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Mobile Poultry Processor Expands To Lamb And Goats
Greg Wierschke had no idea where pasture-raised chickens would take him when he converted a horse trailer to a mobile chicken slaughter plant. Four years later he replaced the horse trailer with a 7 by 16-ft. trailer (Vol. 44, No. 4). That same year he began work on an 8 1/2 by 36-ft. trailer designed to meet USDA-approved poultry slaughter. By 2021 it was on the road, and he added another 7 by 16-ft. trailer. By July of 2022, he expects to have a USDA-approved trailer ready to slaughter lambs and goats.
  “When not used for lambs and goats, the new trailer will be used to do cut-ups of chickens,” says Wierschke.
  Wierschke is no longer raising chickens himself. However, he is one of a dwindling number of small slaughter plants for poultry producers in the country and even fewer in his home state of Minnesota.
  “There are only 53 USDA certified plants in the U.S. where an independent producer can bring poultry,” says Wierschke. “Minnesota has only one plant that can sell federally inspected poultry to restaurants.”
  The demand is there, as Wierschke learned. Last year, his rigs traveled the equivalent of one and a half times around the world, 99 percent of that in Minnesota. All told, he and his crews set up at more than 200 locations. With the new trailer in place, he expects to add even more miles.
  “Lamb and goat processing, in particular Halal slaughter for Muslims, is another under-served market,” says Wierschke. “There is more demand for goats in Minnesota than the state produces. We import goat from New Zealand and Australia.”
  Wierschke entered the lamb and goat market in 2021 by renting a slaughter facility from an 85-year-old originally from Somalia. The owner wanted to retire, and Wierschke wanted to learn the business, including Halal slaughter.
  Wierschke plans to charge $65 to process lambs and weathers, plus $10 extra for Halal slaughter. Cut-ups will be extra.  Wierschke is big on knowing the rules before jumping into certified slaughter. That is especially true because he has outfitted all his own trailers.
  “Once we figured out what the USDA wanted, we did it for $100,000 instead of paying someone else $300,000,” says Wierschke. “We had to have the right floors and walls and enough power, water pressure, air pressure and hydraulics.”
  He is repeating the process with his lamb and goat trailer. One key is knowing the language; another is working within the rules.
  “When I was ready to start with the poultry trailer, I told my USDA inspector to give me my worst day ever in terms of an inspection,” says Wierschke. “I didn’t want to get non-compliance reports for little mistakes.”
  Being mobile and being USDA inspected involved a lot of logistics originally, making sure the inspector knew where the trailer was going to be. A myriad of rules, such as setting up a minimum distance from a wellhead or ditch as well as how offal will be handled, must be followed. If on-site water will be used, a well test has to be submitted to the USDA a month prior to the slaughter date.
  “I advise working for someone for a year to learn the business,” says Wierschke.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Clean Chickens and Co., Elk River, Minn. (ph 651-500-3780; wierschkegreg@gmail.com; www.cleanchickens.com; www.facebook.com/cleanchickens/).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #2