You know we love to talk about eating local and buying ethical and all those hugely important things. Probably most of us here eat meat and many might not think too hard about where it comes from or how the animal was killed but it’s something that we should all be aware of so we are able to make our own choices.
Around these parts, Robbie Radford is well known as a butcher, family man, employer and for his ethical treatment of all the animals that he processes. Radfords process meat for a huge number of businesses including local farmers Watergrasshill Angus who attend our market each month.
This morning I took a trip out to the Radford abattoir to see how it all works and to say I was nervous is an understatement. After a quick chat, Robbie asked if I’d like to see the killing room, eeek I thought, what will it be like, will I come out a sworn vegetarian? Someone challenged me the other day to do something that scares me though, so in I went.
We popped on white coats and hairnets, sanitized our boots and walked into the boning and packing room where we found Brooke – Robbie and Jeannette’s 18 yo daughter. The eldest of five daughters, Brooke currently works full time in the family business and is multi skilled across all aspects and is the only female that works in the processing part of the business. You can read more about Brooke’s story here: www.facebook.com/womeningippsland
The killing room was intense. Each animal is killed and arrives through a trapdoor at the rate of one per minute. From there it is instantly processed by a team of people – hide removal, hoof removal and offal saving (which includes washing and packing). Nothing is wasted. Value adding is also a major part of Radfords; the blood is collected and sold for black pudding, the liver is sliced open and each one is drained through a sieve as the gallstones are like little pieces of gold because they are used in pharmaceuticals and the gallstone liquid is sold for making ink.
Animal welfare is important to the Radfords for ethical reasons and because the less stress on the animals ensures the muscles are relaxed and the meat superior quality. The cattle is held undercover with fresh water and on clean wood shavings which is collected with the manure and sold as nutrient rich garden fertilizer. Even the way Robbie talks about the cattle is respectful.
Robbie has seven quality assurance people working full-time for him. The environmental aspect of the business is a story in itself. A huge amount of money has been invested, leading to a 2012 Banksia Sustainability Award.