Stephen with Sean Murphy from ABC Landline
At the Orange Farmers Market
Cut Through - the low-volume abattoir providing customised service
ABC Landline broadcast 15 .10.17
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A low-volume livestock producer started his own abattoir when he couldn’t obtain the standard of service he expected from existing providers. Now, his abattoir and meat processing works employs five people, and provides a custom service to similar minded farmers invested in the way their livestock is processed.
When chef Brendan Sheldrick gave up on his promising career to go quail farming, he knew there would be a keen market for ethically-produced, pasture-raised birds.
But the missing ingredient for his plan was an abattoir that would guarantee to slaughter and process low numbers of the delicate poultry.
As he developed his farm and grew a market, consistency of supply would be crucial, he said.
"It's probably the second most important thing we can do here on the farm, so the most important thing is to have a really beautiful tasting product with a great story and then you need to back it up with consistency," Mr Sheldrick said.
With his partner Leanne Crofts, he bought a 15-hectare hobby farm at Eugowra in the central west of New South Wales early this year because it was close to a boutique abattoir at Canowindra.
They were able to negotiate with the owner, Stephen Tamplin, to find the most humane way to dispatch their birds by gassing them and having them processed minimally with heads and feet on for maximum appeal to chefs.
"From day one we were involved in the process, I know he workshopped that process with his staff as well, it was a collective process to get a stress free product out of the abattoir," Mr Sheldrick said.
No order too small
Mr Tamplin bought Pride of Oak, a 30-hectare farm at Canowindra in 2002 to grow chemical-free livestock and poultry, but said he was forced into building his own abattoir because sale yards and slaughter houses were not interested in low volume producers.
"You take what you have to the market and in the saleyard you're not going to be given prime position, you're end of the line and you take a price penalty for that," Mr Tamplin said.
"So then we started getting some directly processed through butchers who had accounts at the abattoirs and we weren't always certain we were getting back what we should have been.
"So I had my own account opened at an abattoir and had questions again about some of the things that were coming back and some of the things that obviously weren't coming back.
"When I made complaints I was told to take my business elsewhere if I could, and having nowhere to go, the only place to go was to build my own."
Mr Tamplin built his meatworks on farm and became a licensed meat inspector and meat safety officer to have greater control over his business, but he soon tapped into strong demand from other small farmers with the same experiences.
He now slaughters dozens of lambs, goats and pigs every week as well as hundreds of chickens and other poultry.
No order is too small.
"If someone brings in one of something we're quite happy to process that the same as if someone brought in many more," he said.
"I think the people who've got the one or two 'lawn mowers' or one or two worn-out egg layers still value what they've got, and we need to provide them a similar service without any penalty for only having a small number.
"If we're running two or 300 chickens through, which is a common event in a batch, then it's no problem to tack that one or two on as long as we can keep them separated and we know where they are going."
'A happy quail is a tasty quail'
Mr Sheldrick said the presentation of his quail was paramount to his fine dining clientele, but so was provenance. Every step of the process from hatch to dispatch had to be transparent.
"We're happy to let anybody involved in the food trade walk around and see what we do," he said.
"There are no secrets here and you know having that transparency is important to the diner as well.
"It's something that the floor staff, the waiters, can talk about to the guests and involve them in the dining experience, to be not just more connected with the restaurant, but more connected with the food they're eating as well."
Before trying his hand at farming Mr Sheldrick worked at Sydney's Rockpool restaurant for 10 years and had been head chef at the high-profile Rosetta's restaurant in Melbourne's Crown Casino.
He knew there was already steady demand for quail in the fine dining sector but had identified a gap in the market for pasture-raised birds.
"I know these birds live in grass, that's their natural habitat so I thought why not give it a go and give these little birds a shot at living in their natural environment and see what sort of flavour and texture we could get out of the bird.
"What we've found is whilst we might not have the biggest bird on the market, the flesh is dark, the fat is really good, the birds are happy and shiny.
"You know they've got all their feathers and they're free to exhibit their natural behaviour … you can see them dust bathing, you can see them chasing each other, you can see them flying, you can see them getting blown up by the wind and sorting themselves out.
"So I think much like any other animal, a happy quail is a tasty quail."
ABC Landline interview Sean Murphy October 2017
Sean Murphy's crew from ABC Landline visited our farm and facility in October. They were completing a story on our abattoir - its unique grower / processor position. The crew spending 2 days on farm, filming our processing, smallgoods manufacturing, then coming to the Orange Farmers Market.
