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Best Management and Processing Practices of Poultry Meats

This can be a product of either a dual-purpose poultry farm that produces both meat and eggs or a single-purpose poultry farm that produces either meat or eggs for human consumption.

Poultry meat provides man with nutrients for growth, tissue replacement, and weight control because of its lower fat content. Poultry meat contains more unsaturated fatty acids than red meat.

The fat content of chicken is higher in males and older chickens. Most fat in poultry meat is found under the skin and not distributed throughout the tissues.

 Best Management and Processing Practices of Poultry Meats
Industrial equipment at a meat factory.Chicken fillet production line . Factory for the production of food from meat.Automated production line in modern food factory. Ravioli production.Meat processing plant.

The protein in poultry meat is similar to that of beef and pork in amino acids and it contains all the essential amino acids required by man.

The protein is easily digested. Poultry meat is also a good source of riboflavin, thiamin, and ascorbic acid. Minerals present in the meat include sodium, iron, sulphur, calcium, phosphorus, and chlorine.

1. Processing of Chicken

The processing of chicken is the sequence of treatments to which the chicken is subjected to obtain poultry meat for cooking. All birds destined to be slaughtered should be fasted for the previous 4-6 hours to allow the intestine to be emptied.

This helps to improve tenderness. If the poultry is not starved before slaughter, the gut may rapture when the carcass is eviscerated and its content will contaminate the carcass.

2. Catching and Transportation

Chickens can be marketed as chicken or slaughtered and prepared for the table. Either way, the birds should be caught under the least stressful conditions. The catching should be by grasping them by shanks with no more than 4 or 5 being carried at a time.

Under tropical or subtropical conditions, the best solution may be to catch the birds at dusk or night and put them in transportation crates, head first. These crates should have dimensions of 80cm x 60cm x 30cm and will hold ten mature broilers or adult laying birds.

Birds in crates should be kept out of the sun but in a well-ventilated place. Also, birds in crates should not be transported during the heat of the day.

3. Slaughtering

It is a standard practice to slaughter chickens at the correct age to avoid

(a) wastage of chicken feed and money because feed used by mature chickens after the 8th or 9th week is uneconomical and (b) accumulation of excess fat and loss of quality or tenderness of the meat which is not acceptable to most consumers.

The method of killing adopted influences the extent of blood drainage from the carcass. Good drainage is desirable if the carcass is to be stored for long. Some methods of slaughtering poultry are:

  1. To immobilize the chicken in a bleeding cone and cut the jugular vein to ensure complete exsanguinations. The cut can be made below the ear.
  2. To stun the birds by passing their heads through a shallow trough of electrified water. This is done in large-scale slaughtering. Once the birds are stunned, they are slaughtered by cutting the jugular vein with a knife.
  3. To hold the chickens by their legs and make a clean cut through the veins in the neck with a sharp knife about 2cm below the eyes. In all methods, allow the blood to drain away into a container rather than spilling around the slaughter house.

4. Plucking

This is the removal of the feathers. The following methods can be used:

Scalding: This is the immersion of birds in hot water for about two minutes after killing. The temperature of the hot water is about 52oC for broilers, 55oC for old laying hens, and 59oC for turkeys. Immersion helps to relax muscles and make them soft, allowing the feathers to be plucked easily.

Dry Plucking: The feathers are removed by hand easily soon after slaughter when the body is warm. The chicken is held head-downwards with one hand and the feathers are removed with the other hand.

It should be done starting from the large feathers, followed by the back, sides, and abdomen, the breast feathers, the legs, neck, and wings.

The use of Mechanical Pluckers: With these machines, the feathers are removed by the action of rubber fingers mounted on rapidly revolving drums. The quill feathers are removed by hand. This method can be adopted by farmers producing on a large scale.

5. Evisceration/Carcass Preparation

Cut open the chickens by cutting around the vent/anus area to remove the internal organs. Remove the gut and separate edible parts like the gizzard, heart, and liver from the rest.

Further, cut open the gizzard and remove the waste and the skin layer known as the epithelium enclosing the undigested feed. The giblets consist of the heart, gizzard, and liver which with the neck may or may not be included as part of the carcass.

The shanks are removed. The chickens are thoroughly washed before the rest of the operations are carried out. The chickens should be hung up for about 5-10 minutes to drain excess water then wrap them with wrapping plastic bags.

The weights of the chickens are taken and they are graded according to market specifications based on market requirements.

Read More: Chicken Eggs Handling Best Practices

6. Preservation

Most of the carcass preparation is carried out at normal body temperatures. However, thereafter, the carcasses should be cooled as soon as possible to limit the extent of bacterial growth.

A satisfactory method of chilling the carcasses is in a refrigeration plant if possible one that uses a forced draught. The incoming air needs to have its moisture content closely controlled to avoid excessive moisture loss from the carcasses.

7. Storage

The temperature at which the carcasses are stored is dependent to a degree on the length of time for which the carcasses are to be stored.

If they are to be consumed within a day or two, they can be stored in a refrigerator at +2oC. If they are to be stored for a long period, they should be frozen to -5oC or even to -18oC.

8. Spoilage of Poultry Meat

Poultry meat can deteriorate if hygienic conditions are not maintained in the processing line. Though the muscle tissue of a healthy bird is sterile, the bird carries millions of different types of organisms on feathers, feet, and intestinal tract.

Factors Favouring the Survival of Organisms

The presence of large numbers of them on the carcass.

Spore formation as in poisoning and spoilage organism (clostridium perfigens).

A double source of infection from Salmonella spp and E.coli which are present on the farm and in the intestine of the fowl.

Optimum temperature – The food poisoning organisms known as mesophiles multiply rapidly at body temperature but slowly at 10oC and 15oC.

Measures against the Spoilage of Poultry Meat

Chlorination:This involves the carcass being treated with sterile water. The addition of chlorine or sodium hypochlorite to water makes it have a very low bactericidal activity.

Cold Storage: For a short period of cold storage, the birds may not be eviscerated, wrapped individually, or even bled. The chicken is chilled at 4oC immediately after slaughter.

For long storage life, basic requirements include sanitary processing, rapid chilling, low storage temperature, and moisture-proof packaging. The chickens are stored at -18oC. If stored at 7oC, storage life will only last for a few days.

Marketing of Poultry Meat

Marketing means selling broiler chickens for money. The farmer has to decide whether or not he will market the meat as live birds or will slaughter and prepare the birds for the table. This decision will depend on factors like:

The sophistication of the markets

The religious beliefs of the consumers

The pattern of consumption.

There are two main types of markets which are:

Contracted markets: These are those that have a verbal or nonverbal agreement between the producer and the buyer with specific terms and conditions as to what to buy and sell. Examples of this market type are hotels, hostels, supermarkets, institutions, and commercial slaughter houses.

Non-contracted markets: These are also known as free or open markets because the farmer is not bound by any agreement to sell to anybody. Chickens can be sold live or after being slaughtered. Examples are home consumption, close friends and relatives, roadside traders, farm gate, local farmers’ market, and retail outlets.

Read More: Recommended Management Practices for Broilers

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