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Former world shearing champion to build venison abattoir in the UK

A former world shearing champion has received a grant and planning permission to enable him to build his own on-farm abattoir to process deer.

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Former world shearing champion to build venison abattoir in the UK

New Zealand-born Matt Smith, who once sheared 731 sheep in nine hours, averaging one every 44 seconds, runs 1,100 New Zealand Romneys on an upland unit near Launceston, Cornwall.

 

Mr Smith and his wife Pip currently run 330 hinds and their followers over 73 hectares (180 acres).

 

Due to recent closures, the nearest abattoir is an eight-hour drive from the farm.

 

The couple recently gained Leader funding and planning permission for a new on-farm abattoir capable of processing and butchering up to 50 deer/week.

 

Construction is due to begin within weeks, he told the recent Oxford Farming Conference.

 

The new enterprise has required bank support to pay for fencing and good handling facilities.

 

“We also invested heavily in chasing the best genetics. Carcase yield, temperament and fertility are all important,” Mr Smith added.

 

The aim was to produce the sort of consistent product which chefs demanded.


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Venison’s popularity

 

  • The UK venison market is worth £100 million, showing 10 per cent year-on-year growth
  • The UK is 70 per cent self- sufficient, but 70 per cent of that came from wild deer and 25 per cent from imports, with only 5 per cent from farm production
  • The deadweight price for deer finished at 15-18 months is between £5 and £6 per kg
  • The target is a carcase yield of 110kg/hectare (44.5kg/acre)
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