NSAC's Blog


New Resource for Building a Mobile Poultry Slaughterhouse

July 3, 2013


Ali Berlow, founder of Island Grown Initiative, an NSAC member group, recently published The Mobile Poultry Slaughterhouse, a manual for building a humane, mobile chicken-processing unit.  Using her experience establishing a mobile poultry slaughterhouse on Martha’s Vineyard, Berlow comprehensively describes how to adapt her methods to other communities based on their unique needs to ensure an economically feasible production for poultry slaughter.

The total number of small-scale livestock slaughter facilities has declined over the past 10 years, despite tremendous growth in total sales of foods direct-to-consumer.  Mobile slaughter trailers can help serve poultry growers who lack access to nearby or appropriately-sized slaughterhouses, as well as helping processors maintain a stable volume of business, necessary for economic success.

Berlow described transparency and community as the keys to a successful slaughterhouse.  “When you engage the community, it helps them to know where their food is coming from and the difficulties and challenges that come with that.”  One such difficulty, complying with local, state, and federal regulations, can only be helped by more community engagement and outreach to local and state regulators, according to Berlow.

To create a successful mobile poultry-processing unit, Berlow offers guidance on:

  • Assessing the local food environment to understand the landscape of farmers, markets, grocers, restaurants, backyard growers, consumers, and collaborators
  • Utilizing various funding structures, including nonprofit or private enterprise, and creating a business model that has economic sustainability
  • Procuring proper equipment to humanely slaughter and process chickens, including a general equipment list and a blueprint for building a double-sided sink
  • Training the crew on optimal procedures for handling birds to maintain optimal welfare and health and compliance with regulatory procedures
  • Educating and marketing to engage the community, including regulators and policymakers

For a small farmer, building a slaughter facility is prohibitively expensive without enough volume to sustain it economically.  “But with the right support for small-is-beautiful, size-appropriate technology – a few dedicated people, some money, and a leap of faith – this can change.”

The Mobile Poultry Slaughterhouse is available here.  The book includes recipes, sample community surveys, farmer checklists, and step-by-step slaughtering instructions.


Categories: Local & Regional Food Systems


One response to “New Resource for Building a Mobile Poultry Slaughterhouse”

  1. Elena Byrne says:

    For those interested in MSUs, dealing with waste is also a new issue to plan for. Each state will have different regulations on how the waste is required to be handled, so check with your state’s department of natural resources. OPI has Fact Sheets on waste handling for MSU’s for Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin at organicprocessinginstitute.org/fact-sheets/

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