The Modular Harvest System™ [MHS], Glynwood’s Next-Generation Mobile Slaughterhouse

In April, 2010 Glynwood along with its newly-created affiliate LILA [Local Infrastructure for Local Agriculture] launched the Modular Harvest System™[MHS] in Delaware County, New York. The first mobile slaughterhouse to be launched east of the Mississippi, it is a real-world model that demonstrates an innovative solution to address the acute need for accessible, humane, and high-quality slaughterhouses in the Northeast.

Employing a pioneering design of four modules that come together to form a “mini processing facility”, the MHS is the first mobile unit of its kind.   The highly efficient MHS has a daily processing capacity of 10 cow equivalents, and more for smaller animals, including sheep, and goats, with plans to add a separate module for the processing of pigs in the near future.   The MHS meets all USDA requirements — including for humane treatment of livestock — offering farmers the certification necessary to reach the broadest spectrum of markets in which to sell their products.

Unique Qualities that Set this Slaughterhouse Apart

The MHS is the first mobile unit in the United States that has the capability for in-unit slaughter of large animals, enabling the entire process to be conducted indoors for safer, more sanitary processing.  Its separate module-trailers allow for an operational flexibility that can adapt to different docking sites and municipal requirements, providing an added efficiency that can’t be achieved in a single unit facility.

Why are these factors so important?

  • The MHS is designed to be “docked” at a location that has the necessary infrastructure for electricity, water and care of animals to meet the standards required for a USDA label.
  • Most municipalities do not allow for water and waste to spill on the ground – a large challenge for a single trailer unit with no inside-slaughter capabilities for large animals like cattle.
  • The modular design incorporates an “Inedibles” or waste module that allows for water and waste to be disposed according to municipal requirements for that particular location.

What the Future May Bring: Long-Term Goals

We envision a network of MHS docking sites throughout the Hudson Valley region, providing farmers ready access to high quality and humane processing.  We are currently working to identify and encourage development of additional community docking sites.  Basic attributes required for a docking site can be reviewed at www.lila-northeast.org.

A long-term goal of the MHS program is for communities to develop docking sites that will also function as “nodes” where a number of “community food enterprises” (CFEs) could be clustered, facilitating ease of marketing and distribution while also offering new areas of business growth for those communities.  The CFEs may include meat aging and butchering facilities, cold storage for fruits and vegetables, and community kitchens for value-added products.

Studies of livestock farming in the Hudson Valley and similar regions where small and mid-sized farms are geographically dispersed have shown that many farmers would increase their herds if they knew that they had readier access to processing services.  The more pastured livestock, the more viable the producers, resulting in a greater contribution to local economies and the better opportunity to maintain a high-quality landscape.

Schedule an Appointment

Farmers can schedule an appointment for processing by calling 1-800-792-4014. The price for MHS services is equivalent to current market prices in the region.

Replicating the MHS Model

Glynwood’s intention in creating the MHS is for it to serve as a model and catalyst for many more modular mobile slaughter facilities, providing livestock farmers the necessary infrastructure for their farms to be environmentally sustainable and economically viable. We hope to work with communities across the country that wish to replicate the MHS unit for their region.

The cost to replicate the MHS would be approximately $750,000 – about a quarter of the cost of a small fixed-site slaughterhouse.  We welcome inquiries from and are glad to share our knowledge with anyone interested in developing an MHS.

Please send your inquiry via e-mail to info@glynwood.org.

Press about the Modular Harvest Unit

The innovative modular design includes four modules:

  • A 53-foot trailer that provides for inside-unit slaughter, carcass preparation and chilling.
  •  A refrigeration truck where quartered sides or whole carcasses can be railed after they are chilled and then delivered to a “cut and wrap” facility or as per instruction by each farmer.
  • An “inedible parts” trailer that provides for hygienic disposal of offal, manure and other waste according to local requirements.
  • A small office trailer with the amenities required by USDA for its inspector as well as MHS employees.

