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USDA inspection is required at slaughter if you plan to sell your chickens at Farmers’ Markets, to restaurants, grocery stores and butcher shops.

Federal exemption Chapter 9, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 381.10 allows a farm to process up to 20,000 birds if sales are directly from the farm.

If you plan to sell your meat chickens at Farmers Markets, you will need to develop a label that includes: Your Farm Name, Address, USDA Inspection Legend, Safe Food Handling Instructions, Net Weight.

Chickens slaughtered and processed in the Mobile Processing Unit must be sold directly from the farm. A sale at a Farmers Market IS NOT considered a direct farm sale.

Many USDA inspected poultry processing plants do not provide packaging services. If you plan to sell your chickens at a Farmers Market, you will need to develop a plan for safe and legal packaging. If you plan to do this internally, you will need to use a health department inspected facility like a certified commercial kitchen.

It is always a good idea to check with your Farmers Market managers about additional requirements that they may have regarding the sale of meat and poultry.

Additional Information:

On-farm Poultry Meat Processing with USDA Exemption

Selling Meat and Meat Products, UCANR pub 8146

Safe Food Handling, Chicken, USDA (pdf)

Understanding Poultry Exemptions

Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network

USDA Meat, Poultry and Egg Product Inspection Directory

Tools and Resources


If you are planning to use any third-party certifications for your farm (California Certified Organic FarmersAnimal Welfare Approved, etc.) it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with regulations before you build your farm plan.  It is much easier to design a system that meets standards than to try and conform an existing system.