Nearly a year after fire seriously damaged Killarney’s government-licensed abattoir and closed it down, the facility is once again preparing to open for business.
Killarney Meats, which previously operated under the ownership of butcher Brian Bernard, was sold a few months after a late-night fire erupted in the slaughterhouse coffee room during a frigid January night in 2009.
It was purchased last summer by Arvid and Allison Dalzell, who already own and operate DAL Meats in Baldur.
The couple decided to take over the job of both renovating, repairing and upgrading the 1950s structure, located close to the town’s centre, but the project took longer than expected.
Livestock producers have spent the last year trucking animals for slaughter as far as Souris, Carman and Swan Lake in the interim to achieve provincially inspected status on their carcasses. Residents of the town are also looking forward to having the service reinstated.
“It’s brand new inside,” said Arvid, who has been working seven days a week since starting on the rebuild this past summer.
“We have updated the facility at a cost of over $300,000 for repairs and upgrades. It looks really great. The CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) boys were out in mid-December, and it went well. They said there’s no hang-ups, but we do have two or three small things to adjust.”
The first official killing day at the Killarney plant is scheduled for Jan. 10, and the slaughterhouse expects to process up to 15 beef cattle and 20 pigs per week.
DAL Meats also plans to create an in-house list of local producers as suppliers, with an eye to linking them to particular customers who will be able to “know their farmer” and to select for the kind of animal husbandry they prefer.
“I already have several beef producers lined up. We will be supplying natural beef, grass-fed beef, and regular beef, and customers will be able to get lamb, natural pork and regular pork as well.”
The facility will have a retail outlet counter as well, for bulk-buy packages, Arvid said while at work Dec. 21 on a skid steer, manoeuvring a new crowding tub into place inside the handling facility.
“Look at that,” he said. “It’s a perfect fit. That’s going to be no stress for the cows. I’m getting more excited about this business by the day.”
DAL Meats at Baldur will continue to operate as a non-government-inspected killing facility for customers such as hunters who bring in their own wild meat carcasses, for emergency kills from farms, and for customers with their own animals to butcher.
DAL’s cutting, wrapping and specialty meats production area at the Baldur location is, however, a provincially inspected section of that facility.