FORKS OF THE WATER — Alleghany Meats has been serving the region four years now, and there have been many changes over that time.
The USDA-inspected slaughter, value-added processing facility, which opened in 2012, was formed to provide quality meat processing options in the Allegheny Highlands and bring producers and consumers closer together.
Currently, there are eight on staff, including Josh Moyers, operations manager and butcher; Troy Snead, officer manager; and Dale McCusker Jr., lead meat cutter. The rest of the team includes Susan Mc- Cusker, David Swecker, Mike Mallow, Shannon Mallow, Bryan Belchl, and Ruth Chappell, who do everything from slaughtering, processing, and creating smoked products to packaging and labeling meats.
“We are fortunate to have a team of workers who are willing to cross-train and do what needs to be done,” Snead said. “For instance, when equipment needs attention, David jumps right in and keeps it going.”
The staff works with customers to offer several services and custom meat processing options, such as butchering with full customization; USDA-inspected slaughter and processing for re-sale; non-USDA slaughter and processing, which is not for re-sale; vacuum packaging and custom labeling; and specialty (value-added) products.
New businesses are always full of challenges, and Alleghany Meats has had its share. “Everybody has always said that this is a seasonal business, and it really is,” Moyers said. “During the busiest season – fall and winter — customers may have to wait longer than they want for a processing day.”
The flip side of that is, for customers who have animals ready for processing April-July, there is almost no wait. “If you are a producer who has animals ready for slaughter, it’s a great time to make an appointment,” Snead said. “We are moving into what is typically our slowest time of year and it is easy to schedule a slaughter date. Even during busy seasons, I’ll always work you in.”
The facility slaughters on a biweekly basis and throughout the past four years, operations have minimized both the cost and stress for animals and customers alike. It can accommodate cattle, bison, lambs, goats, and hogs. In addition to the meat, the staff can save organ meat, oxtail, and jowl.
Dale McCusker and Swecker recently attended the Virginia Tech Beef Fabrication Clinic to hone their skills.
“Because I’ve had a lot of experience — 30-plus years to be exact — the lady leading the class asked me to demonstrate different carcass breakdowns,” Dale Mc- Cusker said. “Most of the class were mom and pop farms who were quite interested in what is happening at Alleghany Meats. We made some good contacts. As a matter of fact, Jordan Wicks, Virginia Tech meat lab manager, will be visiting Alleghany Meats in mid-April and is going to be bringing students to learn more about bison slaughter and processing.”
Moyers added, “One thing I think people would be surprised to know is the number of bison we have processed.” He recently spoke at the Eastern Bison Association’s winter conference in Harrisburg, Pa., where he shared information about Alleghany Meats and presented breaking down bison cuts.
Snead explained the staff’s dedication to work with client’s individual needs. “We’d be happy to sit down and talk with potential customers about the services that Alleghany Meats offers. Give us a call and let’s schedule a time to meet and discuss your specialty cuts, hang time and processing needs. We can talk about pick-up times, your custom labeling needs, and best times of day for you to drop animals off,” he said.
“This is hard work, but at the end of the day we are happy knowing that we’ve given our customers the best service we can and that they have great meat cuts to sell to their customers,” Susan McCusker said.
To learn more about Alleghany Meats, or schedule a time for processing, see the new website: www.alleghanymeats.com, like its Facebook page, AlleghanyMeatsAHAC, or call (540) 474-2422.
This article appeared in The Recorder on March 31, 2016