What is 'Home-kill'?


A phrase that bemuses tourists to rural New Zealand. Home kill is a term used to describe meat that is processed on a farm for consumption by the farm owner and farm worker's family. This means that the animals are slaughtered and butchered on the farm itself, minimising the stress that the animals may experience during transport and in the abattoir. This method of processing animals is not only beneficial for the welfare of the animals but also has a significant impact on the eating quality of the meat.

The welfare benefits of processing on the farm are numerous. When animals are processed on the farm, they are in their home environment, and they do not face the fear, stress, or pain of being transported to an unfamiliar location. This means that the stress on the animal is minimised, and they are in a more relaxed state when they are slaughtered.

The eating quality benefits of home kill are also well known. The stress that animals experience before slaughter can have a significant impact on the quality of the meat. When an animal is stressed before slaughter, its muscles use up their energy reserves, such as glycogen, faster than normal. As a result, the pH levels in the muscle increase, leading to a meat that is darker in colour with a dry sticky texture. Additionally, the production of lactic acid, which is a byproduct of the breakdown of glycogen in the muscles, can lead to a sour taste and a softer texture than normal meat. 

Perhaps most importantly, when animals are stressed before slaughter, their bodies release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can increase the metabolism of fats in the animal's body, which can lead to a reduction in the concentration of omega-3 fatty acids and an increase in the concentration of omega-6 fatty acids in the meat. This can have a significant impact on the health benefits of the meat. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for maintaining good health. They are essential fats that our bodies need but cannot produce on their own. Omega-3s have been linked to a variety of health benefits, including improved heart health, reduced inflammation, and improved brain function. In contrast, high levels of omega-6 fatty acids have been linked to increased inflammation and a higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

The benefits of provenance cannot be overstated either. Knowing who, where, and how the animal was raised provides confidence in quality, and peace of mind, alongside the animal welfare, eating quality, and health benefits.

However, there are regulations in place that limit the availability of home-kill meat. According to regulations, home kill service providers can only sell meat to people who have a role in husbandry for 28 days. There are strict fines in place for anyone who flouts these rules.

This is where mobile abattoirs come in. Mobile abattoirs are effectively licensed home-kill operations that can sell the meat to the market. The abattoir on wheels, with all the required licences, comes to the farmer's farm just like a home-kill provider, processes the animal, and then the farmer can sell the meat directly to the market. This means that consumers can get access to the benefits of home-kill, without having to worry about breaking any regulations.

Earth First has processed the first animal through a mobile abattoir and is now providing the ability for more farmers to get their meat direct to market. While this is a relatively new concept, it has the potential to revolutionise the way that meat is processed and sold. 

As consumers, we have the power to choose where our meat comes from and how it's processed. Supporting farmers by buying direct means we can ensure that animals are treated with care and that we're getting the best possible meat for our health and well-being.

Localised food relationships

Local food relationships require a path to market from farm to fork that includes processing, packaging, and handling. Modern micro-processing technologies that comply with food standards allow direct channeling to the market from farms. At [Website Name], we work with farmers who respect animals and prioritize their welfare in the most ethical processing of milk and meat.

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