How to optimize chicken feather plucking during processing
Several measures can be taken to ensure that feather removal is thorough, while broiler carcass damage is avoided.
Consumers neither want to buy processed chickens with feathers still in place, nor with damaged skin, both of which can occur when plucking is not correctly carried out. To keep rejects and downgrades at the broiler processing plant to a minimum, several checks can be carried out in the various stages prior to plucking and during the plucking process itself.
Read the entire report about how to optimize chicken feather plucking exclusively in the March issue of Poultry International.
Care must be taken during stunning to ensure that birds receive neither too much nor too little current.
It is worth remembering that a broiler’s tail and wing feathers arise from muscle tissue. Excess current at stunning will result in these muscles contracting and the follicle tightening, making removal of these feathers more difficult.
Carcasses should not remain in the blood tunnel for in excess of 3.30 minutes as, beyond this, rigor mortis may set in. This increase in muscular contraction will similarly negatively affect feather removal.
Carcasses must be properly immersed in the scalder. If birds remain at the surface of the scalding tank, the tail and wing feathers will remain above the water line, their follicles will not properly dilate and the feathers will not loosen.
Similarly, if there is uneven water turbulence in the scalding tank, and birds are not fully immersed, the same situation will arise with other feather follicles.
The heat that is absorbed by birds while in the scalding tank must be preserved as much as possible during transit to the first plucker as a failure to do so will result in the follicles starting to close.
In addition to the particular difficulties presented by tail and wing feathers, there are some other feathers that can be more difficult to remove, despite arising from the skin.