We want to address the concerns we’ve heard from folks coming to meetings and through social media.
My animals are all out on pastures, they’re not enclosed or handled a lot. When I haul my animals to Reno, they’re held for 24 hours because they not only need a clean gut, they need a day to unwind because of their stress level. When you take an animal who’s been on a pasture his whole life, and you put them into a trailer and haul them a couple of hours, it’s traumatic. I like to let them decompress, calm down. It’s good for the animal. I’ve always done it because I think it’s the right thing to do, especially for the cattle.
Having that 24 hours to wind down is key. You can work them up in 10 minutes in a trailer, if they’re not used to it. But hauling them two hours, the stress really adds up. That 24 hours really helps them cool back down.
Temple Grandin is the queen of humane handling, and there’s a certain number of hours, and it’s less than the 24 hours we’re giving them, that an animal who’s been transported needs to calm down. The animals that are brought to us will be watered, but not fed which is OK for USDA code because a cleaner gut is important for a clean process and clean harvest floor.
Everybody’s animals can stay separate. Everybody worries you’re not getting your own product back. The key to anything is to keep your animals ear-tagged, it’s another step to make sure for you, and for the processing facility to make sure it does not get mixed up. This barn has such great size to it we’re going to have a various array of sizes of pen to hold three or four lambs, or one lamb. It’s just such a nice set up.
When one ranch brings in five hogs, and another ranch brings in five hogs, they’re going to fight. You’re going to end up with ripped up animals, bruised animals and bruised meats. We’d have enough room to keep each group of animals separate, so those five hogs can stay together. It’s the same with beef, or any species. You bring in two beef and put them in a pen with five other beef, they’re going to fight just because they haven’t been around each other. It’s a dominance thing. This place is going to enable us to break it down so fine, your animal is going to be OK.
We follow Temple Grandin’s guidelines for safe handling, humane handling, less stress. That’s the goal and something we’re striving for.
Water usage for the processing plant is roughly equivalent to what a family of four uses, between showering to washing dishes, watering the grass. There are above ground water rights on the property already, and I’m going to have to purchase below ground water rights to manage the need.
On a harvest day, you’re looking at about 200 gallons per beef, and less for the smaller animals, for example, four lambs equal one beef.
We’ll be installing a new, state-of-the-art filtration system on the property. Many questions have been asked about the type of water treatment system we are looking to install at Carson Valley Meats with the help of our engineer, RO Anderson. The constructed wet land system we are exploring has been used for small meat processing facilities for years. For more detailed information, click on the link to launch a recorded webinar produced by the Iowa State University Extension a few years ago that will give you a more scientific look at a plant that uses this type of system in Indiana.
What we know from case studies on this system, is that you won’t even know it’s there. The water will come out of the harvest room through a series of pipes, then work its way through a series of septic tanks that will filter the water and clean it up so it can go right back out on the pastures and hay fields as a renewable resource.
The proposed site on Centerville Lane is so set up with the no-slip concrete near the barn where we will build the holding pens. You can scrape it out with a small tractor, it’s not going to be muddy because it’s not a dirt floor. We’ll have alleyways to direct animals off the trucks to go to their pens, where they’ll be held separately in lots with the animals they came with.
Some people have said they expected noise from all these animals penned up, but the reality is that the only time cows get to hollering is when you’re pulling a calf away from a mama. Most animals don’t make a lot of noise, as evidenced by the quiet beauty of the Carson Valley.
We’re going to do everything we can to keep the smell down – I can’t say to a minimum zero, because there’s going to be something, to be fair about it. Every day that we harvest, any by-products like organs, fat, whatever it may be, will leave that day. It will not be sitting around. The rendering company will come in that day and pick up all of the barrels with our discarded product and carry it away. When we’re on the processing side, all of those barrels will stay in refrigeration – if you slaughter Wednesday, but we processed Monday and Tuesday, those barrels will be taken on the harvest day. Everything will stay in refrigeration until they’re taken away on harvest day. The barrels are covered, they’re then sprayed down with a de-nature product. It’s a type of ink, a bluish food coloring which keeps people from digging through those products looking for something to eat. It also has a slight scent that works to keep some of the smell down. We’ll have two coolers, a large holding/aging cooler, then a hot box which is the cooler where the carcasses will go right off the harvest floor. The rendering company will come and pick up the sealed barrels of waste from the harvest that day on that day.