They interviewed our clients during their delivery and receival of stock, and also visited a client's quail breeding facility.
Thank you to our staff for their patience and cooperation to ensure everything went smoothly, while experiencing a taste of film industry.
This interview was broadcast on 15 October 2017 ABC Landline
Undercover holding pens
Science of a Success Western
Magazine March 6 2017 Taylor Jurd
Delivering exceptional high-quality service and customer satisfaction is the aim of Tablelands Premier Meats, an on-farm fully licenced abattoir and meat processor near Canowindra in the Central West NSW Australia.
Owned by Stephen and Dorothy Tamplin, the dual-licence micro abattoir processes its own naturally grown animals, and provides service kills of sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, chickens, ducks and turkeys for other growers
“I want to eat clean, chemical-free, good, healthful meat so I grow and process my own animals in a chemical-free environment.”
As a fully-qualified and accredited NSW Food Authority Meat Safety Officer, Stephen is passionate about complying with food safety rules and regulations.
Born in England, he moved to Australia with his family when he was about two years-old in the 1950’s. He was 14 years of age when he first became involved in agriculture, growing calves and chickens.
Stephen was later employed with the Department of Agriculture in Tasmania, and has always been interested in providing chemical-free, clean food.
After establishing an on-farm butchery and out-sourcing the kills, Stephen decided to take greater control of his product. He redeveloped his premises, and in 2013 received his abattoir licence, which was how Tablelands Premier Meats began.
The abattoir is located on his property ‘Pride of Oak’, running a small herd of 200 dorpers, 30-40 boar goats, pigs, Angus x cattle and chickens, ducks and turkeys.
The abattoir has zero chemicals in its processing. “Meat shouldn’t have chemicals applied,” he said. “Once it’s been killed it should be able to age and its colour darkens naturally, pink meat after two weeks implies chemical treatment”.
Tablelands Premier Meats has clients from Victoria, throughout the Central West of NSW, the ACT, the Far West, the Hunter Valley region and South Coast, and the local area around Canowindra.
Not only is the company able to do private kills, but it provides services such as butchering, packing, and labelling the meat products.
“We are a processing point for a lot of retail, value- adding small growers,” Stephen said. “There are many meat retail farmers relying on our facility. We cater for the individual needs of the clients. There’s no limit to the cut types we do, it’s what the customer wants. “And we get good feedback about what we do. We sell on-farm, at local farmers markets and do home delivery within our local area.”
Tablelands Premier Meats regularly hosts information days where Stephen shares his experiences and basic information on how and why he set up a private meat processing facility to suit his own needs and markets.
He also provides consultancy to like-minded growers wanting to process their stock.
Fore more information Stephen can be contacted on 0447712370.
You can also visit the website at www.tablelandspremiermeats.com
Poultry processor gets plucky with white meat options The Land JESSIE DAVIES 25 Feb 2016
Stephen Tamplin established Tablelands Premier Meats licensed abattoir with his wife Dorothy.
Finding a place to butcher your birds is one of the last steps for a poultry grower, but in NSW it can be the hardest.
After a decade of consolidation in both the poultry and meat processing industries, there are just a handful of abattoirs left that process poultry for small growers. Finding one nearby may be tricky. Tablelands Premier Meats in Canowindra is the only white meat processor in Central West NSW.
The abattoir was established by Stephen and Dorothy Tamplin three years ago to process their own red meat but it wasn’t long until they saw how desperate local poultry growers were for a processing service. Today, poultry growers from around the state (and beyond) flock to the family-owned on-farm abattoir.
Their business has allowed several people to develop their own.
“We have clients who bring birds from Hay, Condobolin, Braidwood and Bathurst. Some come from the middle of Victoria – a very long way indeed,” Mr Tamplin said. “Previously, poultry growers had the choice of sending their birds to Kempsey, Sydney or Bega – that’s it.” He said the disappearance of small abattoirs had taken place for a number of reasons.
“The sad fact is many of the smaller abattoirs which had white meat licences were bought up by bigger operators who then closed their smaller operations so they could focus on their larger facilities aimed at the export market,” Mr Tamplin said. He said as a rule large poultry growers had an integrated business model which didn’t allow for the processing birds for private clients.
