February 2017 Updates: We are planning a meeting for the cooperative poultry aggregation and processing project, which we piloted last fall. The processor is open to working with us again this spring, so we would like to get together to discuss dates. Kevin Ellis, poultry specialist from NCAT, will also be at the meeting. Our grant funding for the project ends soon but since we have the infrastructure in place, we are still planning to help coordinate at least one more round of processing. If you are interested in attending, the meeting will be held on Thursday, March 9th at 6:00pm at the Oakland Community Center, 614 Dr. Van Zee Rd., Oakland, IA 51560. To learn more about this project, see below.
October/November 2016 Updates: We did the first pilot run of the aggregated poultry processing in October. Four producers ended up participating with a total of about 400 birds, which was below our target of 750. One producer backed out of the project and a couple did not process all their birds due to their size. Producers took their birds to one of two pickup sites and they were driven to the processor on Wednesday, October 19th. The birds were processed the following day at Plum Creek Farms and stored in their cooler until the following Wednesday. On October 26th, Farmtable Delivery picked up the birds and took them to their warehouse in Harlan for storage in a new walk-in freezer, which was funded by this project. Producers then picked up the birds at their convenience to sell to their customers. We will likely be planning a second trip sometime early in 2017. If you are interested or know a poultry producer who might be interested, contact Lance Brisbois, Project Coordinator, at email@example.com/712-482-3029.
August/September 2016 Update: Several producers attended a project meeting on August 2, 2016 in Oakland. Lance Brisbois, Project Coordinator, and Kevin Ellis, contracted Poultry Specialist, discussed the project logistics and answered questions about poultry production. The producers in attendance agreed to work with Duncan’s Poultry to do a group purchase of chicks, which arrived at the end of August. The birds will be ready for processing about seven weeks later. On October 19, birds will be picked up at two aggregation sites in Southwest Iowa and taken to the processor in Nebraska. Plum Creek Farms will process the birds on October 20th and store them for several days. Farmtable Delivery and Procurementwill pick up the birds with their refrigerated truck on October 26th, and deliver them to restaurants, stores, or other customers. Birds not sold through Farmtable will be delivered to Farmtable’s warehouse in Harlan for storage. Producers will then work with Farmtable to schedule a time to pick up the processed birds in Harlan. Depending on how the pilot processing goes this fall, we may coordinate another in spring 2017. The processor has minimum and maximum number of birds needed for processing, and only certain dates work for them. Farmtable Delivery also has two days per month available for transporting the processed birds, so producers will need to coordinate with their schedules. Duncan’s Poultry will also need to be involved for coordinating the purchase of chicks and feed and for transporting. Golden Hills RC&D staff will continue to support and help coordinate as needed.
July 2016 Update Please join us for a meeting on Tuesday, August 2nd at 5pm at the Oakland Community Centerto discuss logistics for this project (described in more detail below). Kevin Ellis, Poultry Specialist with NCAT, will be at the meeting to offer assistance to producers regarding all aspects of poultry production. Kevin will also be available to do on-farm consulting during the first week of August (8/1-8/5). If you are interested in any particular topics of poultry production, or if you would like to do on-farm consultation, please contact Lance Brisbois to set up a time. We are working to coordinate a group processing in late summer or early fall 2016. The USDA processing plant (Plum Creeknear Burchard, NE) is potentially available September 15 and October 6. We can have up to 400 birds at one of these dates. We have secured USDA LFPP grant funding to cover the costs of transportation for the first trip. Producers will need to pay for the processing and labeling of their product. If the none of the dates work for enough producers, then we will need to aggregate about 700 to 1,000 birds to schedule our own date at the plant. If neither of these options work, we will look at other processing plants that might have greater availability. As of July 2016, we still have space for local poultry producers who are interested in joining this project. We are figuring out logistics for transport from Southwest Iowa to the USDA processing facility in Nebraska. We will purchase crates to allow uniform stacking and safe transportation to the processor. Processed birds will be shipped where the producer wants them to go (restaurants, stores, or a storage site that will likely be located in Harlan). If you are a poultry producer who may be interested in this project, please take this quick survey. Contact Lance Brisbois, Project Coordinator at Golden Hills RC&D, at 712-482-3029 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about this project.
Project Background: Over the past few years, local poultry producers have suffered from a lack of processing options in the region. Currently, live birds must be shipped at least two hours (one way) for processing in a USDA-inspected facility, which can be a burden for farmers. Local producers are working with Golden Hills RC&D to improve this situation and provide an option for more local processing. We are working with Kevin Ellis, Poultry Specialist with the National Center for Appropriate Technology for technical assistance with poultry production. Funding for this project was made possible by the Local Food Promotion Program managed by the Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in addition to matching funds from Golden Hills RC&D. Diagram showing how it would work. 2-19-15 meeting packet(includes agenda, meeting notes, and resources that were presented at meeting)
This project was preceded by a Rural Business Enterprise Grant project that studied the feasibility of a mobile and brick-and-mortar processing plant in western Iowa. Information from that project is available below.
Niche Meat Processing Assistance Network– NMPAN is a national network of people and organizations creating and supporting appropriate-scale meat processing infrastructure for niche meat markets. Small and mid-sized plants — when available at all — can lack capacity, equipment, appropriate inspection status, and the human and financial capital to upgrade or expand. To meet this need, NMPAN assists processors, producers, buyers, regulators, and others involved in this growing sector by coordinating, distributing, and developing information and resources to improve access to processing infrastructure and the long-term stability of this sector.
Practical Farmers of Iowa – PFI is a farmer-led, member-driven nonprofit whose mission is to strengthen farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information sharing. PFI has done research on poultry and has many members who raise poultry.