Meat Processing with Dr. Gregg Rentfrow

Dr. Gregg Rentfrow, University of Kentucky Meat Science Specialist, visited Maine to help with the Maine Meat Cutting School. While he was here, Dr. Colt Knight sat down to discuss what it takes to set up a commercial meat processing facility and what it takes to get setup processing animals for yourself and family.

Photo of Dr. Gregg Rentfrow, University of Kentucky
Gregg Rentfrow, Ph.D.

Gregg started out as a retail meat cutter, then entered academia earning a B.S., and M.S. in Animal and Meat Science from the University of Illinois and Ph.D. in Meat Science and Muscle Biology from the University of Missouri while coaching the meats judging team and serving as the interim meat lab manager. He joined the University of Kentucky as the Extension meats specialist in 2006, with an extension/teaching appointment. Dr. Rentfrow received the university’s highest extension award, the M.D. Whiteker Award for Extension Excellence, in 2017. Rentfrow recently received the prestigious Animal Industry Innovation Award from the American Society of Animal Science. He lives in northern Madison County, Kentucky.

Episode Resources


Colt Knight: 00:20

Welcome to the Maine Farmcast. I’m your host, Dr. Colt Knight. I’m an associate Extension professor and state livestock specialist for University of Maine Cooperative Extension. And today, I am joined by my good friend and meat science mentor, doctor Greg Rentfrow from the University of Kentucky. Gregg, would you mind introducing yourself a little to the folks?

Gregg Rentfrow: 00:40

Sure. Yes. As, Dr. Knight said, I am Gregg Rentfrow. I am a extension professor at University of Kentucky and extension meat specialist for the Commonwealth of Kentucky as well. Been in Kentucky for 18 plus years now, and I’ve been in the meats industry for 36 years. This is what happens when you start a part time job, 17 years old, that was only supposed to be an after school job that turned into a career.

Colt Knight: 01:06

Yeah. So Dr. Rentfrow has been coming to Maine for the last 7 years to help us with the instruction on the Maine meat cutting school. It doesn’t seems like we just started this yesterday.

Gregg Rentfrow: 01:16

It really does.

Colt Knight: 01:17

We have now done, what, 8 schools together Yeah. Including a Wabanaki…

Gregg Rentfrow: 01:21

Yeah. Cutting…

Colt Knight: 01:22

School for the tribal lands here in Maine.

Gregg Rentfrow: 01:24

Yeah. That was a good one.

Colt Knight: 01:25

That was a fun one. When we started off doing the meat cutting school, we were actually working in local processing facilities here in the state, which are not designed for educational purposes. Yeah. Yeah. And it was really difficult to juggle having students in such a confined space that was designed for just a handful of of meat cutters. And now we have a licensed custom exempt processing facility here at the University of Maine. It’s not a full fledged processing facility, but we can cut it cut and package animals here, with ample classroom space and and teaching space. So, doing really well with the the new facilities here.

Gregg Rentfrow: 02:08

Yeah. It it really works out well. I mean, we we could we I thought we did a fairly decent job when we’re working with processes, where like you said, the spaces are only designed for 4 or 5 people at a time, and here we come with, you know, 15 to put them in there. But this new facility, like you said, it’s not a full fledged meats lab, but it works out really well from a teaching standpoint.

Colt Knight: 02:29

Greg, we don’t have any meat science faculty here at the University of Maine. What what is a day in the life of a meat science specialist and meat science faculty like down there at the University of Kentucky?

Gregg Rentfrow: 02:47

Appointment is about 80 to 85% extension and the rest is in instruction or teaching. And so for me, I’ll just start in the fall. The fall is when I, I teach my ASC 300 meat science class, which I get about 35 to 40 students in their semesters. So that’s where we meet in the classroom, lecture hall. We talk about all the labs.

