Friday, November 12, 2010

Inside Ranch Foods Direct's mobile slaughter unit

Posted By on Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 3:06 PM

I attended part of Ranch Foods Direct's live slaughter demonstration earlier today at Venetucci Farm, which we told you about in this week's Side Dish.

For some of the animals at Venetucci Farm, today was just another day in the sun, best spent rooting around.
  • Matthew Schniper
  • For some of the animals at Venetucci Farm, today was just another day in the sun, best spent rooting around.

RFD head Mike Callicrate and crew were joined throughout the demo by everyone from families (including small children) and a curious local veterinarian to college students and ranchers and interested parties from three surrounding states.

Guests were allowed to witness as much of the process as they wished, as close-up as they preferred. People watched the steers and hogs being killed and bled before carted up to the mobile unit. From there, many people, including kids, climbed inside next to the butchers to watch the animals meticulously disassembled.

For those of us who didn't grow up on farms or even in agricultural communities, the whole process was eye-opening, to say the least. Keeping in mind that this process is much more humane — since the animals don't have to undergo the stress of travel to a large slaughter facility — made watching even the gross or sad parts bearable.

Temporary residents of the mobile chicken unit help improve the farm with their peckings about and manure.
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Temporary residents of the mobile chicken unit help improve the farm by generating manure and eating grubs.

Far from a twisted bloodlust — though the mood was upbeat — there was a certain spirit of curiosity and intrigue among the crowd. The ranchers had seen it all before, the Ranch Foods Direct employees helped point things out to the kids and explain the process, and people generally joked around and acted natural — I didn't see anyone get squeamish while I was there.

As showing is always stronger than telling, I've built a brief slideshow for those not able to attend. Be warned — it's got some blood-and-gut shots. But in between, it shows the features of the trailer (a filtration and water facility up front, a cooler in the middle and the slaughter room in back) and some farm goings-on.

I of course end with pics of cute little piggies, who were actually born just four weeks ago, for the patronizing and clichéd reminder that life goes on. At the end of the day, this is farm life, and the mobile unit is seeking to help it function better.

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