Raising Meat Chickens

WatkinsCluckers

Chirping
Mar 2, 2020
64
36
71
Fort Worth, Texas
I love the idea of selling meat chickens, but I hate the idea of physically killing them (ironic, I know). For y'all that sell chickens for meat, is there a common practice of raising the chickens to their appropriate age and then sending them all off to get butchered and dressed for you? Or do you even see others raise them and sell them alive for people to do the rest?
Just curious if there was a way for me to just to raise them for others to do the bidding...

Thank you!!
 

jolenesdad

┑( ̄▽ ̄)┍
Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Apr 12, 2015
3,663
18,784
792
Montgomery, TX
There are a lot of regulations. A LOT.

if you’re going to sell live, the folks have to come to your property to get them. On a larger scale than the occasional rehoming, and, selling birds to people who will butcher their own, this has the potential to be very sketchy and a bio security nightmare. I’m a part of multiple pastured poultry networking groups and every single person I know that has done this, will no longer do it.

in many states in order to sell, you have just a few limited options.

sell meat you process yourself. If this is under 500-1000 birds a year, you can do it without huge hurdles in some states.

depending on states, the next level is between 5,000 and 20,000 birds. You can process yourself if your place is inspected annually. both of these are called “processing exemptions”.

to legally sell a processed chicken that you do not have an exemption for, it must be processed in either a state (if you have any) inspected facility that has an inspector on duty during processing or at a USDA facility.

there are some states that allow you to use a state inspected processor where the bird is not processed “under inspection” (meaning an inspector is on the line) as long as the bird is sold PRIOR to the slaughter. You may deliver the live bird to the processor as a service.

Regulations with this vary but typically the buyer must pay the processor and pick it up from the processor. This is how most small cattle farmers do it. You pay them when the cow is alive, they deliver it to the butcher, you pay all butchering and processing fees directly to the butcher because that’s your cow.
 

jolenesdad

┑( ̄▽ ̄)┍
Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Apr 12, 2015
3,663
18,784
792
Montgomery, TX
Also forgot to mention.... typical processing fees are why many small scale farmers must process their own under exemption. If you have more than 50 or so birds, it’s usually 3.50-4.00 per bird for a whole bird, cut ups are 1.50-2.00 more. That’s $5-$6 in lost profit. By the time you add in feed, cost of chicks, any losses along the way, your time, gas to the processor, the margins are slim at best.
 

iwltfum

Songster
Sep 10, 2018
571
1,014
231
Maine
It all depends on what state you're in. In Maine, direct to consumer purchases have basically no regulations. In Colorado, where I used to live it was the same way. The regulations only come into play if you want to sell to restaurants or small grocery stores (you will not be allowed to sell to big chain grocery stores anywhere unless you spend a fortune on licensing). Often times, if you have them processed at a certified poultry butcher, you can sell to restaurants/grocery stores without any other regulations. Getting them processed at a butcher definitely makes it easier to market your birds, but, as @jolenesdad mentioned, it will eat into your profits in a big way. With the margins thin already, I would not recommend raising meat birds to sell unless you have raised some for your own table and know the market a little better. You have to at least gone through the process one time. Maybe plan on selling a couple to friends, family, or neighbors and get their opinions on everything from packaging to taste to value. I have been selling my broilers for 5 or 6 years at farmers markets and through CSA shares and it's a bit of a rollercoaster ride. It's a small part of my farms income, and alot of work comparatively.
 
