Safe Poultry Products

Safe Poultry Products

Safe Poultry Products

Teaching Pastured-Poultry Producers On-Farm Processing Best Management Practices for a Safer Product

Kevin Backes and his family operate Backes Poultry Company. They raise and slaughter 5,000 to 6,000 of their own chickens annually and slaughter 15,000-18,000 birds for others in their state-inspected processing facility each year.

The Backes surveyed people who brought birds to their plant for slaughter and determined that the most common errors occurred in safe handling of the birds in both pre- and post-slaughtering. For example, most of those surveyed said they didn’t know that bacteria can be reduced in pre-slaughter by cutting down on cross contamination with other animals and by providing open air and dry conditions for the birds. Most processors surveyed also didn’t know that post-slaughter, chickens must be cooled to 40 degrees to stop the bacterial growth that can potentially cause illness in humans.

The Backes conducted two workshops and a webinar attended by various groups of farmers, from the inexperienced to those currently slaughtering pastureraised chickens. Sixty people attended the workshops, which included hands-on opportunities to process chickens.

The Backes were able to show workshop attendees how they could apply the same practices that the Backes use in their state-inspected facility, without incurring great expense. For example, some processors mistakenly think that putting slaughtered birds in freezer bags and cooling them in their freezer makes the birds safe to eat. The Backes place their post-slaughter poultry in a container of ice water with sufficient ice to cool the birds to 40 degrees as quickly as possible, which decreases the potential for bacterial growth. In addition to safety information, the Backes demonstrated how to process chickens more effectively. Those attending received a take-home booklet that provided information covered in the workshops.

In a post-workshop survey, attendees indicated that the workshop provided new information that will help them when they process their birds in the future.


View Kevin's presentation on this project, from the 2012 Farmers Forum, through NCR-SARE's YouTube playlist. Visit for this and other videos.

Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) FNC12-845, Teaching Pastured-Poultry Producers On-Farm Processing Best Management Practices for a Safer Product .

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Location: North Central | Missouri
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This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.