THE first newly-commissioned abattoir in WA in 35 years was officially opened last week and is designed for custom kills for local sheep and cattle producers.
Southern Brook Abattoir, Hopeland (west of Serpentine), has been in operation for 11 weeks but held its official opening last week when the media was invited to tour the facility.
Owner Larry Blanford, a former police officer, said he originally wanted to open up a pet food facility but the local council said there was enough of those in the vicinity and so the site was approved for an abattoir for human consumption.
“It’s the first newly-commissioned abattoir in 35 years,” Mr Blanford said.
He said others in the State had been upgraded or rebuilt over that time but no new abattoirs had been built from start to finish.
Mr Blanford said the boutique, custom-kill facility could service small livestock producers from as far as Badgingarra, the Wheatbelt and South West, depending on the needs of the customers.
“Business has been swift,” Mr Blanford said.
“I don’t buy sheep in direct from producers – only from the Muchea Livestock Centre.
“I buy the cheapest stock and feed them up to standard in our feedlot.”
Mr Blanford has 130 acres where he has been lot feeding for 12 years.
He runs 800 paddock fed sheep on the property.
Mr Blanford said the abattoir was “top of the range” with all the latest technology and was Halal approved, although he was steering clear of the export market.
“We plan to stay small and do a good job,” Mr Blanford said with an attitude of “steady as she goes”.
The Southern Brook Abattoir has its own butcher shop, providing a range of sheep and beef cuts.
“We have our own butcher, two slaughtermen and a meat inspector full time,” he said.
“We kill twice a week – 50 sheep a run or 100 odd a week.”
Mr Blanford said he wouldn’t do same-day kills and had a policy that all livestock arrived the day before slaughter and stayed overnight to calm down after travelling, in order to have a stress-free animal that had the best tasting meat possible.
“We guarantee the meat from lairage to the box,” he said.
Mr Blanford said customers could deliver an animal and pick it up the same week after it had been “hanging for four days in the chiller” as long as they had proof of ownership and supplied a waybill upon delivery.
The abattoir has been two years in the making, since the application was lodged and the welding and construction was done by Mr Blanford and his son on their days off from work.
Part of the building was a modified dairy shed, while the rest was built two metres off the ground.
“It worked out well for lairage,” he said.
Mr Blanford said there were plans to add an additional processing area in the future.
The Serpentine Jarrahdale Farm Alliance (SJFA) supported the opening of the abattoir and even filmed a short video with Mr Blanford, showing the internal rooms and workings of the facility.
The alliance’s president Merri Harris said it was a big day for the local community and the option to tailor meat through the on-site butcher would mean produce could go direct to market.
“Food from local sources for local consumers is really important,” Ms Harris said.
“(Farmers) will have total control over getting their animal.
“It’s custom butchered for their purposes.
“I think we need to get back to eating whole foods and not relying so much on this highly-processed food that we’re eating so much these days.”
Ms Harris also made special mention to the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale for believing in the Blanford’s vision.
“The Shire needs to be congratulated in supporting this application,” she said.
“They could have been sticks in the mud and said ‘well that’s too hard’ but they didn’t.”