A Visit to Poultry Farms in Northwest Washington
By Hannelore Sudermann
In early June, Karen Hills, a WSU graduate student based at WSU Mount Vernon, joined a tour of poultry farms in Skagit and Whatcom Counties.
Thirty people attended the day-long bus tour organized by the Washington State Small Farm and Direct Marketing program. Their first visit was at the Skagit River Ranch in Sedro Woolley, which has been producing meat and poultry for 15 years. Then they stopped at Osprey Hill Farm in Acme and Misty Meadows Farm in Everson. Most of the birds she saw were pasture-raised and either Cornish cross or red rangers. The tour also included information on raising ducks, turkeys, and eggs. The farmers shared their own first-hand experiences.
“There’s a lot to learn about when it comes to rules around processing,” says Hills. “Most small farms can process up to 1,000 birds a year, and those birds must be sold fresh from the farm, not frozen.”
“The rules aren’t too onerous, but can be a little off-putting for some people when they first start,” says Hills. Most of the people on the tour already had chicken farms or were thinking of starting one. To help them, and others, some counties now have mobile processing units – which include a scalder and a plucker – “a cylindrical metal thing, kind of like a washing machine, but not quite as big, with rubber fingers in it,” says Hills. The units are loaned to farms needing to process a small number of birds.
Fred Burman, the state’s small farms coordinator in Bellingham, coordinated the trip. He talked about the growing interest in local birds, adding that the tour was organized in response for increased demand for information on raising poultry.
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