In Australia, the concept of on-farm butchery is not as simple as it should seem. Many farmers dream of raising their own premium quality paddock to plate meat, offering that product direct to consumer as farmers did in years past. However, making that dream a reality is both a very challenging and expensive task, if not altogether impossible. Provenir was founded with the stark realisation of a need to change the way that the industrial meat industry works. For Provenir, this was through providing an alternative to what was previously the only option available to most farmers – the industrial abattoir.
The motivation behind the Provenir ethos is a desire to enable farmers to ethically process their meat to the highest quality standards and then offer it directly to the consumer – a route to market only otherwise enabled by the establishment of a significantly expensive on-farm butcher, something that is unviable for most small farming operations.
The Provenir journey
The Provenir recipe is a simple one – happy cows produce the best meat. However simple this concept is, we were baffled to discover how incredibly difficult, complex and laborious the process of developing a mobile abattoir would be. We knew that the highest animal welfare and the lowest possible animal stress created the best, most tender beef. We knew that allowing animals to grow naturally in their familiar herd groups while grazing free range pastures produced a superior eating quality and optimum nutritional value in that meat. We also knew that many farmers wanted to avoid loading their animals on a truck to travel sometimes hundreds of kilometres to an abattoir – especially when this was the only missing piece in a true farm to table meat operation.
As anyone who has looked in to building an on-farm butchery will know, the industry paradigm and state legislation within the Australian meat industry makes this kind of project difficult and expensive to establish and just as difficult and expensive to maintain. As it turns out – prior to a change in legislation – setting up a commercially mobile abattoir was not just both difficult and expensive, but entirely impossible in Australia. Fast forward over ten years since its inception, Provenir is now Australia’s only commercially licensed mobile on farm processing operation.
On a monumental day – 19th of June 2019 – and a very frosty morning at John Doyle’s farm “Claredale” in Berrigan NSW, Provenir became Australia’s first licensed mobile abattoir, achieving an A-License from the NSW Food Authority. After years of work building up to this point, this occasion marked the real, tangible beginning of Provenir’s mission to produce Australia’s best beef. Since that time we have travelled to many farms across Southern Australia, processing premium beef cattle for consumers around Australia to enjoy and providing the missing piece of the puzzle for premium beef producers.
Provenir as an on farm butcher today
Provenir sells its meat and beef products through multiple sales channels across the Eastern seaboard of Australia and can be found in many high-end restaurants, retail stores as well as being available for purchase online, direct to consumer. This meat is the choice of many top chefs as well as a loyal following of home cooks who value the quality, provenance and ethics of the food that they consume and feed to their families.
Our mobile on-farm processing unit or ‘MPU’ is licensed to operate across Victoria and New South Wales and we work with a series of likeminded farmers in these regions. Provenir is not just an abattoir, but a community that passionately share likeminded ideals as well as a desire to improve the meat industry in this country. We’re passionate about both animal ethics and the environment, working to ensure that our operation delivers the best possible outcomes for animals, the environment and its people.
Provenir and provenance
We believe that provenance is important to the delivery of true farm to table meat products, so we developed a system which enables each individual package of Provenir meat to be traced back to the farm on which it was raised. Each product includes the name of the farm as well as a QR code which takes the consumer to a webpage dedicated to that farm and its story. This co-branded approach enables farmers to develop a reputation for their meat, selling their own differentiated product direct to consumer without the need for establishing complex and challenging distribution networks, acquiring licenses or transporting their cattle to industrial abattoirs.
How does on farm meat processing work?
On farm processing involves bringing Provenir’s mobile on farm processing unit – mounted on a semi trailer – to your farm. We set up next to your cattle yard race, open the door to the unit and gently move animals through one by one. Much scientific research into animal stress was consulted when developing the processing unit and every element of the operation and equipment has been designed with a focus on minimising animal stress. This sophisticated process involves immobilising the animal then stunning and quickly rendering the animal unconscious.
Following this low-stress, quick and painless kill procedure the animal is then processed, taking care to ensure that each part of the carcase, organs, fat and bones are utilised where possible. Our business model is focused on ensuring that every part of the animal is honoured and nothing is wasted, so those parts that are not able to be utilised for human consumption are repurposed into a complementary range of products as well as our dog treat product range – Gully Road for Dogs.
The opportunity for Provenir farmers
Aside from the animal welfare and meat quality implications that we have previously discussed – including whole-of-life, highest welfare systems for your livestock – processing on-farm presents a range of additional benefits for beef producers. The need for significant transport costs are removed in the absence of travel to a fixed, industrial abattoir (or a sale yard, depending on the way that farmers sell their cattle). Provenir also provides processing data for each animal, enabling farmers to track their quality progress and make adjustments to their operation based on this feedback and information.
True provenance and co-branding opportunities enable farmers to promote their own product and consumers can trace each individual cut of meat back to the producer. This creates a feedback loop between farmers and consumers, enabling a deeper connection with each farm’s unique story and brand.
Becoming a Provenir farmer
Provenir actively seeks out and supports farmers who are practicing regenerative farming techniques to restore the land on which they farm and to return carbon to the soils. Regenerative agriculture means to use farming practices that can start to reverse the impacts of climate change – learn more at our previous article ‘Why Provenir Supports Regenerative Farming’. A regenerative approach to beef production ensures the most efficient and environmentally conscious way to produce the highest quality meat. We’re proud to work with farmers who are taking steps to have a positive impact through their agricultural operations and welcome new likeminded, high-quality beef farmers to register their interest.
Provenir operates as an acquisition-based model, purchasing and processing grass-fed livestock (currently only cattle) on the farm. Processing cattle with Provenir is available to farmers that meet a few simple requirements. We’re currently partnering with farmers in NSW who are turning off approximately a minimum or 200 head of cattle per year, and farmers in Victoria turning off approximately 20 head of cattle (or greater) per year. Cattle must be grass-fed and grass-finished to live weights of 450kg+ and up to 750kg. The requirements for cattle types are non-breed specific, however Provenir meat does require breeds that have the greatest tendency to produce beef of premium eating quality.
If this model is aligned with your ethical priorities and business model, we strongly encourage you to get in touch with us at Provenir – head to our Farmer Partnerships page and complete the short questionnaire to register your interest.
Provenir in summary
In our opinion – informed by the learnings of much scientific research – is that in order to produce the best beef, it is imperative to ensure only the highest standards of animal welfare at every stage. We know that low stress on farm processing is the most effective way to achieve this. The result is peace of mind for farmers, ethically raised cattle, a swag of environmental sustainability outcomes and – importantly – the best quality product.