Gregg Rentfrow: 03:11

We do have a full fledged lab there at UK. And the labs. We do have a full fledged lab there at UK, and the kids get hands on experience doing that. So that’s really my my, my fall. But as soon as the weather starts getting cold, which the weather gets cold later in in, the south than it does here in Maine, we we, affectionately call that extension season. We have a very traditional extension program in Kentucky. We have a 120 counties and each of those, counties has an extension office in there. Most of them have 2 to 3 extension agents in those offices as well. So when the weather gets colder, that’s when a lot of us specialists are out on the road 1, 2 or 3 nights a week, doing programs and presentations throughout the state. And that’s usually my, you know, November, December, and then January, February, March. And when it starts to warm up, that’s when things kinda slow down from being on the road in the evenings. And that’s when we start to plan all the the programs we’re gonna have over the summer. So the summer is usually pretty busy with us. So, you know, like like doctor Knight said, I’m up here for the for the main meat cutting school. Last week in in, in Lexington, we had our pork processing class. We’ve got 2 more beef classes coming up in the next couple of months. We got a a, professional development event. I work a lot with our ag education folks. And, we’ve we’ve got a 3 day, event scheduled to teach and train our, our ag teachers. We’re working in conjunction with the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association for that training as well. We’re doing something new this year, which I I think I got kinda cult, wrangled into that as well as we’re doing a barbecue, a couple barbecue classes as well. We’re gonna teach folks barbecue and then everything is starts to come to ahead in the end of, July because I’m also in charge of a couple 4 h programs. And then the, I’ve gotta be at the Missouri State Fair, then there’s the Kentucky State Fair, and then it all starts again in the fall. So that’s, you know, kind of the day of life. I would say day of life, maybe a year in the life of of what specialists do there at UK.

Colt Knight: 05:36

So the 2 biggest questions that I get Yeah. About meat science in the state of Maine is, 1, folks want to open their own processing facility because there is a bottleneck in processing. Yep. Not just in the state of Maine, but that’s pretty much true across the United States. And then the other is folks that just want to to butcher their own meat at home. Yeah. And so we’re trying to address that with the main meat cutting school. If you come here, you kinda get a primer into how to cut up animals at home, and and you kinda get a snapshot of what it would take to open a processing facility. But I don’t think most folks understand the regulatory hurdles

Gregg Rentfrow: 06:19

Oh, goodness. Yes.

Colt Knight: 06:20

Environmental hurdles on starting a processing non-inspected facility. And people can bring their animals to you, and you can cut up their animals for them. All that meat is marked not for sale Yep. And none of it can be sold retail.

Gregg Rentfrow: 06:46

Yep. Exactly.

Colt Knight: 06:47

And then we have two levels of inspection in Maine. We have state inspection and USDA inspection. The state inspection is just almost mirrors USDA inspection, but instead inspect those animals while they’re alive, while they’re being knocked and bled out, and then they inspect the carcasses after the animal has passed away. And they’re looking for any signs of disease, lameness, or potential contaminants that might be in the meat. Yeah. And so to have one of those inspected facilities, the level of cleanliness, the level of planning, and everything increases, what, tenfold

Gregg Rentfrow: 07:36

Oh, yeah.

Colt Knight: 07:36

As opposed to a custom exempt facility?

Gregg Rentfrow: 07:38

Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. I usually tell folks, you know, when you, when you wanna get into this and you wanna be a USDA inspected facility or in your case, you know, a Maine, Department of Agriculture inspected facility, you you become a basically a part time food microbiologist, you know. There’s there’s it’s amazing. I can talk with some of our meat processors in in the commonwealth and they’re just as versed on salmonella and e coli and all the regulations that go on with that as as our food microbiologists and myself are in it as well. So there’s a lot that goes into it. Yeah. And it’s you you bring that up, Colt, about starting a facility. These are not, you know well, let me back up a little bit. Most people wanna start their own because they have animals themselves and they can’t get shackle space in one of the local processors. So they feel, well, if I can’t get shackle space, nobody else can. So this might be a business avenue for me to go down. And then you start talking about everything that that Colt just mentioned as far as the the regulation standpoint, the environmental standpoint and so on and so forth. I normally tell people the average size of a small family owned local meat processing facility is around 55 100 to 6000 square feet. And once you build that equipment, you get all of your waste water water waddle, water handling, systems in place. You’re talking about a 6 figure, high 6 figure to a low 7 figure investment. And that’s a small facility. If you go even bigger than that, you’re talking about, you know, a significant 7 figure investment. I I know we have a a fairly new meat processor in in Kentucky. He’s got about a 10,000 square foot facility, and it was like 3 to $4,000,000 to build and equip that as well. So they’re not cheap to get into. The one thing that I always hear is people call me and ask me about it and I ask I’d say the same thing to them, not with anybody else, is how much experience you have in meat processing. Normally, about all I get is, well, I kept my own deer up, you know. And that’s a start. Don’t get me wrong. That’s a start. And then they followed up by saying I’m a hire somebody to run it for me. Not sure if that’s a good, business model to go down because a, labor is always gonna be a huge issue. You know, it’s always gonna be a challenge to find labor, skilled labor. This is a very skilled labor environment and find that person that can do the slaughter, the fabrication, the sausage making, all that, and run your facility, and treat it as you would treat it as as their own. That’s not an easy thing to do. It’s a it’s a very challenging thing to do. So it’s it’s not an easy thing to get into. You know, if you come to me today and you’re really serious about it, I would encourage you to to tour other facilities. Most people let you in there. But if you think you’re gonna come to me today, I’m a give you the keys and and what you need to do to start one up. And by the end of the summer, you got your own business. No. You’re looking at a a 2 or 3 year, journey of trying to get this facility, built. And then you get into all the regulation stuff. You wanna be USDA, which includes food safety plans as well. So those those aren’t easy to write.

