Texas On Farm Processing - Poultry and Rabbits

Lone Star Leghorn

In the Brooder
Jan 4, 2020
East Texas
I was searching around for Texas specific current information on small farm processing and selling of chickens, and was able to find this. Please keep in mind this is specific information for Texas thanks to HB 410, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2019. Thought this may be helpful to others here in Texas. I was not sure if this should be placed in the Texas discussion since it mostly seemed like introductions, where you are, etc.

We are planning on raising and processing our own meat birds, but we have also been thinking of selling several batches as we get better at it. The initial search for specific rules, laws, etc was not very fruitful, and was confusing, until I found this document. Please chime in here if you know anything else specific for Texas. I will provide the document link, and a quick breakdown for the 1,000 or fewer poultry per year rules, which is where most small operations fall under. Make sure and contact an attorney for specific questions regarding this. This is NOT legal advice, but merely a breakdown of the rules for those that were wondering.

  • “USDA exempt poultry processing” does not mean exempt from all regulation. It just means that the poultry operation is exempt from bird-by-bird inspection and the presence of USDA inspectors during the slaughter and processing of poultry.
  • Anyone slaughtering or processing poultry for use as human food, including exempt operations, must produce poultry product that is not adulterated or misbranded. Simply put, a product is adulterated if it bears or contains a substance that makes it injurious to health, or if it has been held, packed or produced under insanitary conditions.
  • The governing federal statute is the Poultry Product Inspection Act (PPIA) §464(c)(4), sometimes referred to as “Section 15(c)(4).” The governing state statute is Texas Health & Safety Code §433.0245, addressing “low-volume livestock processing establishments,” as amended by HB 410 in 2019.
  • USDA interprets the exemption per “farm,” not per farmer; if a number of farmers or family members operate on a given location known as “a farm,” only 1,000 birds in total are allowed from this farm for the exemption.
  • The exemptions include both the slaughter of the animals and basic processing, such as cutting them into pieces and freezing them. The farmer cannot do additional processing, such as marinating, spicing, or breading, without complying with additional regulations.
  • The meat must be labeled with the product name (e.g. Whole Chicken, Chicken Breast), the producer’s name, the producer’s address, and the statement “Exempt P.L. 90-492.”
  • If sold by the pound, the net weight must be on the package and the price per lb. must be posted for all consumers to see. If sold by the package, the net weight does not need to be on the label. The label must also include a “packed on” date, and unless frozen, a “sell by” date.
For small farms processing less than 1,000 birds per year:

  • For farms that process 1,000 poultry or fewer annually, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is empowered to enforce the federal regulations discussed below but cannot impose any additional requirements. No registration is required.
  • Such farms are limited to selling their poultry directly to consumers. Poultry processed under this exemption cannot be sold wholesale, including to restaurants.
The federal requirements are as follows:
1. The poultry grower slaughters no more than 1,000 healthy birds of his or her own raising in a calendar year for distribution as human food;
2. The poultry grower does not engage in buying or selling poultry products other than those produced from poultry raised on his or her own farm;
3. The slaughter and processing are conducted under sanitary standards, practices, and procedures that produce poultry products that are sound, clean, and fit for human food (not adulterated);
4. The producer keeps records necessary for the effective enforcement of 9 CFR §381.175;
5. The poultry products do not move in interstate commerce.

  • The required records are flock records, slaughter records, and records on the sale of poultry products to customers (e.g. sales receipts), to verify that the farm is staying within the 1,000-bird limit.
  • DSHS is authorized to inspect the farm to determine if the producer is selling an adulterated product, not keeping the required records, or otherwise not complying with these federal requirements.
Link: http://farmandranchfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/poultry-rabbit-processing-FAQs-2019.pdf

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