The MHS isolates different processing functions in each of the modules:

  •  The central functions of slaughter, carcass preparation and chilling are accomplished in the “main” trailer module.
  • The “delivery” module allows for a more efficient delivery of processed carcasses to a cut and wrap facility; in essence it becomes a small delivery truck, while the primary truck remains in place for additional processing or travels to its next docking location.
  • A “waste” module supports separation and disposal of the various waste streams; this is key because disposal requirements and available options may vary at each docking site.
  • This independent component system enables an operation flexibility that can adapt to different docking site and municipal requirements, providing an added efficiency that can’t be achieved in a single unit facility.

About the Modular, Mobile Slaughterhouse

The MHS is the first mobile unit in the United States that has the capability for in-unit slaughter of large animals, enabling the entire process to be conducted indoors for safer, more sanitary processing.  Its separate module-trailers allows for an operational flexibility that can adapt to different docking sites and municipal requirements, providing an added efficiency that can’t be achieved in a single unit facility. Learn more about the unique design of the MHS.

We plan for the MHS to serve farmers throughout the region by rotating among  specially-designed docking sites.  Glynwood and LILA are working with agricultural stakeholders in communities in the Hudson Valley, Massachusetts and Connecticut to identify and select additional locations.  We hope to identify and develop two additional docking sites in 2011 with more sites in the future that will result in a network of processing stations throughout the region.

It is our goal to enable small and mid-size livestock farmers in the Hudson Valley, Berkshires and Catskills to more easily have their animals humanely and professionally slaughtered close to their farms.  Additional docking locations will also help to alleviate the current scheduling difficulties that farmers who pasture-raise their livestock face in trying to have their animals processed at optimum weight.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the MHS go from farm to farm?
No. The MHS operates by rotating among docking sites that are specifically designed to accommodate the units.

How is the MHS different from other mobile slaughterhouses operating in the US?
The MHS is one of only five mobile units for large animals licensed by the USDA and the first one for large animals licensed by the USDA east of New Mexico.  It is the first mobile processing unit to be designed to have the capacity for in-unit slaughter of large animals, enabling the entire process to be conducted indoors.

What kinds of animals can the MHS unit accommodate?
Initially, the MHS unit will process cows, sheep and goats with a goal of adding capacity for the processing of pigs in the near future.

What is the processing capacity for the MHS?
With its highly efficient modular design, the daily processing capacity is 20 cattle, and more for smaller animals.

Is it more expensive than traditional slaughter costs?
No. The price to be charged for the services provided by the MHS will be equivalent to the current market prices in the region.  The ability to keep competitive market pricing despite the expensive start-up costs of this kind of unit can be attributed to LILA’s unique non-profit business model and, in particular, that Glynwood has donated the major capital asset, the MHS itself.

How is the meat delivered?  Do you butcher the meat as well?
The MHS transportation module delivers processed carcasses to cut and wrap facilities or directly to the farmers.

Can anyone bring their animals to the MHS for humane slaughter?
Yes, but an appointment is required.

Why a modular system that is mobile rather than a traditional brick and mortar site?
There are several reasons. Because of the small scale of regional livestock production in the northeast, stationary plants do not meet the needs of a geographically spread out group of livestock producers. Additionally, the costs of building a brick and mortar plant are very high.  At this time the smaller scale livestock production characteristic of our region is benefitted more by a mobile plant than a singular site both for the convenience of the farmer and the economic viability of the plant.

How can I get involved?
If you are interested in having a docking site developed in your part of the Hudson Valley contact the main LILA office via email hamilton@lila-northeast.org. We will be organizing introductory tours of the MHS at its first docking site for people interested in creating docking sites in their communities.

How can the MHS be replicated in other regions?
If you are interested in developing an MHS in an area other than the Hudson Valley, email us at hamilton@lila-northeast.org for further information.

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