Koallah Farm’s boutique abattoir has become the state’s first licensed processor of alpacas and llamas. It has also added deer and buffalo to its service offering.
The new species add to Koallah Farm’s existing PrimeSafe licenses to process beef, lamb, pork and goat at the fully accredited on-farm abattoir near Camperdown.
Managing Director Steven Castle said he was pleased that the facility was continuing to diversify and fill more service gaps for Victorian farmers.
“We commissioned the site in 2014 with beef and lamb, then added pork and goat last year and now we’ve met the requirements for buffalo, deer, alpaca and llamas,” he said.
“The staged introduction of the additional licenses has been driven by farmers who, like us, wanted fairer access to markets and improved returns for the meat they produce.”
Mr Castle said Koallah Farm had fielded steady enquiries about deer, alpacas and buffalo processing over the past 18 months.
He said the decision to become licensed for the species meant farmers could now develop markets and retail their own products.
“Until now, alpaca growers right here in south-west Victoria had to truck their animals interstate for processing. Similarly, it was very difficult to have private buffalo and deer processed, boned and packed fresh for retail,” he said.
“Farmers work hard to breed and grow quality animals on their properties and we’re passionate about helping them maximise their returns by helping them access markets.”
Mr Castle said Koallah Farm’s integrated on-farm meat processing operation meant producers could drop their animals off and have them slaughtered, aged, butchered, vacuum packed, labeled, boxed and ready for retail.
“We’re already seeing pretty strong demand from venison producers and have started to work with a couple of alpaca and buffalo farmers who can see opportunities to add value to their operations through the sale of their own meat products,” he said.
Ken Lang from Chum Creek in the Yarra Ranges has already had two lots of deer processed at Koallah Farm.
Mr Lang operates Yarra Valley Game Meats and produces venison on his own property, in addition to buying animals from other nearby growers like Andy Cowan of Buxton.
“What Koallah Farm have done here has a lot of potential for the venison industry in Victoria,” Mr Lang said.
“Over the years abattoirs have either stopped processing venison…or made it difficult to get the animals done and back to market quickly enough.
“I supply restaurants, hotels and meat distribution companies and there is plenty of potential for growth now that we can be serviced here at Koallah Farm.
“I’m also very interested in marketing alpaca, llama and buffalo meat for other growers who can now be serviced here at Camperdown.”
Mr Cowan said the Victorian venison industry was a fraction of what it was 20 years ago.
“Back then there were over 50,000 deer processed annually, which is more than the total number of deer in Victoria now,” he said.
“Once word spreads that Koallah Farm is processing venison, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if numbers in deer farming rose again.
“The development of this abattoir will be a real boost for our industry.”