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Shetland’s new community abattoir is open and ready to process all types of livestock throughout the entire year.

The building affords direct access to the Shetland Mart and is equipped with the very latest in slaughtering and refrigeration technology. With its own in-house butchery service, meat can be traced at all stages from point-of-sale to final product.

The abattoir complies fully with Food Standards Agency regulations and has been accredited by Quality Meat Scotland and The Scottish Organic Producers Association.


Rod MacKenzie

The lead building contractor was Robertson & Read, with ground work completed by Tulloch Developments. Other local firms involved include Sandwick Electrical, Ross Keith Plumbing and Martin Adamson Builders.

Constructed with financial support from Shetland Islands Council, the facility is owned by Shetland Abattoir Cooperative Limited (SACL) and operated by the Shetland Livestock Marketing Group (SLMG).

SIC development committee chairman Alastair Cooper said many attempts had been made over recent years to provide a new slaughterhouse, but all had proved too expensive.

A state aid derogation from the European Union combined with the determination of the SLMG encouraged the council to spend more than £400,000 on a modern facility to satisfy local demand.

(From top-left to bottom-right) Ronnie Eunson, Hazel MacKenzie, Johnina Henderson & Elaine Sinclair.

Mr Cooper said: “I see this as a modern plant which can meet all the health and hygiene requirements. It gives us the ability to put Shetland-reared beef, lamb and pork on the table both in households and in hotels.

“This is a big step forward, and the net result is that the farmer and crofter reaps the benefit in terms of a better price for their finished products.”

SLMG chairman Ronnie Eunson believes the new development could play a significant role in the local food industry.

“Shetland has some very, very good food producers. This new facility is a key component of nurturing a local marketplace – it represents the assets of an industry, like a pier or fish market, and we want producers throughout Shetland to come and make use of them.”

SLMG, which has run a lamb-only slaughterhouse at Laxfirth for several years, hopes the new abattoir will encourage local crofters and farmers to rear more livestock, particularly cattle and pigs.

Alan Donald

Market research last year found that more producers in Shetland want their livestock processed locally.

Many consumers also care about provenance – where their meat has come from, how it was reared and how it was processed – and are willing to pay a premium for quality products.

The new abattoir represents a tangible investment in the future Shetland’s agriculture industry, as Mr Eunson explained: “This is a community facility which is run to serve the needs of all users. Any future surpluses will be ploughed back into the development of the plant.”

The facility is open five days per week, with processing on a Monday and Tuesday. Cattle kill cost is £115, which includes one week in the chill, and the pig kill cost is £40. For more information, or to book in contact 01595 840 530.


For info – full list of companies involved in the build:

  • Robertson and Read
  • Tulloch Dev
  • Sandwick Electrical
  • Cooltherm
  • JR Supplies
  • J Shewring
  • Arch Henderson
  • Ross Keith Plumbing
  • Martin Adamson Builder
Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021