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Fatstock awayRSS feed

Posted: Sunday 12 October, 2014

by Rosemary Champion at 9:51am in Smallholding No comments Add your own

Autumn is my favourite time of year and if it didn't involve sending animals to the abattoir, it would be perfect. Still, it has to be done.

We used James Chapman's Shotts abattoir this year for the first time and, because we had a few animals ready to go and given the distance (90 miles), we used a haulier. Needless to say, I wasn't very comfortable with the changes, which were really forced on us by Dunblane abattoir's refusal to take our stock, following a complaint I made about the relief slaughterman's handling of our cull sheep back in the spring.

However, I think it was in many respects a change for the better. The haulier charged £15 per cattle, £7 per pig and £2 per sheep - £60 in total. We'd have had four trips with our trailer - 720 miles - costing about £216. The abattoir charges at Shotts are also less than Dunblane and we get the money for the skins, which we've never had before.

All the stock left from our temporary grazing. The hauliers were totally professional and I was very happy with how they handled the animals. We were first loaded, then they were picking up at Forfar market, then to Shotts. The animals would be in lairage overnight and killed in the morning, hopefully giving them a chance to settle after the journey.

Shotts Abattoir has CCTV (16 cameras) from loading bay right through the line and lots of users speak very highly of it. Certainly, my dealings with the staff on the phone was helpful and professional. We recieved the deadweights and vet reports by email the day the animals were slaughtered, which we've not had before either.

The pig weights were a bit disappointing - 39.3 and 29.6kg. Last year, the two pigs were 49 and 44kg over the same period, so quite a bit less carcase this year.

The two cull ewes were 39.3kg and 37.9kg. Now, if DW is about 50% of liveweight, then these ewes were around 75 - 80kg. They were big ewes, but I guess I will have to revise my bodyweight estimates up for calculating wormer dose.

The six tup lambs averaged 20.5kg; one was 18.8 and one 24.1kg but the other four were between 19 and 20.9kg. Just need to see what the fat was like. I have thought about sending them away earlier but I can't send them younger than six months of age - a six month life is the least I can give them :-)

The cattle were 680.8kg in total. Storm, the bull, was 356.5kg at 26 months and George, the bullock, was 324kg at 28 months. I guess they will be carrying a good bit of fat, given the season and the breed, but it all adds to the taste.

I'll be speaking to the butcher this week about what we want done with them. Maximum bacon please and a three rib roast for Christmas are on the list for sure :-)

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