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Economic Feasibility of Mobile Processing Units for Small Scale Pasture Poultry Farmers

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The use of the mobile processing units (MPUs) for pasture poultry is growing rapidly. This study compared the economic feasibility of MPUs to two processing alternatives, traditional stationary processing on-farm plants and off-farm processing facilities. Our study combined a survey of pasture poultry farmers in Georgia, Louisiana, and Arkansas with the published research. Our findings suggest that MPUs and traditional on-farm processing alternatives have a lower processing cost, but that they require a higher initial investment than the off-farm option. In addition, off-farm processing at a USDA-inspected facility allows selling products for a higher price. We therefore expect, on average, a higher per-bird profit than with the other two options. However, the excess processing capacity of the MPU can make this option the most profitable.
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... As commercial poultry production progressed over the 20th century and into the 21st century, the size of flocks increased dramatically with nutrition and breeding technologies advancing and the industry becoming vertically integrated to the point of large commercial flocks dominating the poultry meat market (25). However, a new market phenomenon has emerged in the past few years in the rise of locally grown free-range or pasture flock raised birds with on-farm processing (28,29). While chicken can be marketed as either natural or organic, natural labeled poultry products generally outsell their organic counterparts (1). ...
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... Since a MPPU requires substantial investment by the farmers, an evaluation of the economic feasibility of a MPPU compared to the current processing methods would allow farmers to plan their production method [34]. ...
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