Colt Knight: 11:08

Let let’s talk about that a little bit. So what are some of the the biggest hurdles when it comes to opening a meat processing plant? So we’ve got one that no one ever thinks about is wastewater disposal.

Gregg Rentfrow: 11:21

Yes. Yep.

Colt Knight: 11:22

And then we’ve got, well, what do we do with the awful Mhmm. The hides? Because there’s no market…

Gregg Rentfrow: 11:28

There’s no market for hides. Yeah. Yeah.

Colt Knight: 11:31

And then The

Gregg Rentfrow: 11:31

The price of leather hasn’t gone down. Yeah.

Colt Knight: 11:34

And then it’s like, what are and then we’ve got all the sanitation. We have to build the building around being able to sanitize it.

Gregg Rentfrow: 11:42

Oh, yeah.

Colt Knight: 11:42

Day to day basis.

Gregg Rentfrow: 11:43


Colt Knight: 11:44

Yeah. And then the other big hurdle that I find working with processor, especially here in Maine, is what we call HACCP planning. Yes. Yep. And so maybe you could walk us through Sure. Through those four aspects that are really bottlenecking starting new facilities.

Gregg Rentfrow: 12:01

Yeah. That and I I have not priced it out, to be honest with you. We’re in in discussions of building a new meats lab at UK, so I’ll be a little bit more versed on that. But that waste water is a huge huge issue. It’s a huge issue with the EPA. I usually tell folks, you know, first off, you got if, you know, if you wanna build 1, you gotta get zone to build something like that. You know, some states have very strict zoning laws. Some counties have very strict zoning laws. Some don’t have any at all. But, the next step is is to find out what your local health department, what your local EPA wants you to do with that wastewater. So we have some folks that are lucky enough they can they can go straight in it into the municipal sewer, although that’s becoming an option. It’s more of a challenge recently. And others don’t have that. And so then you’re looking at, I got one facility. It’s a little bit of a nightmare for them where they have a septic tank for things like bathrooms and the sinks in the bathrooms and so on. And then they got another septic system for washing down carcasses and washing down the facility and cleaning the facility that goes into a septic tank and then the leech lines go out into a lagoon. So that Then you start building that stuff, you know, that’s that’s where a lot of the cost comes into play. So that that wastewater and how you’re gonna handle wastewater is not something to take lightly. That’s you gotta really get, down and dirty on that as well. And,

Colt Knight: 13:33

and when we’re talking about wastewater, water, another common question that I get is I wanna set up a mobile processing facility.

Gregg Rentfrow: 13:41


Colt Knight: 13:41

I’m gonna go buy a trailer, semi trailer, or a big 5th wheel or something, and I’m gonna drive it to the farm and process animals on farm, and no one considers wastewater in respect of that.

