In recent decades, there has been a significant increase in the size and weight of broilers to improve overall processing efficiency. This translates into the ability to produce more chicken meat per hour, particularly when dealing with larger animals. However, these advancements come with their own set of processing challenges directly related to the accelerated growth rate.
The larger size of broilers can be the outcome of both rapid growth and an extended growth period. Consequently, poultry processors are faced with the task of managing not only heavier birds but sometimes also older ones. This dual challenge necessitates specialized handling and processing techniques to ensure optimal outcomes in terms of quality and yield.
One of the initial challenges is effectively managing the handling of large live birds, both on the farm and in the plant reception area. This task is physically demanding. Ensuring a smooth process for catching chickens on the farm is paramount. To achieve this, it is essential to position transport equipment near the catchers to minimize the need for manual carrying. Additionally, the use of transport drawers with spacious openings is crucial to simplify loading while safeguarding the birds from potential injuries as they enter the drawers.
Shackling large birds is already a demanding task, and it becomes even more challenging if the birds are actively flapping their wings. The introduction of Controlled Atmosphere Stunning (CAS) serves the purpose of rendering the bird unconscious before shackling. This allows the shackler to perform their duties comfortably and efficiently, without the bird's movements causing additional difficulties. Furthermore, shackling an unconscious animal causes less distress to the bird. You can read more about CAS here.
Another significant challenge when dealing with big birds involves the need to modify processing equipment to accommodate these larger sizes. It is imperative that shackles and machinery are purposefully designed to handle the increased weight and size of these birds.
Machines tailored to manage the weight spectrum of bigger birds can greatly enhance both the quality and yield of the meat produced. It is crucial that these machines incorporate multiple adjustment features to adapt the processing to the specific size of the flock, ensuring flexibility in accommodating various bird sizes. Additionally, transitioning from one flock size to another should be seamless, and the equipment should be adaptable to accommodate weight variations within the same setup.
When dealing with larger bird sizes resulting from an extended growth period, the defeathering can become more intricate. This complexity arises from the fact that the muscles surrounding the follicles are more developed and firmly grip onto the feathers. Additionally, older broilers tend to possess a higher feather count, adding to the challenge of the defeathering process.
In such situations, the scalding process becomes crucial, as it requires complete and fast immersion of the broiler in hot water. The water must swiftly penetrate the dense feather layer, reaching the skin and follicles to effectively loosen each feather before proceeding to the picking phase.
For the last ten years, rapid growth rates have been seen leading to unappealing meat structures such as ‘wooden breasts’ causing expensive downgrades. However, processors can prepare the affected meat for further processed products, e.g., nuggets, sausages, cold cuts, etc. Mixing afflicted breast meat with ‘normal’ meat in minced/emulsified products can be a profitable alternative use for meat affected by growth-related myopathies.
BAADERING is an internationally recognized process of separating soft and solid components while maintaining quality. Soft particles are separated from hard ones by using a squeezing belt and a perforated drum. The BAADERING technology can help prepare meat for further processed products and maximize the profit of meat affected by textural defects.
Despite their rapid growth, bones in these broilers may still be relatively delicate. This means that cut-up and deboning must be done carefully to avoid bone fragments in the final product. Selecting an appropriate cut-up system for big broilers poses several challenges for poultry processors as the equipment must be specially designed to handle big sizes and may need to handle various bird sizes within the same processing line. The equipment's adaptability to different broiler sizes is essential for versatility in production.
The BAADER wing cutters are designed to cut one wing after the other – not at the same time. This allows for a higher degree of size variations. Read more here.
Deboning fast-growing broilers presents unique challenges due to their dense muscle development. One effective strategy to address the challenges of deboning fast-growing broilers is to extend the deboning time. This extended period allows for a crucial maturation process to take place, significantly improving the texture of breast fillets.
The maturation process is essential in transforming the muscular tissue of meat after the bird has been sacrificed. During this time, enzymatic and biochemical reactions occur, which contribute to tenderizing and enhancing the sensory experience when eating the meat. For fast-growing broilers, this maturation step becomes even more critical.
Achieving the right balance in maturation time is key to achieving the desired deboning quality and yield. Too short a maturation period may result in tougher meat that is challenging to debone effectively. Conversely, overly extended maturation may lead to meat that is too tender, which can also impact the deboning process negatively by leaving meat on the carcass.
Therefore, finding the optimal maturation time is a delicate task that requires a thorough understanding of the specific characteristics of the broilers being processed. It involves striking a balance between maintaining efficiency in production and ensuring the highest quality of meat. By carefully managing the deboning time and considering the unique attributes of fast-growing broilers, poultry processors can meet the challenges of deboning while delivering meat products that meet consumer expectations for taste and texture.
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