A NEW abattoir being built in the Mid North will make the most of the latest research on reducing livestock emissions and finding value in traditional byproducts to improve the returns to producers and meet carbon goals.
At an event held at the University of Adelaide on Monday, Pirie Meats director Reg Smyth said the small-scale multi-species service kill abattoir had evolved after the pandemic put plans for construction in 2020 to a halt.
Among these goals are carbon neutrality by 2030, and a goal to become an advanced secondary processor, finding value in products that are traditionally viewed as waste or low value in the usual slaughter system.
Mr Smyth said he would achieve this through partnerships with other innovative Australian businesses.
The energy that would have been used in creating methane is reserved for either milk or meat.
With trials showing seaweed as a feed source has the potential to significantly reduce methane release from cattle, SA could be perfectly placed to help Australia meet its emission targets.
CH4 SA general manager Adam Main said said research from the CSIRO, Meat & Livestock Australia and James Cook University showed feeding cattle the Asparagopsis seaweed species reduced methane output by as much as 90 per cent.
But he said for producers, there was also the added benefit of an improvement in productivity by 12-20pc.
"The energy that would have been used in creating methane is reserved for either milk or meat," he said.
CH4 has partnered with Pirie Meats, to initially provide supplements to 10,000 ruminant animals, as part of the goal to reduce the processor's emissions, but also to continue with research and development.
Dr Main said SA was particularly suited to meet the market for methane-reducing seaweed as it could grow both the warm water species Asparagopsis taxiformis and the cool water species Asparagopsis armata.
CH4 plans to be involved throughout the entire chain, direct from the hatchery, growing out, harvesting, converting and distribution - including to feedlots that supply Pirie Meats.
He said there was some learning still to fine-tune, while a freeze drying machine was on its way to a SARDI site at West Beach to build local capability.
Dr Main said there was potentially a big market with the 1.3 billion cows globally, but he said their initial goal was 10pc of the feedlot market by the end of 2022.
He said early research had shown cattle require 50 grams of seaweed a day.
He said so far the company had 1000 hectares in water licenses secured on Eyre and Yorke peninsulas, while SA had another 157,190ha of area already allocated for aquaculture available.
The first commercial seaweed license was issued to the Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation in March as part of a CH4 partnership.
Dr Main said seaweed production also reduced carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus from the ocean, meaning it had multiple benefits.
While this has the potential to reduce emissions and improve livestock productivity, the second partnership will be making the most of each animal that goes through the abattoir - improving the value but also reducing the waste that might otherwise go to landfill.
A substantial proportion of "waste" in livestock processing could be turned into value for producers, according to a company specialising in reducing that waste.
Organic Technology Holdings founder Anthony Bertini said as much of 50pc of an animal was seen as useless when processing for meat, but he said there was a chance to extract value from traditional waste products.
He said a company from Switzerland bought bones from Australian processors for just cents a kilogram, which were later sold back to Australian dentists as calcium, now worth $1000/kg, and this was just one example of products suitable for food, medicine and neutraceutical markets.
"We can get an enormously large amount of money for stuff that is thrown away," he said.
Mr Bertini said OTH would work with Pirie Meats during construction to set the plant up.
"In a full eight-hour day, you're not just slaughtering cattle, but value-adding at the same time," he said.
OTH chief scientist Akshat Talwalkar said this was a potential "game changer" for abattoirs to reassess and "upcycle" by-products into something "companies are screaming out for".
These included blood, hides, organs and trim, which was often devalued by contaminants, he said.
We can get an enormously large amount of money for stuff that is thrown away.
He said hide had dropped from being worth $350 each to about $10 each, with the options often confined to landfill or a two to three week process with acid.
But he said OTH had developed a way to extract high grade collagen, as well as preserving the hair, which was a source of protein and keratine.
"We can turn hide from something worth $10 into something worth $US50/hide, while hair could be worth as much as $US1.50/kg," he said.
He said bones were another product with next to no value that were "pure calcium", rather than the synthetic calciums being used, and could be worth as much as $US10/kg.
Dr Talwalkar said Australia was well-placed to provide these markets, with its "clean image".
He said, with all the additional value, an estimated extra $US120 could be added to each animal, on top of meat value.
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