Processing Poultry at Home - Texas Cooperative Extension

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    B-138312-05

    ProcessingPoultry at Home

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    Contents

    Facilities and Equipment ............................................................... 3New York Dressing ........................................................................3Evisceration ...................................................................................6Chilling and Packing ......................................................................9Skinning ....................................................................................... 10

    Federal and state laws require inspection of poultry processed for sale.Producers are permitted to process their own poultry for their own con-

    sumption. Producers also may process and sell to consumers withoutinspection up to 20,000 chickens, turkeys or ducks from their production within Texas, if they obtain an exemption . For exemptions and currentinformation, contact Director, Texas Cooperative Meat and Poultry Inspec-tion Division, State Department of Health, 1100 W. 49th Street, Austin, TX78756 (512-835-8101).

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    Processing Poultry at Home

    With hot water for scalding, icewater for chilling, a sharp knife and alittle time, poultry can be processedat home for dressed poultry shows or home consumption.

    A live bird is converted to humanfood in a series of stepskilling,scalding, picking, eviscerating andchilling. It is important to prevent con-tamination of the meat, either fromthe surroundings where the process-

    ing is done or from the birds intesti-nal or crop contents. Contaminationlowers quality and shortens the timethe poultry can be safely stored.

    Select only healthy birds for processing. Always choose healthy,well- eshed, well- nished birds freeof pin feathers.

    Poultry should not be fed for 8 to10 hours before slaughter but mayhave access to water. Commercialprocessing plants usually removefeed and water from broilers 10 to12 hours before slaughter. Fastingreduces feed in the crop and materialin the digestive tract, helping preventcontamination during processing.

    Facilities and EquipmentThe processing area should be

    clean, free from ies and have anadequate water supply. The process-ing procedure includes three steps:1) New York dressingkilling, scald-ing, picking, and singeing; 2) evis-ceratingremoving head, feet andinternal organs; and 3) chilling and

    packaging. To reduce the possibil-ity of contamination, either completeoperations in the rst step beforestarting evisceration or work in aseparate room or outdoors. Arrangeand equip the area for ease of workand cleanliness.

    Sharpen knives before startingwork. Boning and cutting knivesare adequate for home dressingof poultry. Special knives with thin,

    sharp blades and points make somephases of eviscerating easier. If birdshave pinfeathers, a pinning knife maybe used to scrape them off after thelarger feathers are removed. Someprocessors use kitchen shears for harvesting and cleaning giblets.

    Clean plastic or galvanizedgarbage cans make good contain-ers for scalding and chilling water.Line similar containers or boxes withplastic bags for feather and offalreceptacles. Use a sturdy table witha disposable plastic covering for awork surface.

    Place giblets in a clean kitchenpan large enough to hold giblets fromall the birds being processed. Usea thermometer that registers in the120-degree to 160-degree F rangeto adjust scald water temperature. Apocket model with a protective caseis less subject to breakage when notin use. Have an adequate supply of packaging materials so birds can be

    packaged for handling and storageafter they have been processed andchilled.

    The birds to be killed can besuspended, placed in a killing coneor hung on a shackle. Probably theeasiest method for killing a few birdsis to hang each bird by a cord from aline such as a clothes line. The cordholding the bird could even be at-tached to a table or chair leg and thebird held on the ground. If supported

    in the air, an easy means of attach-ment to the holding cord is a smallboard on the end of a line.

    *Information for this publication was originallyprepared by J.H. Denton and D.B. Mellor,former Extension poultry marketing specialists,The Texas A&M University System.

    New York Dressing

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    This is wrapped around the birdslegs so the line is between the smallboard and the legs. The weight of the bird provides tension to tightenthe line. The bird can be disengagedeasily after killing. Always allow a lit-tle time after the bird is hung before it

    is killed. This allows the bird to settledown and makes killing it easier.

