Special Poultry Permit

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Special Poultry Permit

Acting Program Manager: David Smith
Contact Information

The Food Safety Program issues special temporary permits to agricultural producers for slaughtering one thousand and fewer poultry for sale to the consumer from the producer's farm.

You may apply for a one-year or two-year special permit. The permit fee is $75 for one calendar year or $125 for two calendar years. Your permit is good from date of application approval and expires December 31 of the one year or two year permit.

As a component to your special permit application you are required to provide projected slaughter dates. You must provide prior written communication of slaughter date additions or deletions to the Food Safety Program at least one week before the change.

This special permit to slaughter, prepare and sell whole, raw poultry is very limited in scope. If you want to sell over 1000 poultry, market the poultry off of the farm, or process poultry other than your own, you need to contact the Food Safety Program to explore getting a WSDA Food Processing License. 


1. Can I slaughter more than 1000 poultry per year under this permit?

No. Agricultural producers who slaughter more than 1000 poultry per year must comply with the requirements of RCW Chapter 69.07 and obtain a WSDA Food Processor license or become a USDA inspected facility. If you would like more information on these options contact the department.

2. Can I sell cut up poultry or process other people's poultry for sale off my farm?

No. The regulation 16-170 WAC does not allow for the cutting-up of the slaughtered poultry nor does it allow for the processing of poultry other than your own raised birds.

3. May I sell my slaughtered poultry at the farmers market or any other location?

No. The poultry you slaughter under this regulation must be sold directly from the permitted slaughter site to the end consumer.

4. How long do I have to sell the slaughtered birds?

You have up to 48 hours to sell the poultry after slaughter however they must be chilled to a temperature at or below 45 degrees F. within 4 hours of slaughter. A temperature control must be used to monitor slaughter cool down temperature by inserting a calibrated thermometer into the first bird slaughtered and monitor the temperature to ensure proper chilling. You must record this cooling time. Cooling conditions must be met unless the customer takes possession of the poultry within four hours of slaughter.

5. What records must I keep?

The following records must be available for inspection and must be retained for six (6) months after permit expiration:

  • Poultry slaughter dates
  • Number of poultry slaughtered each date and the cumulative total per permit period
  • Temperature control log monitoring poultry cool down and storage
  • Annual bacteriological water test results (if applicable)

6. Where do I get a calibrated thermometer and how do I maintain it?

Thermometers known as dial thermometers able to be calibrated and are inexpensive and work well. They are available in the kitchen section of many common retail establishments. Several grocery store chains also carry them. To calibrate these thermometers place them in a 12 ounce cup full of ice and a little water and stir the ice mixture for about a minute. If the thermometer reads 32 degrees F. the thermometer is fine. If it does not read correctly then adjust the read of the thermometer by turning the little nut located under the head of the thermometer and tighten it to read correctly. (Complete adjusting instructions come with the instrument.) It is recommended that you jot down the dates of thermometer calibration in your cooling log.

Calibrate the thermometer often enough to ensure accuracy and whenever they have been dropped or otherwise abused.

7. What are the minimum construction requirements for my slaughter site?

This regulation 16-170 WAC does not require a permanent processing structure for the slaughter of pastured poultry. Overhead, side and ground protection is required when insects, dust, mud, pests, other contamination is likely to occur. The protection can be as minimal as tarps, canopies, and floor mats or as complex as a complete processing building or mobile unit. A grassy, clean and pesticide-free pasture would meet the intent of this section. If there is no potential for overhead or ground contamination as outlined in this section then the entire slaughter and packaging operation can occur outside, on the ground and in the open.

8. Do I have to provide lights for the slaughter area?

If the operator plans on slaughtering at night or under low light conditions adequate illumination must be provided. If a temporary structure is used adequate lighting must be present.

9. What kind of toilet facilities must I provide?

An adequate bathroom facility is described in WAC-170-135.

