Can the MSU come to my house/farm?
Sites must meet several criteria: 1) your driveway is accessible for a 36’ long trailer, 2) there is a level area for the unit to park and operate, 3) you have a holding pen for your animals before slaughter, 4) a bathroom facility is available for the use of MSU butchers and the USDA inspector, 5) composting site & county approved water.
If you do not have these facilities, the unit can still come near your house/farm to a regional operating site located either on one of your neighbors’ ranches or on public land. We are working to ensure there are regional operating sites located all around the island. Let us know if you have the facilities listed above and are interested in functioning as a regional operating site. Designated sites with USDA requirement approvals are being identified.
How much space does the truck need?
The MSU is 36’ long x 8’6” wide x 13’4” tall, and is moved by a tractor truck. Site will also need area for three holding pens, composite site + chute to MSU.
How often will it be near my ranch/farm?
This depends on the demand for slaughter services in your region, but the unit is expected to move locations twice per week and to travel around the island every month. So, at a minimum, you can probably expect the unit to be near your ranch approximately every month.
I only have two cows; can I use your service?
Yes! The MSU is designed to be flexible and can accommodate small to mid size ranchers like yourself. When scheduling your slaughter services, the MSU manager will try to coordinate your needs with those of other ranchers in your area to maximize the unit’s daily throughput.
Can the MSU process poultry or rabbits?
This particular MSU is designed to process red meat, only – that include cattle, sheep, goat and pig. Other MSUs are designed to process smaller animals such as poultry and rabbits. Based on demand for smaller animals and success of this unit, we anticipate developing a second MSU to handle those smaller animals in the future. Let us know if you’re interested!
How much do the MSU services cost?
Please refer to rate sheet on this website.
What happens to my meat products after slaughter?
Currently we are only able to offer the following:
- Pay for slaughter services only and have the full or split carcass returned to you directly after slaughter and first 24 hours of chill (the carcass will receive the USDA stamp if processed during an inspected run); this method is appropriate for further processing at an inspected facility such as meat markets, retail, restaurant consumption, or distribution to family and friends.
We plan to offer these options at a later date:
- Pay the co-op for chill, cut/wrap services and have the meat returned to you in aged and packaged custom cuts; this method is appropriate for direct sale to consumers through farmers’ markets, retail stores, or an online farm store.
- Sell the meat through the co-op where it will be branded under the “Hawai’i Island Meat” label; in this method, the co-op buys your product and markets it to consumers along with other ranchers’ meats that conform to the co-op’s high quality standards. You will be paid for the animal at point of slaughter, and receive dividends based on your share of meat sale profits quarterly or annually.
Will you buy my livestock?
Not at this time but at a later date,If you choose future option #2 above, the co-op will buy your animal. To do this, you must meet the Hawai‘i Island Meat’s quality standards for natural, humane production.
Can I keep the hides (plus other items)?
The co-op generally owns the hides and offal, which is taken into account with the slaughter price, but you can purchase them back for a nominal fee.
Who’s running this?
Hawai‘i Island Meat Cooperative was recently formed for the sole purpose of operating the MSU by and for island ranchers. As a producer cooperative, the organization is democratically controlled by its rancher members, who elect a governing board of directors and hold an annual membership meeting. Net profits at the end of the year are redistributed to members based on their patronage in the co-op (use of co-op services).
Can you transport my livestock to the processing sites?
We are currently working on how to address this issue. One idea is to “rent” trailer space from other ranchers in your area with trailers on an “as needed” basis. Please let us know if you have a trailer and would consider renting it to other ranchers in your area or offering transport services for a fee.
When will this be available to use?
The MSU was delivered to the island November 1 2015, and will be ready to use by April 2017.
Can the Co-op sell my meat products on consignment?
Not currently, but the co-op can sell your meat products under a unified Hawai’i Island Meat brand, with quality standards for humane, natural production. Having a unified brand with consistent quality, availability and good advertising is expected to help build the market demand and raise the price for local meats.
Do you offer aging services, if so, how much does that cost?
We are currently working to acquire funds to develop a USDA inspected chill, cut/wrap facility, which would be owned and operated by the co-op and would offer aging services. We don’t yet know how much aging would cost in this facility, but the most promising location for it is currently NELHA, which offers affordable lease rates and chill services using deep ocean water, and would therefore help reduce operating (and service) costs. NELHA is also located near the island’s main consumer hub – Kailua Kona – and could provide a lucrative retail outlet, as well.
How many animals do I need to slaughter to be eligible for on-farm processing?
The unit’s maximum throughput capacity is 8-9 cattle, 15 pigs, or 30 sheep or goats. If you do not meet these numbers, we can still come to your farm as long as you allow other ranchers from the region to bring their animals to the unit as well, so we are able to maximize daily throughput. You must also meet USDA site requirements.
Do I have to join the Co-op?
No. You don’t have to be a co-op member to obtain slaughter services. However, co-op members will have scheduling priority and discounts to services, among other benefits.
How far in advance do I have to schedule my slaughter dates?
For scheduling please contact Phil Bath at 808-966-7218 or email email@example.com. Please allow 30 days to plan slaughter dates and location. Initially, we anticipate asking producers to estimate their slaughter needs over 6 months to help us build a preliminary slaughter schedule, but will then reduce the booking time frame to about 1 month in advance. However, no one will be turned away if there is room in the schedule at the last minute.
What is needed to become a processing site?
There are five main criteria for becoming a processing site:
- Your driveway is accessible for a 36’ long trailer
- There is a level area for the unit to park and operate
- There is a holding pen for the animals to be confined before slaughter
- A bathroom facility is available for the use of MSU butchers and USDA inspector
- An area for composting or pit to properly dispose of offals/animal parts