Cutting to the Truth
Would you ever think that a slaughterhouse could be a suitable classroom? When people hear of one, the ruthless killing of a helpless animal comes to mind. To the majority the word slaughterhouse screeches in their ears like nails on a chalk board. Many students that attend Cal Poly donÕt know that there is one on campus. Located to the North of the main campus, the Abattoir is out of sight and out of mind to most students. The Abattoir, the French word for slaughterhouse, serves as a valuable teaching facility in the Animal Science department. Students involved in Meat Science participate in various labs conducted at the Abattoir. The labs include harvesting, and processing of cattle, hogs, and lambs. The department feels that the Abattoir is a great example of Cal PolyÕs famous motto, learn by doing, and future plans for the facility are underway.
To the Animal Science majors the Abattoir provides a first hand demonstration at what they learn in the classroom, as in the various parts of an animal, and the correct terminology used in a slaughterhouse. In the Abattoir the students get the chance to apply what they learned, and by doing so they are reinforcing the information. The students experience the entire process from the slaughter, or the harvest as the department likes to call it, to the grading of the cuts of meat. Many folks believe that the slaughter of animals is inhumane. The reality is that the Humane Slaughter Act prohibits any kind of method that would be considered cruel and inhumane. Laws as this are one of the topics that meat science majors encounter
Dr. Robert Delmore a 211 meats class instructor operates the slaughterhouse and labs conducted there. The facility assists Dr. Delmore in teaching students meat processing methods, meat inspection, grading, composition, curing, and preservation. The Abattoir isnÕt just for undergraduates either. Dr DelmoreÕs assistant Philip is a graduate student working for his masterÕs degree in meat processing. He helps Dr. Delmore with the preparation of the facility, and the animal, and contributes an extra pair of knowledgeable hands to the procedure, which Dr. Delmore loves to have around.
This structure has proven an effective educational tool for over 40 years, but time has taken its toll. The Abattoir has done a fine job helping students understand their course work, but the demands for a new and efficient facility has[SM14] been set in motion. [SM15]
The Abattoir was built in the late 1950Õs for teaching purposes. Since then it has been used to teach students the principles of harvest in the Animal and Food Science departments. When instructing a lab being sanitary and clean are the main emphasis Dr. Delmore says. With the Abattoir being as old as it is with no upgrades because of little funding, sanitation is hard to maintain . After every harvest the entire Slaughterhouse must be cleaned, but the process takes a considerable amount of time. Plus with Cal PolyÕs growing student population the facility canÕt hold the number of pupils as it needs to. Along with limited space for students, comes limited space for the proper equipment. The ceiling height contributes to the complaints. When bleeding a large animal such as cattle , the height at which they need to be raised above the ground is significant to the instructorÕs maneuverability around the animal. The instructor has to crouch down in an awkward position to cut the throat to start the bleeding process. This inconvenience doesnÕt only occur in the beginning but through out the whole ordeal. Moving a large carcass from station to station gets to be a strenuous task when one is worried if the winch is going to unexpectedly unravel.
The next few years Cal Poly is making dramatic changes to its campus . The current location of the Abattoir, Bull Test, and the Feed Mill will become the site of the new Resident housing North. These housing complexes will double the amount of student living on campus. The Abattoir, Bull Test, and Feed Mill will all be relocated in]various parts of the campus. The construction of these new facilities begins this summer and will be complete by 2006. The AbattoirÕs new location will be along Highway 1 near Parker Ranch, and the facility will include harvesting, processing, and further processing in one location. This move will give Dr. Delmore and his students a facility that they can learn and work effectively. The new Abattoir will be made for easy cleaning that can be done in a reasonable amount of time unlike the present facility. The size of the building will be enhanced, providing the instructors room to teach more students at any one given time. The new AbattoirÕs roof will be higher compared to the current one, giving the instructors the clearance for an easier more manageable harvesting process. The department is thrilled about the new facility and all the amenities that accompany it. This new slaughterhouse is going to rejuvenate the meat science program, making the learning process advanced and up to speed with current practices. New machines and equipment will also contribute to a beneficial learning experience.
Even though watching a harvest might not be for everyone, the opportunity will open a new aspect to once perceived thoughts. If you eat any kind of meat this is the general procedure that happens when preparing for consumption . What better way to clear up the misconstrued facts related to the slaughtering of animals than with a look with your own eyes? Not only will you witness what takes place, but you] will understand that the methods are humane. So as we say goodbye to the Abattoir and lay it to rest, the rebirth of the new Slaughterhouse will bring intriguing opportunities to the students of Cal Poly.