An abattoir is another name for the place where animals are butchered. You will see these terms interchanged often in the industry of raising animals and selling meat. Hickory Nut Gap Meats uses two such abattoirs to process our animals. Mays Meats located in Taylorsville, North Carolina and Washington County Meats in Bristol, Virginia both located two hours from our farm. Hickory Nut Gap Farm, and other local producers in our company, take pigs and cows we have raised to one of these two abattoirs, or processors as we tend to say, for their final moments. Both Mays Meats and Washington County Meats are Animal Welfare Approved (a third party certification) processing facilities, which in short, means they take great care of the animals we have raised in the last phase of their life. Why is this so important? We believe honoring the animal with a peaceful exit rather than a stressful one ultimately affects the quality of the food we are consuming on many levels. The long term relationship we have developed with both of our processors is essential to ensuring our animals well being even after they leave the farm.
In the past year there has been an erroneous account of where we process our meat in a short essay in the Mountain Express. We were never contacted by the author who assumed he had his facts straight. He did not. It was stated that our business and environmental impact are in fact not sustainable because we truck our pigs all the way to Pennsylvania. Two hours is the maximum time our live animals spend on a trailer and they do not go to Pennsylvania. We do ship meat to PA to be further value added because no such facility exists in our region. This meat is shipped UPS and made into our beef jerky, beef sticks, and kielbasa summer sausage.
Opening in 2011, a federally inspected poultry processing facility will add one more option for local processing. This is going to allow us to raise more pastured chickens to help meet our current demand and offer more of a variety of cuts. In the five year range, is talk of a processor in western North Carolina that could serve our growing agricultural economy. At Hickory Nut Gap we too are exploring adding value and variety to our meat selection by having an on farm aging room and value added capabilities as well as an inspected kitchen and on farm eatery. We will keep you posted!