SOUTH Australian branded meat producer Michele Lally never dreamed farming would serve as a stepping stone to a career in invention.
Her passion for life on the land, however, provided the fuel to find a way forward when obstacles arouse.
When Michele and Phil Lally’s Clare Valley Savannah lamb brand starting notching up one award after another, they decided to move into beef, pork and chicken.
All pasture-raised and all sold under the Savannah label, their product was typically processed at a small private abattoir at nearby Kapunda.
They quickly found they were constantly on the road and had to hand over the farming to staff in favour of looking after logistics.
It was the first-hand view of the challenges of using large-scale facilities to process small numbers of animals requiring full traceability that drove Ms Lally to come up with a solution.
Her small-capacity on-farm abattoir concept this week gave her the coveted 2018 Meat and Livestock Australia Producer Innovation Award.
She received the award at a beef industry awards dinner held as part of Beef Australia 2018 in Rockhampton.
Ms Lally’s business, Australian Micro Abattoirs, is developing the processing facilities, which meet Australian standards and regulatory approval, in an adaptable modular concept.
She says the minute her pilot abattoir started operating and delivering exceptional value, the calls started coming in from other producers.
“It was the volume of those calls drove us to move into the space of running this business - we just don’t want others to stop with the labelled meat because of this hurdle,” she said.
The business was born and began to take shape through validation and testing the minimum viable product.
Ms Lally believes there is room for all the different ways the meat supply chain works.
“There will always be the large volume commodity type product, the small scale niche one and people in the middle,” she said.
“We can all play in the same space. This is about matching farmers’ needs to the supply chain.
“It’s about flipping on its head the way farmers typically have to adapt to other systems.”
MLA Managing Director Richard Norton said the award recognised producers accelerating the development and adoption of innovation and new technologies with the judging panel paying tribute to the approach taken in developing the concept.
“The award is an acknowledgement of the process undertaken, particularly the consultation and identification of customer needs and the feasibility and viability of the concept.
“The award aligns with MLA Donor Company’s producer innovation fast-track program, which accelerates capability and producer-led innovation by providing expertise, co-funding and support for initiatives that have the ability to improve farm and value chain performance.”
With designs for large and small stock, and additional options for value-adding and waste management, Ms Lally spends time working with producers to realise their dreams of setting prices and value adding their livestock operations by offering new ways to market, increase farm gate profitability and to help them to start setting their own sales prices.
Australian Micro Abattoirs undertook significant research which identified ongoing demand from three streams – the paddock-to- plate producer; corporate and large-scale farm or feedlotsd and community groups or co-operatives.
The award will give Ms Lally the assistance of a consultant to help refine her project concept or business model. She will also receive a trip to attend MLA Red Meat 2018 in Canberra in November.
She was chosen from three finalists, selected by a panel comprised of MLA representatives and a producer.