Growing up, Phil Nisly helped out with the chickens on his family’s Hutchinson farm. When he started his own family, Nisly knew he too wanted to raise chickens.
So, a little more than 25 years ago, he and his wife Lucy started a chicken farm, selling eggs, chickens and turkeys. For the first several years, they would drive their animals for more than an hour to the poultry slaughter house. Eventually, they realized they should start their own butcher shop.
And they did — Phil’s Farm in Hutchinson.
They started out with turkeys at Thanksgiving and all cuts of chicken year-round.
“We start out with a day-old chick, care for them and process them until we put them in someone’s hand,” Phil Nisly said. "We process about 400 chickens monthly.“
Eventually, the couple’s son, Jordan, joined the family business. He brought with him a wealth of information from having worked at other butcher shops. Last fall, Phil’s Farm became federally licensed, and in addition to processing fowl, with Jordan’s help, the company started processing beef, sheep, goats and hogs for local ranchers.
Most small processing plants in Kansas are only licensed by the state. A little more than a handful are federally licensed. Being federally licensed means a supplier can sell their meat across state lines.
Along with Phil’s Farm, Krehbiels Specialty Meats in McPherson and ANCO Poultry Processing in Garnett also federally inspect their fowl.
The Nisly’s process meat for farmers who live close to their shop – in Reno, Stafford and Harvey counties.
“We like keeping it local,” Jordan said. “We’re so small, we can only do a few animals a week.”
Phil’s Farm is booked through August for custom work.
Need for local shops
“Locally-produced, small-scale processing (chicken farms) make up approximately 1-2% of the U.S. chicken consumption,” said Rosanna Bauman, a newly-elected board member of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association. “Even our large producers are laughably small compared to those big producers.”
Barbara and Bryan Ritter, who raise turkeys intermittently on their 80 acre farm in Garland, Kansas, say that finding local butcher shops that are close to their home to slaughter their animals is difficult.
The Ritters brought their turkeys to ANCO Poultry Processing in Garnett, which is about 90 minutes from their home.
ANCO Poultry Processing processes about 1,500 chickens a week. This facility, which started in 2010, offers USDA federal inspection. Calls for processing come from Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Colorado. Like with Nisly, they are always busy.
“We’ve always been scheduled out for slaughter,” said Yvonne Bauman, co-owner of ANCO.
Like at ANCO, Phil’s Farm chickens are pasture raised, with no antibiotics, added hormones or GMO grains.
Along with selling their own chicken, Phil’s Farm also sells beef, pork and Lucy’s homemade pasta, frozen meals and cheesecakes. They also sell at farmers markets.
Jordan Nisly has introduced special recipes for many of the sausages Phil’s Farm sells. He also home cures the pork.
“I use a nine-day, old-fashioned-style cure,” Jordan Nisly said. “It takes a lot longer, but the flavor is better.”
Along with German-style chicken, apple maple and bell pepper and onion sausages, Jordan buys basil from Cheney Lake Tomatoes for his sun-dried tomato sausage and beer from Salt City Brewing Company in Hutchinson for his beer sausage.
‘We enjoy serving people and helping people,” Phil Nisly said. “We like to serve good quality food at a reasonable cost.”