Dalby’s Soya Feeds changes hands for first time

Emma Alsop, July 15, 2022

Stephen Aisthorpe, Smarter Nutrition, and Philip Kelly, Colliers, with former Soya Feeds owners Margaret and Greg Bailey.

AFTER 35 years, Darling Downs soybean industry pioneers, Greg and Margaret Bailey, have sold their Dalby-based manufacturing facility Soya Feeds to Queensland animal-nutrition business, Smarter Nutrition.

It wasn’t an easy decision for the Baileys to call time on the business after building it up from a bare paddock to a thriving operation milling and bagging full-fat soybean meal; however, for Mr Bailey, now in his nineties, it was time to retire.

He said the business was initially formed by group of six farmers who needed a source of high-quality meal for their piggery operations.

Later the Baileys took over the business and made it their own.

“We started it just for our piggeries, but then we kept building it up and making it more,” Mr Bailey said.

“Back then it was only our sideline that fitted in with our other businesses.”

“The first machines that we had were home-made things…then as the business started to grow, we realised that we had to do something better.”

It was a trip to New Zealand that prompted the couple to import Miltenz extruders and cooling towers, newly developed machinery built for the business’ needs.

Industry pioneers

Mrs Bailey said they updated technology when they could, and worked to make the operations as efficient as possible.

“It was an industry that we virtually pioneered… because we saw that there was a need for it,” Mrs Bailey said.

“At one stage, we were the only people in Australia that were growing the soybeans, milling the soybeans, and feeding them back to the animals.

“It has grown from there, and we have added to it as we would afford to build on.”

It was this entrepreneurial spirit, a legacy from his mother, that prompted Mr Bailey to join the piggery industry several years before the inception of Soya Feeds.

“We started off at an undeveloped block out at Macalister and just took it from there.

“We had to do something else because grain prices were cheap in those days, and we started off in a small way with six mated sows.”

This was in the late 1960s, when pigs were hand fed.

It was another overseas contact, this time in the United States, which brought Mr Bailey in contact with the then revolutionary automatic feeders which he introduced to the operation.

“In life, you must see opportunities and keep your mind open,” Mr Bailey said.

Still operating today under the management of their children, the piggery now turns over 200-240 pigs a week alongside a mixed cropping operation.

Stephen Aisthorpe with Greg and Margaret Bailey.

Smarter Nutrition owner Stephen Aisthorpe said it is this love of travelling to find innovations and new ways of operating that he and the Baileys have in common.

Mr Aisthorpe, who recently returned from a trip to India to investigate cottonseed meal, said he hopes to continue with innovations as Soya Feeds becomes a part of his Queensland-based business group.

“This business is already 35 years old and has a very good name that we want to keep and develop further,” Mr Aisthorpe said.

“Greg and Margaret have been very good to me and my wife with regards the purchase to the business.

“We have built a relationship throughput the sales process.

“I am very pleased that it has happened this way because I understand Greg and Margaret and I can carry their legacy forward.”

Smarter Nutrition is a protein and fibre company which provides products, such as fibre pellets, full-fat soya meal, corn soy, wheat soy, wheat meal and cottonseed meal to a range of customers from stockfeed manufacturers and individual farmers to feedlot operations.

It is under the Aisthorpe Group banner, which includes Top Country, a Roma-based business which supplies livestock nutrition products for the beef, dairy, sheep, goat and equine industries.

Mr Aisthorpe said he is working to make Soya Feeds an integrated part of his operation as well as expanding the services provided at the Dalby site.

He said, with the majority of soybean growing moving from the Darling Downs to coastal regions, it was imperative to add more businesses to the operation.

“Eventually we will be running up to six separate manufacturing operations on the site.”

He said this will include the manufacturing of multiple types of protein meals, a cottonseed-processing plant, a stockfeed mill for specialty rations, a grain-drying facility and transport depot for other Aisthorpe Group companies.

Smarter Nutrition officially took control of Soya Feeds in June, with the business selling for over $3 million.

Colliers agent Philip Kelly handled the transaction, and said the process was more than selling a property with the Baileys having a strong connection to the business.

“This was not just selling a business, but Greg and Margaret’s lives’ work,” Mr Kelly said.

“It was a longer process than usual, and we needed to make sure the businesses were the right fit.

“The time also gave Stephen and Greg and Margaret to make a connection and learn more about each other.

“We also wanted Stephen to take over the business and have it be a success.

“It was not a transaction we took lightly.”


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