“The larger poultry processors won’t do private kills due to biosecurity risks, product identification difficulties and efficiency reasons.” Mr Tamplin said the start-up and ongoing costs to run an abattoir were steep. Prior to opening the business he became a qualified meat inspector and accredited meat safety officer. “There’s nothing wrong with having very strict health regulation - I fully support it,” he said. “But there are audits on a regular basis plus annual licensing fees – it gets very expensive.”
Further, the administrative work required to service many small clients was time-consuming, Mr Tamplin explained. “It’s very important to run a schedule that limits downtime between different clients,” he said.
Where Australia’s largest poultry processing establishment kills and processes 33 million birds per year, or 630,000 birds a week, Tablelands Premier Meats does 2000 to 3000 a month. It employs up to six staff.
"We don't take up a lot of space, just 95 square metres in total when you combine the slaughter area, dressing and butchering, processing, weighing, chilling and packaging," he said. Unlike the major processors, the Tamplins don’t specify a minimum number of birds their clients must bring for slaughter.
They charge per bird and can process chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and emus. “It doesn’t matter to us how many birds you have, we just add them to our schedule,” he said. They can make value-added products at their request.
On their Canowindra property the Tamplins run cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and their own poultry including chickens, ducks and turkeys. Their own product is labelled under the Tablelands Premier Meats logo while stock slaughtered for other people is acknowledged as processed by the company. They sell their own produce at farmers markets in Blayney, Orange, Forbes and Gooloogong market and deliver to private clients. The small abattoir can process a chicken in 90 seconds.
To start plucking
From woe-to-go, a chicken is processed at Tablelands Premier Meats in just 90 seconds. The steps include:
- Assess the bird’s condition. All birds must be healthy to begin.
- Stun them using an electric stunner. This renders them senseless.
- Place the birds in a cone and make an incision in their necks.
- Scald the birds. This allows some of the fat to melt around the pin feathers making it easier to de-feather.
- De-feather the birds in a machine which softly tumbles them around.
- Place birds in an ice-bath to cool their body temperature.
- Remove the organs from the birds’ abdominal cavity.
- Inspect the hygiene of the batch by swabbing the birds and testing for E. coli and Salmonella bacteria. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Farm Open Day
Small kills will benefit small producers | Farm Online April 28 2015 Mark Griggs
Slaughtering up to 45 lambs in a day's kill may not be big business for most abattoirs in NSW, but cool room capacity and a limited power supply determines this number at a small, but enterprising abattoir near Canowindra in the state's Central West NSW Australia.
As most of the meat processing industry slips further down the path of consolidation - including the recent controversial sale of Primo's Scone abattoir to Brazilian giant JBS - Stephen and Dorothy are making their own success at the small, local end of the scale.
Red meat species such as lambs, sheep or goats make up each Monday's tally, along with pigs, alpaca, at their business, Tablelands Premier Meats, where three days of chilling is provided before release.
Other species such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, or even emu are slaughtered on Thursday, but as they don't need the same chilling time they are ready for delivery or pick-up that afternoon or the next day.
Because the business is in a rural lands area, the power supply is only single phase. That's a negative as well as a positive to owners Stephen and Dorothy Tamplin, who say their "little" abattoir - fitting into a total area of 95 square metres - fills a "nice niche" between the bigger trade and export slaughterhouses.
"This size has proved not only good for us, but also good for a lot of small operators who are losing access to major abattoirs for their stock processing," Mr Tamplin said. "A big abattoir putting through 1000 sheep a day really doesn't want to know about your two, my three and somebody else's four sheep for private kills.
"But there are a lot of people who want to grow their own meat on their farm and have it for their own consumption or who want to make a living from selling it to friends, family, or even at farmers' markets."
The Tamplins started off in 2012 just processing lambs. "Then we were asked to do a couple of goats, and then a couple of pigs and one thing led to another," he said.
The Tamplin's product is labelled under the Tablelands Premier Meats logo while stock slaughtered for other people is acknowledged as processed by the company.
Being a small abattoir employing six staff the Tamplins only have a small footprint.
"We don't take up a lot of space, just 95 square metres in total when you combine the slaughter area, dressing and butchering, processing, weighing, chilling and packaging," Mr Tamplin said.
The complex is chemical free.
"We use no chemicals in our processing and our microbiology tests, done every month, prove we are not growing harmful pathogens."
