Behind a historic barn in the shadow of Mount Si sits an important new poultry processor: Feisty Fowl, LLC. The Mobile Poultry Processing Unit is a branch of Feral Woman Farm. . Inside a renovated trailer is a full –service, state-licensed poultry slaughter and processing facility, ready to process farm-raised poultry into safe and delicious products for retail sale at farmers markets, grocery stores and to restaurants.
Lulu Redder, owner-operator of Feral Woman Farm, began working on the Feisty Fowl Processing Unit in 2021. Soon after committing to the project, Lulu learned she was pregnant and moved her pastured pork and chicken farm from Duvall to North Bend.
Despite these major life changes, Lulu ran a successful crowd-funding campaign in 2021 and was awarded a state grant in 2022 to complete the mobile processing unit. The support of community members in the Snoqualmie Valley and Eastside was essential to transform a standard trailer into a poultry processing facility meeting state licensing requirements, including food grade equipment, surfaces, and a pass-through window.
“My community stepped up and recognized that this is a really important thing, and they had the faith in me to get this done,” Lulu said. “I put out a call to action to find people to help, and I found Gary and Alec, the contractors who built out the facility. All sorts of people stepped up and helped me with farm chores, childcare, and whatever was needed to get this thing built. The poultry processing unit was created by the community and is for the community.
“As a farmer who grows poultry and pork, I was realizing how difficult it was to access processing services, and I wanted to be the person who was able to connect farmers to butchers since I have experience in both livestock production and butchering,” she said.
The need is so great due to the lack of poultry processing infrastructure in King County. The closure of the only facilities in the county in 2022, in Carnation and Vashon, was a major blow to small farmers like Lulu and her future clients.
“It’s really important to me to be able to provide that infrastructure to the community,” says Lulu. “I’m going to be overwhelmed with how much business I will have, and there needs to be some healthy competition in the butcher and farming world to develop a sustainable and healthy food economy.” King County’s agriculture program is aware of two other poultry processing facilities in the planning stages, but it will be some time before this competition develops.
Feisty Fowl officially opened for business on Sept. 25, and will be providing pay-per-bird slaughter and processing services at the historic Tollgate Farm in North Bend. Lulu hopes to get the systems and team of butchers working smoothly this year to be able to expand to mobile processing in future seasons.
“Our two main types of clients are homesteaders with maybe two roosters and low-volume farmers with 200 to 2,000 birds,” Lulu said. “It’s a pain to move that many birds, so I hope that we could bring the trailer to these farms and develop a membership model to be able to guarantee these small farmers their butcher dates.”
The unit will be full-service, with farmers only needing to drop off their birds and pick up the packaged and frozen product at the end of the day. The unit will be processing rabbits and poultry, with the exception of waterfowl.
In addition to the full-service model, there will be many opportunities for farmers to learn about butchering themselves.
“I want to eventually train and educate people to raise and process poultry,” says Lulu. “A lot of butchers are retiring, and it is an art that is passed down from one butcher to another. There needs to be these avenues for the knowledge to be passed down butcher –to butcher.
“We also do farmer education workshops for homesteaders to teach them home processing,” Lulu said. “This education frees us up to provide the service to those who really need it: small farmers with hundreds of birds who will be selling their product.”
The Feisty Fowl Processing Unit includes a set of on-farm mobile processing equipment (plucker, scalder, killing cones) for small farmers to rent that comply with WSDA’s Special Poultry Permit equipment requirements where farmers can process on farm and customers come to the farm and pick up the whole, refrigerated birds within 48 hours of slaughter.
Lulu and her community’s hard work and persistence will have immediate benefits for the agricultural economy. Dozens of farmers and homesteaders have reached out to inquire about services, and she anticipates being booked and busy throughout the harvest season.
“I have a lot of people banging down my door,” Lulu says with a laugh.