Last week, the time came to take our pigs to the abattoir. Before you can move pigs, though, you need to get them tattooed by the Rural Lands Protection Board (now the Livestock Health and Pest Authority, or LHPA) and fill out a PigPass.
I rang the Cumberland branch of the LHPA to arrange for tattooing, and they were very helpful. They sent out a ranger (who actually lives here in Jamberoo) to tattoo the pigs and help fill out the PigPass. Fortunately, the systems accommodate small “hobby” producers by allowing you to use the Crown brand instead of registering your own. The total cost was only $11 per pig.
The tattoo only lasts about 10 days, so you need to arrange it for the week before you expect to transport the pigs.
The nearest abattoir to us is the Wollondilly Abattoir Co-Op, at Tahmoor (almost 100 km away!).
We borrowed a caged trailer to transport the pigs. Loading them was a bit of fun and games, but we eventually lured them up the ramp with some pig feed and apples. It helps that you have to stop feeding the pigs the evening before taking them to the abattoir, so they were nice and hungry by this stage. We did have to change clothes before setting off, though!
The trip up to Tahmoor was uneventful, thankfully, and we found the abattoir easily.
Here it became interesting – the stockman at the abattoir told us to “just unload them into that pen down there”. Standing in the doorway of “that pen” was a 300 kg boar, waiting for us! We backed up the trailer, argued for a while over who was going to enter the pen to open the gate (I lost!), and then started trying to coax the pigs down the ramp.
We must have looked like a pair of wallies pushing, pulling, swearing and begging the pigs to move, all to no avail. The stockman took pity on us and called out to use the nearby hose – which had the almost instant effect of making the pigs stand up and trot down the ramp.
Our pigs were in, but then the huge boar came over to check out the trailer and decided to sit on the ramp! A few more minutes of encouragement with the hose and we got him to stand up enough to get the trailer closed up and the pen gate shut again.
Friends help you move, but real friends help you move pigs.
Then it was just a matter of filling in some paperwork (description of livestock, where they were to be delivered, etc) and leaving it for the abattoir staff. We had hardly talked to anyone while at the abattoir – they just told us which pen to leave the pigs in and to leave our paperwork in the letterbox nearby. Everyone seemed to assume we knew how it all worked, but we had no clue. They didn’t even want us to pay them – they said they’d put the kill fee on our butcher’s account and we could fix him up.
We drove off just a little unsure of how this was all going to work out!
Fortunately the butcher rang us a few days later to let us know the carcasses had arrived, and to work out how we wanted them cut up.
So to answer Donna and Jason’s question from my last post about when is it time for bacon – real soon!
Yummy bacon. I am salivating and it is time for bed. Might need a new pillow in the morning. 😉
So why do you have to use an abattoir in NSW? Up here in QLD, we can just get a butcher to come by, knock off the pigs (cows or any other livestock) and then take them away.
@Jason: I tried to find a local butcher who could do home kills, but there aren’t any. The closest I found was a local guy who used to do it, but he said the laws had changed and he was no longer allowed to offer the service.
If the animals weren’t killed at a licensed abattoir and delivered by licensed refrigerated transport, no butcher is allowed to have the carcass on his premises. It wasn’t clear whether a butcher would be legally allowed to come to our house and cut up a home-killed animal, but I certainly couldn’t find any who would even entertain the idea.
I could have done it myself (with help), but then the meat isn’t allowed to leave the property. You’re not even allowed to serve it to guests visiting the property! Since there were three families involved, that was not an option.
It’s also a huge amount of work, and you need some kind of cold room or very large fridge to cool and hang the meat before butchering.
In the end it cost us $88 per pig for slaughter (including scalding and scraping the skin), refrigerated transport, and butchering. We received all the meat broken down into meal-sized portions ready to freeze.
That’s a bargain, I reckon!
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Gosh they grew big, how long did they take to reach this size?
@Anne: They were born on August 3 and went to the abattoir on February 1 – so pretty much exactly 6 months old.
How did you feel about taking the pigs then? I think I would have felt sad.. Even though thats what the pigs were there for in the first place. Thanks heaps for posting about it, its been very interesting to see how the process goes, for when maybe i can do this myself one day… Great Work hope they taste yummy… Donna.
@Donna: I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel, especially since I was taking them to the abattoir myself. To be honest, it didn’t disturb me at all on the day. To see other animals coming in on crowded trucks, and knowing how most supermarket pork is bred and grown, our pigs had a great life and that made me feel a little bit proud. Possibly the fact that we’ve been killing and eat our own chickens has made us more comfortable with the idea, too.
Hey guys, are there butchers that Cryovak meat so that you can then store frozen?
@Shazbo: I’ve definitely seen other people post photos of Cryovaked meat, but I don’t know of one locally that does it. We froze the meat as it was, and it was fine when thawed. Cryovak would be better if you wanted to store it for longer, though.
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