  • At least one toilet must be available and conveniently located at your poultry slaughter site.
  • A domestic toilet is sufficient if your slaughter operation is a family operation where only family members are employed. However, if you have employees, you must provide toilet facilities at your slaughtering site or allow your employees to use your domestic toilet.
  • Portable chemical toilets may be used if they are conveniently located with a self-closing door, screened to exclude insects, and properly maintained. Depending on County Health rules in your county properly constructed composting toilets may also be used.
  • All non-domestic toilet areas must be kept clean, free of trash and litter, and in good repair. All doors used to enter the non-domestic toilet area must be self-closing and must not open directly into your slaughter site.

10. What is required of personnel slaughtering poultry?

  • Must be authorized by the permit holder. Unauthorized persons must be kept out of the slaughter site. Authorized persons are prohibited from smoking, eating or drinking while actively engaged in slaughtering, preparing or handling the poultry.
  • Any authorized person infected with a communicable disease, has open sores or infected cuts on hands, is vomiting or has diarrhea is prohibited from working in your slaughter site.
  • Slaughtering personnel must wear clean and adequate clothing. The clothing must be clean at the start of the slaughter-preparation-sale process and changed when the clothing becomes soiled and no longer suitable to the specific part of the process (slaughter, preparation or sale) in which you are engaged. Hair restraints are not required but are recommended.
  • Authorized persons must remove hand jewelry that cannot be adequately sanitized during periods when carcasses are handled by hand. If such hand jewelry cannot be removed, impermeable or disposable gloves may be worn. Maintain any gloves that are used in an intact, clean, and sanitary condition.
  • All personal garments and belongings must be stored separately and apart from the slaughter site.

11. How do I protect the water supply from contamination?

Be sure that you have left an air gap between the hose or fill pipe and the vessel or bucket that you are filling. The air gap must be at least two (2) times the diameter of the fill hose or pipe. If you don't wish to maintain an air gap, contact your Food Safety Officer for advice on other means of providing protection of the water system.

12. What do I have to provide for hand washing?

Hands must be thoroughly washed before starting and between each preparation step. Hands must also be washed after every break. An adequate hand washing station is described in WAC 16-170-125.

  • Anyone involved in your poultry slaughter process must have access to at least one hand washing station equipped with warm running water, hand soap, and paper towels.
  • Hand washing stations must be conveniently located in your slaughter site and near your toilet facilities.
  • If hand washing stations are not conveniently located in your slaughter site and near your toilet facilities one option is to provide five-gallon insulated containers with continuous flow spigots filled with warm water (between one hundred (100) and one hundred and twenty (120) degrees Fahrenheit).
  • You also need to provide pump type liquid soap, paper towels and five-gallon buckets to catch rinse water are required on site and near your toilet facilities.

13. Are hand dips required?

No. They are recommended but not required. If used, hand dips are not a substitute for adequate hand washing and must be maintained at 100ppm of chlorine or 25ppm of iodine and this solution must be changed every four hours.

14. How do I keep slaughtering equipment and contact surfaces clean and sanitary?

Clean and sanitize all your equipment before you begin slaughter and after you finish slaughtering. Clean and sanitize any knives or other equipment that falls to the floor or otherwise becomes contaminated. 

You must keep a separate bucket of sanitizing solution in your slaughter area for rinsing and storing your wipe down cloths that are used to sanitize the equipment and slaughter/preparation areas. The sanitizing solution in the bucket must be at least 100 ppm for chlorine solution and 50ppm for iodine solution. Be sure to use cool water to make up the solution. This sanitizing water needs to be changed every one to two hours while you are slaughtering. If you are interested in buying test strips for your sanitizing solution you can buy them at local pool and hot tub stores or online from laboratory supply stores.

15. Do I need a sink for washing my knives, cones and other smaller pieces of equipment and how do I store my equipment?

An equipment wash sink is not required. Using food grade hoses would be sufficient. All your equipment must be stored so it will not become contaminated between uses. It is acceptable to store your cleaned and sanitized equipment in a protected area of your home between uses.

16. What kind of packaging and/or labeling must I provide for the slaughtered poultry? How do I manage the storage of the packaging?

