Michael Isenor, manager of NorthumberLamb in Bible Hill, is looking forward to entering new markets with its new federal inspection licence designation.


Abattoir expansion good news for local farmers

BIBLE HILL – A newly completed expansion at a Bible Hill abattoir is good news for local sheep farmers.
Michael Isenor, manager of NorthumberLamb on Brookside Road, said during the past three years about $700,000 in upgrades and renovations have been completed at the facility through government partnerships.

The abattoir has been processing lamb since 1982 with its provincially inspected products being direct marketed to stores across the province.

Isenor said while the locally produced lamb was making its way onto grocery stores in Nova Scotia there was lots of room to grow markets outside the province once the abattoir received a federal inspection licence.

“The big issue with that is the bigger stores, like Loblaws and Sobeys, sell through their warehouses,” said the manager. “Because we’re not in their warehouses they send lamb to stores from Australia, New Zealand, Quebec, Alberta and others.

“That put us in kind of a handicap spot.”

He said the key to entering new markets outside the province was to become federally inspected, a milestone NorthumberLamb achieved on July 6 after three years of upgrades.

“As far as barriers, now we don’t have any barriers to ship anywhere in the world,” Isenor said.

While NorthumberLamb is currently working with grocery giants to enter their warehouse distribution centres, Isenor said there has also been increased demand for lamb in restaurants and specialty stores.

“We have a lot of restaurants in the Halifax area that sell lamb. People try it then want to buy it themselves.”

Last year the facility processed about 5,800 lambs, however, the previous year – the best on record – saw about 6,300 lambs processed.

Isenor said with the new federal inspection lincence they are aiming to process 10,000 lambs annually.

He said the new interest is a great benefit for sheep farmers that are currently producing more than the market in Nova Scotia can hold. Historically, when there were more lambs then markets, they would be shipped to auction yards in Ontario, adding expenses and cutting profits by 10 to 25 per cent.

“It’s definitely an advantage to having them marketed here.”