Growing Our Poultry Operation with Our Own USDA Inspected Processing Plant

After a decade dabbling in pastured poultry and non-inspected processing under Vermont’s thousand bird exemption, we reached a point where we were either going to get smaller or expand. We decided to expand and now our farm includes a small on-farm USDA-inspected poultry processing plant. The path to the on-farm processing plant began with a dramatic increase in pasture-raised broiler chicken and turkey production that started in 2013. In 2012, we produced 750 broiler chickens and 200 turkeys on pasture, and processed them non-inspected on-farm. In 2016, we had 18,500 broilers, 750 turkeys, and we processed an additional 8000 birds for other farms. Our decision to grow resulted from several opportunities that made the growing our poultry operation attractive.  Those factors included: 1. An opportunity to buy property debt-free, through the Vermont Land Trust, with easy access to markets and better land for larger scale pastured poultry. 2. The sale of the Vermont State-Inspected Mobile Poultry Processing Unit created a significant loss of local inspected chicken to the Vermont market. 3. Processing Infrastructure. The availability of a low-cost “containerized” turn-key processing plant for small farms. 4. Production Infrastructure. Innovations to mobile field shelters for pastured poultry. 5. The State of Vermont’s Farm to Plate initiative had begun to invest in local farms looking to expand to meet anticipated local and regional demand for Vermo

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2 thoughts on “Growing Our Poultry Operation with Our Own USDA Inspected Processing Plant

  1. Many thanks for this. I was going to ask for the high tunnel details as they look much better. Who makes them? Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

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