Marianas Feasibility Study
evaluating the feasibility of a slaughterhouse/meat business
Project components
About the project

Slaughtering / processing and products


Slaughtering and/or further processing, and potential meat products

·        Illustrative design assumptions and calculations for the Marianas

·         Basic information on slaughtering / processing

·         Slaughterhouse design considerations

·        Mobile slaughtering / processing units

·         Facility design guidance


The primary technical function of a slaughterhouse is to process live animals into carcasses and perhaps into primal cuts while ensuring facility hygiene, worker safety, and regulatory compliance.  (Primal cuts are primary pieces of meat from a carcass from which retail cuts will later be produced.)  Optional next steps for the business are to further process the meat into retail cuts or processed meat products such as ground beef or sausage. 


1.      Illustrative design assumptions and calculations for the Marianas

·         The design of the facility should be based on the projected throughput (in animals/day by type and # of operating days/week; for example: a maximum of 4 cows/day and 20 pigs/day with slaughtering performed 3 days/week). 

·         Basic design criteria and calculations are included in the economic feasibility analysis spreadsheet provided in the "economics" section of this website.

2.     Basic information on slaughtering / processing

·         Some informational sources regarding the slaughtering process include: 

§         A graphic of the steps involved is available at Encyclopedia Britannica:  http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic-art/344757/179/The-basic-slaughtering-process

§        A description of the slaughterhouse process is available from FAO: http://www.fao.org/WAIRDOCS/LEAD/X6114E/x6114e04.htm#b5-2.1.1.%20Description%20of%20the%20slaughter%20process

§        A process flow diagram for red meat slaughtering is also available from FAO: http://www.fao.org/WAIRDOCS/LEAD/X6114E/x6114e00.gif

§        Planning a Small Meat-Packing Business”, from the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. This 49-page illustrated guide includes plant layouts and facilities, regulatory agencies and utilities, management, and elementary feasibility calculations for the meat packing business:http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/PubSubject.asp?varSubject=Livestock&offset=-1

§        Livestock Behavior, Design of Facilities, and Humane Slaughter”, by Dr. Temple Grandin: http://www.grandin.com/

·        Potential products:

§         Whole / half carcass

§        Primal cuts and/or retail cuts -- click here for a description of wholesale cuts of pork.

§        Processed meat products: ground meat, sausage, jerky, and other processed products


3.      Slaughterhouse design considerations

·         Estimated live weights of incoming animals:

§        According to USDA, the average live weights of commercial slaughter operations (2010) are 1,305 pounds for cattle and 277 pounds for hogs:  http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/LiveSlau/LiveSlau-01-21-2011.pdf

§        For Guam/CNMI, the average live weights are assumed to be somewhat smaller…1000 pounds for cattle and 120 pounds for hogs (based on discussions with several local producers and members of the Project team).

·         To be able to sell meat into commercial markets within Guam/CNMI, a slaughterhouse facility must comply with certain USDA requirements, including on-going inspections during slaughtering activities. 

§         The USDA defines a small slaughter establishment as having between 10 and 499 employees, and a very small slaughter establishment as having fewer than 10 employees or less than $2.5 million in annual sales.  http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/KYF_maps-050410_FOR_RELEASE.pdf

§        The USDA has a web portal devoted to “small-to-very-small” slaughterhouses:  http://www.fsis.usda.gov/small_very_small_plants/index.asp

§        A Guide to Building, Upgrading, or Expanding a Small Meat Processing Facility in Iowa (which has a lot of information relevant to the design of a small facility for the Marianas) is available at:  http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM2094.pdf 



4.     Mobile Slaughtering / Processing Units

§         Several mobile units have been designed, fabricated, and deployed in the mainland U.S.

§         MSUs have capacities ranging up to 20 cattle per day and are typically designed and fabricated to meet USDA-FSIS regulations.

§         Some of the mobile operations include on-going FSIS inspections, so the meat products can be sold into commercial markets. 

§        In the context of the islands, the primary attractiveness of a MSU is the unit’s design and pre-fabrication, which has already been shown to be acceptable to USDA FSIS.

