Zane and Anne Beckmann, owners of Woerner Feed & Garden Supply since 2006, are on a mission to offer their customers choices in how they feed their livestock and care for their crops and gardens. The company was first opened as a general store on Fredericksburg’s Main Street in 1928 by founder Elwood Woerner, but it was eventually moved to its present location on South Lincoln Street, where it now operates as a feed store. Over the years, two more generations of the Woerner family kept the business alive.
Zane had worked for the Woerners during his high-school years, and in 2001, he returned to Fredericksburg and was hired by Bruce Woerner to manage the store. Customers, including one who owned a large chicken operation, soon began asking for organic chicken feed. At the time, Zane was unfamiliar with the concept of organic anything. But as more people inquired, he began to research the issue. The research proved to be an eye-opening look into the world of biotechnology, where techniques have been developed over the last handful of years that alter the genetic makeup of animals, plants and bacteria.
Combining genes from different organisms is known as recombinant DNA technology and results in “genetically modified organisms,” or GMOs. Products made using GMOs now include medicines and vaccines, foods and food ingredients, fibers and feeds. And though the full effect of GMOs moving into our foodways is currently unknown, one thing is clear: if GMO products are fed to our livestock, we, in turn, eat them too.
These concerns so moved Zane that he began stocking organic products and offering healthful, sustainable choices for feeding livestock and caring for crops and gardens. It was a move that was eagerly embraced by customers, but challenging for the Beckmanns. Finding a consistent supply of organic feed was difficult, and they often had to source from as far away as Ohio.
After purchasing the business, the Beckmanns began making plans to build their own mill to produce non-GMO chicken feed for their store and their eager customers. They recently reached their goal, and the finished mill—located five miles south of Llano—is up, running and churning out all-natural chicken feed using non-GMO corn and alfalfa. A full line of non-GMO livestock feed will follow.
In keeping with their shared German heritage—and to pay homage to the region of Texas in which they reside—the Beckmanns have named their new line of feeds Hügelland, which means “hill country” in German. —Terry Thompson-Anderson
Other producers of non-GMO feed in Texas
Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill
H and H Old Fashioned Chicken Feed