Cattle processing plant could open soon |

Cattle processing plant could open soon

Mike McKibbin
Citizen Telegram Editor
Mike McKibbin/Citizen Telegram
Staff Photo |

SILT – Area ranchers could soon have a much shorter drive when they take their cattle to be slaughtered.

Pending U.S. Department of Agriculture approval, Eagle Springs Organic will offer the service at its 1,600-acre farm and ranch south of Silt. General Manager Toby Guccini said on Tuesday, Aug. 20, that he hoped final approval would come in a few weeks.

Eagle Springs Organic is a USDA-certified organic farm, where a large variety of vegetables are grown year-round in greenhouses and mineral-rich fields. The farm also raises free-range Highlander cows, pigs, sheep, goats and chickens. Eagle Springs also operates the Farm Fresh Cafe and butcher shop in Rifle.

“Right now, if a rancher wants to take his cows to slaughter, they have to go to Delta or Craig,” Guccini said. “We’ll be able to do butchering for the public and ourselves, for the restaurants we have as customers.”

The operation will include a holding hut and “kill box,” where the animals will be put to death with a “quick and painless” stun gun, Guccini said.

From there, the animals will be hooked to a trolley system and moved to a 700-square-foot aging room for anywhere from 10 to 45 days or longer, he continued.

“They dry age in here,” Guccini said. “Some people like to age it 30 days, some longer. It all depends on the taste you want in the meat. You get a better grade of meat the longer you dry it.”

The flip side of long drying times, he added, is the animals lose more meat the longer they dry.

After the animals have dried for their desired time, they will be moved by trolley to a 850-square-foot cutting room and cut into quarters and primals, the large pieces of meat a butcher then cuts up into steaks for customers, Guccini said.

The facility can accommodate 50 animals in the drying room, and Guccini expects an average of 25-30 animals to be processed each day, once it starts operating on a regular basis.

“We found out that when we needed to slaughter our own animals, the drive was so long, we couldn’t get the meat to our customers fast enough,” Guccini said. “It was always kind of a hit and miss thing. So we decided to build our own.”

Other livestock owners complained about the same thing, so the decision was made to go commercial with the slaughterhouse, he added.

“We get calls every day from people wanting to know if we have the USDA approval yet,” Guccini said.

The farm expects to get USDA approval on a poultry processing operation in a separate building within a week, Guccini said. It already processes chickens for Eagle Springs uses, he added.

“We raise about 850 chickens right now and can go to 4,000 at a time,” Guccini said.

The farm had most of the buildings needed for the two processes, but a 580-square-foot cooler was purchased and relocated from Salt Lake City and installed inside a larger building.

Guccini noted the operation is not allowed to process deer or elk or other wildlife, but the Rifle butcher shop is permitted for that as well.

Eagle Springs employs 46 people and Guccini said once the two processing plants are approved, he could hire between eight to 12 at the livestock operation and six to eight at the poultry plant.

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