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Last Morsel—A Boost for On-Farm Slaughter

A carcus being cut up

Written By

Caroline Abels

Written on

August 20 , 2013

Traditionally, farm animals in Vermont were slaughtered and butchered outside, in the open air. Today, all animals that are sold as meat must be slaughtered and processed in inspected facilities. But some Vermonters who raise animals for their own personal consumption prefer on-farm slaughter to taking their critters to an unfamiliar slaughterhouse. They often hire one of Vermont’s “itinerant slaughterers”—the handful of skilled folks who travel around the state providing this service. As shown in this photo, an itinerant slaughterer often kills, skins, and quarters an animal right in a client’s field or backyard.

State and federal regulations have long restricted the sale of meat from on-farm slaughtered animals, and still do. But in June, Vermont law was changed to allow an individual to purchase a live, hooved animal from a farmer and have that animal slaughtered on that farm, either by the buyer or an itinerant slaughterer. (The farmer cannot assist with the act of slaughter and can only sell a limited amount of animals in this way.) The change in law means more people can now consume on-farm slaughtered meat, and farmers have an additional income source. Information about the new law is posted on the website of Rural Vermont. To learn the many specific regulations, call the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

—Photo and text by Caroline Abels

About the Author

Caroline Abels

Caroline Abels

Caroline Abels is the editor of Local Banquet and the founder-editor of, a website that inspires people to buy and eat humanely raised meat.

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Vermont's Local Banquet Magazine illuminates the connections between local food and Vermont communities. Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape is changing as the localvore movement shapes what is grown and raised here.


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Home Stories Last Morsel Last Morsel—A Boost for On-Farm Slaughter