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TAS Country : August 19th 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010 Tasmanian Country 23 Stock Report MAN AND BEAST: Mark and Bob the bull. Pictures: JENNIFER CRAWLEY NEXT GENERATION: Mark Hansson with children Marcus and Ashlee. JENNIFER CRAWLEY Bull by the horns A BRUNY Island farmer plans to build an abattoir on his farm. Mark Hansson, 31, is about to submit a development application to the Kingborough Council for an abattoir big enough to process the island's livestock. ''There's nothing like that down here for anyone to kill their own meat,'' Mark said. ''It all has to be taken off the island. ''If you can do it all locally, it keeps the cost down.'' Buying, fattening and selling stock off the island is not viable for a small property like the Hansson's 83ha Thornberry at Lunawanna on South Bruny. ''My farm is not big enough to make a living out of it,'' Mark said. ''(But) the abattoir would make enough for me to make a living. ''I want to value add to my cattle and lambs by getting the slaughterhouse up and going.'' The young farmer is working long hours away from the farm to raise the funds to build the abattoir. He intends to buy and process stock from local farmers and sell it from his farm. ''The other farmers would like to see me do that, so they can get paid a premium price for their meat instead of having to cart it to town,'' he said. Livestock born and bred on Bruny Island will be slaughtered at the abattoir and sold on-farm. ''It's going to be a small family business, not a huge set-up, plus we might try for a couple of outlets in town,'' Mark said. The planned abattoir may not be on the same scale as Swift's King Island meatworks, but there are similarities, Mark said. ''We have a market, a pretty unique market like King Island,'' he said. ''I think it would work on a small scale.'' Bruny Island farmers are very keen on the idea, including organic pig farmer Ross O'Meara, who takes his pigs off the island to be slaughtered. Mark is confident there is enough livestock on the island to support the abattoir. ''We are selling some of the best produce in Tassie, but the best bred beef and lambs go to Bridgewater where other butchers buy them, process them and sell them,'' he said. ''There's no recognition that the meat is from Bruny. ''Local Bruny people buy their meat from the supermarkets; they don't know where it's coming from.'' Farming is in Mark's blood and his family has a long history on Bruny --- his grandfather Ray Hansson owned farms in Alonnah and Lunawanna. And Mark's children Ashlee, 5, and Marcus, 4 are the fifth generation of Hanssons to live on the island. The family started off as sawmillers --- Ray Hansson bought properties at Allonah and had the school bus run and Mark's grandmother used to drive the buses. Ray Hansson leased Woody Island in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel across from Alonnah where he used to cart sheep back and forward on an old barge. ''He grew spuds and had sheep over there.'' Mark said. Mark was the last person to take sheep off the island when he herded 160 sheep onto a barge about 18 months ago. It was the first boat ride for most of the sheep. ''A lot of them would have been born there and a lot of the old ones would have died,'' he said. ''We got them all in one load. ''We had to be careful, we didn't have the dogs on the barge with us because if they had all rushed forward we would have sunk. (But) they all behaved themselves (and) we didn't lose any.'' Mark and partner Carol have an agricultural contracting business. Mark fences and carts hay in the summer. He recently built 5km of wallaby- proof fencing around Thornberry because of the growing wallaby problem. ''Every time you lock the paddock, get up and move the sheep out, as soon as there's a bit of growth in there the kangaroos get into it,'' he said. ''I can't see the sense in growing good tucker for kangaroos.'' Mark teaches fencing and welding to young people at the Indigenous land Corporation-owned Murrayfield, the largest farm on the island. Known as Hat Hansson because of the weather beaten leather hat he wears on his head, Mark is determined to make his farm viable. He has worked as a welder, butcher, shearer, tree feller and fish farm attendant to raise the money to purchase Thornberry and his dream is to work full-time on the farm. Thornberry supports 15 breeding cows and 120 White Suffolk ewes and Bob the Poll Hereford bull borrowed from a cousin. Mark knows there are a lot more hoops to jump through before his dream becomes a reality. ''It is important for me to get my own business and set it up on my farm,'' he said.
August 12th 2010
August 26th 2010