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Wholly Cow - the art of giving back in the butchery business

A ‘paddock to plate’ philosophy has seen a Cambridge butchery fully embrace sustainability.

Wholly Cow is a shining light in food production for its ethical business practices.

In a field dominated by the large supermarket chains, Wholly Cow, owned by Carrie and Tom Andrews, has carved a niche for those who want top quality, ethically produced, farm-fresh meats.

The butchery sells traditional cuts, like roasts, steaks, prime mince and sausages; as well as some of the lesser known offcuts – like lamb tongues and sweet breads. 

It has two retail outlets, one in Cambridge, and another in Hamilton’s Claudelands, as well as a stand at the Tauranga Farmer’s Market. 

All of the meat – Angus beef, various sheep breeds and goats are finished at the Andrews’ family farm at Whitehall just out of Cambridge.    They source free range pigs and free-range chicken and smoke all their own bacon and hams and make sausages on site.  All their butcheries are gluten free.

In 2018 they built a micro-abattoir, meaning the animals are processed at the farm.

“We are now responsible for every part of the production process, from paddock to plate, which is a huge thing for the business,” says Carrie.

Whole carcasses arrive at the Cambridge butcher shop, run by their son Luke and a small team of butchers, to be cut up and sold to their loyal customer base. 

The business has embraced sustainability.  “We have created an independent circular economy, basically.”

No part of the animal carcass is wasted, with a ‘circular loop’ meaning all the waste is taken back to the farm.   

“All the inedible offal goes onto a huge compost heap which we use with saw dust and manure from the racing stables here.”   The rich compost goes back on the land.

All the meat trays from the butchery are compostable and paper waste comes back to be fed to worm farms.  

They are investigating using a compostable cling film.  “People want convenience, but they also want to do the right thing.”  

They also make skin creams, lip balms and soap from rendered down tallow, or beef fat.

Embracing the circular economy has been a huge thing for Wholly Cow.  “The whole beauty of this system now, is the farm is the beneficiary of this whole process.  It is generating a give back approach rather than just the linear system from when we first started.”  

Wholly Cow has no immediate plans for expansion - they are happy serving local folk – but are about to start a delivery service.   

Their sustainable business practices have to be carefully managed and balanced for the whole system to work.

And her favourite cut of meat?  “I do like butterfly lamb.  I have one in the oven now, cooking up for everyone for lunch.  That is a goodie.”

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