Mobile slaughterhouse

One problematic factor for small meat operations is a lack of certified processing facilities. I’ve heard many people complain that it’s hard to find a place willing to handle small quantities of animals and that does a good enough job for the fresh, local market business. The industrialization of food means that slaughter is increasingly concentrated in the larger factory operations that generate the very sorts of inhumane and unclean settings that result in protests and food scares. It’s certainly a factor for us; I’d like to move into more goat and hog on a small scale, to complement our vegetables, generate fertilizer, and make better and more sustianable use of our land. But we’re not allowed to do the slaughter ourselves and there aren’t too many choices for butchering that a small farm can use, and it’s another barrier to independant enterpreneurs like ourselves who want to grow our business.

So it was exciting and refreshing to read this story from the Wall Street Journal about the nation’s first mobile slaughterhouse, a USDA-certified trailer operation that travels to individual farms to butcher on-site. This approach maximizes humane slaughter, as the animals do not travel and are never confined, while also maximizing efficiency, quality, and utility for the small farm which may not be able to haul animals to a slaughterhouse easily. The animal and the meat stay on-farm, which is ideal for food safety and quality.

Also, I suspect this sort of operation would allow for all sorts of specialty cuts that are harder and harder for customers to find in a world of standardized meat, and of especially high value to the producer. For example, the recent quest of a local food blogger to create an authentic Italian porchetta ran into its first problem when he simply had trouble getting the cut he wanted in the first place. This type of mobile slaughterhouse staffed with real butchers would likely make custom orders much easier, and again increase business for the farmer.
There’s really no down side to this. It gives the slaugher operation more flexibility and ability to serve customers, it gives small farms a better chance to raise and market quality meat, and it eliminates most of the concerns related to industrial meat production. I’d sure like to see this expand into the Midwest.

2 thoughts on “Mobile slaughterhouse

  1. Eric, thanks for posting this. I hadn’t seen it, but it’s very intriguing. As local as Jim and Deanna Crocker (of Crocker Farms) are (Hallsville) they still cart their pigs 65 miles to Jonesburg and back for processing.Once an mobile operation like this demonstrated some competence and dependability I bet there’d be a lot of local farmers interested.

  2. Scott,I told Jim and Deanna about it last weekend, and they were intrigued. I’m going to print the article out and give it to all the meat vendors at market; I’m interested in their thoughts.