Poultry Process

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SMALL-SCALE POULTRY PROCESSING By Anne Fanatico NCAT Agriculture Specialist May 2003 Introduction Introduction A growing number of small producers are raising poultry outdoors on pasture, processing the birds on-farm, and selling the meat directly to customers at the farm or at a farmers’ market. Many states allow up to 1,000 birds to be processed on a farm each year and sold directly to consumers with no inspection. Some of these small producers are going further—building government-licensed p
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  By Anne FanaticoNCAT Agriculture SpecialistMay 2003 SSSSS MALLMALLMALLMALLMALL -S-S-S-S-S CCCCC ALE ALE ALE ALE ALE PPPPP OULOULOULOULOULTR TR TR TR TR  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  PPPPP ROCESSINGROCESSINGROCESSINGROCESSINGROCESSING IntrIntrIntrIntrIntroductionoductionoductionoductionoduction A growing number of small producers are rais-ing poultry outdoors on pasture, processing the birdson-farm, and selling the meat directly to customersat the farm or at a farmers’ market. Many statesallow up to 1,000 birds to be processed on a farmeach year and sold directly to consumers with noinspection. Some of these small producers are go-ing further—building government-licensed process-ing plants to supply regional or niche markets. Spe-cialty “religious kill” is often done in small plants.“Kosher” is the term for Jewish slaughter and“halaal” for Muslim slaughter.Access to processing is a critical issue for small producers. Consolidation in the meat process-ing industry has left very few small plants that will do custom poultry processing. (Large plantsgenerally don’t process for small producers; they can’t keeptrack of a small batch of birds and can’t make money on small-volume orders.)This publication covers small-scale processing, both on-farm and in small plants. Relevant information on large-scaleprocessing is also included for comparison, to provide con-text, and because small processors need to have some under-standing of how large-scale processing works. This publication was developed by the National Centerfor Appropriate Technology (NCAT)(http://www.ncat.org) for HeiferInternational (http://www.heifer.org)with funds from Southern Region SARE.Distribution is provided free of charge to the publicthrough NCAT’s ATTRA Project (http://www.attra.ncat.org), the National Sustainable AgricultureInformation Service. Related ATTRA publications ¶ Sustainable Poultry: Production Overview  ¶ Growing Your Range Poultry Business: An Entrepreneur’s Toolbox     P   h  o   t  o   b  y   P  a  u   l   H  e   l   b  e  r   t  S MALL -S CALE P OULTRY P ROCESSING P AGE 2 T T T T T able of Contentsable of Contentsable of Contentsable of Contentsable of Contents Introduction.................................................................................1Table 1. Comparison of types of processing................................2Pre-slaughter ...............................................................................3Immobilizing, Killing, and Bleeding.................................................4Feather Removal...........................................................................6Table 2. Scalding .....................................................................7Removal of Head, Oil Glands, and Feet...........................................9Evisceration .................................................................................9Washing the Carcass ...................................................................10Chilling......................................................................................10Cut-up, Deboning, and Further Processing....................................13 Aging........................................................................................14Packaging ..................................................................................14Storage .....................................................................................15Delivery and Distribution.............................................................16Clean-up ...................................................................................16Waste Management ....................................................................16Table 3. Processing Plant Waste Loads per 1000 Chickens ........17Equipment and Supplies ..............................................................18Processing Diverse Species..........................................................19Batch vs. Continuous Processing..................................................19Processing Rate..........................................................................19Processing Setup ........................................................................20Economics.................................................................................23Resources..................................................................................23References.................................................................................24 Appendix A. South Central New York RC&D MPU Layout .........29 Appendix B. Kentucky MPU Layout..........................................35 Appendix C. Small Plant Work Areas and Design ......................36 Attachment ............................................................................38  S MALL -S CALE P OULTRY P ROCESSING P AGE 3 During the first part of the 20th century, poul-try was sold live to consumers who did their ownprocessing. In the 1930s, only the blood and feath-ers were removed (“New York dressed”). Asconsumers demanded more convenience, themarket grew for eviscerated or ready-to-cook(RTC) birds.Producing ready-to-cook poultry involves: ã Pre-slaughter: catching and transport ã Immobilizing, killing, and bleeding ã Feather removal: scalding, picking ã Removal of head, oil