New collagen plant will harvest hides

The joint venture, NZ Life Sciences, bought and was expanding a facility and its 16ha of land, called the Oxville Farms Abattoir, from the Anderson family at Marua, near Hikurangi.
 
On the Kiwi side were Northland transport operator Scott Massey, manager Chazz Edwards and genetics adviser Ian Walsh, of the Falkirk Foundation at Pio Pio, King Country. Huruiki Angus breeder Brandon Edwards, of Helena Bay, said he had been involved with the project for six months and his Maori core values were closely aligned with what the partners had planned.
 
He was convinced the firm would pay a substantial premium for cattle that qualified and that pharmaceutical companies would be the source of that premium. NZ cattle farmers were already doing most of the closed herd requirements, having not introduced foreign genetics or viruses and electronically tracked animals from birth. Products from a closed herd had to be traced back to a specific certified animal, its parents, its health and its food supply. McCloy said a veterinarian would need to certify each cattle beast as free of diseases before it was slaughtered, in addition to the Ministry for Primary Industries meat inspection afterwards. Only the hide would cross a sealed partition into the sterile biochemical processing to extract collagen, where the standards were more akin to a hospital operating theatre. Harvesting collagen would not begin until the dead animal had been inspected and passed. Farmers would need to declare and verify where and when that cattle beast had been during its life, its animal health treatments, plus go back several generations and be subject to independent auditing of that trail.
 
Only five to 10 animals meeting those strict standards would be killed and processed each day. Operations would begin in July, Edwards said. Another US partner, Dr Roy Nelson, chief scientific officer at Bovine Collagen Products, said all the protocols were designed to prevent animal diseases crossing into humans. As the world found out, bovine spongiform encephalopathy could lead to brain disease in humans and NZ was one of only three countries that never had BSE. Now bovine leukaemia virus was suspected of a role in human breast cancer but NZ did not have that virus either Massey said the partnership would pour about $10 million into the venture, starting with the purchase of Oxville plus new buildings and improvements. His ambition was to build a laboratory in or near Whangarei where collagen could be made into bandages and suture.
 
The end game was the supply of spare parts for humans on bases from animal products, he said. Major meat and by-products companies in NZ, such as Silver Fern Farms and Lowe Corporation, already supplied bovine collagen.

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