They use an ultraviolet high pressure filtration system for water which is not chlorinated.
"Other abattoirs have to use chlorine in their water which leaves chlorine residue on the animals and carcases," he said.
"That results in... meat losing its organic status, so our abattoir also has this as a positive."
All waste is composted and returned back to the paddocks on the 28-hectare property and water is not recycled, but is used to water pasture.
"It goes through an evaporation trench and filtered through rock and sand," he said.
As an insurance for the future the Tamplins participate in the National Residue Survey (NRS) so they can keep track of all their product going out of the abattoir.
"We don't have to do this but it is a safeguard and nobody can come back at us as we have the test results on record," Mr Tamplin said.
Tablelands Premier Meats may be a micro abattoir, however, the Tamplins say they meet a need.
"We are never going to compete with JBS or Fletchers but we provide a beneficial service to others, especially small producers who want their own product processed in the way they are happy with," he said.
Canowindra abattoir an easy starter
THE road to creating an abattoir went "fairly well" for Stephen and Dorothy Tamplin who set up their own small processing facility on their property near Canowindra just three years ago.
"We wanted an on-farm butchery where we could sell what we grew," Mr Tamplin said.
Like many producers who like to eat their own product the Tamplins had to have their stock processed elsewhere.
"But getting the carcase of my own animal back was not a certainty," he said.
People told them it couldn't be done so easily, but Mr Tamplin said he could see other abattoirs about, "so it can be done".
"I went through all the rigmarole of council approvals, food authority approval for the plans before we started and I even trained as a meat inspector," he said.
"I had a lot of co-operation from Cowra Shire Council and the NSW Food Authority and the approval process went through fairly smoothly," he said. The abattoir has the capacity for 200 head of sheep a week, but the cool room capacity is for only 45 carcases.
Visitors from New Caledonia
Presentation at Wagga Wagga Council
Visitors from Samoa
Samoan Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
Rotary Reflections: persistence pays off for specialist abattoir owner
Cowra Guardian 1 July 2015
This week the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Cowra meeting was Steve Tamplin from Pride of Oak 'Tablelands Premier Meats'.
Stephen was born in England. He was originally an aircraft mechanic/pilot. He then moved into ambulance and nursing work. In 2002 he bought "Pride of Oak" in Canowindra as well as pursuing a career as a Naturopath. He learned a lot through being an agricultural proof reader with the Tasmanian Department of Agriculture.
He found that the price he got for his stock was always less than expected. He then decided to breed Dorpers but found nobody was interested at the sale yard. After trying to have his sheep slaughtered and then sell them did not produce the results he hoped for he decided on an on farm abattoir. There was no guarantee that he would get his license, but he went ahead and built it regardless that even though he had a meat inspector's certificate there was still not guarantee that it would all come together.
However through persistence Steve finally got licensed as a domestic abattoir. Steve is licensed for both red and non-red meat and specialises in sheep, goats, pigs, alpacas, chooks and ducks. He sells directly to the public and his meat has no chemicals in the meat and even uses non chlorinated water. He has seven staff on the property to help with farm work/abattoir work/ butchering.
He does private kills for hobby farmers, organic producers and market growers.
His flock of Dorper sheep are run on grass and are not grain fed. Dorpers produce on average 20 per cent more meat. They are not a wool producing sheep with their protein going into producing muscle and meat.
With his sheep there is minimal handling with no dogs used to do the herding. The aim is for stress free handing and leading to tender meat.
Skins are tanned on the property and sold to the public as well as specialists. Steve sells his meat regularly at various farmers markets.
Such is the interest in what he is doing that he has hosted international fact finding tours from such diverse countries as South Korea, Samoa and Vanuatu. He has featured with being interviewed in TV shows such as Landline.
He is actively working and consulting with other people to get community abattoirs up and running.
The Korean delegates enjoyed the day on our farm
Korean party tours local abattoir Canowindra News 9 Apr 2014
A Canowindra abattoir hosted a Republic of Korea touring party this week, showcasing local methods for small-scale animal killings.
Tablelands Premier Meats hosted the Korean delegation, which featured scientists and researchers from leading Korean universities. The touring party will also visit Forbes, as part of their Central West trip.
The Korean delegates visited the boutique abattoir to learn the different ways a small-scale abattoir can be run. Sang-suk Lee is the Professor of Animal Science at Sunchon National University in Korea and believes his country needs to adopt the methods of smaller Australian abattoirs, like Tablelands Premier Meats.
