Mobile abattoirs - viability and sustainability: report

The findings of a study carried out to determine whether or not mobile slaughter units (MSUs) would be viable in Scotland.

8.0 MSU Design Reviews And Engagement

Box 6. Key Findings from engagement with MSU Designers

There are a range of options on the market ranging in cost from £310,000 up to almost £1million dependent upon the species processed. Typically, the throughput of the MSU is constrained by chill capacity.

8.1 Overview

Four MSU suppliers were engaged with to determine costs, throughputs, technical capacity, etc and to feed into the market viability and cost benefit analysis work. The table below summarises the technology providers engaged with.

Table 4. Summary of work done, engagement on MSU design and costs
Company and Location Comments
Kometos Finnmodules, Finland Kometos have indicated that they have sold a number of MSUs in Sweden, Latvia, Estonia and Kazakhstan.

This company provided the MSU used in the Swedish case study referred to earlier in this document and have provided detailed information on multi-species MSUs, with a range of configurations.
Abachem Engineering, England Cost information plus drawings and specification have been provided for the following three options: (i) cattle; (ii) sheep and pigs; (iii) cattle, sheep and pigs.
AES, England. Drawings and design data (schedules of items) provided for different scales of modular* and mobile slaughter units, for different animal species. Cost data has been provided.
Fisher UK, England Have provided information on chilling units, for use at the docking station sites.
Dawson Group - Scotland office, manufactured in England. Cost estimates (capex and rental) provided for modular* units rather than mobile units which can easily move to different locations.

The following sections provide an overview of in terms of the designs and costs associated with the companies mentioned above. The detailed information provided has not been included in this report for commercially sensitive reasons and the cost data has been anonymised for the same reasons.

8.2 Summary of Design Options

8.2.1 Mobile Slaughter Units

Kometos commented that their basic rule of thumb is that if there is capacity to have a throughput of 15 cattle, the MSU can then process 30 pigs or 40-50 sheep in a same space, in one slaughter day – processing the same animal species only over the course of one day. Chilling space is what determines the throughput and capacity limits.

It was commented that the pig dehairing machine is a challenge. Creating the required quantity of warm water requires a significant amount of energy and finding the space for the plant is challenging. In effect they have said that in practice this does not work.

Figure 5. View of the two Kometos semitrailer units from above, and a cow carcase hanging inside the MSU
Figure 5. View of the two Kometos semitrailer units from above, and a cow carcase hanging inside the MSU

The Kometos trailer width would need consideration, at 3.1 metres, which is 0.2 metres wider than the maximum for normal loads (2.9 metres). See the figure above for reference. The cattle carcases are chilled as quarters and the sheep as whole carcases.

ABA Chem provide MSU designs and manufacturing for sheep, pigs and cattle and have reported to have sold over 10 MSUs (all sheep and pigs, no cattle). The african market was commented to be growing. It was stated that it is much easier and cheaper to process sheep and pigs, if looking at cattle need to be aware of height and width restrictions which mean that the systems need to be hydraulic, which significantly increases costs. Both of the options (cattle and sheep/pigs) have one storage container for waste, therefore all categories would need to be mixed. There is a separate container for blood, however this is not collected hygienically and therefore the separate collection is for ease.

8.2.2 Chilling Units

Fisher UK provided information on a chill unit design for location at a docking station (figure below). This is able to store 30 cattle and 30 lambs (similar to 10 cattle for space) per location. The rail is at 550mm centres which may be tight for beef quarters (depends on the species) e.g. if they are large continental breeds this may have to reduce down to 4 rails (from 5) at wider centres. The unit requires a 3-phase power supply to run the refrigeration system.

Figure 6. Outline of Fisher UK chill unit for docking stations
Figure 6. Outline of Fisher UK chill unit for docking stations

8.3 Summary of Costs

Table 5 provides anonymised capital cost information from two MSU design companies, for the following:

  • MSU (tractor trailer), all species + chill trailer
  • MSU (tractor + trailer), all species + chill incorporated (no separate chill trailer)
  • MSU (Tractor + trailer), sheep and pig + chill incorporated

Table 6 provides the same anonymised capital cost information from one company, but for two small, modular fixed slaughterhouses (for comparison purposes with MSU costs) and for an MSU option, for the following:

  • Modular smalls (e.g. sheep, pigs) slaughterhouse
  • Modular, low throughput cattle, sheep and pig slaughterhouse
  • MSU (tractor + trailer), all species + chill incorporated
Table 5. Companies A & B – Modular and MSU design criteria and indicative capital cost estimates
Criteria Company A Company B
MSU, all species + Chill Trailer MSU, all species + Chill incorporated [27] MSU, Sheep and Pig + Chill Incorporated MSU, All species + Chill Incorporated
Cost[28] £922,727 £618,227 £310,000 £750,000
Throughput Per Day (8 hours)* 15 cattle, or 30 pigs, or 40-50 sheep (throughput constrained by chill capacity) >15 cattle, or 30 pigs, or 40-50 sheep 15 3
Number of operatives 6 3 3 2 - 3

*Limited by chilling infrastructure

Table 6. Company C – Modular and MSU design criteria and indicative capital cost estimates
Criteria Modular Smalls (e.g. sheep, pigs) Slaughterhouse Modular, Low Throughput Cattle, Sheep and Pig Slaughterhouse MSU, All Species
Cost To be confirmed To be confirmed To be confirmed
Throughput Per Day
(8 hours)*
Capacity: circa 20-50 smalls per day

Storage capacity of the cold store: circa 8 – 10 carcases

Average Weight of the live animals: 100 – 150 Kg
160 head beef per annum approx. 3/ per week

1200 head lambs per annum approx. 20/week

300 pigs per annum approx. 5/week
Slaughtering capacity:
3 - 4 cattle per hour.

However, the cold store capacity only holds 4 - 6 carcases.
Number of operatives 3 workers 3 workers 3 workers



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