AURORA – The $95 million Novita Nutrition plant officially opened with a ribbon cutting near Aurora Thursday.
The animal nutrition company uses distillers dried grains to create two products: highly digestible protein for the dairy market and a renewable oil used to produce fuels and animal feed.
Initial product development began in 2005, and the company started construction in 2015. The plant started running in March and is now in full operation.
Vice President of Operations Kurt Swenson opened the ceremony with remarks followed by President and CEO Don Endres.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard said the facility is a great kind of business that is wanted in the state, and he predicts Aurora’s plant will be the first of many for Novita.
“We welcome economic development of all sizes, shapes and kinds in South Dakota, so long as it improves the quality of life for our residents and provides good jobs,” Daugaard said. “But we’re especially appreciative of businesses like Novita that are in the ag space and the biotech space, because that fits so well with South Dakota’s nature.”
The representatives said not only is the plant great for the dairy and poultry industry, it has also brought jobs to the Brookings/Aurora area. The company has approximately 50 full-time employees.
Plant officials estimate the feed will nourish up to 600,000 dairy cows every day in the U.S. The product is what they call NovaMeal, which is a bypass protein delivering essential amino acids to the dairy industry. Novita also creates a NovaOil, a vegetable oil delivering energy into poultry diets.
About 1,200 tons of NovaMeal can be created each day, totaling 432,000 tons per year. Approximate capacity for producing NovaOil is 166,000 pounds per day, or 60 million pounds per year.
NovaMeal is backed by research published in the Journal of Dairy Science. That research shows the improvement in milk component yield, improved performance, and improved overall economics, Endres said.
“These dairy cows are producing 100 pounds of milk every day. They’re consuming 55 pounds of dry matter, plus water. It’s those high-performing dairy cows where we’re focusing,” Endres told the Register in 2016.
“Overall, what the research shows is that by taking the … fats out and by changing and improving the quality of the protein, we can lower the cost of nutrients delivered to the dairy cow,” Endres said, with that savings improving farmers’ bottom line.