CN-MR-3-NEKProcessingby Bethany M. Dunbar
LYNDONVILLE, VT — The Vermont Beef Producers Association got a tour of the new slaughterhouse and meat processing plant in Lyndonville on Aug. 9. Beef farmers from all over Vermont and some out-of-state farmers got a look at Northeast Kingdom Processing.
The company is owned by Scott Oeschger of Derby. Oeschger also owns Spring Hill Angus, and his farm manager is Bob Butterfield of Barton. That afternoon the beef producers took a tour of the farm.
In the morning, tours were led by processing plant manager Edmond Lessard. He said the plant opened in April and is already busy. Recently it processed 15 beef and two pigs in two days.
The capacity is much larger than that.
“I’d love to do 12 a day, five days a week,” Lessard said. He said one of the coolers can hold 50 animals, and another one has space for 100. The plant has a smoker that uses no artificial liquid smoke products.
“We’re going to have to hire on at least two or three more guys in the next month,” he said.
Oeschger had said he would like to hire 10 or 12 people eventually.
NEK Processing, located in the industrial park in Lyndonville, has also opened a retail shop with meat, cheese and maple products. Mark and Hope Colburn of Glover raise beef and make maple products. They are selling beef to the new processing company.
“Our beef is all staying local,” said Colburn. “It’s kind of a full circle deal.”
“This place is spacious, state of the art, and super clean,” said Bruce Chappell of Templeton Farm in East Montpelier. He said the new slaughterhouse fills a need. “When we started you had to book a year ahead of time.”
Oeschger’s goal was to design a clean and humane facility. The killing area is separated from where live animals are held before slaughter. Animals are pushed slowly through a chute and around a corner. Butterfield, who has decades of experience raising and showing beef cattle, helped design a facility that would minimize discomfort for the animals.
Spring Hill Angus beef is already in some local schools and restaurants, and the new facility will allow more local connections as production in the plant ramps up. It is also designed to be a federally inspected facility, which means the meat could be sold across state lines.