Gregg Rentfrow: 13:55

Yeah. Yeah. I I did a talk with the Indiana meat processors on that, and, it was there’s a lot of folks there I shouldn’t say a lot of folks. There’s a lot of states that have the mobile processors and usually they’re they’re, very attractive to states that don’t have a lot of meat processing capacity. And, essentially it is what you say. You go out to a farm, you process the animal at the farm, you load it onto a semi trailer that’s refrigerated. It’s it is a mobile processing facility. But then when you start to clean the carcasses and everything else, you have to recapture all that wastewater, that gray water, and then have it recycled. And that’s again, you’ve gotta act just like your brick and mortar facility when you do those mobile units as well. So that, you know, a lot of people think it’s gonna be a cheaper route. It may be a cheaper route than building your own facility, but it is probably more of a pain dealing with all the other stuff that you have to deal with. Because in some instances, when you bleed the animal, you gotta collect the blood as well, you know. Yes. And then you gotta dispose of that. And a lot of times they consider the wastewater and the blood as hazardous material. Then you get into, okay, we’re going down the road hauling hazardous materials, so what kind of licensing do I need for that as well?

Colt Knight: 15:14

Which leads us to the next aspect is is what do we do with all the awful

Gregg Rentfrow: 15:18


Colt Knight: 15:19

Bones, blood, and

Gregg Rentfrow: 15:21

hides, and what is all that stuff happening? Yeah. You know, and that’s one of those aspects, the rendering industry is what we call that. That’s one of the, the most unsung heroes of our society. I I need to people that, what do you mean? These are the guys that come and they pick up the fat, the bones, the internal organs, the hides, the heads, the blood, all that stuff, and they take it off the rendering. And they make wonderful products like Revlon, CoverGirl, Clinique, gummy bears, marshmallows, lubricants, and usually at that point, people tell me to stop talking, you know. But they they do turn that stuff into into a lot of usable products. Even even, you know, your Advil or your pain killer, that little coating there, capsule that the medicine’s in, that those are animal derived products. So So a lot of folks don’t think of that. But those are things that for the small meat processor, we have to pay for that person to come to pick that stuff up. Now the big boys, the IBPs, the Cargills, the Swifts, the Tysons of the world, they actually have their own on-site rendering facilities. We don’t have that luxury because that’s again, that’s another super expense. But but, yeah. The rendering industry is one of those unsung heroes that we don’t want to think about. We just, you know, like to think that things like that just go away. But it does get turned into a lot of products that we use on a daily basis.

Colt Knight: 16:47

And so in an area that might not have access to the rendering trucks.

Gregg Rentfrow: 16:51

Yeah. There there are other avenues you can do it. If you’re in one of those weird areas, and we have those in Kentucky as well is where, know, a lot of our Amish, processors, you know, they they’re so off the beaten path then off the paved roads and so on that a lot of rendering companies don’t want to go pick up their composting is an option there. And I’ve worked with some meat processors when I was in grad school at Missouri where that turned into a side business. You know, one was it was absolutely the perfect setup because one processor across the road from him about a quarter of a mile down was a pallet making plant. So what do pallet making plants produce? Sawdust. And so it was a a collaboration between those 2 that they had the the sawdust for the composting and then the meat processor had the stuff that went inside there to compost and it turned into kind of a side business for them as well. So composting is an option. Sometimes your your landfills will let you put things in there, as well and and, but you’re gonna have to visit your local landfill to see if they’ll allow you to dump, animal waste in into their landfill. Some will, some won’t.

Colt Knight: 18:05

And one thing that we’re seeing more in the larger scale dairy and swine, industry is methane digesters.

Gregg Rentfrow: 18:13


Colt Knight: 18:14

Where they take manure by products from grocery stores. They actually Yeah. Break those products down and capture the methane to create energy.

Gregg Rentfrow: 18:24

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Colt Knight: 18:26

Do any meat processors use methane?

Gregg Rentfrow: 18:29

There there are a few getting into that kind of stuff, the DAF systems as well if you wanna go down that avenue. They they also require a lot of, upfront overhead to get into those, but those are options out there as well. I don’t know anybody personally that’s looked into like the methane digestion and stuff like that. But as more and more companies become, you know, zero emission, you know, those are avenues that are going down. And we have a lot of the big meat processors that are looking into that as well. And so they can they can be a zero emission, company in the next few years. Mhmm.

Colt Knight: 19:04

And so a couple of those options will take care of hides, and some of them won’t.

Gregg Rentfrow: 19:10


Colt Knight: 19:10

So, like, some renders will pick up hides, and some renders will not pick up hides.

