Near as I can tell, there is no one in my state processing poultry so that it can be sold at farmers' markets or to restaurants. I spy a niche business opportunity. Not that I have time for another enterprise...or know anything about this business...but how much would it cost to take one of the many deer processing businesses and turn it into a year-round profitable business for processing small animals?
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 5 years ago
As we all know, each state has their own rules/regs, and I am not familiar with Utah's Depts. of Making You Sad.
I would think that converting an existing facility could be way cheaper than building a dedicated facility.
If those facilities are deer only, there will be an approximate 2 1/2 month period (mid August-late October) when they are processing deer, and unfortunately, deer season pretty well coincides with prime meat bird processing times.
If they are also processing elk, that season extends into mid January, so that there is a 5 month window when you might have problems reserving space. I am certain that many of those facilities would be happy if their busy season was extended to year round.
One thing to remember too is that at least in Texas and USDA inspections you must have separate areas for poultry and other animals to prevent cross contamination. This may mean a totally different building depending on your inspector's feelings. It is possible that they would consider time between processing to be good enough, but that will be a judgment call. Also there are generally pretty lax standards in game processing so what they can get away with is probably a lot more than a poultry processor could especially since there is no killing and gutting at game processors so the HACCP paperwork is much less. I have been hoping to get our local state inspected processor to add chicken processing, but they are looking at $100,000 or so of investment to add the needed facilities.
I can pull a permit to process 1000 birds on-farm, but I can only direct sell, no farmers' markets, no restaurants. I suspect that the mobile processing isn't going to get the highly elusive USDA stamp, but I need to research it. I'm thinking that the way to go is to buy a deer processing business and convert it to a producer-owned co-op for poultry processing, and keep it running 12 months a year. There is now a market chain selling raw milk (!) that would probably do cartwheels to get a source of local organic year-round chicken.
Pluses: make a few jobs in a rural community within striking distance of the urban markets, get better food in hands of consumers, have a way for more permie-minded folks to add fertility through poultry, make some folks a second income stream. A producers co-op could do joint marketing on all sorts of interesting things. That's how the Organic Valley brand started out.
Minuses: find money, find time. Deal with people who don't want to work, just complain. Finding two or three like-minded folks to start up is the minimum I'd need to get over that last inertial barrier. I had a guy tell me yesterday he didn't want to retail his grass-raised beef because he'd have to feed over winter. As in get out of bed every day to do the feeding, not pay for the hay. Rather sell them to a feed lot. I don't have time to drag people over the hump.
We are a ways away from you, but Jesse at Appenzell Farms webpage might be someone who would be interested in joining forces with you - 435-535-1121. He is already working with several butchers around No. Utah. I only have a business relationship with Jesse, but he seems to be a real stand-up guy.
The mobile poultry processing idea sure caught my eye and I went looking to see what might be of help. The state of Washington is looking for a supervisor to drive their truck, keep records, etc. There is a woman, Ali Berlow that wrote the book on building The Mobile Poultry Slaughterhouse based on her trials in the Martha's Vineyard area.
As usual I blurted before getting more facts (and I hate editing a post because of what I think people did to their own edits):
I discovered Quote: "North Country Pastured, co-owned and managed by Renee Smith of DeKalb, in St. Lawrence County, received two grants totalling $200,000 for the project."
That led to: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/pub/nov10/going.htm That discusses various areas utilizing mobile units and how they funded.
That article mentioned this site http://www.nichemeatprocessing.org/ From their site: NMPAN is a network and info hub for people and organizations who want small meat processors to thrive. We offer tools and information for small processors and the farmers, marketers, and meat buyers who depend on them.