Kaytee Products is a Wisconsin-grown and now internationally known pet food brand that serves almost every pet other than dogs and cats.
The company traces its roots to the 1860s. In that era, the founding Knauf and Tesch families began to serve the hobby interests of their farmer customers, who raised and raced pigeons consistent with their European ancestory. They soon discovered a far-reaching demand for bird food.
Now, nearly 150 years later, Kaytee employees produce food for everything from parrots, cockatiels and finches to rabbits, gerbils and mice. They also serve the wild bird-feeding market. Central Garden & Pet Co. of California now owns the Kaytee brand, which maintains its headquarters in Chilton. Roughly 30 percent of the ingredients used in Kaytee pet foods, such as corn, wheat, oats, alfalfa and sunflowers, are Wisconsin-grown.
“Kaytee has changed ownership, but the thing that has been consistent throughout the years has been the quality of employees we have here in Wisconsin and the Midwest,” says Jim Roberts, vice president of purchasing. “We have dedicated people who want to do a good job, make a good product and who care about what’s going out the door.”
The brand’s success is attributed in part to innovation. For example, the company was among the first to sell a commercial wild bird mix in the United States during the 1940s. In the 1980s, Kaytee led the way to scientifically formulate pet products to meet the specific needs of birds. The brand also reaches international markets, with products in Japan, Europe, South America and more.