You are not required to provide packaging of the poultry. If you choose to provide packaging it must be done in new clear plastic food storage bags, new paper sacks or butcher paper. You must store packaging up off the floor or other unsanitary surfaces and it must be kept in closed boxes or cartons prior to use. Any packaging that falls to the floor must not be used. It is important to insert the poultry into the bags in a sanitary manner that does not introduce contamination into the package. The buyer may choose to bring a cooler or other type of conveyance to transport their poultry. Also, no label is required on bagged poultry.

17. Can I store detergents, sanitizers and other materials in my slaughter site?

You can store commercially purchased detergents, sanitizers and other materials related to the process in your slaughter site if they are properly labeled with:

  • Product name;
  • Chemical description;
  • Directions for use;
  • Any required precautionary and warning statements;
  • First-aid instructions;
  • Name and address of the manufacturer or distributor; and
  • Any other information required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or other laws or rules.

You can store small transport or use containers containing detergents, sanitizers or other materials within your slaughter site but only under the following conditions:

  • The contents must be properly identified on the container. Labeling the container with the common name is acceptable if the original commercially purchased storage container is on hand and properly identified.
  • Food containers must not be used as containers for detergents, sanitizers or toxic materials.
  • Containers used for detergents, sanitizers or other materials must not be used as food containers.

18. Where can I get information on composting offal (non-edible waste items)? Who approves this waste handling?

Contact your local WSU County Extension office for handouts on composting methods. The state Department of Ecology is the ultimate approval agency for your rinse water management and approval of any plans you might have for composting offal. Often the Department of Ecology delegates these duties to local county health departments. It is recommended that you begin by contacting your local health department for approval of your rinse water and offal management plans. If the County is not the approval authority they can direct you to the proper approval entity.

You may contact Andy Bary, WSU Puyallup, for on-farm poultry offal composting resources.

19. What is Backyard Bio-security?

As a bird owner, keeping your birds healthy is a top priority. Biosecurity means doing everything you can to protect your birds from disease. Your birds can become sick or die from exposure to just a few unseen bacteria, viruses, or parasites. In a single day, these germs can multiply and infect all your birds. However, by practicing backyard biosecurity you can keep your birds safe from germs by creating and using a biosecurity plan.

In simple terms, biosecurity is informed common sense. Don't bring germs to your birds and don't bring your birds to germs. Germs are persistent, invisible killers that can survive in soil, droppings, and debris waiting to hitch a ride into your backyard and into your flock. An outbreak of a bird disease such as exotic Newcastle disease or highly pathogenic avian influenza could not only harm or kill your birds, it could spread quickly and kill other nearby birds. Early detection and reporting is the most important step in eradicating a disease outbreak.

Biosecurity practices don't have to be cumbersome or expensive. In fact, a small tub, a gallon of bleach or disinfectant, and a brush will go a long way toward protecting your birds from outside disease. Your property needs to be a safe area and biosecurity practices are the barriers you can use to keep disease out!

Do not wait to report unusual signs of disease or unexpected deaths among your birds. Call your agricultural extension agent, local veterinarian, the WSDA State Veterinarian (1-360-902-1878), or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Veterinary Services office. USDA operates a toll-free hotline (1-866-536-7593) with veterinarians to help you. USDA wants to test sick birds to make sure they do not have a serious poultry disease. There is no charge for USDA veterinarians to work with you to conduct a disease investigation. Early reporting is important to protecting the health of your birds!

You can find more information on biosecurity for poultry on the USDA website,
Biosecurity for Poultry - Keeping Your Poultry Healthy

20. Where can I get help or more information if I notice a flock health issue?

  • Contact your local veterinarian
  • WSDA website and Avian Health

21. If I have a change in the slaughter conditions in the second year of my two-year special permit, what must I do ?

If you have a significant change in the conditions under which a two-year special permit is issued by the department, be advised that you must reapply for a new special permit. Significant change means a substantial change in the information or conditions previously submitted to the department. Revisions in the site location, processing steps or water supply require the department's re-inspection and approval. If you are issued a two-year special permit and must reapply for a permit, the department will apply fifty dollars of your two-year permit fee towards the new permit application fee.