I had the opportunity to attend the AgForce SEQ (Southeast Queenlsand) Regional Meeting in Gympie. Gympie is about two hours north of Brissie. The meeting was two days long with the first day consisting of two industry tours and then the second day consisted of meetings.
Our first stop was Nolan Meats. Growing up on a ranch and processing our livestock to put in our freezer, slaughter is not a new or scary thing for me. For most, it’s hard to wrap their head around the fact that I’ve raised an animal, named it, showed it at livestock shows across the state, and then at the end of the show season it was put it in our freezer. It’s part of life. So, getting to tour Nolan Meats was really fascinating for me. They process about 540 head of beef cattle from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
I’ve been to several meat processing plants, my sister just got her master’s in meat science so this wasn’t anything new for me, or so I thought. Nolan Meats is an accredited Halal processing plant. Never in my life have I heard the term Halal much less how to spell it (thank gosh for Google). In order to export to the Middle East and North Africa, Halal processing must occur. In a nut shell, to be eligible for Halal, the animal must have it’s throat cut while it’s still alive. In order to do this, Nolan Meats uses a mushroom stun gun then the animal is rolled out of the crush (chute) where a Muslim says a prayer to Allah and cuts the throat. There are strict guidelines and if an animal is deemed ineligible for Halal it has to be removed immediately because it cannot touch any carcass that is Halal or that carcass will also be ineligible. The animal also has to walk into the crush on it’s own accord. Interestingly, for McDonald’s and the USA this is also the case. If the animal is not killed in the crush, the USA considers the animal non-ambulatory and will not allow it to be imported. If an animal will not walk into the crush, the plant then uses a captive bolt gun to kill it.
Moving from the whole act of killing the animal, it goes through the butchering process and at the end must be graded. There are two grading schemes in Australia. Meat Standards Australia is the eating quality grading scheme. The Australia Meat Accreditation, as it was explained to me, is the value of the meat so basically what they get paid for the carcass. It’s very interesting and much more complicated than I’m used to. Another thing I found interesting was how they take hump height on all carcasses. This allows them to determine the BI% (Bos indicus) of the carcass which is taken into account when grading.
Some other interesting things about Nolan Meats. All yards are designed based upon Temple Grandin’s recommendations. I immediately picked up on this when I noticed most everything is curved and not straight. The entire time I was there, about 1.5 hours, I never once heard a calf moo. There has to be less than 10% noise or the plant can’t slaughter because it’s too noisy (I think I understood that right). I believe this has to do with animal welfare. Besides how quite it was, I also noticed it really didn’t smell. This is because they have anaerobic ponds. This helps to keep the odor down. They also prefer to receive crossbred calves that have all three (American, English and Exotic) bloodlines. Like many plants, the different colored hats represent different individual responsibilities (i.e. quality officers). Just over 10% of their employees are Muslim. They were extremely clean and sanitary. I noticed that after each kill they sharpen and sanitize the knifes. They do a great job!
Finally, Nolan Meats is eligible to export to 192 countries! Wow! The countries they export to the most include Dubai, Brunei, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan and the USA. Sorry I wasn’t able to take photos. Like most processing plants, they don’t allow photos to be taken thanks to animal activists. Yep, it’s a problem here too.
Our next stop was at Suncoast Gold Macadamia. It was really neat to see the process. They create lots of flavored macadamias and I was able to try wasabi, sea salt, honey roasted and mango. The top three major exports for Suncoast Gold Macadamia are Germany, Japan and the USA. Sorry, this tour wasn’t as cool to me as the previous one. We saw a bunch of silos and boxes. Below are a few photos.
We rounded out the day at Yandina Station. I can honestly say, this is the best food I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. There was plenty of beer and wine to go around and then they started bringing out canape’s (hors d’ouvre). They were so good! We had Vietnamese spring rolls, prawn, mini duck meat pies and pork belly. Greg from MLA (Meat & Livestock Australia) gave a report on some research they’ve been doing and then took a rump and fabricated it (cut it up) into the different muscles in the rump and then grilled them for everyone to taste. They were so good! This was to get the most out of a lower quality cut of meat. If I had to guess what cut of meat it was after it was grilled, I would have never guessed rump. I want to get a whole rump when I get home and show my sister this. It was really interesting!
We then went into the dining area and had our meal. Holy cow! We had beef, lamb, and chicken stuffed with dressing along with mashed potatoes, green beans and rocket (arugula) salad. Finally, three different mini desserts were served. I don’t remember them all (shocking I know), but my favorite was the sticky date cake. Yummy! From my understanding, the food was from Matt Golinski’s (winner of Master Chef Australia who lost his family and was himself severely burned from a house fire) catering staff. Below are a few pictures of the meal. Sorry for the poor quality.
I won’t bore y’all with all the stuff that went on in the meeting the next day. I had a great time! I met some awesome people and was invited to come out and look at someone’s property so hopefully I’ll be able to do that soon. I also have to give a shout out to Scott Hansen from MLA who showed the So God Made a Farmer Dodge commercial at the end of his presentation. I can watch that 100 times and it never gets old.