Gregg Rentfrow: 19:15

Yeah. Yeah. The hide industry, it’s really weird because, anymore I’m just happy that for us at UK, at our meat lab, they come and pick our hides up. I don’t know what the, the company that we have, that we work with does with them. I imagine they sell them off. And most of those hides go over seas to be tanned and and put in jackets and boots and stuff like that. But, you know, and other rendering companies won’t pick them up at all. And so that leaves you a lot of hides that you gotta do something with. And so that is kind of a crisis a little bit in the meats industry for the small guys. What are we gonna do with all these hides? And I I always, you know, find it weird because I, you know, I I think you’ve run into this as well, Colt, is, you know, you you talk to sheep farmers and they shear the sheep and then they burn the wool because the wool is not worth anything. Then I go into a into a store to look at wool socks and you almost need a a credit application to buy a pair of those. It is kind of the same thing with with with leather, you know. You look at the leather seats of the car or jacket or boots or something like that and you’re like, this is super high. But then they tell me the the hides in the wool aren’t worth anything. Yeah. It’s a weird weird situation out there.

Colt Knight: 20:31

Yeah. We keep seeing the product prices go up, but the wholesale keeps going down.

Gregg Rentfrow: 20:35

Yeah. Yep.

Colt Knight: 20:37

And then the the next thing is, you know, just the sanitation standards.

Gregg Rentfrow: 20:40

Yeah. Yeah. Because we we are producing food, and a lot of people forget that. And if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a 1000 times. Well, nobody, you know, in our facility has ever gotten sick.

Gregg Rentfrow: 20:53

You know, and that may be true, but there’s always that one time that something’s gonna happen. And and I will say one thing, in 36 years of being in this industry and being in this business, I’ve never had anybody say I really don’t care if somebody gets sick. I just wanna get stuff out the door and so on. Everybody cares and they don’t want to hurt anybody. The challenge that we run into into is a lot of times people don’t realize what they’re doing is is is not safe. And that’s where we come into play to kinda work with them. And they have to have an open mind and realize they need to change. And, you know, a lot of our facilities aren’t designed for food safety and we need to redesign those and rethink through those as well. But, you know, you mentioned earlier HACCP. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, which is a major food safety plan that the USDA requires. And I usually tell folks, you know, I give them an example of if you had bacon for breakfast this morning. You know, that bacon went through 3 different HACCP plans before it got to you. And you start getting into other products like, snack sticks or beef jerky. Those go through 3 or 4 HACCP plans before they they, they get to the grocery store. I always joke that one of the most regulated foods we have is beef jerky and we buy it in a gas station, you know. It’s it’s got a lot of regulations tied to it. And so, yeah, the the food safety thing is huge. We use a lot of sanitizers and degreasers when we’re cleaning these facilities. And to have facility that you’re able to clean and get clean and keep clean and sanitize is is key. And that’s when the in the design of our new meats lab, that’s the one thing we’re working hard is making sure we pay attention to the flow rate of the product, the flow rate of the employees, designing a facility with washable surfaces and and sanitizable surfaces, make sure making sure we don’t have, you know, exposed pipes hanging overhead because, you know, I don’t know about you but we got exposed pipes. Not everybody reaches up there very often and cleans the dust off of them. But in a food facility, that needs to happen on a very, very regular basis. So there’s a lot of things that you don’t think of when you start talking about food safety

Colt Knight: 23:17

in these plants. So that’s something that the facility needs to be designed with those cleanliness standards and being able to clean it and maintain it on a regular basis. So when someone comes to you and says, I wanna start a meat processing facility, and I have a garage and a folding table.

Gregg Rentfrow: 23:36

Yeah. Yeah. Then no. Yeah. We hear that a lot. Well, I cut my deer up in there, you know. Yeah. That may be, and you may be okay. But when you’re starting to produce food for other people, the the garage and the folding table, no. That’s not gonna be the case, you know. And and you know, our our current meats lab at UK was opened in the early seventies and and, for me, I guess it’s the sign of my age. I think it is so fascinating to me that it wasn’t until the early nineties that we really started to focus on food safety. That was right after the Jack in the Box incident in the Pacific Northwest with e coli, and that forced the meats industry to focus on food safety. That was the early nineties. And humane handling, that was another aspect we could probably have another podcast about as humane handling, Colt, is is that’s another thing we do.

