By DAN WHEAT
CENTERVILLE, Wash. -- Two farmers in Klickitat County have opened a state-licensed slaughter facility for poultry, rabbits and fowl to serve south central Washington and north central Oregon.
Renee Kreinbring owns Gateway Farm near Centerville about nine miles southwest of Goldendale. Mary Wilson owns Half Creek Farm in Bickleton about 45 miles to the northeast.
Together they own Little Farms Poultry through which they sell the meat of 500 to 800 chickens a year, 24 hogs and some beef, goat, lamb and turkey.
The hogs are butchered at a USDA-approved facility in Canby, Ore., but they've had no state-approved facility for the slaughter of chickens, their main stay, and other fowl.
Under state law, they could slaughter and sell up to 1,000 birds annually at their farm but the meat had to be picked up by customers at their farm. They could not deliver it.
Now, with a Washington Department of Agriculture food processing license, their aim is to process 3,000 birds annually at Kreinbring's farm and sell and deliver to restaurants, specialty stores and at farmers' markets.
They think other poultry farmers in Klickitat, Clark, Skamania, Yakima, Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla counties in Washington will use their slaughter services along with some from Sherman, Wheeler, Wasco and Hood River counties in Oregon.
"I would say on the number of calls I've gotten, at least 50 farmers in Klickitat, Skamania, Hood River and Wasco will use us," Kreinbring said.
They are able to slaughter chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pheasants, guineas and other fowl as well as rabbits, emu and ostrich.
Kreinbring and Wilson spent three years meeting licensing requirements. Prior to that they were limited to selling the meat of 1,000 birds annually at their farm. They could sell more in Oregon but only by using a state-licensed facility 110 miles away in Boring, near Portland.
"It's hard to sell a 4-pound chicken to a restaurant for $35 but that's what we were up against because of our travel costs for slaughter," Kreinbring said.
Birds don't travel long distances well and stress and mortality from travel was high, she said.
"We believe many home farms will begin raising birds for their own needs," Kreinbring said. "The number one reason they don't is that they don't like processing them."