Morrisville, Vermont - October 12, 2009
Poultry farmers are praising a first-of-its-kind facility that is helping them process their birds more efficiently and affordably than ever before.
It's a mobile slaughter unit that can process chickens, turkeys and other fowl on the very farm they were raised. The trailer cost about $93,000. It can process 170 chickens a day.
Art Meade has been raising poultry on his Morrisville farm for more than twenty years. He says a trailer visiting his farm this week is one of the biggest advancements he's ever seen.
"It's a massive market change now," said Meade of Winding Brook Farm.
The trailer is a two-room, mobile slaughter unit that will process about 60 of his birds. The state and the truck's operator say it is the first of its kind in the country.
"You have the killing cones, the bleeding area, the scalder, plucker and then it goes into the other end for the final processing and packaging after they're chilled," said George Eisenhardt, the owner and operator of the truck.
The unit also provides for inspection of the birds, something small farmers like Meade could never access before now.
"It's just a big boon for the individual animal producers. Part of the problem was there were several poultry processing establishments in the state of Vermont, but with scares of avian influenza and things like that nobody wanted to bring birds from other farms onto their farm. Having the mobile unit available to go farm to farm really opens up the market for all these small producers that don't have the capability to build their own slaughter facility," said Randy Quenneville, meat program section Chief for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture meat inspection service.
"For me to have these chickens slaughtered today, tomorrow they're in the dining room, Michael Kloeti of Michael's on the Hill.
Chef Michael Kloeti has long served Meade's chickens at his Waterbury restaurant, but they had to be listed on the menu as uninspected meat. That turned some customers off. Now he'll be able to serve local meat with the state's seal of approval.
"It's nice to see how he treats his animals, how they're getting slaughtered and then I get the freshest product. That's most important to me as a chef, the freshest product as possible," said Kloeti.
Meade had processed his own birds before now, but they weren't inspected and there were limits on how many he could raise. Here, he pays $3 a bird for processing and inspection, but says this mobile unit should mean more growth and more sales.
"I probably this year will raise upwards of 1,500, 2,000. Before I could only raise a thousand non-inspected. Now with the inspector trailer I can raise as many as I can physically handle and sell," said Meade.
Kate Duffy - WCAX News