Cows at a molasses licker drum.
For years, I have noticed companies in the West that receive tank cars of liquid feed for cattle. It is an important source of rail traffic and pretty easy to model.
Tank car spotted at molasses dealer in Marfa, Texas 2007. Note spilled molasses.
I decided to do a little research on the topic. Roswell did not feature a liquid feed dealer in the early 1990s, but it would have been pretty easy for a dealer to set up off a team track. I am not sure if I will feature any liquid feed operations on my layout, but it is an option for other modellers. They are easy to model. In part one of this series, I am going to highlight three actual operations in Texas with a particular focus on my favorite in Marfa, Texas. In parts II and III, I will feature operations on a friends layout.
Just as background, molasses-based supplements have been fed to cattle for decades. In the early years these supplements consisted of molasses alone, but the formulation of molasses supplements progressed and now includes the addition of crude protein, minerals, vitamins, feed additives. A molasses-based mixture can be a high crude protein supplement added to concentrate feeds, a medium to high crude protein supplement fortified with minerals and vitamins fed in a lick-wheel tank or an energy supplement fed in open troughs to cattle grazing pasture or native range. It can be a simple mixture of molasses and urea, or a complex mixture containing molasses, other liquids, natural protein, non-protein nitrogen, phosphorus, several trace elements, vitamins or other feed additives.
That is probably more than you wanted to know, but let’s get to looking at some rail operations that handle this commodity.
There is a large operation in Gainesville, Texas, the aptly named, “Cattle-lac Liquids.” It frequently receives numerous loads (three or more cars) off the BNSF.
Liquid feed dealer in Gainesville, Texas (2013 photo)
Liquid feed tanks and siding off the BNSF mainline.
Aerial image of Cattle-Lac Liquids. The four white tanks are visible in the proceeding photo.
Another large operation that I am aware of is Hudson Livestock Supplements in Miles, Texas. Depending on the season, Hudson is a pretty good customer for the Texas Pacifico Railroad. The Texas Pacifico operates the old South Orient line See post from March 1, 2014, entitled, “The last one was cold and rainy…”
Tank cars spotted at Hudson Livestock Supplements. Note the beige receiving tanks hiding behind the tank cars. (circa. 2008)
I saved my favorite for last–Fowlkes Cattle Company in Marfa, Texas.
Lone tank car of molasses spotted at Fowlkes Cattle Company liquid feed unloading facility in November of 2007.
It is a small operation on the east side of Marfa, Texas. It is located adjacent to Union Pacific’s mainline to El Paso, Texas. It normally receives a few shipments each year and normally just one car. Occasionally, two cars will be spotted there.
Rare instance when two cars were spotted at the Marfa dealer. (2008)
This would be an easy operation to model. A few tanks and a pump and your in business. This is not a space eater for a layout.
Pump and tanks.
Here is an aerial of this operation.
Fowlkes Cattle Company from the air. The green dot denotes the unloading facility. Note tank car to the left. It was likely waiting to be spotted or retrieved by the Union Pacific. The little rectangles above the unloading facility are cattle pens.
Part II of this post will feature an HO scale liquid feed dealer including a discussion of its operations.