'We'll be hiring and training locals': Oberon abattoir is reopening

BIG PLANS: Oberon abattoir's new lessee, Luke Winder, says the abattoir will reopen in mid-July, creating a processing haven for small producers.
BIG PLANS: Oberon abattoir's new lessee, Luke Winder, says the abattoir will reopen in mid-July, creating a processing haven for small producers.

IF LUKE Winder's mates in Sydney thought he was mad to give up his electrical contracting business to go farming five years ago, his recent decision to also lease the Oberon abattoir probably confirmed it for them.

The abattoir will begin operating again in mid-July after a couple of months' hiatus and a change of lessee.

Mr Winder's 40-hectare holding near Wombeyan Caves is now producing between 3.8 and 4.2 tonnes of protein a week, from cattle, sheep, ducks, pigs and chickens.

Mr Winder described the small allotment as the "armpit of the entire area" when he and wife Pia bought it.

They turned it around using regenerative agriculture principles.

Now the 15ha site around the abattoir will get the same treatment, different species will be cycled over the land, and animals living on site will be walked to the processing facility.

Trading as Tathra Place Processing, Mr Winder says he wants to shake the meat-processing industry up.

"In the past 50 years the industry has fallen into mediocrity; there's been disregard for clients and customers alike," he said.

"As producers we have felt like we've been an inconvenience to processors in the past.

"My experience is there are set times for customers and if the bell goes off, your carcase is then off the processing line, no matter its condition.

"I've lost customers because of poor processing.

"Everything has been on the processor's terms and we want to perform a complete 180-degree turnaround from that.

"For a start, we're going to employ at least 50 per cent women, and we'll be hiring and training locals.

"And they'll be able to be certified on site and won't pick up bad habits from other processors."

Technology will play a major role, with online bookings, set drop-off times and directions to where the animals will be penned."

Mr Winder said the customers will "know what paddock and where the animals came from, when it was killed, who the meat inspector was and who drove the trucks".

This information will not only be available to farmers and restaurateurs, but also end users and even diners.

"We can actually print chemical free barcodes on the meat that lands on the plate," Mr Winder said.

The abattoir will also have full de-boning capability and be able to pack boxed meat and cryo-wrapped pieces suitable for sale at farmers' markets.

Mr Winder and his wife have taken a 15-year lease on the facility.