Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Alta. bison wanted to test mobile abattoir

Researchers in Alberta are looking for four bison farms or feedlots to help test the effects of on-farm slaughter, using a mobile abattoir, on meat quality and animal stress.

The provincial and federal ag departments and Olds College are collaborating on a study that will study bison for pre-slaughter stress and the quality of the carcass and meat. It’s part of a larger study of the technical and business feasibility of what they call a multi-location abattoir (MLA).

The study needs four bison farms or feedlots willing to have the MLA come to their location — tentatively sometime in September through November this year — and slaughter 12 to 16 bison bulls between 18 and 36 months of age at each farm.

Markers of physiological stress, carcass characteristics and meat quality attributes of animals slaughtered in the MLA would then be compared against those of animals kept traditionally in permanent slaughter facilities after a period of transport, overnight holding and pre-slaughter handling.

The benefit to the co-operating farm is that there would be no kill fees, the province said in a release Thursday.

Half of the animals will be processed in the mobile unit and their carcasses will be provincially inspected. The producers will be asked to transport the other half of the animals to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lacombe Research Centre to be slaughtered at the federally inspected abattoir there. At the owner’s option, these carcasses may be processed to sub-primal cuts and trim.

Further processing of the MLA carcasses and all meat will be the responsibility of the co-operating farms, the province said. The project will require the entire rib and loin from one side of each carcass for muscle quality evaluations. Compensation would be paid for the meat used in the trial.

Designed for cooler capacity for about 10 finished beef steers, the 53-foot long, 14-foot high, eight-foot wide MLA was built by Trivan Truck Body of Washington and delivered to Olds College in January.

The unit is pulled by a semi tractor and is a totally self-sufficient slaughter plant with its own power, water, holding tanks and cooler, the province said.

Bison producers interested in participating are asked to call Wayne Robertson of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at 403-782-8124 or Jayson Galbraith of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development at 780-679-5171 for more information.

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