"They want to experience the Australian systems and find out what is competitive in Australia,' said Mr Lee.
"The free trade agreement is going to be signed so tariffs will be going down and we need to find out what is going on."
During their visit, the Koreans enjoyed a lunch which featured meats from the abattoir. This included lamb and goat meat, rarely consumed in Korea.
Stephen Tamplin founded Tablelands Premier Meats when he saw an opening in the abattoir industry.
"The abattoir developed because the mainstream abattoirs did not want to provide service kills to the small operator," said Mr Tamplin.
Mr Tamplin and his wife Dorothy have been processing on their Pride of Oak site for 18 months. "We also offer a service to larger growers who want to improve the quality of the carcass," said Mr Tamplin.
The Tamplin's invited the Korean researchers to their property to help strengthen the relationship between Australian and Korean animal practices
"I hope the Koreans enjoy seeing how things can be done on a boutique basis, for a relatively low cost," said Mr Tamplin
"I have no financial outcomes for today, it is to show our visitors what we have achieved."
While the Korean government partly subsidise their animal services, abattoirs struggle to compete with larger multinational companies.
Pride of Oak Homestead
Abattoir open, producers take it from paddock to plate | Nov 2013 Canowindra News
They’ve become Australia’s favourite meat sheep and ‘Pride of Oak’ dorpers in Canowindra have taken their starring role at a new on-farm livestock facility for sheep and goat producers.
The first private abattoir license to be issued in many years, Tablelands Premier Meats, owned by Stephen and Dorothy Tamplin is now open for business.
With abattoirs generally preferring to cater for large numbers, Stephen said he saw a gap in the market.
“There are a lot of people who have small holdings, one or two ‘lawnmower’ sheep and we can cater to them,” he said.
“We are especially set up to meet the needs of hobby farmers, organic growers, market retailers, and the independent butcher trade because we don’t have a minimum number for kill runs.
“We can legally slaughter, butcher and pack the meat. We kill them and chill them and then leave to hang for a minimum of two or three days to make the meat more tender.”
With their own flock lambing all year round and grown naturally, Tablelands Premier Meats is set up as a fully functioning grower and butcher, also catering to anyone without their own ‘lawnmowers.’
“There’s definitely a push towards purchasing local meats, we had one local lady last week who’s hosting people from Sydney and she put an order in for next Friday,” he said.
Supplying their own meat in cryovac packs, the Tamplins offer a refrigerated delivery service as well as supplying meat from their Cowra-based shop, Central West Naturopathic.
All meat sold on site is price-labelled and available at a competitive rate and with meat being sold at markets in Orange, Bathurst and Forbes, the couple are seeing an increase in familiar faces returning to purchasing local Canowindra meats.
“It really is paddock to plate; meat like it used to be,” Mr Tamplin said.
“It only leaves the farm to go to you.”
After owning and operating three properties in Tasmania before moving to Sydney for work, Mr Tamplin said he is now happy at home in the Canowindra surrounds.
“I came to the mainland, got lost and here I am,” he joked.
“It’s just beautiful here and we welcome families, particularly from the city to come and have farm visits at the same time.
“We have friends in Sydney and Newcastle who come and stay- and they always take our meat back.”
While the dorpers are the main attraction, their ‘security guards,’ alpacas Fraser and Candyman are always on hand to do their bit in keeping predators away- just not of the red and white kind
“If it’s a black dog on the loose then they’ll protect the sheep but because we’ve got two red and white dogs the alpacas have become desensitised to foxes- I’ve actually seen them lying down and a fox just walk right through the middle,” Mr Tamplin said.
“They are great for the sheep though, Fraser will go first through into a new paddock, he’s like the security guard and if a lamb is missing Candyman gets upset until they’re found.”
While stock losses to foxes were high for many years, the installation of fox lights on the fences has proved to be a winner.
“It’s been the best investment. The sheep camp between the lights and they’re protected- it’s like a disco for the sheep,” Mr Tamplin laughed.
An Accredited Meat Safety Officer, Mr Tamplin said experienced staff from local areas have proved invaluable to the new enterprise.
“They’re a good team of staff; an asset to the business,” he said.
For more information or to place an order email [email protected], phone Stephen on 0447712370 or check out Pride of Oak Tablelands Premier Meats on facebook.