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Combe Martin Abattoir – and the never ending job of improving animal welfare.

A lot of people have asked us why our packaging on our Lamb and Beef credits Combe Martin meats, and not our own Ruxstons, the answer is Combe Martin is the abattoir we use and as Ruxstons believes in maximum traceability, we credit them on the packaging. Small abattoirs have been really up against it in the last decade and beyond, and a huge amount have gone out of business as a result. However whilst there are a number of exceptions, and all need to be checked individually, smaller abattoirs are often more humane for the animal than the more modern large factory style abattoir.

Combe Martin abattoir ensures that the welfare for each of our animals is their primary concern. As they are such a small abattoir there is no waiting around, the animals are calmly unloaded and are processed straight away without having any idea about what is going on. There are true horror stories about bigger industrial abattoirs about animals waiting around for hours, even days, and a lot of this time they are stressed as they are not in their natural habitat. Our farmers have worked tirelessly to rear healthy, strong and happy animals, it would completely ridicule our own philosophy of high animal welfare if we then used any old abattoir and didn’t regularly check on the slaughterhouse in question. Each animal is looked after from beginning to end and this is integral to Ruxstons ethos, we wish this was at the case in every abattoir across the country but unfortunately we know this is not the case.

Eighteen months ago a gas shortage was being talked about as a factor in causing a potential meat shortage at Christmas 2021, there were tragic example of pigs being killed in fields and this gas shortage was being given as one of the reasons why. Whilst a massive labour shortage was also a large factor in this and gas was simply getting more expensive, very few people were asking the question that suffocating an animal through using gas is not the only way to kill them, and no one seemed to be questioning that this is in fact a very cruel method. The captive bolt gun that Combe Martin and East Hill pride (where our pigs are processed) use renders the animal immediately insensible to pain with no other animal would be able to view this happening. It is a real shame that this was not mentioned at the time, but if you are a big business then using gas is an awful lot cheaper. The big meat businesses are the ones being interviewed by national journalists, not small farmers using a small abattoir like we do.

Combe Martin Meats and East Hill Pride are by no means the only good abattoir around Somerset, Snells in Chard have a very good reputation and whilst we have not worked with them we have heard good feedback from many farmers we know and trust. We do not of course rest on our laurels and simply say we work with good abattoirs, so therefore the animal welfare is good, for example, the farmers we buy from always send in animals to the abbatoir in groups to ensure they are more relaxed with others from their own groups. The chickens are collected at night whilst they are relaxed and half asleep, rather than scooped up in the day when they are likely to panic, this means farming at Redwoods Farm involves late nights to ensure the animals welfare, often after 22:00 in the summer months. This extra labour of the farmers work is reflected in our prices, because to achieve the highest welfare, more unsociable and longer hours are worked.

Ruxstons will never compromise when it comes to animal welfare, throughout the entire process of an animals life.


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