Mobile chicken processor bringing relief for Rowan farms

Published 12:05 am Thursday, May 26, 2022

SALISBURY — The North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Rowan County Center is bringing some much-needed relief to chicken farmers around the area.

The Rowan County Center is in the process of preparing a “mobile poultry processing unit,” a setup of equipment that can make it easier for chickens to be prepared for sale and consumption.

This is coming at a crucial moment for many local farmers who were previously able to go to larger farms around the area that had poultry license exemptions which allowed them to help process chickens for themselves and others.

This was particularly helpful since the lone small poultry processing facility in North Carolina has been closed since 2017.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture is putting an end to the exemption at the end of 2022, however, and those farmers without their own license or processing equipment will be forced to find alternative options in the future.

For larger chicken farms that process hundreds or thousands of chickens on a daily basis, this is not an issue since they contract out through companies such as Tyson and Pilgrim who have their own facilities that handle all of their needs.

For the average farmer in Rowan County and other parts of North Carolina, though, this access is not available and they may very well need to rely on the the mobile chicken processor when it becomes available for public rental later this summer.

Morgan Watts, a livestock and field crops agent for the Rowan County Center, explained that the group has already purchased the two main pieces of processing equipment: the plucker and the scalder. Once they get funds from the new budget together in the next several months, the group will then be able to rent out the unit so that it is ready for pickup at the convenience of nearby farmers.

Watts noted that interest is already growing for the equipment and the Rowan County Center is “already starting to get calls” in advance as farmers begin making arrangements for their future processing needs.

For those interested in learning more, go to at rowan.ces.ncsu.edu or call 704-216-8970. More information about the Department of Agriculture’s exemption rules moving forward can also be found on NC State Center for Environmental Farming Systems website or by phone at 919-707-3180.

Farmers interested in renting the processor will need to have a vehicle that can tow the trailer with the equipment and provide paperwork to the organization upon request.

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