Scottish Government to examine viability of ‘mobile abattoirs’

The Scottish Government has announced plans to test the viability of mobile abattoirs in remote parts of the country.

The commitment to look into the cost and need for such a service came as part of a response to a Parliamentary question.

Going mobile

The number of abattoirs in Scotland has decreased over the last few years, most notably with the closure of the abattoir in Orkney.

This has meant that animals from the island must now travel a considerable distance by boat and road to abattoirs on the mainland.

Many larger abattoirs do not provide a ‘private kill’ service, meaning that farmers must sell through a supermarket. This inevitably impacts farm revenues and prevents farmers from selling directly to customers.

Mobile abattoirs that visit individual farms are widely considered to be beneficial for animal welfare, removing the distance animals must travel.

As well as Canada and New Zealand, many EU countries already have mobile abattoirs that enhance animal welfare and biosecurity.

Andrew McCornick, NFU Scotland president, said: “With the steady and worrying loss of small abattoirs across Scotland over the last few years, businesses in more remote areas have been screaming out for a solution with the current costs of slaughter unmanageable for many.

“It is encouraging to see that Scottish Government is looking into the feasibility of using mobile abattoirs as a solution to the lack of affordable slaughter options available to farmers and crofters, particularly those in more remote areas.

“It is important that the Scottish Government now do their due diligence and thoroughly investigate the practicalities of implementing mobile abattoirs in these areas, the costs of compliance with the extensive regulations surrounding abattoirs and any biosecurity issues.

“This is a problem with no one perfect outcome. Mobile abattoirs are not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution but could provide a valuable service to farm businesses looking to add value to their stock by butchering at home or supplying local produce to local retail or catering customers such as hotels, restaurants or farm shops.

“A mobile service could also be a great service for spent hens, especially for smaller producers up north who struggle to get loads of hens away due to the small numbers.

By having a mobile abattoir available to them, these producers would have access to a far more practical means of slaughter.

“While Scotland benefits from have a number of large-scale abattoirs available, and some significant investment going into that sector, mobile abattoirs could be an important part of ensuring a more comprehensive abattoir service across all parts of Scotland.”

However, the Scottish Conservatives said the case was such a service was “well-established” and called for the SNP to “urgently commit” to implementing a network of mobile abattoirs.

Donald Cameron, Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary on rural economy and connectivity said: “The case for a network of mobile abattoirs has been well established and it must be set up now without delay.

“Transporting live animals should be minimised where possible, but currently, farmers have no choice but to drive their animals considerable distances.

“The SNP’s failure to act has already had an extremely negative effect on the rural economy, and farmers cannot wait any longer.

“This is one of the most important ways the SNP can support livestock farmers and improve animal welfare at the same time.”