§         The “mobility” factor is probably not needed on an island in the Marianas, where it would likely be more efficient and cost effective to deliver the animals to a central location rather than move the slaughtering operation to various farms or regional sites.

§         Accordingly, an alternate approach for a small island application might be to utilize an MSU as the heart of a stationary operation, with the entire facility incorporating the various ancillary components in addition to the primary slaughtering trailer. Examples of ancillary components include:

·         receiving and holding pens

·        municipal water supply and water quality treatment system

·         liquid and solid waste management systems

·         cut and wrap operations

·        chilling/aging

·         further processing

·        cold storage

·         retail sales, if such a component is part of the enterprise plan.

§         A Review of Mobile/Modular Slaughter and Processing Technology: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/FST-44.pdf 

§        State of the Art Mobile Processing Unit for Small Scale Producers: http://www.mobileslaughter.com/

§        Mobile Slaughter/Processing Units: http://www.extension.org/pages/Mobile_Slaughter%2FProcessing_Units

§        MPUs in operation in the U.S. (January 2011): http://www.extension.org/pages/Mobile_slaughter/processing_units_currently_in_operation

§        Mobile Slaughter Unit Manual: http://www.extension.org/pages/Mobile_Slaughter_Unit_Manual

§        Mobile Slaughter Unit Compliance Guide: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Compliance_Guide_Mobile_Slaughter.pdf

§        Mobile Slaughter Units, Colorado Department of Agriculture:  http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Agriculture-Main/CDAG/1251580172827



5.     Facility design guidance

·         “Guide to Designing a Small Red Meat Plant”, by Iowa State University Extension Service: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM2077.pdf

·        Items to consider specifically for cattle slaughtering are discussed in detail here: http://www.askthemeatman.com/yield_on_beef_carcass.htm

·        Items to consider specifically for pig slaughtering are discussed in detail here: http://www.askthemeatman.com/yield_on_beef_carcass.htm

·        A helpful website for estimating the various cuts (and associated values) are provided at: http://beefcutoutcalculator.agsci.colostate.edu:8080/apex/f?p=102:1:2583043282422400

·        A helpful website with design details and materials specifications (although this is for the Philippines and is therefore not designed specifically to meet USDA-FSIS requirements, the design parameters and details provide helpful insights): http://pcarrd.dost.gov.ph/cin/agmachin/pdf%20files%20agmachin/PAES%20411.pdf  

·        The layout of the facility should be designed to ensure effective material flow and operational efficiency.

§        A key consideration is the ability to maintain hygienic conditions so as to always pass USDA inspection.  Failure to pass even a single inspection could have major consequences on client confidence and the viability of the business.

·        Aging or curing of meat:  A rule of thumb for traditional dry aging is to age beef approximately 7 to 21 days after slaughter, at temperatures of 34-36 degrees F.  The cold storage system must be designed to accommodate the target aging duration.  However, nowadays most commercial beef is aged using the wet aging process, in which the meat is vacuum sealed and aged within its own juices.  For more information regarding aging of beef, refer to: http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G2209 and http://www.askthemeatman.com/dry_aging_beef_info.htm and http://bbq.about.com/cs/beef/a/aa030301a_2.htm.

·        Equipment considerations: 

§         There are numerous vendors of equipment for slaughterhouses. For example: http://www.slaughtermachinery.com/slaughter-plant-1168.html

§         Packaging of meat: The following link discusses numerous factors and considerations regarding the packaging of meat products:  http://labs.ansci.illinois.edu/meatscience/Library/packaging.htm

§        There is also a unique resource available in the Marianas regarding design of slaughterhouses and meat processing facilities: Dr. Rudolf Leis is a Meister and Scientist for Meat Processing, with over 35 years experience in the industry. He has a consulting firm in Tokyo (Dr. Rudolf’s Consulting) and is living partly in Saipan also, he can be reached by telephone at 670-256-1011, cell: 670-286-6044, or email at rleis@saipan.com