We’ve heard concerns about processing hides. We will not be processing hides here. Processing hides is its own operation and business in itself. Currently, the hides business is in the tank. As of now, all the hides we have will go to the rendering company and be taken away with the other waste from the harvest.
In future, when the hide market comes back up, we will think it through. Our thought is to save them till we get enough, around 100 hides, to load up and truck them out over the hill to the hide factory. We’ll salt them instead of using chemicals, and store them in the far end of the barn until it’s time. Let me repeat that – we will use no chemicals, only salt, to keep them from rotting until we ship them out. If it ever became an issue, we’ll ship them out sooner.
On the processing facility, we can only have five employees on site at one time per county code. As far as the ranch itself, it’s definitely a seasonal thing. There’s the haying, handling the livestock, irrigation, as well as general upkeep and maintenance – repairing fencing, and stuff like that.
I’ve spoken to a couple of the current tenants on the property, and they’re all for it. They’ve offered to work the property as well. You’d think if anyone would turn their noses at the project, they would. But they’re all for it.
A poll of recent property sales and comps in a three to four mile radius around Wolf Pack Meats shows home values in the area start above the median home price of $395,000 in Reno, which, as of October 4, 2019, per the Reno Realty Blog. The properties listed ranged in price from $435,000 to $750,000. It’s really hard to say whether Carson Valley Meats will have an impact on property values, as regionally, home prices have been dropping according to CalNeva Realty’s latest Market Statistics Report on Oct. 8, 2019. Currently, according to Realtor.com, the median home listing price in Gardnerville is $427,000 and the median home sold price is $380,000. A quick look at the map on Zillow shows homes within a half-mile radius are near the median price, and well beyond the median price a mile away. A brand-new home listed for sale 1.2 miles away is listed at $799,000 and took a $40,000 price cut on Oct. 1.
When my kids were old enough for 4-H, it was a really big deal for me and we volunteered to help with the 4-H program. When my daughter turned nine, I handed her an old FFA book I had, and told her to pick her project. When I was a child, my projects were dogs, horses and rabbits. Of all things, she chose the sheep project, and I knew nothing about it!
After a few years doing sheep, we took on the beef project when my son got involved in the program. I became the community club lead, and we just went from there. We started selling our products because people wanted it.
Bringing back the ranch into working ability again is a big thing for me, and if you can involve the kids in that, it’s great. I think there’s a desire for kids to be involved in it, and I think they can do it and they enjoy it.
Mike: I’ve known Karin now for 10 years, and I don’t know anyone who is more supportive of our 4-H youth and our FFA youth than she is. Financially, what she spends on the kids’ animals at the fairs is impressive. She purchases kids’ livestock at the Placer County fairs, and in our backyard at the Nevada Junior Livestock Show – Reno, the Carson City Fair – Carson City, and the Silver State Youth Livestock Show and Expo – Yerington.
We have a lot of people who are very excited, if we get this project up and going, to provide educational programs for the youth in the FFA program in Douglas County and the surrounding counties. We can show the kids from the 4-H fairs to look at their product from one of those shows and they can actually see how well they did, or how they can improve to make a better product. The end result, they’re raising something that’s going to be eaten, so you want to do the best you can. Any kind of education we can pass on to our youth, that’s what we want to do.
Karin: The kids who help me out at Sinclair Family farm live nearby. Jared is the lead kid, and he brings in his classmates. They move irrigation water and help with feeding and what not. It’s been a really good group of kids. They mean well, they really try and they’re learning a bunch of stuff. There’s a lot of work, but there’s a lot of fun. Where else can you, at 15 or 16 years old, come out and ride a quad and get paid for it? They think it’s great. They’ve even said in the summer time they would love to come over and participate in our project in Douglas County.
At the Storke Dairy facility, we are hoping we’ll have the opportunity to work with the local fairs. If so, there may be times when there are larger trucks coming in and off-loading. There’s a nice gravel area that makes it easier on the animals, and we’ll have the alley ways that are going to eliminate any escapees, and keep their groups together. It’s a nice big open area that will make it better for the larger group animals.
Mike: Karin has supported my kids in Douglas County too. It’s a nice big circle. My kids have purchased an animal for their project from Karin, then after the fair, Karin purchases the animal back. Everybody knows how that animal is raised and cared for, and how it will be humanely treated. She’s very supportive of the kids.