Shelley Cornish, Voermol Feeds
On Thursday, 4 April 2019, we were saddened by the news that Joan Boyes, who we had met just a few months prior, had passed away at the age of 92. In December 2018 Joan and her son Duncan, joined us for tea at the Voermol Executive Office in Maidstone, Kwa Zulu-Natal. Both Joan and her late husband, Peter Boyes, played a pivotal role in the establishment of Voermol Feeds. Joan, the author of two novels since the age of 90, very quickly won our admiration for her energy, astuteness and ‘joie de vivre’. During the visit, Joan and Duncan reminisced about the years when Peter had worked as an engineer for the Tongaat Sugar Company.
‘The Birth of a Bull Calf’
Up until 1958 the removal of molasses was a problem for the Company. The vision was that animal feeds could be manufactured from molasses and bagasse, both by-products of the Tongaat Sugar Mill. In 1958, Peter Boyes, an engineer, and Dr. Geoff Cleasby, an agronomist, were given the task of finding a satisfactory solution to the disposal problem. However, molasses was a difficult-to-handle product and the challenge was how to convert it into an animal feed which could be conveniently fed.
Joan told us that Peter and Geoff began experimenting and she was asked to fetch a sausage machine from a butcher in Tongaat. It is now part of Voermol’s history that in 1958 the first product, based on a combination of molasses and bagasse, was produced using that sausage machine. The mixture was given to a few farmer friends to feed their stock, who ate it readily!
By 1962 the process was sufficiently advanced to allow for the construction of a pilot plant behind the sugar mill bagasse shed. The management of the Tongaat Sugar Company decided to found a new company to produce and market the animal feeds being developed. The incorporation took place at a Board Meeting held on 4 August 1962. Present were Messrs C J Saunders (chairman), A D Hankinson, G A Ellis, J P H Bentley and R B Thompson (secretary), with Peter Boyes and Geoff Cleasby as managers. A new company was formed called “The Moreland Molasses Company”. At the time Mr. Douglas Saunders, chairman of the Tongaat Sugar Company, who had shown a keen personal interest in the fledgling feed 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/Voere”.
By the end of January 1962, the first bags of Voermol Meal came off the production line. Peter Boyes, was the first manager of the company, a position he held until September 1979 when he retired as managing director. On 27 April 1990 a contract was signed for the design, manufacture and supply of a new production facility for Voermol Feeds. At the end of January 1991, Voermol Meal, a forerunner of all the present molasses-based feeds, was produced in the new factory.
Voermol Feeds became the first company in Africa and possibly the world, to successfully commercialise a combination of molasses and bagasse. Molasses is not only a good source of energy, with vitamin B and trace minerals, but it is also very palatable and a good binder; thereby reducing dustiness of the feed. With the result, livestock are more likely to get a balanced intake, as they are less likely to feed selectively. Today, Voermol offers a wide range of products that are scientifically formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of ruminants, during various production stages and on all types of grazing.
After the visit to Voermol Feeds, Duncan sent a message thanking us for the hospitality shown ‘to an old lady’ and for ‘making her year complete’ – Joan’s words. Both Joan and Peter Boyes will be remembered for their meaningful contribution to the establishment of Voermol Feeds. We express our heartfelt condolences to the family.
Mrs Joan Boyes (late) and her son, Duncan Boyes (right),
enjoying tea at Voermol’s Executive Office in Maidstone.
Mrs Joan Boyes (late) and her son, Duncan Boyes (left), in front of a picture of Joan’s late husband,
Mr Peter Boyes and the sausage machine.
The 2018 National Cattle and Sheep Farmers of the Year excel by employing management practices that are not commonly used by livestock farmers. The growth of their operations into relatively large units, is testament to their improved productivity and increased profitability.
Hendrik van Pletzen, Voermol
On the left is the Sheep Farmer of the Year, Andrew Jordaan of Andrew Jordaan & Seuns and on the right is the Cattle Farmer of the Year, Philip Strydom, Voermol’s managing director, John Eustace of Eustace and Son.
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