Continuing the topic of Pastured Poultry today, I'm going to discuss what on farm processing is, as well as why we do it.
On farm processing is how we butcher or slaughter our broiler chickens. It means getting up at 5am and loading chickens into crates and taking the 5 min drive to our on-farm-processing site where we have everything set up. We have kill cones, a scalder, a plucker, and counter space with plenty of coolers and ice water.
The birds are humanely killed in the kill cones, and quickly go from to the scalder that loosens feathers. From there we place them into the plucker. After feathers have been removed we evicerate them, cutting out the organs and checking for defects. After a rinse and passing inspection we quickly chill them down to below 40F in our coolers filled with ice. After all birds have been processed we clean up, disposing of feathers, guts, waste water etc. Wipe down and sanitize all surfaces, and then do the remaining packing and cut up.
This year we offer 8pc cut up, or whole bird, at a set price of $22/bird within our chicken club. For individual sales the cost of a cut-up chicken is $4 more ($26/cut up bird). We will experiment with chicken cuts, those will be priced per pound based on demand. Cuts we will experiment will be your basic cut list for chicken: breast, thigh, wing, drumstick, organs and bones for broth.
The basic cost of getting your chicken processed in a facility is anywhere from $2-6 per bird and quickly eats up your small profit in a pastured chicken. The savings of on-farm-processing is something we pass on to our customers. For now we are happy to perform this task, something we take seriously and use not only sanitary practices but seek animal welfare and humane handling through all of it. Processing is a necessary part of life in a world that involves meat, so we encourage people to take it seriously and know where your meat comes from. Maybe you need to buy less meat, but buy higher quality meat.
Consider supporting a local farmer and vote with your dollar to become a part of the change in regenerative agriculture. We want to be a part of the farm community where everyone involved is benefiting. The land is restored, the customer gets a quality product, and the producer (us) can make a living by providing quality product and using sustainable practices.