    Killing the bird requires cuttingat least one vein in its neck. Holdthe head in one hand and pull downslightly. There are two veins in theneck coming to the head and bothpass near an ear lobe. Cut the neckclose to the ear lobe on one sideonly. Avoid cutting the windpipe andesophagus. Cut only the neck vein.This reduces the possibility of car-cass contamination by blood beingdrawn into the air sacs.

    After cutting the neck, hold thehead and allow the blood to drip into

    a container. The blood should owfreely. The bird will not move at rstbut after a few moments will op dur -ing its death struggle.

    Hold the bird gently enough toavoid dislocating the wing jointsbut rmly enough to prevent bloodsplatter. Hold the head securely andloosely hold the wings. If the bloodis caught in a container cleanup is

    easier. With a little practice you willbe able to use a small coffee can for catching blood. An important principlein this killing operation is to remove

    as much blood from the bird as pos-sible. It has been estimated that onlyabout 50 percent of the blood is actu-ally removed from a bird. Bleed thebird as completely as possible. Allowample time to complete the bleedingand for the opping to cease. Other killing methods, such as wringing theneck or chopping off the head, will

    not produce as good a blood ow,resulting in improper or incompletebleeding. Remaining blood does noharm if the carcass is to be cookedimmediately. However, blood spoilsmore quickly than other parts so it isbene cial to remove as much bloodas possible to lengthen shelf life for fresh or frozen poultry.

    The scalding operation deter-mines the appearance of the naldressed carcass. Water that is hotwill cause the outer cuticle layer of the skin to slough off as the carcassis picked. The cuticle layer is the yel-low pigment area; for show birds theloss of this yellow pigment will oftenresult in a carcass being placed in alower category. High scald tempera-tures increase the ease of pickingbut will often make the skin tear moreeasily while the carcass is beingpicked. The recommended tempera-ture for young birds is 128 degrees F.

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    Success of the scalding operationdepends on time in the scald tankand water temperature. The younger the bird, the easier the feathers areto remove. With young birds thegreatest damage can be done withhot water or excessive time in thescald tank. For best results use athermometer to determine water temperature.

    To get adequate water into thefeathers, move the bird up and downin the water tank so all the feathersare well soaked. Usually, for youngbirds, the water temperature shouldbe approximately 128 degrees F witha time range from 30 to 60 seconds if the bird is well agitated.

    To agitate, hold the bird by thefeet and move it in a back-and-forthand an up-and-down motion in thescald tank. Proper scalding relaxesthe muscles holding the feathers,but it is dif cult for the warm water to

    penetrate the natural oily defenses of the bird. Repeated dips into the scaldtank during picking may be neces-sary to remove dif cult feathers.

    To pick, rehang the carcass onthe rope that was used for killing.

    This time hang by only one foot. Thiswill allow all areas of the carcass tobe picked easily. Do not delay thepicking operation after the carcasshas been scalded.

    If properly scalded, the tail andwing feathers can easily be removed.When these come off easily, the restof the feathers should be easy toremove.

    Work in sequence, removing therest of the feathers from the bodyand legs. Use a pinning knife or

    similar instrument to hold dif cultfeathers during removal. Hand pick-ing of carcasses is not hard but takestime and patience. Work quickly withrepeated dips as necessary. Do notallow the carcass to dry. Use a rollingmotion in removing feathers or pull

    in the direction they grow to mini-mize skin tears. Poultry intended for show should have no skin tears. After the carcass has been fully picked,inspect it to ensure all feathers havebeen removed.

    After picking, there will still besome very ne hairs left on the car -cass. These hairs (not feathers) can

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    be removed by singeing with rolledup newspaper or a propane torch.

    In singeing do not use too muchheat in one area or the skin will burn.Burn off any hairs that are on thecarcass. Rinse-wash the carcass toremove any particles that may haveadhered after singeing or picking.This will also allow you to check thecarcass to be sure all feathers andhairs have been removed. It will alsomoisten the carcass again.

    Evisceration

    The rst step in evisceration is re -moval of the head from the neck. Cutas close to