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Processing Info

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As you begin planning your processing operation, obtain the advice of your local inspector. Requirements vary from one geographic area to another. By obtaining the blessing of your local inspector, you can often save time and expense.


KILLING/BLEEDING

When killing the bird, it is best to cut the carotid artery, not the windpipe. This allows the bird to bleed more easily and minimizes shock. A properly bled bird will have little or no blood around the bone or joint. Do not cut the head off as the bird is bled. This will result in an undesirable appearance. The head should be removed during the evisceration process. Estimate bleeding time at about 1 minute and 15 seconds.


SCALD & PICK

After birds are bled, they should be scalded then picked as soon as they can be added into your picker. SCALD AND PICK WITHOUT DELAY. The scald is the key a good pick. When analyzing damaged birds, please note: If bird shows a bruise, the bruise happened before the bird was killed or during death shudder. A bled bird will not bruise. The darker the bruise the older the injury. If a broken bone has blood around it, the breakage occurred while the bird was alive. The darker the blood, the older the injury.

Pick only long enough to pull feathers. Extending pick risks skin tearing. Excessive skin tearing in the breast and inner thigh are signs scald is too hot or to long. Fatty tissue under skin should not liquefy. If fat breakdown occurs, scald is too hot. To check if scalded long enough, tail feathers should pull out easily.


Recommended Scalding Time (Note temps below)

  • Broilers 1 minute
  • Pheasants 1 minute
  • Hen Turkey 1 minute
  • Tom Turkey 1 minute
  • Quail 30 seconds
  • Duck 1 minute

Recommended Scalding Temp

  • Broilers 1¼ minute @143 ° F (63° C)
  • Quail 30 seconds @ 127° F (53° C)
  • Duck 1 minute @ 155° F (68° C)

Recommended Picking Time

  • Broilers 25-30 seconds
  • Pheasants 30 seconds
  • Hen Turkeys 30 seconds
  • Tom Turkeys 30 seconds
  • Quail 15 seconds
  • Duck 30 seconds

When processing turkeys, hand strip heavy wing and tail feathers before picking. If when picking, it is apparent that the birds are not sufficiently scalded, we recommend longer scald, not a higher temperature. With practice, you can achieve a yellow skin if desired. A bird has two skins. The outer yellow skin is usually loosened in the scald. However, if you drop the scald temperature to 127 degrees F (53 degrees C), the outer yellow skin should remain in place. Scald for the same length of time, just drop the temperature.

**On our smaller poultry pickers remove the head, feet and heavy wing and tail feathers before picking.**


EVISCERATION (GUTTING)

Position a barrel near the eviscerating table to collect the feet and offal. Remove the feet by cutting at the knee joint. Pull the head off to avoid leaving bone shards on the bird. This should be done before birds are hung on the eviscerating shackle (if used). Hold the bird on the table with the head end facing away from you breast facing up. At the front of the bird pinch the skin near the base of the neck. With a sharp knife make a slit in the skin and peel away the skin from the flesh. Find the crop, esophagus and windpipe the crop will be located on the left side of the breast. The crop is a slightly different color than the flesh of the bird. It is difficult to identify it until you are familiar with where it is located. The wind pipe is a round tube with ridges on it, and the esophagus is attached to the crop and goes up to the birds throat. Pull these away from the skin and flesh. Cut them loose from the head end leaving them intact with the body end of the bird. Turn the bird around with the head facing you. Then cut the oil sack above the tail. Flip the bird over and make a slice across the belly of the bird. Open the tail and remove the vent. Then draw entails and remove the crop. When drawing entrails, contamination can result if the operation is improperly performed. Care must be taken to pull out the intestines without tearing them. Pinch the gall and pull it away from the liver. Be very careful you don't break the gallbladder open. If the gallbladder is broken, the liver or other meat that comes into contact with the bile can be contaminated. Trim the heart and liver. You can remove the sack around the heart with your fingers. Trim, split and wash gizzards. Use shears for trimming and opening, a hacksaw blade also works well to split open gizzards. Remove both lungs from the bird. Then remove any interior body parts left from evisceration, do a complete carcass wash and place into chill tank.


CHILLING

Chilling is necessary to reduce pathogen development. Chilling by itself will not reduce pathogens. Birds need to be thoroughly washed as well. Birds need to be chilled to below 40 degrees F within 4 hours of death. Maintaining the birds at this temperature can give shelf life of 6 days. The inside of the carcass should be chilled to this temperature. Cubed, diced, flaked or shaved ice works better than large ice hunks. The amount of ice depends on the ratio of ice to water and also depends on the temperature of the room where chilling is performed. For chilling, use about 1½ to 1¾ pounds of ice per bird. Water temperature should be about 35 degrees F.

We recommend at least 2 and if possible 3 different chilling. This allows the blood to wash out of the body cavity during the different chilling tanks. Change the first chill tank frequently to keep the water from becoming bloody.

An inexpensive way to have enough ice is to contact your local ice company. If you have an empty freezer, have them fill it with bagged ice. Depending on your volume you may be able to lease or even get an outdoor ice freezer similar to what is used at convenience stores to store the ice. Offer the ice to your customer for “x” amount of money per bag. It saves the customer the hassle of stopping and getting ice on the way home. It helps assure your customer has a safe chilled chicken until they get home, as well as offsetting your ice cost for a properly chill product.

We recommend you always allow the birds to set before cooking, a bird that has not gone through rigor mortis will be tough to eat. Allow birds to “age” for 24 hours before cooking if possible.

DO NOT BAG A BIRD UNTIL IT IS PROPERLY CHILLED


PACKAGING BIRDS

Birds should not be bagged fresh out of the ice water. Let the birds drain on a table, shackle, or rack before bagging. The customer is paying for meat not water, besides the fluid in the bag will distract from your quality product. Bags need to be made out of FDA approved material. Get labels they have freezer glue to ensure sticking. The bag has to be dry before applying. They also may wrinkle as you apply them. To build a small bagging rack use a horizontal 2 x 6 wood base with 10 - 3/4” PVC pipes (or as many as you like) approximately 12” long spaced about 8” apart, pointing straight up. Place a bird on each pipe head up allowing them to drain. Allow 5 minutes to drain then slip a bag over them keeping the bag dry. (Hook up a shop-vac to a nozzle to evacuate the air in the bag.) Seal the bag with a stainless clip or wire zip tie. For best appearence and freezer life we recomend using our shrink bags. Shrink bags actually conforn to the bird and keep air away from the skin wich is what causes freezerr burn. For an nicer looking product cut a hole in the flap of skin over the evisceration point and slip the birds legs into the slot to hold the legs in place.