Corby Rock Mill was founded 1975 by the late George Quinn. George was a man who almost never took a holiday, thinking that if you wanted some time off, you probably weren’t enjoying your work as much as you should be. He was a humble man who led by example and whose strength was an ability to build a team around him who could share the workload while ensuring his exacting standards were met. A great example of how he operated comes from the very early days. George had started rearing pullets and subsequently moved into layer production. Corby Rock Eggs grew to become Ireland’s largest egg producer but in the mid-1970s, George was not happy with the performance the birds were achieving on their bought-in feed. He decided that the best way forward was to produce his own, and before long he did do just that.
From the outset, George’s focus for the Corby Rock brand was on quality. He insisted on the best quality equipment to produce feed and was especially insistent on using particular technology to produce mash with a nicely consistent, open structure and a minimum of dust for his own flocks. His passion was hens and eggs; whatever means of producing feed led to its best presentation for the birds was always going to be top of the list and by the early 1980s.
Prior to Corby Rock Mill, George’s first venture into poultry was in rearing pullets. Always a perfectionist, he was also an innovator and willing to experiment. He trialled many different strains before settling on the two which he found most capable of producing pullets ready to lay at the point of sale, strains which are still sold by the sister company today Corby Rock Eggs. He expanded into egg production and into egg packing before opening the feed mill, and was also closely involved with hatcheries, and so could fairly be thought of as a complete integrator.
Following the now announcement from Edwina Currie on salmonella in eggs, which had an equally profound effect in Ireland as it had in the UK, the entire flock on one of the sites also suffered an outbreak of Newcastle Disease and 200,000 birds had to be destroyed to prevent its spread. Never a quitter and, once again ahead of the curve, George recognised the fact that disease, and public perception, could continue to challenge the company in future, and he implemented steps to counter the threat they posed. The company spearheaded the development of new techniques in feed production to ensure it would not be a vector introducing disease into flocks in future. The system was developed in close consultation with An Bord Bia, and in 1991 the company became the first to introduce a heat treatment system for this purpose with a Milltech kettle and Extrutech horizontal coolers. The protocols pioneered at Corby Rock mill soon became the industry benchmark, with the Department of Agriculture making it mandatory that all Irish feed produced for layers be heat-treated.
Continued growth in developments are aplenty. Starting, as it did back in 1975, as an operation to supply consistent, quality feed for the company’s own birds, it immediately began to grow as neighbours and local farmers saw the results and came around looking to get some of the products for themselves. It has been growing ever since.
George was so used to looking after hens, knew the whole process, knew what his birds wanted and loved that aspect of seeing his livestock excel. This complete involvement in looking after the flock to the best of his ability drove a lot of decisions from the feed end; he was always very conscious of what was changed in the ingredients or the processing in order to maintain consistency for the hens.
Corby’s attention to detail which led to the results the feed was producing and attracted the attention of local egg farmers, who became the company’s first feed customers. By the early 1980s, with Corby Rock Mill firmly established among the leading Irish manufacturers of poultry feed, the decision was made to expand into ruminant feed production on a separate line within the same mill. A CPM Century pellet press was installed in 1982 and, once again, output grew and grew. In 1987, striving to improve quality, double pelleting was introduced, with a new CPM 7726 retro-fitted below the existing press. Then blends production was added, with the construction in 1993 of a new blending shed housing a tractor-powered Red Rock mixer wagon.
Such had been the success of the diversification into ruminant feed production that further expansion was required. A good deal of thought and consideration was put into how this should be achieved, and ultimately it was decided that the best way forward was to split the ruminant and poultry lines into dedicated buildings. In this way, quality could be safeguarded and the risk of cross-contamination between cattle and poultry feed eliminated. And so construction of the ruminant mill began in 1995, integrating the old labour intensive blending operation with a process centred around a new Forberg paddle mixer. By 1998, a complete ruminant pelleting line was in place in the new building, with a CPM 7932-9 press and a Kahl expander, which was shortly afterwards replaced with a BOA compactor. The grinder was a Tietjen GDL12.
As time moved on, an opportunity arose after a fire at another mill led to a sudden increase in demand for ruminant feed. Resources were put in, a sales team developed and ruminant production took off. Hence, a second pelleting line was added in 2002 with a CPM 7726 and HFC (Hydro Friction Conditioner), giving redundancy options and the ability to produce different pellet sizes without everything having to come to a complete halt. Two years later a state-of-the-art bagging line from BL Bagline was introduced, relieving a long history of manual bagging. Fully automated and capable of bagging 35 tonnes per hour, the line was safer and a vast improvement; in its first year of operation over a million bags were filled.
Then, in 2005, the decision was made to diversify into broiler feed production to service a potential export market. Things here did not go as planned. Corby didn’t have the same immediate success as it had been used to. The process wasn’t quite right, the expected export opportunity did not materialise, and for a while this line was a white elephant. However experience was gained over time and improved it, and a chance came in 2010 when another mill in the south of the country had a problem, Corby were there with the ability to step into the breach. Now, this line too is running close to capacity. It consists of a PTH BC900 press and a PTN Hygieniser, along with Geelen cooling. And it didn’t take long to see the benefits of the latest heat treatment technology in relation to hygienic operation and efficiency, to the extent that an order was placed for another PTN Hygieniser for the existing layers line.
Meanwhile, the production of layers feeds continues to grow and the company has made a massive expansion into breeder feeds. The poultry plant now produces in excess of 140,000 tonnes and the ruminant plant more than 60,000 tonnes. Corby Rock’s success is down to a policy of consistently keeping in touch with new developments in relation to feed products and milling technology, with research and development a cornerstone of the business model. Our tried and tested process with control, experience from our operators and quality control team enable us to be a consistent market leader.
Since its foundation, the feed business at Corby Rock has never stopped expanding and the constant focus on automating and modernising will remain, while maintaining our primary goal of consistent quality.