Sugar Mountain Farm Butcher Shop on Snow
We are in the final stages of finishing off the interior of our very, very small scale on-farm butcher shop. I’m at the point where I must make final equipment choices and hoped some of you might be able to give feedback on equipment if you’ve used these or similar equipment.
We’ll start with Vermont state inspection and then move to USDA inspection. This is how both the feds and state recommend proceeding. We’ve been working with both agencies throughout the design, permitting and construction process. On January 22nd the heat of the Vermont meat inspection came out to our farm for an hour and a half – we had a great session with him going over our progress.
Initially we will open for just doing butchering, that is to say raw cutting from carcass through linked sausage. We only do pork and only from our farm. Our cutting volume will start out at just three pigs a week and then gradually increase to six pigs a week as we take over the cutting currently done for hire at the wonderful Adams Slaughter facility we work with now. We’ll continue to take animals to Adams for slaughter and carcass chilling even after we’re doing butchering while we finish off the interior of the next section. Later after we bring slaughter on-farm then we’ll increase to about ten pigs a week with seasonal surges of no more than 20 pigs a week. Thus the total volume will typically be about 2,000 lbs per week. About 30% goes to ground and sausage.
Update 20200202: After five years of using this equipment I’m pleased with all of it for the most part.
Vacuum packer bar tape needs replacing about every four months, the wires about every nine months. One segment of one LED died after six months and company wouldn’t respond about that.
Bandsaw, once I got it set right, has been on the same blade for four years. After four and a half years the on/off switch broke – small fix.
Grinder has worked flawlessly. Just keep the head cool – spray with cold water if it warms during long grinding sessions.
11 lb stainless steel sausage stuffers ($200) from Walton’s Inc which I’m pleased with other than the fact that they fail to use a brass bushing around one of the gear shafts so the gear head ($75) needs replacing about annually. Easy replace. This is part of why I have two.
Three phase converter has worked flawlessly.
With this equipment I’ve done up to nine pigs a week and up to 800 lbs of sausage by myself.
Refrigeration is still just the natural high mass thermal storage that is built into the building. I have installed a active refrigeration system but never used it in the five years. The building naturally keeps at about the right temperature year round.
Cutting will be typically done a single day each week on a non-slaughter day. Mostly we sell deboned wholesale to local stores and restaurants. We also sell a little bone-in and such as well as some direct to individuals through our CSA, as whole pigs, half pigs and boxes.
Electrical power here on Sugar Mountain is 200A 240VAC 1Ø utility service.
We do have the real, full, 240VAC across the two legs and 119.5VAC from each leg to ground. Some utilities only provide 105VAC or 110VAC and this can matter for some equipment.
We have single phase power (technically split-phase) from the utility. Eventually I will be installing a 3-Phase converter (3Ø) for some of the equipment so both 3Ø and 1Ø are options. If possible I would put off doing the 3Ø for later when I will need it for the scalder/dehairer.
Current is limited to 200Amps at the utility transformer. We are used to turning off some equipment on the farm to turn on other high demand equipment so as not to exceed our 200A limit – that’s life more than a mile beyond the end of the utility power line service range. The installation and upgrade cost of native three phase power and higher power is $80,000 or more so that is beyond our range. The other thing about rural Vermont is we get a lot of power outages. No generator for now which would run about $25,000 – I would rather spend that money on solar, wind or hydro power.
We also have liquid propane via a 1,000 gal in ground tank for the hot water (Da-bomb). We will be pre-warming our source water off of the refrigeration condensers (Fre-Heater) as well as eventually using solar hot water.
Our other sources of power are wood and muscle but we’ll ignore those for the moment.
Equipment I’m considering
Hobart 4822 Meat Chopper
1.5 HP/120VAC/60Hz/1Ø, 12-20 lbs/minute
The one we’re looking at from Hobart has a funnel throat which is the second one on the pdf document at the link above.
Anyone using this?
How realistic is the throughput claim?
Initially we’ll be stuffing off of the grinder horn.
Is it worth getting the 240VAC/60Hz/1Ø or 3Ø options?
Hobart 6614 Meat Saw
The smallest Hobart they now makes – we need small as we have a small space. I looked at some table models from other companies but have not found any yet that I could get good feedback on from people who have used them.
This Hobart model 6614 is 3Ø by default. $800 for a 1Ø option. I have to get 3Ø for another piece of equipment so we’re going to be getting 3Ø eventually but that would be not for a year if I go with the 1Ø option on the saw. Thoughts?
Minipack-America MVS45XII Table Top Vacuum Packer
Pump: Busch KB Oil Rotary
8.5″ high x 18.5″ x 18″ chamber
2 sealing bars 14″ apart waffle pattern seal
3 cycles per minute, 24 cu-meters/hr displacement
Does anyone have this?
How well it pulls down vacuum?
How well it locks the seals?
Real world speed of use / packages per hour?
Experience with service on this company?
Hot Water Heater:
Takagi T-D2 On-Demand Hot Water
LPG/120VAC/60Hz/1Ø 70°F rise
We’ll be getting two of these which run in series off the propane. The first one will boost our water to 145°F. The second water heater in the series will boost that to 185°F. Each is capable of a 70°F temperature rise which just barely brings us up to the required 185°F water temperature.
We are a very, very small scale facility so the water volume is enough.
Our water is not hard or soft – in between. Anyone using these?
Experience with service on this company?
3Ø Rotary Converter:
Eventually I’ll have to install a three phase converter for our electric power to run the scalder/scraper. I may be installing one sooner for other equipment. Three phase motors run more smoothly, are more powerful, more durable, have less vibration and last longer than single phase motors. Putting this off saves money but doing it may be the better equipment choice. Opinions?
The bandsaw comes default as 3Ø. The grinder comes in default as 1Ø. The vacuum packer is 1Ø with no option of 3Ø. I’m not settled yet on if I’ll get the bandsaw converted to 1Ø to make the 3Ø not yet necessary or if I’ll get a rotary phase converter and run the bandsaw at the 3Ø. If I do the latter I’ll probably get the grinder with the 3Ø option. Opinions on this are appreciated from those in the know. I do electronics and wiring but have not worked with 3Ø equipment before so all I have is theory.
If I do go for the 3Ø does anyone have suggestions on good or bad 3Ø converter choices? I’ve not picked one yet. My understanding from reading is that the rotary converters are better than the electronic or static units and they should be sized 2x the load.
Does anyone use these products and know the service record of these companies? Other vendors?
Update: I ended up going with the above equipment and a Phase Perfect PT-355 Phase Converter from Phase Technologies. I’m very happy with all of the equipment other than a little rust on the Hobart grinder and bandsaw – Hobart had failed to match their metals properly on a few parts.
Any experience and feedback on any of these pieces of equipment is greatly appreciated. If you have suggestions of other equipment that you think is better for our small scale needs then I would love to hear that too. Leave throughts in comments. If you’re not comfortable about leaving a public comment you can eMail me.
PS. Please limit comments on this post to this related to the equipment, power, etc. For other comments about the project use the butcher shop page, for other farm related comments use the farm page, etc.
Related posts about the equipment:
Rusty Grinder Knives
Initial Dry Run
Initial Wet Run
Wet Run with Master Butcher Cole Ward
Mini Packer Arrival
First Vacuum Package
Equipment in Mock Butcher Shop
Heat Pump Water Heater Arrival
Precision Packing – Walton’s Stuffer
Farmer, Baker, Butcher
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Tiny Cottage: 65°F/62°F
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