glands, and feet ã Evisceration ã Chilling ã Cut-up, deboning, and further processing ã Aging ã Packaging ã Storage ã Distribution Pre-slaughter Broilers are usually processed at 4.5 lbs. liveweight. Feed is withheld for 8 to 12 hours beforeslaughter to reduce the amount of feed in the gut Table 1. Comparison of types of processing  On-farm Outdoor or shed facilityManualLess than $15,000Family50-100 birds per daySeasonal; 1-30 pro-cessing days per yearProduct sold fresh,sometimes frozen;whole birdsIndependent operation;labor-intensive; low-risk; usually non-inspected, direct sales Small 2,000 to 3,000 sq. ft.Manual/MechanicalLess than $500,000Family/hired200-5,000 birds per daySeasonal or year-round;50-plus processing daysper yearFresh and frozen, wholeand partsIndependent or part of acollaborative group;requires good marketsand grower commitments Large 150,000 sq. ft.Fully automated$25,000,000Hired250,000 birds per dayYear-round; processdailyMainly cut-up, soldfresh, further-pro-cessedPart of an integratedoperation includinggrow-out, processing,and marketing SizeEquipmentCostLaborCapacityOperationMarketingComments and the possibility of tearing it during process-ing, which would cause fecal contamination ofthe carcass. Withholding the feed too long willresult in watery guts that leak. CCCCC  A  A  A  A  A T T T T T CHINGCHINGCHINGCHINGCHING    AND AND AND AND AND   LOADINGLOADINGLOADINGLOADINGLOADING Large producers harvest all their birds at once(all-in, all-out). Small producers often “skim” byharvesting larger birds and leaving smaller onesto grow. Birds are best caught at night or earlyin the morning when they are calm. For smallproducers, picking birds up individually by thesides is the best way to minimize stress and pre-vent injury. Of course, this is not feasible whenyou’re dealing with thousands of birds(1). Inlarge-scale production, chickens are caught bygrabbing both legs, just above the feet. No morethan three birds should be carried in one hand.Crews of 10 people catch and crate birds at therate of 10,000 per hour, bruising up to 25% ofthem(1). In Europe, automatic harvesting ma-chinery is increasingly used in large operations,because it is considered more humane than therough treatment by catchers who handle severalbirds at once.Transport crates are wooden or plastic. Atypical crate can hold about 8 birds in the sum-mer and 10 in the winter, depending on their sizeand on the weather. The crates usually have a  S MALL -S CALE P OULTRY P ROCESSING P AGE 4 small opening, to help prevent escape duringloading, but a small opening also increases thechance of physical injury to wings. Crowding ofbirds in crates is another welfare issue.Kuhl Co.(2)and Brower Co.(3)sell trans- port crates. Used crates are sometimes availableat lower prices. Small producers sometimesmake their own wire crates from welded wiremesh and clips.Once the birds reach the processing facility,it is important to keep them comfortable in theholding area. Scheduling arrival at the plant canreduce waiting time. On-farm processors usu-ally hold crated birds under trees or other shade.The conventional industry typically producesbirds within one hour of the processing plant.With two hours of travel, shrinkage or weightloss is about 1%(4). In Europe, special modulesare used on transport trucks for even air flowand good ventilation. Companies are fined forarriving with dead birds. Large processors keepcrated birds in a holding shed with fans and mis-ters to keep them cool.Care must be taken when unloading the birdsfrom the crates to prevent bruises and brokenbones. On-farm and small plants unload birdsby hand. At large plants, broilers are unloadedonto conveyor belts. Transport crates should bewashed after each use.Catching, loading, transporting, and unload-ing expose birds to new environments and newsources of stress. This can negatively affect meatquality (see Aging section). During hauling, inparticular, birds have to deal with heat or cold,feed and water withdrawal, motion, vibration,noise, and social disruption(1). Immobilizing, Killing,Immobilizing, Killing,Immobilizing, Killing,Immobilizing, Killing,Immobilizing, Killing,and Bleedingand Bleedingand Bleedingand Bleedingand Bleeding Small processors usually place birds in fun-nel-shaped kill cones after removing them fromcrates; large plants hang them on shackles andstun them before killing. An overhead track is used to move carcassesthrough a plant. Keeping birds on-line through-out killing and dressing reduces labor sincethere is no handling. In many small plants,you just push the shackle along; in largeplants, the track is motorized. For on-farm processing, stainless steel killcones, wrapped metal, or traffic cones are com-monly used. A bucket or jug with a hole screwedto a board will also work. Birds are not stunnedbefore killing and will jerk a lot during bleeding.Cones should be the proper size, and the bird’swings folded down when inserted, to prevent thebird from flapping its wings or backing out ofthe cone. Wing flapping can cause hemorrhages T T T T T  RANSPOR RANSPOR RANSPOR RANSPOR RANSPOR T T T T T  ,,,,, HOLDINGHOLDINGHOLDINGHOLDINGHOLDING ,,,,,  AND AND AND AND ANDUNLOADINGUNLOADINGUNLOADINGUNLOADINGUNLOADING Avoid holding birds in crates for too long ortransporting them when the weather is too hot,cold, or wet. With on-farm processing, there islittle or no travel time. If you have to transportin cold, wet weather, be sure to cover the birds—small producers typically cover the crates with atarp.You will need a full-size pick-up or largertruck—200 birds in 25 crates weigh about 1250pounds. For more birds, you will need a trailer.If you need to transport 1000 birds at a time, you’llneed a special vehicle such as a bob truck. Catching and transport can be stressful for the birds.Birds are crated and transported to  processing in this trailer.
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