to the site as needed.

“CALS IT has worked with Dr. Adam Farenholz to ensure continuity of service by securely enabling remote desktop controls,” says regular internal partner Jevon Smith, CALS IT service desk manager. “Dr. Fahrenholz was adamant about continuing the feed mill’s important work while also balancing the safety of his staff during COVID operations.”

Beyond keeping university animals fed, the feed mill team facilitates research through feed manufacturing for live-animal trials. The facility also serves external stakeholders through manufacturing research feeds, including some for time-sensitive trials.

Their work has been crucial to ensure our research and teaching animals have feed.

Early during the stay-at-home order, the team battled logistics. Previous methods for coordinating deliveries and shipments would no longer do. With reduced on-site operations it became a challenge to schedule deliveries based on limited time availability. However, as with other challenges, the team adapted and things are operating smoothly again.

To stay safe, feed mill faculty, staff and students are masking up while inside and when it is impossible to be more than six feet apart. Frequent hand washing and cleaning is also a part of the daily routine.

The feed mill is also a figurative island. No external visitors are allowed beyond those necessary for maintenance and repairs and no internal visitors except those dropping off materials and/or research ingredients and picking up finished feeds.

The practice will go on for the foreseeable future.

“Adam and the feed mill team have done an amazing job in keeping the feed mill up and running during the pandemic,” says Patricia Curtis, professor and head of the Prestage Department of Poultry Science. “Their work has been crucial to ensure our research and teaching animals have feed.”

Thank you, Feed Mill Education Unit!

Sam Brown (Lead Research Technician)
Margaret Davis (Part Time Technician)
Adam Fahrenholz (Associate Professor, FMEU Faculty Liaison)
Marissa Herchler (EHRA Professional)
Jennifer Harrison (Research Technician)
Andrea Rubio (Graduate Student)
Noah Starnes (Student Temporary)
Corey Wison (Part Time Technician and Graduate Student)
Rachael Wood (Graduate Student Temporary)

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