Custom Meat FAQ

For Cattle, Sheep, Swine, and Goats

What is the point of the custom exemption?
The Federal Meat Inspection Act exempts the slaughter and processing of cattle, sheep, swine, and goats from inspection requirements when slaughtered for personal use.  Because this exemption is for the personal use of the owner, his family, and his non-paying guests, meat from these animals cannot be sold.

Are custom meat plants “inspected”?
Although custom plants must meet sanitation and record-keeping standards, they are not considered inspected plants.  Therefore, meats processed at those plants are not inspected meats.

What is the purpose of the proposed regulation change?
For the purposes of animals slaughtered under the custom exemption, those animals can have multiple owners.  Ownership must be established before slaughter.

Can an animal be sold after it’s dead?
Under the custom exemption, no.  Only live animals can be sold.  Meat processed under the custom slaughter exemption must be stamped “not for sale.”

Can farm-slaughtered animals be processed under the custom exemption?
Yes, under certain conditions, and if the plant owner agrees to it.

Must a prospective owner be allowed to look at and choose his animal?
Yes, if the owner so chooses.  The exemption assumes owners are purchasing animals that they have visually inspected themselves.

If an animal has multiple owners, who is responsible for paying processing fees?
The owner(s) are responsible.

Are there any exemptions for small farmers to be able to sell meat of their own raising that has not been inspected?
No, only live animals may be sold without inspection  All cattle, sheep, swine, and goat carcasses or parts thereof must be inspected before entering the stream of commerce.

Can the Department resolve disputes between producers and processors?
The Department is only responsible for enforcing and interpreting the State and Federal Meat Inspection Laws and Regulations.

May I advertise the selling of livestock (live animals) to multiple owners?

Does poultry fall under the custom meat exemption?
No.  Federal law prescribes other rules for poultry.  The Department has produced separate “FAQs” for poultr