Poultry Processing Facilities
One of the very pressing issues for small farmers raising livestock is where to have their livestock processed. Every cut of meat that anyone buys must be processed at a government-inspected facility. There can be farmers willing to raise GMO-free, medication-free livestock on pasture and customers ready to buy the meat... but without a local government-inspected processing facility, there will be few / no farmers raising livestock, and no customers buying locally-raised, GMO-free, medication-free, pasture-raised meat.
We just heard today that the facility we have used (and trusted - key point) in the last couple years will no longer be processing poultry for small farmers.
This is extremely unfortunate; a) because they were good, and b) because the next closest facility is about an hour's drive away (this place was about a 45-minute drive from us). 20 years ago, there was a processing facility about a 7-minute drive away, which made raising poultry a feasible endeavour.
What it means to take a load of chickens to the processor:
1) driving there a day ahead of time to pick up crates (2 hours driving time)
2) loading chickens at 5am the next morning, and driving there (slowly) (2++ hours driving time)
3) going back the next day to pick up the frozen chickens, ready for sale (2 hours driving time)
So, a minimum of 6 hours of driving time + fuel + 2 people for the second trip..... how many chickens would it take to make the trip worthwhile? It's depressing to remember that we are only allowed to raise 300 chickens per year.
We usually raise our chickens in 2 or 3 batches for a few reasons, but one reason is that we cannot transport more than about 150 at a time with our current equipment. So, that means the 6 hours of driving time is for about 150 chickens, which is on top of all the time it takes to care for them from Day 1. The true cost of raising a pasture-raised chicken is very high under the current circumstances.
Back in the good ol' days...
There were local processing facilities all over the place! There were also small-scale farmers all over the place, with livestock to process on a regular basis. There were also customers all over the place who were buying all / most of their meat from their local farmers.
Which comes first? The chicken or the egg?
Or: the chicken or the customer? We greatly value those who have purchased meat from us in the past. If only there were lots more folks like you out there, supporting enough local farmers to support a local processing facility.
We would be raising livestock again at a moment's notice, but we need to first figure out where to get it all processed. There is a good semi-local place that will process our pigs. We just need a local place for chickens, turkeys and ducks.
We look forward to the day when there will be enough support to have local processing facilities for every community again!