Colt Knight: 24:28

That’s actually the next episode.

Gregg Rentfrow: 24:30

That’s the next episode. Yeah. But that was one of the things we didn’t really start getting focused on humane handling of animals and and trying to mimic, if not encourage their natural instinctual behavior the way they wanna move. That wasn’t until the 2 thousands. And I I realized for younger listeners, they hear this, that, you know, nineties and 2 thousands, that’s not that you know, that’s a long time ago. But, you know, for somebody like me in their fifties, that doesn’t seem like that long ago. And so going back to our meats lab at UK, it was opened in the early seventies. That was before those two things were a concern. And so now in the designing of our new lab, those are the 2 major things that we are really, really focusing on is animal handling and food safety.

Colt Knight: 25:19

And so I hope that gives everyone an idea of exactly what it would take to open up your own facility. And and, it’s gonna be a tremendous expense, a lot of paperwork, a lot of regulatory work. But if if if you’re willing to go through all that, I think there is demand for more processors. So I think it would be a viable business, but it’s just getting started is the hard part.

Gregg Rentfrow: 25:44

Yeah. Getting started is the hard part. Yeah. And, you know, the pandemic really kinda highlighted, you know, the need for more small processors. But the challenge that we’re having in Kentucky is the price of cattle are so high, and we’re a beef state, that now some of the processors are they they need more animals coming through the facility because farmers aren’t keeping stuff back. So that is a is a huge issue but you know, cold cuts sometimes, you know, jokes that I’m the pseudo meat specialist for Maine. So, you know, feel free if you’re very interested in this, contact, doctor Knight. He can contact me and we can set up a a phone call, a Zoom meeting, or whatnot. We’ve done that many times. So any way that we can help you, gather knowledge and achieve your goals, we’re we’re here to help. Excellent.

Colt Knight: 26:32

So one other thing that we wanted to talk about is what if you just wanna cut up your own livestock for your own family or your own wild game for your own family at home? What are the basics, do you think, that folks need in terms of facilities or cleanliness standards?

Gregg Rentfrow: 26:51

Or Yeah.

Colt Knight: 26:52

I think more importantly, how do we package and and store that stuff so it doesn’t go away?

Gregg Rentfrow: 26:58

Yeah. And and and I will say one thing. For those of you that are the do it yourselfers like you’re talking about there, you know, those that want to, you know, humanely process their own livestock for their own family’s consumption or even just a do it yourselfer with your your wildlife, whether you take down a deer, an elk, a moose or, you know, waterfowl or anything like that and you do that at home, you know, again, you’re still especially with wildlife, I harp on this with our deer hunters in in Kentucky. You’re still producing food even though it’s for yourself. You’re still producing food and so, you know, you still got to take in consideration, you know, when you take down a deer, you know, you gotta keep it cold, you know. And there’s lots of ways you can go online to learn how to do that, you know. And you know, filling the body cavity full of bags of ice keeps things, chilled and drops the temperature of those carcasses pretty quick. But if you’re doing it at home, you know, and that’s what we’re joking about earlier with the in the garage with the folding table. You know, that may work for, you know, your your wildlife or what you’re doing at home. I would encourage you to invest in cutting boards and things along that line. The wonderful thing we have out there now is the internet and you can find a lot of this stuff on the internet, Especially just basic meat processing equipment like grinders and knives and saws and stuff like that. You know, please don’t, you know, cut through bone with a sawsall that you use to cut, you know, wood the day before. You know, that kind of stuff. You know, you can actually go online. You’re serious about this, go online. You can find all that meat processing equipment. There’s several websites out there. There’s the one web site everybody goes to to buy stuff. You can find it on there as well. But you know, just some basically, knives and saws and cutting blocks and and a way to keep things cold. And when you package it, you know, it used to be the old adage was, well, the best I could do was paper wrapping. I’m not I’m not a big fan of the paper wrap because it’s not really, conducive for long term long term freezer storage. But, ziplock bags was another kind of step up from the paper, overwrap. But like I said, now that technology’s gotten more and more accessible to the average person. You can buy your own kitchen vacuum packaging system and you can buy those little, I believe they’re called suck and saves or whatever. The old…

Colt Knight: 29:26

Food savers.

