Author: Lauren Gwin, Small Farms Program, Oregon State University

Publish Date: Summer 2014

In June, two new mobile poultry processing units began operating in the mid- and south Willamette Valley, offering two different services to Oregon small farmers.

Oregon Mobile Poultry Processing

Oregon Mobile Poultry Processing, owned by Rachel Prickett of Provenance Farm and Brian Schack of Schack Farm, is based in Philomath and is the first licensed mobile poultry slaughter business in the state.  OMPP comes to customers’ farms and does the processing for them, for a per-head cost. Because OMPP is state licensed and operates under the federal 20,000 bird/year exemption, farmers can sell birds at farmers’ markets, in CSAs, and to restaurants and retail outlets within Oregon.

Prickett and Schack, both poultry farmers themselves, developed the business in 2010 when they found themselves in need of a slaughter facility for their own birds.  Taking care to follow Oregon Department of Agriculture food safety guidelines, they built a slaughter facility on a 33’ fully enclosed trailer with a 16’ fold-out deck.  The trailer has an automatic plucker, scalder, and kill cones on the outside deck.  Inside are stainless steel processing tables, sinks, and chill tanks. The unit travels with a 10-person crew and can pull into any farm with a potable water source and a 220v electrical outlet.  The crew can process, chill, and shrink-package up to 500 Cornish-cross broilers in a typical work day. 

Prickett and Schack are finding a mobile poultry processing facility to be well received by Oregon farmers.  Many farmers find it cost prohibitive to build their own state licensed facilities; others lease farmland and are unable to construct an on-farm slaughter area. 

“Our crew provides a high level of slaughter expertise and efficiency, which frees up farmers to spend their time in more profitable ways,” says Prickett. “Oregon’s poultry farmers have high standards for their animals’ wellbeing and appreciate reducing stress on their birds by keeping them on-farm for slaughter. We provide farmers with cleaned and packaged birds they can be proud to sell to the discerning retail customers and chefs of the Willamette Valley.” 

OMPP serves the region within a 100-mile radius of Philomath and has a minimum of 200 birds per day at a site.  They are often able to group smaller producers together to meet the minimum on a particular day.

Cascade Pacific Equipment Rental

The other new MPPU, a project of Cascade Pacific Resource Conservation & Development, is not a standalone “unit” but a set of high-quality poultry processing equipment, delivered by trailer, that farmers can rent and use to process their own birds. Farmers can then sell their birds direct to consumers, at their farms, under Oregon’s 1000 bird exemption. The equipment is housed at Cascade Pacific RC&D’s Berggren Demonstration Farm in Springfield.  

“One of our primary goals” explains Jared Pruch, Cascade Pacific’s Food and Farm Program Coordinator, “is to help build a strong local food system in the south Willamette Valley. We hope that the MPPU can serve as a community resource that provides one more tool to help small farms thrive.” Cascade Pacific built the unit with funding provided by Meyer Memorial Trust’s Community Food Systems initiative.

The unit – which includes a plucker, scalder, killing cones, stainless steel table, knives, sanitizer system, hand washing station, canopy, and chilling tanks – is housed at Cascade Pacific’s Berggren Demonstration Farm.  Farmers who want to use the equipment must attend a training session, held monthly at the farm, and then can rent the unit for $25 for a 24-hour period, plus a $0.25/mile delivery charge. Farms must have a certified potable water supply and on-farm capacity for cooling and waste disposal; Cascade Pacific also recommends farms check with their insurance agent to make sure processing is covered under their policy.

Angela Andre, Berggren farm manager, says that the MPPU meets an important need for their region’s small farmers. “There are only a few licensed places to get your birds processed, and for most farmers they are not close. The added expenses of time and travel cut into an already meager profit margin.”

The unit solves that problem by letting farmers do their own, on-farm processing for far less cost than purchasing and maintaining their own equipment. This cooperative approach, Andre says, is important not only for processing but for marketing.

For More Information

Cascade-Pacific MPPU: Katy Giombolini, 541-505-4735, katy@cascadepacific.org.

Oregon Mobile Poultry Processing: Diana Forsberg, (541) 250-0102, info@mobilepoultryprocessing.comwww.mobilepoultryprocessing.com

Publications, online resources, and local resources

  • Best Practices for Open Air Poultry Slaughter, OSU Small Farms Program: the guide outlines the important sanitation, record-keeping, and legal aspects of processing birds under the 1,000 Bird Exemption.
  • Meat and Poultry Processing Regulations in Oregon: explains federal and state poultry processing regulations, including the 1000 bird exemption.
  • Profitable Poultry: Raising Birds on Pasture. This great SARE publication outlines the start-up costs, management practices, and expected revenue from a small farm in Wisconsin.
  • Oregon Department of Agriculture.  ODA has information on poultry processing rules and regulations on their website. 
  • Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network.  NMPAN is a network and info hub focused on small meat and poultry processors and the farmers, marketers, and meat buyers who depend on them.
  • New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, Tufts University: online resources for new entry farmers including enterprise budgets, poultry profit calculators, and other helpful guides.
  • Union Point Custom Feed. This feed mill near Brownsville carries non-GMO feed products milled from regionally sourced grains. 541-954-0945.