King and Sons Poultry Services Inc.

8091 Horatio – Harris Creek Rd 

      Bradford, OH 45308

           (937) 448-2448

      KingAndSonsPoultry.com 


12-15-20


To our customers: 


What a year 2020 has been for all of us, here at the plant we experienced an increased demand in our services by close to 100% - and we did our very best to keep up with that demand. We slaughtered for more than 1200 individual customers with 1600 different flocks – which yielded over 1.5 million pounds of Ready-To-Cook poultry, all in the past seven months. Thank you, to every one of our customers both old and new for your business. We know that our growing pains led to some frustrating days for some of you, and we want you to know we are constantly working on improving our processes to give you a better experience. This letter will serve as both an announcement to some of those exciting new things which will improve our processes, and also bring to light some of the challenges we face being a custom poultry slaughterhouse.


 First off, we are very excited to announce that we have updated our packaging for chicken parts. We have purchased and installed a new Variovac Thermoformer Packaging machine. This machine will produce a higher quality package with a more consistent vacuum and better seal. This will also make our process more efficient and hopefully free up some labor to do other things, like consistently package giblets. We have also purchased a Reiser Lucky Linker for our bratwurst, something you may have noticed already as our packages have gotten more consistent in weight and the link ends are now twisted instead of cut. In the near future we will break ground on an addition which will add a large cooler for product in processing and a new breakroom for our hardworking employees. Our existing cooler will be freed up for ready to ship product and the old breakroom for dry storage.


 With some of the changes we have made to the facility over the last several years to become more efficient, it has impacted our ability to maintain separation of flocks while doing the number of birds we need to do. On a given day our business depends on three to four thousand birds on the line to cover our costs, ideally, we would do 20 or less flocks per day – which means 200 birds per flock. This summer, we’ve thought long and hard about turning away flocks of less than 250 birds, but we realize there is a need for the service we provide and a lack of options out there, so we ultimately decided against that. 


After researching as many other USDA Custom Poultry Slaughterhouses as we could find, we found three things that stood out to us: #1, our service is in the cheapest 10% of processors across the country. #2, most plants have a minimum invoice amount of $100 - $250. #3, most plants have a long list of fees for things we don’t charge for (crate rental, condemned birds, labels, weights on labels, etc.) 


Starting in 2021 we have decided to implement the following changes:


 We will not be increasing the slaughter cost per chicken, but we will be increasing the line fee to $100 per flock under 250 chickens (or under 100 turkeys). The reason behind this decision is because we skip about 20 shackles on the slaughter line to maintain separation between flocks. Skipping 20 shackles at an average cost of $3.50 per bird is $70, plus the time we take in packaging to keep your flock separate.


 We will only be slaughtering Cornish Rock Cross chickens, no more spent hens, roosters, etc. With the age of these chickens and the different shape they are more difficult to process. 


We will only be offering cutting to flocks of more than 50 chickens. 


We will only be doing turkeys October through April, and we will only be able to do flocks of more than 25. We also reserve the right to send turkeys home if we determine them to be too big at drop off. We do not recommend you raise turkeys larger than 45lbs. They are very hard on our equipment and our employees. 


Because we believe in transparency in our business, here’s a few items on our mind:


 Good quality employees are difficult to maintain when our plant is only used to capacity seven months of the year.


 Our new packager has a limited number of sizes due to the pockets it creates. We purchased a few die sets for different sizes at $10,000 each, at that price we did not do many. You can help us by keeping package sizes consistently sized. What works best in it is 2 breast, 4 thighs, 4 drums, 6 wings, and 3 backs. Backs will now be vacuum shrink packaged like whole birds. The new machine has a changeover time when we switch package sizes which will cause slowdown and potential for mistakes when we’re changing sizes too often. 


Being a USDA inspected plant there is an inspector that looks at every carcass. For various reasons they will reject a chicken and throw it out, it is not uncommon to lose 50-60 birds in a day. We bill you based on packages you receive so while you may leave with less birds than you brought, we did not charge you for them like some plants do. Many times, the inspector will look closely at chickens less than half the size of the rest of the flock, you may consider leaving those tiny one’s home. If they do pass inspection it makes your packages very inconsistent.


 Giblets and feet have been difficult to save this year for a number of reasons. Hearts and liver take less labor to save, but they were very time consuming to package. We’re hopeful the new packager will help with that. Gizzards take three people to save, and less than 30% of customers take them which makes it difficult for us to use the labor to save them. Feet take an entire additional person to save as well, a majority of people do not want them, and many of the feet are scabbed. We’re exploring different ideas to help these items, but please understand why it’s not always available.  


Scheduling issues were more common in 2020; and we understand that birds don’t always grow, unexpected death happens, or your personal schedule is too busy but please communicate with us. Last summer we were scheduled eight weeks out and had plenty of flocks on the schedule that never came to us. At this time, we don’t charge a fee for late cancellation or rescheduling, and we’d rather not – so when something changes please inform us as early as possible.


 Many of the above listed things are not in direct control of the customer, we know this, but they’re the challenges we face regardless. We only hope to bring a little understanding when you may be frustrated with us – we try to be very intentional when we make a decision or change, and we assure you that you are at the top of mind when we consider these things. Attached to this email you’ll find our 2021 pricing, we realize some prices have gone up – we look at our costs and say the same about labor, materials, water, etc. We tried our best to create a fair price while still offering custom slaughtering to all that need it. Your feedback is welcome, we can’t promise we’ll implement every change you recommend but we’ll always consider it. 


Again, thank you for all of your business over the years. We would not be where we were today if it were not for you entrusting us with your poultry processing needs. We look forward to 2021, putting our new equipment to work, and putting some policies in place so we can continue to improve our process here. 


Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, 


Levi