As small poultry producers start ordering turkey and goose chicks to rear for the Christmas market, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today encouraged all these producers to register with their Local Authority’s Veterinary Services.

The FSAI stated that to ensure traceability and protect consumer health, all producers who slaughter and sell small quantities of poultry on-farm at Christmas, or any time of the year, are legally obliged to register before placing these products on the market.

The FSAI states that whilst there may be six months to go until Christmas, many poultry processors are busy now and over the summer months ordering turkey and goose chicks for the Christmas period ahead.

Over three quarters of a million Irish turkeys are processed in Ireland every year, with almost 700,000 required in December alone.

According to Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI rearing a few turkeys or geese for Christmas has been a traditional on-farm enterprise for generations in Ireland and this practice will continue.

Small producers registering with their local authority will aid traceability, if required, in the interest of consumer health.

“In the past, on-farm rearing of turkeys and geese involved very small numbers for consumption by an individual and their family. However, in more recent years it has become a small scale enterprise where farms sell these birds to local consumers and customers.

“All small food producers who slaughter and sell small quantities of poultry on-farm for supply to farmers markets, local retail outlets or directly to consumers need to register with their local authority veterinary department. It is an easy process and there is no charge for registration,” she says.

Small scale poultry processors are classified as those who slaughter their own birds (less than 1,000 in any given week or less than 10,000 per year) and whose poultry is supplied or offered for sale within a 100km radius of the farm.

Registered poultry slaughterhouses can only slaughter birds which they have reared themselves on their holding. As an alternative to slaughtering birds themselves, the birds can be slaughtered by an approved slaughterhouse. Only approved slaughterhouses are allowed to slaughter someone else’s poultry. There are 11 small-scale approved poultry slaughterhouses located around the country.

“Coming up to the Christmas period it can be very busy period for food producers, so we would encourage producers to register now. It is important for poultry producers to also have a duty of care and adhere to the highest food safety standards. We have freely available specific guidelines to assist small producers ensure they provide their customers with safe poultry,” Dr Byrne said.