Farmers’ abattoir use increases

More Cayman meat farmers are using the Government provided abattoir when slaughtering animals.

Assistant Director of Agriculture Brian Crichlow said 147 animals were slaughtered at the abattoir in 2007 compared to 303 in 2008.

‘Farmers are using the abattoir more, as they see first hand the operations, hygiene standards and quality of the final product,’ he said.

Even though Cayman farmers still prefer the old way of slaughtering animals under the tree or in constructed chop shops around the island, Mr. Crichlow said the Department of Agriculture is working with the farming community to encourage the use of the abattoir through public awareness, education and highlighting the advantages and benefits of using the facility. He said workshops assisted by the Department of Environmental Health have also been carried out with butchers in order to advise them on minimum hygiene stands for meat/butcher shops.

This process will be reinforced as more customers, retailers and the public demand safety standards, which can only be achieved within a properly equipped abattoir facility.

‘The Department of Agriculture does not consider under the tree slaughtering as ideal conditions. Only in a properly constructed and operated abattoir can ideal conditions be achieved, particularly as this relates to hygiene and safety standards. The department continues to encourage farmers/butchers to get meats inspected and to upgrade their meat/butcher shops so as to maintain similar levels of hygiene,’ said Mr. Crichlow.

Mr. Crichlow said all meats offered for public sale must undergo post-mortem inspection and be certified fit for human consumption by inspectors from the Department of Environmental Health. Animals slaughtered through the abattoir undergo both ante-mortem inspection by the Department’s veterinary staff and post-mortem inspection by Environmental Health inspectors.

The Agriculture Department delivers all carcasses to supermarkets or other meat establishments as instructed by the livestock owner. Deliveries are carried out in a specially outfitted refrigerated vehicle, in order to maintain the quality of the product and ensure that the same levels of hygiene standards are maintained through out the process.

This service, like the collection of animals for slaughter and the actual slaughter, are provided free to the owner, he said.

‘At present Government is taking care of all the slaughtering for free,’ said Agricultural Society James Sherieff. ‘But there will come a time when farmers will have to pay a fee for the slaughtering of animals.’

He said at present farmers were having problems with supermarkets operators on issues like supply and demand and importation of cheaper cuts of meats. ‘This makes it harder for farmers to make a profit.’ he said.

Mr. Otto Watler said some farmers claim retailing it to customers on the spot means more money than sending meat to supermarkets.

Mr. Crichlow said farmers that have used the facility have been generally pleased with the service and quality of the end product. Given the purpose of the abattoir to provide quality and hygienic slaughter services to livestock farmers in an efficient and timely manner and ensuring the delivery of a safe product, the abattoir is serving its purpose.

Mr. Sherieff said he has been told by farmers that they are only given the four quarters of the animal and the other organs like the sweetbread, liver, lungs, kidney, head, lights and skin are discarded.

Agriculture Department vet Dr. Kanyuira Gikonyo said that was not so.

‘Every animal that is slaughtered belongs to the farmer. If farmers request those parts to be discarded or given to them we do so. If they do not want then it is welcome to anyone who wants it. Of recent, some supermarkets have requested that the liver and kidney come with the animals,’ said Mr. Gikonyo.

At the abattoir, slaughtering is carried out on Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, additional or alternative slaughtering days can be arranged depending on circumstances and demand as during the Christmas season.

The abattoir will not be used for anything else because abattoirs are specialised facilities and cannot be used for any purposes other than the slaughter of animals. To do so, said Mr. Crichlow, would affect the maintenance of the necessary hygiene standards of the facility.

The department has accommodated public tours of the facility on several occasions in the past and it is an option that will be considered for the upcoming Agriculture show.

Mr. Crichlow also reminds livestock farmers that the abattoir is fully equipped and does slaughter all three main classes of livestock, inclusive of cattle, pigs and goats.

Any livestock farmers wishing to use the abattoir can contact either Joseph Jackson at 916-3769 or Mr. Gikonyo at 916-7146 for more information or to make a booking.

Operation of the Abattoir falls under the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture.