On May 10, 2022, the first Kiamichi Railroad (KRR) train arrived at Tyson Foods’ new $65 million “mega” feed mill in McNab, Arkansas – marking the culmination of a multi-year project for both companies.

In 2018, with consumption of its poultry products on the rise and demand for poultry feed at their existing complexes increasing, Tyson solidified plans to locate a new mill in southwest Arkansas that could produce feed for its existing farms and replace the aging feed mills at Hope and Nashville, Arkansas. With a need to receive inbound unit trains of corn and manifest soybean meal cars at start-up and for connectivity to the North American rail-freight network to do so, Tyson sought assistance for site recommendations as well as site and infrastructure development.

Building on its solid relationship with Tyson as the rail service provider for the company’s existing poultry complex in Hope, Kiamichi Railroad offered Tyson the logistic flexibility it required at a 145-acre greenfield site situated along the railroad’s line and with ample space for further development. Among the site’s most significant benefits is its access to three Class I carriers, giving Tyson maximum flexibility to source materials as well as rate competitiveness.

Tyson began construction on the new mill in June 2020. To date, Kiamichi Railroad has invested nearly $9 million in designing and installing two main line switches and a side track at the site as well as bringing the entire Tyson route – over 180 track miles from Madill, Oklahoma, to Hope, Arkansas – up to 286k capacity, which included not only rail replacement but the repair and strengthening of more than 80 bridges. Furthermore, Kiamichi Railroad contributed to an effort among Tyson, Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) and Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) to upgrade the adjacent Highway 195 to accommodate truck traffic to ship the feed from the mill to local chicken farms.

Just under two years later, unit train service to the completed mega mill was underway weekly – with carloads having been hauled by Kiamichi Railroad to the Tyson mega mill by the end of 2022 while incurring zero FRA-reportable injuries. Kiamichi Railroad has added a total of four jobs to the area – a dedicated train crew of two (one engineer and one conductor) to service the mill as well as two track laborers to continually inspect and maintain track to the site. The new Tyson mill has retained approximately 50 jobs for the area, supporting the poultry ecosystem in southwest Arkansas – providing feed to area farms that supply the poultry processing plants.

Kiamichi Railroad recently received a 2023 Business Development Award from the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) for the Tyson project. Watch the video to learn more:

In the process of helping a long-term customer accommodate growth, Kiamichi Railroad has enhanced its ability to meet future customer needs.