Modular Meat Processing Facility for Small Grazing Operations

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2019: $14,745.00
Projected End Date: 11/30/2022
Grant Recipient: Haystack Farmstead
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Brian Leach
Haystack Farmstead LLC

Information Products

Modular Meat Plant Summary Report 2022 (Conference/Presentation Material)


  • Animal Products: meat


  • Animal Production: meat processing, meat processing facilities
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency

    Proposal summary:

    Many livestock farms in the Northeast are challenged to make sufficient profit. As much as 30% of production costs for beef and hog producers can be wrapped up in butchering and processing costs through local slaughterhouses. Skilled on-farm processing can provide an opportunity to recapture some of those processing costs to make a grazing farm viable. Haystack Farmstead has designed a modular livestock slaughter and packing facility that can be constructed affordably and has been designed to meet USDA approval. Once complete, the design will be shared with other farmers considering their own on-farm facility.

    I have equipped the shop on my farm to construct the modular sections of the facility which will be landed by crane on a simple foundation. 2 of the 5 needed sections are complete and I am requesting funds for assistance with documenting the completion of the project and financial comparisons. I will be sharing plans for the modular on-farm facility both through web hosting and outreach through Vermont Extension’s Pasture Network and the Vermont Grass Farmers Association. Eventually, I plan to use my farm shop to produce “build kits” for the modular sections available for sale to other farmers. This will leverage the specialty tools that I've acquired to construct my facility, but also enable farmers to put sweat-equity into theirs by sharing this process.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to determine the impact of an on-farm modular constructed meat processing facility on the profitability and viability for local livestock farmers.

    Objective 1: To complete the construction of the prototype modular facility and beginning operation under USDA inspection in order to demonstrate the increased profit possible for beef farmers in slaughter, processing and packing costs of this crucial step for small livestock farmers.

    Objective 2: To track design, material and labor costs for the project which will analyze the changes in processing costs between a local commercial slaughterhouse and our on-farm modular process.

    Objective 3: To design a web based open-source design offering farmers the components of a proven, diversified modular on-farm processing facility as an expansion opportunity for beef farms.

    On-farm butchering provides an opportunity for farm families to earn a happy, productive life on the farm. If we make it a goal to empower family farms with processing technology, we take a step toward regenerating positive, meaningful work into our agricultural communities.

    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.