As the prices for meat of cattle can be very volatile and the farm on which the good practice is implemented has high fixed costs due to the high standard of animal housing, the farmer took the decision for self-marketing. The farm is located in the catchment area of Cologne and Bonn. The farmer made the decision that all animals were not only raised and finished on that farm but also slaughtered there. So the authorization of an own slaughterhouse was obtained. To fully utilise the capacity of the slaughterhouse and the workers the possibility of contract slaughtering for surrounding small farms is offered. The farmer follows the approach of an "open farm". All customers are allowed to look inside the stables of the farm's animals to get an idea of the housing on the farm. The cows and heifers are grazing during summer and held in a loose housing in winter interspersed with straw. Feeding in winter is composed of hay and corn-silage. Bulls are castrated at the age of six to seven months so they can stay in the original herd with the female heifers. With implementing the own slaughtering and the self-marketing the farm is independent from market prices for meat or animals for slaughtering.
The major challenges for this farmer were the high production costs and the strong volatility of the prices of meat and of animals for slaughtering. The implementation took place over a year as all requirements for obtaining authorization of the own slaughterhouse and the shop for self-markteing had to be designed and fullfilled. The main benefits that accrue to the farmer is to be more independent from market prices for meat and animals for slaughtering. Moreover, the customers value the opportunity to look at housing conditions of the animals themself. The main bottleneck was to fullfill the requirements for obtaining authorization of slaughterhouse and shop for self-marketing.
A key success factor has been a good and constant communication with the competent authorities. Lessons learned from this good practice is to have polite communication with competent authorities, to fullfil every necessary requirement and to plan properly the slaughterings of the animals.
Important impacts are that the farmer receives higher prices for animal products, that the consumers like to look at animal housing facilities with high animal comfort and that the stress of animals decrease because no transportation to a slaughterhouse is needed.
Author: Till Masthoff - German Livestock Association