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Small-Scale Poultry Processing

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Small-Scale Poultry Processing

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  • 1.SMALL-SCALE POULTRYPROCESSING By Anne FanaticoNCAT Agriculture Specialist May 2003IntroductionIntroductionA 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 farmPhoto by Paul Helberteach year and sold directly to consumers with noinspection. Some of these small producers are go-ing furtherbuilding 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 andhalaal 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 dont process for small producers; they cant keeptrack of a small batch of birds and cant 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.Related ATTRA publicationsSustainable Poultry: Production OverviewGrowing Your Range Poultry Business:An Entrepreneurs ToolboxThis 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 NCATs ATTRA Project (http://www.attra.ncat.org), the National Sustainable AgricultureInformation Service.

2. Table of ContentsIntroduction ................................................................................. 1 Table 1. Comparison of types of processing................................ 2Pre-slaughter ............................................................................... 3Immobilizing, Killing, and Bleeding ................................................. 4Feather Removal ........................................................................... 6 Table 2. Scalding ..................................................................... 7Removal of Head, Oil Glands, and Feet ........................................... 9Evisceration ................................................................................. 9Washing the Carcass ................................................................... 10Chilling...................................................................................... 10Cut-up, Deboning, and Further Processing.................................... 13Aging ........................................................................................14Packaging ..................................................................................14Storage ..................................................................................... 15Delivery and Distribution............................................................. 16Clean-up ................................................................................... 16Waste Management .................................................................... 16 Table 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 ............................................................................38PAGE 2 SMALL-SCALE POULTRY PROCESSING 3. Table 1. Comparison of types of processing On-farmSmall Large SizeOutdoor or shed facility2,000 to 3,000 sq. ft.150,000 sq. ft.Equipment Manual Manual/Mechanical Fully automatedCostLess than $15,000Less than $500,000 $25,000,000Labor Family Family/hired HiredCapacity50-100 birds per day 200-5,000 birds per day 250,000 birds per dayOperationSeasonal; 1-30 pro- Seasonal or year-round;Year-round; processcessing days per year50-plus processing days daily per yearMarketingProduct sold fresh, Mainly cut-up, sold sometimes frozen; Fresh and frozen, whole fresh, further-pro-whole birds and parts cessedComments Independent operation;Independent or part of a Part of an integrated labor-intensive; low- collaborative group;operation including risk; usually non- requires good markets grow-out, processing,inspected, direct salesand grower commitmentsand marketingDuring the first part of the 20th century, poul-and the possibility of tearing it during process-try was sold live to consumers who did their owning, which would cause fecal contamination ofprocessing. In the 1930s, only the blood and feath- the carcass. Withholding the feed too long willers were removed (New York dressed). As result in watery guts that leak.consumers demanded more convenience, themarket grew for eviscerated or ready-to-cookCATCHINGAND LOADING(RTC) birds. Large producers harvest all their birds at onceProducing ready-to-cook poultry involves: (all-in, all-out). Small producers often skim by Pre-slaughter: catching and transport harvesting larger birds and leaving smaller ones Immobilizing, killing, and bleeding to grow. Birds are best caught at night or earlyin the morning when they are calm. For small Feather removal: scalding, pickingproducers, picking birds up individually by the Removal of head, oil glands, and feet sides is the best way to minimize stress and pre- Eviscerationvent injury. Of course, this is not feasible whenyoure dealing with thousands of birds (1). In Chillinglarge-scale production, chickens are caught by Cut-up, deboning, and further processinggrabbing both legs, just above the feet. No more Aging than three birds should be carried in one hand.Crews of 10 people catch and crate birds at the Packagingrate of 10,000 per hour, bruising up to 25% of Storage them (1). In Europe, automatic harvesting ma- Distributionchinery is increasingly used in large operations,because it is considered more humane than therough treatment by catchers who handle several Pre-slaughterbirds at once. Transport crates are wooden or plastic. ABroilers are usually processed at 4.5 lbs. live typical crate can hold about 8 birds in the sum-weight. Feed is withheld for 8 to 12 hours before mer and 10 in the winter, depending on their sizeslaughter to reduce the amount of feed in the gut and on the weather. The crates usually have aSMALL-SCALE POULTRY PROCESSINGPAGE 3 4. small opening, to help prevent escape during Once the birds reach the processing facility,loading, but a small opening also increases the it is important to keep them comfortable in thechance of physical injury to wings. Crowding of holding area. Scheduling arrival at the plant canbirds in crates is another welfare issue. reduce waiting time. On-farm processors usu-Kuhl Co. (2) and Brower Co. (3) sell trans- ally hold crated birds under trees or other shade.port crates. Used crates are sometimes available The conventional industry typically producesat lower prices. Small producers sometimesbirds within one hour of the processing plant.make their own wire crates from welded wire With two hours of travel, shrinkage or weightmesh and clips. loss 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 birdsCatching andfrom the crates to prevent bruises and brokentransport can bones. On-farm and small plants unload birds be stressful for by hand. At large plants, broilers are unloadedonto conveyor belts. Transport crates should bethe birds.washed 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,TRANSPORT, RANSPORTHOLDING, AND noise, and social disruption (1).UNLOADING Avoid holding birds in crates for too long or Immobilizing, Killing,transporting them when the weather is too hot,cold, or wet. With on-farm processing, there isand Bleedinglittle or no travel time. If you have to transportSmall processors usually place birds in fun-in cold, wet weather, be sure to cover the birds nel-shaped kill cones after removing them fromsmall producers typically cover the crates with a crates; large plants hang them on shackles andtarp. stun them before killing. You will need a full-size pick-up or largertruck200 birds in 25 crates weigh about 1250 An overhead track is used to move carcassespounds. For more birds, you will need a trailer.through a plant. Keeping birds on-line through-If you need to transport 1000 birds at a time, youll out killing and dressing reduces labor sinceneed a special vehicle such as a bob truck. there is no handling. In many small plants,you just push the shackle along; in largeplants,

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