Small slaughterhouses: key to the viability of extensive livestock farming

By Trashumancia y Naturaleza

After months of work, we present the report Small slaughterhouses: key to the viability of extensive livestock farming that analyzes the importance of building a network of small local slaughterhouses to achieve sustainable food systems.

This report was born after the report Identification of barriers and opportunities in the extensive sheep-goat value chain commissioned by WWF Spain and Trashumancia y Naturaleza from Gannik (Gestión Ambiental de Navarra S.A.). Their conclusions highlighted as the main obstacles to the low profitability of extensive sheep-goat farming, the lack of differentiation between extensive and intensive farming, the slaughterhouse model and sanitary hygiene regulations.

After its publication, Trashumancia y Naturaleza saw the need to develop further analysis of this  ‘slaughterhouse bottleneck’. Is there an alternative model to industrial slaughterhouses? Would it be feasible to propose a network of small slaughterhouses at national level that would facilitate this final and crucial stage of the extensive livestock farming cycle?

In recent decades, most local slaughterhouses have closed, so industrial slaughterhouses are emerging as the only alternative for extensive livestock farming. For small farms, access to these facilities is often complicated. The reasons are several: large slaughterhouses are located far from rural areas, which increases costs and obstacles for small livestock farms and implies loss of animal welfare, conditions for ethical production and a greater environmental impact. On the other hand, on many occasions traceability is lost and with it, the opportunity to differentiate the benefits provided by extensive livestock products.

This report highlights the need to implement alternatives to the industrial slaughterhouse model and reviews some initiatives that are already under way, not only in Spain but also in other Western countries. These alternative options offer a starting point for the consolidation of a varied network of small static or mobile slaughterhouses to increase the profitability of pastoral systems and extensive livestock farming.

Transhumance and Nature is part of the Working Group of Small and Artisan Productions, representing the Platform for Extensive Livestock and Pastoralism. This coalition of small agri-food initiatives works to explore ways of applying the new sanitary hygiene regulations, so another of the key objectives of Small slaughterhouses is precisely to look into how its flexibility criteria can pave the way for the construction of alternatives to industrial slaughterhouses.

The report (in Spanish) can be downloaded here: Pequeños mataderos: clave para la viabilidad de la ganadería extensiva.

Report by AMNC project Small slaughterhouses: key to the viability of extensive livestock farming | mednatureculture