August 25, 2016 – Modesto, CA
Customers who have researched Modesto Milling’s history know that the mill has been operating since 1974 and started as a dairymen’s co-op. In 1998, we began manufacturing organic feed, and then got our first organic certification in 1998. We formulated organic and conventional feeds until 2007 when we began formulating 100% organic feeds.
What most customers don’t know is that all of Modesto Milling’s formulations are overseen by Chris Wagner whose feed formulation roots go back three generations.
Chris’s grandfather, Clarence, settled in Petaluma, CA in the early 1900s. He was the only man on the ranch and had never worked for anyone else. Petaluma was known at the time as the egg basket of the world and Clarence raised poultry (mixing his own feed) until he sold his business in the 1950s.
The chinchilla craze started in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1957, Clarence began breeding and raising 100s of chinchillas using a couple of converted multi-level chicken houses. He sold animals, equipment, supplies and four feed formulations he had manufactured at a local mill. Clarence bought a lot of chinchillas from a partner in Sonora, exporting the animals to Denmark. He also made a name for himself showing and judging chinchilla shows.
Chris Wagner remembers selling feed for his grandfather every weekend starting at the age of 11 or 12 (or whenever his math skills got strong enough to give change to customers.)
Chris’s dad was known in the agricultural circles for raising award winning sheep and rams. His father mixed his own ingredients and became very good at timing the formulations so the rams would look their best at show time. Chris remembers doing up to 9 open division fairs per season and it was his job to feed the sheep.
Chris has never escaped the poultry, chinchilla, sheep or hog feeds his family has formulated over the decades. His formulations have only continued and expanded to include rabbits, cattle, horses and others over time.
For Modesto Milling, feed isn’t just about making organic feed to make a buck. For people like Chris Wagner, it is literally part of their genetic makeup and family heritage.