Rare breed enthusiasts have been advised to make better use of the abattoirs that currently exist rather than hold out for a new network of niche slaughterhouses.
Prominent Fife and Tayside butcher, Stuart Minick made the point at a debate on the future of local abattoirs at the Smallholder Festival in Forfar Mart, where the audience heard only 23 slaughterhouses now exist in Scotland, and not all of them cater for small batches or private kills.
He said: “You’re not going to get a network of abattoirs that’s going to handle horned cattle or hairy pigs.
“I don’t see how it can work – but we can make better use of what we’ve already got.”
Mr Minick was responding to an appeal by Christopher Price, the chief executive of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST), for the Scottish Government to make a one-off investment in new local abattoirs.
“Government has to pay,” he said.
“Bearing in mind the amount of flux agriculture is going to go through in the next three years, it’s not unreasonable to say the Scottish Government should make a one-off investment in structural change.”
Mr Price said the current infrastructure didn’t work for “non-standard” animals, but he acknowledged that producers needed to make better use of small outlets, even if they were not always the most convenient.
He added: “There is an obligation on us. We need to be helping those guys even if it’s a pain for us. We can’t complain a good abattoir has gone if we haven’t used it.“
Jane Prentice of Downfield Abattoir in Fife said demand for private kills was growing, with bookings being made as far ahead as 2023.
The festival’s award winners included the champion goat, Balmedie Hope, a Boer kid from Maureen and Malcolm Ross, Belhelvie, and the reserve champion, Mollfol Angel, a Pygmy kid from Kim Falconer from Duntrune, Dundee.
The sheep champion was a Welsh Badgerface Torwen ram lamb from Neil, Zoe and Sam Robson, Huntly and in reserve place was a Coloured Ryland ram lamb from Susan Bryden, Lockerbie.
The poultry champion was a Saxony duck from A & C Brandi, Dunfermline, and in reserve place was a White Pekin bantam cockerel from Lesley Main-Reade, West Lothian.