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Farm Open Day

Information Evening

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

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

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, phone Stephen on 0447712370 or check out Pride of Oak Tablelands Premier Meats on facebook.

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