Friday, August 5, 2011

Processing Poultry: A little story about Ole McDowell & Mr. Bird

Once upon a time, there was a chicken farmer. He wanted to raise egg-laying and meat chickens and turkeys naturally, running around on pasture - but he didn’t know how he would process them. He met a nice man who was a butcher by trade, who also had all the equipment for a mobile poultry processing facility. The first year, the processor, Mr. Bird, drove out to the chicken farm and in the most clean and humane way possible, ‘processed’ the chickens. The chicken farmer was then able to sell them to his friends and family. The chickens were nicely plucked and their innards were properly removed and disposed of. All was hunky dory.

Then one day the chicken processor learned from some (state)government people (what a mess) that even though he followed all their rules, he was being shut down and could no longer process chickens the way he had been doing all along. So the chicken farmer was left scrambling to find someone to process the rest of his birdies. Thankfully, a temporary substitute was found, but the farmer still missed Mr. Bird. In time, Mr. Bird built a small, local, chicken processing facility in Utah – the first of its kind. He made sure to talk with higher (federal)government people so he wouldn’t all of the sudden get shut down again. They inspected and approved his facility. He called the farmer to inform him that he now had a USDA approved custom-exempt processing facility. Not a moment to soon since their chickens were getting bigger by the day.

Now the farmer and his wife are very happy. This was causing them big headaches. The processor said he’d have to raise the price of processing chickens by $1.50 per bird and turkeys by $3 per bird in order to pay for this facility and feed his li’l wife and kids. This makes the farmer have to raise his price on poultry by the same to help make farming worth it.

Though he hasn’t turned a profit yet, the farmer knows that there are many ways to measure success. Supporting the local farmer, the local processor – shortening the distance the food has to travel, knowing what is put into the food he raises for his family and friends, and respecting the land and animals are just some of his measures of success. Ole McDowell and Mr. Bird get to work together again. The end.

This is a picture of Mr. Bird and his mobile processing facility...the 'before' if you will. The 'new' pic will be up soon.


Natalie C. said...

I have been searching high and low for a poultry processor in Utah...and beginning to lose all hope of finding one! We are moving onto some land and would like to raise meat birds for ourselves, but have not processed anything before. We'd rather have someone else do it for us, at least at first. Would it be possible to get the information from you abt Mr. Bird and his mobile processing unit? Do you know if he does rabbits as well? My email address is

Anonymous said...

Omg I just watched food inc I will post this,message to everyone I know on facebook at work... My freinds and my family and educate the blind deaf and dumb about you and the huge impact we all can have by suporting free range chicken farming .....ypu freakin rock!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

And the humeous part is I was just watching portlandia and giggling at the episode where the granolas go visit the chicken farm before they will patronize the eatery but its not so funny anymore :(