Friday, 20 January 2012

Lambs Final Journey

On Monday 16th January Tod, Tia and myself set off heading North West into Wales, our destination was the abattoir in LLanidloes where are lambs are sent to be killed.  The trip up took about 2.5 hours and there was lots of discussion about our sheep flock on the way.  These are the same lambs that feature on YouTube here
After signing in and getting to reception we were warmly welcomed by Kevin Brown, who id the Procurement Manager and General Assistant manager for the plant who kitted us up in white coats and trousers, hard hats and hair nets.  We started off our trip looking at the vast warren of fridge space where the sheep and beef carcases were being held whilst they came down to temperature, ready to be transported, for lamb this is maximum of 7 degrees C.  Then we moved on through the lines to where the lambs are humanely stunned and killed which was a very swift and skilled job, expertly handled.  Having been skinned and processed, taking away the intestines, hearts, lungs, livers and having some fat trimmed off, we watched our lambs go along the grading line. Here they are weighed and given their grades for fat and conformation.  Most of that batch (of 123) that went through as R3L's and R3H's and averaged 20.91Kg.  In total the group of lambs yielded just over 2.5 Tonnes of meat and bone!
The picture above was taken of our lambs the following day, showing he confirmation and fat coverage really well. 

It was a time of mixed emotions really to see our own lambs being killed but I was reassured and happy to see how it was done; with a calm quiet humane approach, with skilled friendly staff in a very professional manner.  We also had some time to look at the lairage, which was clean, airy and well set up to handle large numbers of sheep.  During peak production the plant can cope with 5,000 lambs day.  We looked at the skins that were being salted and packed on site, by a third party, many of these skins end up in China and return to the UK in the form of Ugg boots!
The dirty water produced on the whole site, from the washings of the processing lines, to floor washings and lorry washings is all collected, aerated and filtered through reed beds before ending up, after rigorous testing back in the local stream.

It really was a fantastic visit and one that I will repeat again with another batch of lambs.  To see the end result of 10 months of shepherding, ultimately seeing the carcase that will be processed and delivered to Sainsbury's was very satisfying. I would recommend all farmers to go and see this with their own stock, work with the customer to get more efficient at producing what the customer needs.

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