FORT VALLEY — For a little less than $200, one can get about 400 pounds of meat. That is the average amount of meat a 1,500-pound cow will produce once it has been processed.
The Small Ruminant Center at Fort Valley State University’s College of Agriculture, Home Economics and Allied Programs provides such a service for small farmers and families as part of its outreach program.
The center is a USDA-inspected Grade A facility that offers services from slaughtering to meat processing. The center can do cuts from steak to ground meat to roasts.
Pigs, goats and sheep are also processed through the facility.
“We are a full meat processing facility, all the way to the finished product,” said Brou Kouakou, assistant professor of animal nutrition.
The meat that is brought in cannot be sold in a store. It is for individual consumption only.
“It’s training for small processors to learn how it’s done,” Kouakou said.
Meat plant manager Terrell Hollis said the facility processes animals every week. Mondays, animals are brought in for inspection. Once an animal is in the facility, it cannot leave.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are for slaughtering. The equipment that is mainly used is a lift chain horse and a splitting saw that is suspended from the ceiling to make cutting easier.
Hollis said he has seen cases in which five families will go in together and buy a cow and split the cost of processing to each get a freezer full of meat.
The center offers training classes for people who are interested in owning a meat plant or a small country store. It occasionally offers tours, but they are mainly for high school students because the graphic nature of the meat processing plant might be too much for younger children.
Last fall, the center hosted a training session on curing meat. There is a five-year-old ham on display that is still edible. The curing process allows meat to remain edible without refrigeration. It is much the same as in the times before there were coolers for meat.
“They come here and learn from us,” Kouakou said. “We guide and give them tips.”
To contact writer Angela Woolen, call 923-5650.
To learn more For more information about the Small Ruminant Center, call Terrell Hollis at 827-3078 or Brou Kouakou at 827-3091.