1992 - Volume #16, Issue #3, Page #18[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Traveling Chick Plucking Business"It's a great sideline business," says Ernie Schmidt, Olympia, Wash., who operates a traveling chicken plucking business in his spare time, traveling to farms within a 50 to 100 mile radius of his home.
Schmidt got the idea when he lived in Ohio and saw mobile butchering operations for hogs and cattle. He has raised small numbers of chickens since he was 12 years old (he's now 37) so he was pretty sure other small-time poultry raisers would welcome a clean, efficient dressing out operation that would come right to the farm.
Several years ago he built his self-contained processing trailer out of aluminum and stainless steel. It contains scalding pots, kill cones (you stick chicken in head first and cut off head letting blood drain out), a mechanical chicken plucker, and cutting boards, all within its compact 4 by 6-ft. frame. He loads all feathers and offal into 55-gal. barrels and hauls them away.
"Believe me, that's something my customers really love. I don't leave any mess behind at all. The birds go right from the trailer into the freezer," says Schmidt, adding that when a state health inspector saw his trailer he said it was "a little jewel" and passed it with flying colors.
Working mostly on weekends and holidays, Schmidt charges $1 a bird and can process about 25 birds per hour. "Most customers have 50 to 100 birds. When I started I advertised locally I got so much business by word of mouth that I never had to advertise again. There's a tremendous demand out there for this type of service and I'm sure that's true all over the country."
Schmidt, who hopes someday to get into farming full-time, has had to cut back on the amount of time he has for chicken plucking. In fact, he's interested in selling his complete trailer and business and has put together a manual explaining the entire process and would be willing to train anyone interested in purchasing. He's asking $6,500 for the entire system.
Contact FARM SHOW Followup, Ernie Schmidt, 5439 Lemon Rd. N.E., Olympia, Wash. 98506 (ph 206 352-7449).
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