Last edited:

jolenesdad

┑( ̄▽ ̄)┍
Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Apr 12, 2015
3,663
18,784
792
Montgomery, TX
It all depends on what state you're in. In Maine, direct to consumer purchases have basically no regulations. In Colorado, where I used to live it was the same way. The regulations only come into play if you want to sell to restaurants or small grocery stores (you will not be allowed to sell that at big chain grocery stores anywhere unless you spend a fortune on licensing). Often times, if you have them processed at a certified poultry butcher, you can sell to restaurants/grocery stores without any other regulations. Getting them processed at a butcher definitely makes it easier to market your birds, but, as @jolenesdad mentioned, it will eat into your profits in a big way. With the margins thin already, I would not recommend raising meat birds to sell unless you have raised some for your own table and know the market a little better. You have to at least gone through the process one time. Maybe plan on selling a couple to friends, family, or neighbors and get their opinions on everything from packaging to taste to value. I have been selling my broilers for 5 or 6 years at farmers markets and through CSA shares and it's a bit of a rollercoaster ride. It's a small part of my farms income, and alot of work comparatively.
I wish there was no regulations for us direct to consumer. ANY sale here of meat, other than at farmers markets, and you have to be licensed through you local health department as a retail establishment. 🙄🙄🙄🙄
 

iwltfum

Songster
Sep 10, 2018
571
1,014
231
Maine
I wish there was no regulations for us direct to consumer. ANY sale here of meat, other than at farmers markets, and you have to be licensed through you local health department as a retail establishment. 🙄🙄🙄🙄
That surprising for TX. I figured it would be a low regulation state in general. I missed seeing that the OP is located in Texas. :thumbsup
 

RUNuts

Smiling. I'm up to something.
May 19, 2017
6,007
43,627
1,007
State of Confusion
@jolenesdad I tried to follow what you were saying above. Please bear with me.

In Texas, in order to sell meat chickens, we can:
  1. sell live. Not recommended & people who have done this won't do it again. Why?
  2. if under 500 birds a year, process on farm by myself. No regulations for selling. True?
  3. haul to processing facility. Pay through nose for small volume. No profit, but eat well.
 

jolenesdad

┑( ̄▽ ̄)┍
Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Apr 12, 2015
3,663
18,784
792
Montgomery, TX
@jolenesdad I tried to follow what you were saying above. Please bear with me.

In Texas, in order to sell meat chickens, we can:
  1. sell live. Not recommended & people who have done this won't do it again. Why?
  2. if under 500 birds a year, process on farm by myself. No regulations for selling. True?
  3. haul to processing facility. Pay through nose for small volume. No profit, but eat well.
no.... not in Texas. I generalized that post for what is typically available in most states.

if you wanted to sell a chicken you process yourself, I believe that you must do it under a exemption of inspection in tx. That means at a minimum one time inspection of your processing facilities, I believe. To be honest I’m only vaguely familiar with numbers under like 2500 a year as that’s what researched most.

what’s even more annoying is your severely limited on who and what you can sell to if you do it yourself under exemption. For example, you cannot sell to restaurants.

You have to have a label on the chicken to legally sell it in TX.

then, once you’ve got that label, whether it’s from a processor with USDA stamp or your own with the exemption, you have to have either a wholesale or retail license or BOTH to sell it. The biggest kicker of them all is that this applies to on-farm pickups in TX.

A small starting out farmer is limited in options.

now,I will interject.... cash is king.

oh also, selling live.

many people believe it’s opened them up to theft having the exposure of how and where they keep their animals to someone who knows how to handle them if they’re buying them live to butcher.

from a business standpoint, if you’re going to be constant cycling birds then you don’t want the bio security aspect around your flocks, but it can be managed if you manage entry points.

I don’t think this would be a problem for smaller batches of birds but once you’re doing 50 or more at a time regularly, it gets risky.



That surprising for TX. I figured it would be a low regulation state in general. I missed seeing that the OP is located in Texas. :thumbsup
They didn’t say. I mentioned many states, and in several, you have many more hoops to jump through than I mentioned..... including TX. I was speaking in general terms for a mid-regulated state.

commercial poultry has a major handle on processing laws.
 

iwltfum

Songster
Sep 10, 2018
571
1,014
231
Maine
commercial poultry has a major handle on processing laws.
By their location info, they are in fort worth. My experience is that poultry laws are constricted by "big chicken" only in states that have alot of poultry producers. In Maine, they can go eat bricks. Colorado too for that matter. I have only raised poultry in those two states though.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom