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Handling the Abattoir Run: 5 Tips for Making the Most of a Dismal Day

When it comes to rearing livestock, there's unfortunately a sad reality we must all face. As responsible breeders - and sometimes for the welfare of the animal themselves - we must know which animals to keep, and which animals to cull. Enter the dreaded abattoir run, something that understandably fills many new keepers' hearts with dread.

Personally, I cried for weeks after booking our first batch of meat boys in, and broke down every time I saw the destined pen of lads in guilt. And then came the day of that first Abattoir run (for me personally - we had done it once before, years ago), to a lovely small-scale Abattoir called Frome Abattoir. Sadly, it doesn't exist anymore. I blubbered and howled the entire time. And the abattoir staff, who had an affinity for goats themselves, also seemed a little upset by the entire affair if memory serves me well.

One of the first buck kids we ever sent to the abattoir, who was known as "Bear." His coiffure was legendary!

The abattoir run isn't something that I find comes naturally, but it nevertheless remains an integral part of rearing livestock. Any animal that's not suitable for breeding should always be sold either as a pet or as meat. But a word of warning: while it's not always the case, if you try to go down the latter route of selling as a pet, always vet the home carefully. Sadly, all too many "pet homes for life" may not be quite what they seem - we'll look at that in a moment.

In any scenario, the abattoir run hurts. It's not a day we look forwards to, and if we did, that would perhaps be a little macabre and I'd be asking questions about whether or not we really had the goats' best interests in mind. Still, with it being a necessity for many herds, it's important to know how to handle those dreaded days - and there are a few simple tips that help me with this, personally.

#1 Choose the right abattoir, to start with

One of the most vital first tips I can give for handling the abattoir run is to choose the right abattoir, to begin with. We currently use WS Clarke and Sons in Sixpenny Handley, and I have to say, it's absolutely lovely (as far as an abattoir can go). The staff are friendly and helpful, and the abattoir is small - which takes a lot of the pressure off. And, by the time we've driven out of the abattoir, we know the goats will already have been slaughtered, and there's not a peep to be heard.

As such, the first most crucial thing I recommend is choosing an abattoir you're happy with. We pay more for the service, but it's worth it both for the animals and us in my opinion.

#2 Get the goats used to the trailer

I'm not a morning person. As such, the thought of trying to battle goats into a trailer at 5/6AM in the morning isn't something that fills me with much joy - and certainly adds to the stress of the abattoir run. As such, as a second tip, it may help if you allow the goats to get used to the trailer to start with.

When they know what the trailer is, it typically makes loading so much easier. In doing so, the animals don't know a thing about what's going on, and we don't feel so stressed. A lot of abattoir run emotions are compounded when things don't go smoothly, so try to keep things easy and calm on those first few dreaded mornings.

#3 Treat yourself

The abattoir run day can be sore, which is why treating yourself to something nice after can be vital. Personally, I pop into the Co-op down the road from the abattoir to grab a sausage roll and a Costa, allowing me to focus on something nice rather than the thought of the goats going off. Treat yourself, be it a snack, a nice hot soak in the bath, or just a good cuppa - you deserve it!

#4 Remember: this group allows the next babies to enjoy a quality life!

One thing that always helps me with the abattoir run (when sending bottle babies, especially) is remembering that the meat sales from this group of lads, who've enjoyed a happy and healthy life out in the fields and going about their usual goaty antics, pays for the next batch of babies to be born and experience that joy of life.

Focusing on the next group of babies coming up through or due to be born is something I found transformed my outlook on the abattoir run, because after all - if I didn't send these animals off, there wouldn't be the room to welcome any new goat kids into the world.

#5 It's okay to cry

As a final tip, please don't feel like you have to remain stone-faced about the whole experience. Bottling it up only makes it worse. You are absolutely allowed to cry; after all, these are animals you've put a huge amount of time and care into rearing. It gets easier, with time - but those first few abattoir runs always pull at the heartstrings just a little more.

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1 Comment

Church Hillbilly
Church Hillbilly
Mar 24, 2022

Great summary for the most difficult of times for all of us. One small thing i’d add for loading is that goats do not like going into dark spaces. If loading in the dark do have some light in the trailer - anything to keep the stress levels (human and goat) down 👍


Who We Are

Himmon Boer Goats was established in 2012 by Sharon and Chris Riggs, following the retirement of their three Friesian horses from a commercial weddings and funeral business. In roughly 2016/2017, following an injury, management of the herd was taken over by daughter, Charlotte Riggs, who has loitered around ever since and is still managing the herd to this day.

The Himmon herd started with approximately 20 foundation does, and has focused on breeding commercially viable pedigree Boer Goats for the national market and quality Boer Goat meat, supplied to the long-established Paul Keating Butchers in Wimborne. To learn more about our herd or who we are, visit our About Us and About the Herd pages.

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