A Victorian ag-tech start-up hopes to open Australia’s first mobile abattoir, with the aim of improving animal welfare.
Western Victoria-based Farmgate MSU has designed an abattoir that sits on the back of a truck and is designed to reduce the stress animals endure while being transported before slaughter.
Beef producer and founder of Farmgate MSU, Chris Balazs said the design could disrupt the livestock supply chain.
“Driving down the road you wouldn’t pick it from any other truck going backwards and forwards,” he said.
“Once on the farm the yarding is pulled out of the unit and then the animals are able to be slaughtered inside.”
Meat slaughtering regulations differ from state to state and are currently ambiguous, but a re-wording of Victoria’s legislation will make it the first state to formally recognise and allow a non-static abattoir.
Farmers doing right thing ‘ruined’ by trip
Without the stress of transport Mr Balazs said the mobile abattoir would improve animal welfare and reduce weight loss in animals that happens during transit.
“As a farmer one of the low points in my supply chain is actually loading them onto the back of the truck,” he said.
“I can spend 18 months to two years doing everything right to produce premium product, only to have that ruined through a bad trip.”
Mhairi Roberts, Policy Manager for RSPCA Victoria, said they supported the idea because of the animal welfare advantages.
“We believe if an animal is going to be killed humanely it should be done as close as possible to the point of production,” she said.
The mobile abattoirs will have to adhere to the same safety and biosecurity regulations as a normal abattoir and Chris Balazs said he was ready to work with the regulators.
“What were going to be doing meets all the current regulatory standards and in some ways, such as biosecurity, actually exceeds them as well,” he said.
“So we’re not looking to be a backyard operation.”
‘No stress means great flavour’
The company believes on-farm slaughtering will also provide a better quality of meat, an idea that has restaurants excited.
Christine Molloy who owns two restaurants in regional Victoria, said it would be amazing for the customers.
“I care about the quality of meat, quality for the customers and ensuring the customer gets the best locally,” she said.
“I think the taste is going to be incredible because no stress means great flavour.”
Ms Molloy said it was great Victoria was leading the way.
“I’m all for it, I think ‘Yay lets do this’ and thank God somebody’s actually putting some new legislation in and getting things done.”
The legislation is likely to pass Victoria’s Upper House in March.