Buckeye Farm News
Ohio is looking at the feasibility of using mobile or regional slaughtering units for poultry.
Currently, Ohio only has one small poultry processor in the northwestern area of the state, making it inconvenient and expensive for farmers who live far away, said Cindy Kalis, communication director for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
“It’s not feasible for people to do that. We need to have a mobile unit or one more centrally located. We’re in the very infant stages of looking at this but we’re definitely in support of it,” she said.
The Toledo-based Center for Innovative Food Technology has been working on a feasibility study at the request of the agriculture department, Ohio State University, Innovative Farmers of Ohio and other community and agricultural groups. Not having enough poultry processors for small, independent producers prevents them from being able to capitalize on the demand for locally produced food or free range chickens, said Rebecca Singer, associate program director for CIFT.
“A lot of what we’ve been hearing is that people want to grow chickens but they don’t have a place to slaughter them. And those who already raise chickens have to travel a couple of hours to process them. A number of people in the poultry industry have been talking about the need for processors,” Singer said.
CIFT recently visited a mobile poultry processing unit that is managed and located at the Kentucky State University Research and Demonstration Farm in Frankfort, Ky. The 20-foot by 8-foot trailer used to process the poultry was initially completely mobile, moving around the state to farms, but is now transported by truck among a series of docking stations strategically located around the state. Several hundred birds are processed daily in the trailer.
Bringing the trailer to docking stations makes it easier to comply with regulatory issues, Singer said. All processing facilities in Ohio are regulated by the agriculture department.
“Moving the equipment from farm to farm is not a good model because there’s the issue of what to do with wastewater and waste from the poultry,” she said, noting that having docking stations eliminates the cost of hauling ice used to chill the birds after they are harvested.
Singer also said that Kentucky changed its process and now has only Extension personnel run the equipment. Initially anybody could harvest the birds, which wasn’t very efficient, she said.
CIFT is also looking into the cost of starting up a mobile or regionally located slaughtering unit, including how many birds would have to be processed to pay for it and how much to charge for the use of it.
“It depends a little bit on funding,” Singer said. “I’m not sure what will happen with budgets being the way they are right now. We’re trying to find other sources of funding. Funding will be a major hurdle in how fast this will happen.”