Gregg Rentfrow: 29:26

Food savers. Yeah. You see how old I am. I used the phrase suck and save that was over the probably eighties early nineties version of that or nomenclature for that. But you can buy those vacuum packaging systems for your kitchen and when you vacuum package meat and you get it in there in the freezer, it’s gonna last a lot longer. You’re not at risk of freezer burn like you are with ziplock bags and with, paper over wrap.

Colt Knight: 29:52

Yeah. And if you’re really serious about storing a lot of your own protein at home.

Gregg Rentfrow: 29:59


Colt Knight: 30:00

Those food savers are great for small quantities. But when you start getting the larger quantities, you find that the bags are actually quite expensive.

Gregg Rentfrow: 30:07

Yeah. They

Colt Knight: 30:08

are. You gotta seal both sides.

Gregg Rentfrow: 30:09

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Colt Knight: 30:10

Just the time

Gregg Rentfrow: 30:11

to sink. Yeah. You you got you gotta make your own bag, so to speak. Yeah. I think, and I don’t quote me on this. I imagine you could probably get online and find actual vacuum bags that would be usable in those those, at home, vacuum bags.

Colt Knight: 30:26

Yeah. So, like like, the food savers, the way they work is they suck all the air out.

Gregg Rentfrow: 30:30

Mhmm. Yep.

Colt Knight: 30:30

And so those bags have to have, like, a little corrugation on one side that allows the air to flow through.

Gregg Rentfrow: 30:36


Colt Knight: 30:37

And, you know, if you’re if you’re killing a couple pigs, a hand a bunch of chickens, a cow even, you know, it might actually be more economical to buy one the small

Gregg Rentfrow: 30:50


Colt Knight: 30:50

Actual vacuum sealers that actually has a vacuum changer that

Gregg Rentfrow: 30:55


Colt Knight: 30:55

That pulls the air out of the environment and seals those.

Gregg Rentfrow: 30:59

Yep. Yeah. And I and I’m glad you brought that up because I was gonna go down that avenue as well. And you we were thinking the same way is is yeah. If you if you’re really if you’re just doing just, you know, one deer a year, yeah, the little kitchen, you know, food saver type technology would work well for you. But if you’re doing this all the time, it might behoove you to to look into buying one of those small, vacuum packaging systems where the bags are cheaper then.

Colt Knight: 31:27

Yeah. The bags might be 10¢

Gregg Rentfrow: 31:29

instead of

Colt Knight: 31:29

50 or 70 boxes.

Gregg Rentfrow: 31:31

Exactly. And so and you can pick those up, you know. I don’t know a price range on those, but you could probably, you know, a lot of times if you get a meat processor who’s growing, they sell some of the the the equipment that they’ve outgrown and you might be able to pick some of that stuff up fairly fairly easily. The the only issue you’d have with it with some of those that big equipment is they’re 220 and not 110. So you may have to do a little bit of rewiring of, of an outlet to get that to work. But then there’s some of them that are still 110 that work perfectly fine, that are too small for a meat processor but just right for an at home person.

Colt Knight: 32:09

Yeah. I think some of the smaller tabletop versions are about a 1,000, $1400. Absolutely. That sounds like a lot. Yeah.

Colt Knight: 32:16

Between $200 food center.

Gregg Rentfrow: 32:17


Colt Knight: 32:19

But if you think of all the packages you’re gonna have in 1 cow

Gregg Rentfrow: 32:23


Colt Knight: 32:24

And you multiply that by 50 or 75¢ a package

Gregg Rentfrow: 32:28


Colt Knight: 32:28

Then all of a sudden, that that more expensive machine It’s cheaper. With the the 5 or 10¢ bags is it really does make a difference.

Gregg Rentfrow: 32:36

Yeah. We usually, kinda think of, you know, when you talk about slaughtering a beef animal that, you know, you’re you’re a 1300 pound animal, you’re probably gonna get, you know, 300 to 350 meals out of that animal. So if you you think in that that those lines and now all of a sudden that little kitchen food savers is not gonna you’re gonna outgrow that pretty quick.

Colt Knight: 33:01

Yeah. Absolutely. Well, Dr. Rentfrow, it was great having you with us here on the Maine Farmcast.

Colt Knight: 33:07

And our time has went over a little bit, but this has been a great discussion.

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