Your Q’s Answered on Alberta’s New On-Farm Slaughter Operation Licence

Posted by Dana Penrice on December 17, 2020

On December 3, 2020 we hosted a workshop in partnership with Mountain View County, Alberta Farm Animal Care, and Grey Wooded Forage Association on the new On Farm Slaughter Operation Licence in Alberta.

Note that the regulations were changed slightly in 2021 to allow for selling quarters of large animals. The Q&A reflects this change.

If you are thinking about bringing this to your farm, make sure to visit Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s On-Farm Slaughter Operation License website. Here you can find out more about applying for the program, reporting requirements and more.

Watch a recording of the webinar to learn more from Sandy Stafford (Regional Supervisor Airdrie Region, Meat Inspection, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry), Blake Hall (Prairie Gold Pastured Meats) and  Donovan Kitt (The Homestead).

Here are some helpful questions and answers that came up during the workshop.  

What does this licence allow a farmer to do? 

This licence enables a farmer to provide a location for a customer of a live animal to slaughter and process that animal on-farm as uninspected meat. The farmer, a customer or someone else approved by the licence holder (the farmer) can perform the slaughter. The licence holder can process the carcass or it can be processed elsewhere

Who is the customer?

The customer a person who has purchased a live animal either from the farmer or elsewhere, such as a 4H animal or from another farm. The customer is having is having it slaughtered for consumption by their household.  A restaurant, wholesaler or retailer cannot be a customer as it is uninspected meat.

The licence holder is the person who owns the land and provides processing and/or slaughter services. They may have also sold the customer a live animal. 

If the farmer  slaughters an animal on farm, can it be taken to another facility to be cut up and sold as meat?

No. This licence enables a customer to have an on-farm slaughter performed without inspection services and the meat cannot be sold. If a farmer wants to sell meat products, an ante-mortem and a post-mortem inspection must be completed and the processing must be done at an Agriculture and Forestry or Alberta Health Services licensed facility.

Can the customer take the carcass to another facility to be cut up? 

Yes, they can process it themselves at home or take it to an Agriculture and Forestry or Alberta Health Services licensed meat facility. The meat remains the property of the customer and they may have it cut up and processed but it remains as uninspected meat that cannot be sold or further distributed.

Can the licence holder do both slaughter and cut up? 

Yes. They can also grind, cure, and make products such as jerky or sausage, but they cannot use inspected meat as part of their operation.

Can 2 households own one animal and each own a half? 

An individual and up to three other individuals (co-owners) may purchase a large animal exceeding 500 pounds (227 kg) such as bison, elk and cattle for slaughter at anon farm slaughter operation.

Small live animals under 500 pounds (227 kg) may only be sold to an individual customer for consumption by their household only. Two or more people cannot buy a single small animal and split the meat.

Can a restaurant, wholesaler or retailer purchase an animal for on-farm slaughter and sell it? 

No. It is uninspected meat.

Where can the slaughter take place? 

The slaughter activities are not permitted to be conducted in a building. If it is slaughtered in a building you are now operating an abattoir and as such it must be licensed. Slaughter only refers to the stunning, bleeding, and gutting of the animal and the removal of the head, feet and hide. You can have a room for processing on farm to skin and process the meat.

Can a person bring animals purchased at a different location to a person with an on-farm slaughter licence to process the animals?

Yes, the animals may be purchased from a person who holds an on farm slaughter operation licence (the farmer) or they can be purchased elsewhere, including 4H animals.

How many animals can be slaughtered on the farm per year? 

There is no limit to how many animals an OFSO licence holder can slaughter per year.The limit is on how many animals a customer can have slaughtered for their household consumption per year. 

 Animal slaughter limits per customer per calendar year are:

  • Six (6) large red meat animals (for example: beef, bison, elk, yak, ostrich), and
  • Twelve (12) hogs, and
  • Twelve (12) sheep, and
  • Twelve (12) goats, and
  • 150 poultry or other small animals (for example: quail, rabbit) *Note: producers should still ensure that they are following quota exemption regulations

There are also no limits on how many customers a license holder can have.

Does the customer need to be present for the slaughter and process?


Do you have to submit a quarterly report even if you don’t do a slaughter during that quarter?


Is anything required for CCIA tracking? 

Yes. This will be part of the licence reporting form and it is the license holders’ responsibility to submit a Disposed event in the Canadian Livestock Tracking System (CLTS). Contact Jewel Smar, National Client Support Manager for more information.

What are the methods for innards disposal on the farm?

This licence requires that slaughter waste be disposed of according the requirements for meat facilities in the Disposal of Dead Animals Regulation including the additional options of disposal by on-farm burial, composting, or burning.

Uninspected slaughter operations are also allowed to gift or sell uninspected slaughter waste consisting of butcher scraps and by-products for use as bait in hunting or trapping. The must be labeled accordingly. 

If you have further questions contact Alberta Agriculture and Forestry directly at AF.FOODSAFETY@GOV.AB.CA

On-Farm Slaughter Operation licence application and further information can be found here

A complete On-Farm Slaughter Operation Technical Guide is available here: