How keeping things simple can aid poultry processors

It is employee time that counts in today’s world, and making the most of it requires that time is not spent in unproductive activities.

Subscribe to Magazine
Taking a simple approach to broiler capture can help to keep birds calm and prevent injuries. (Eduardo Cervantes López)
Taking a simple approach to broiler capture can help to keep birds calm and prevent injuries. (Eduardo Cervantes LĂłpez)

In many poultry processing plants, management processes and operations have become overly complicated, and this comes at a cost.

Take, for example, employee hiring and promotion, both of which can be lengthy processes and, consequently, decrease productivity.

Information on new technologies that may benefit the plant may be superficially reviewed before concluding that productivity levels are sufficient or, if a decision to purchase is taken, the purchasing process, again, takes far longer than it should.

The lengthy internal meetings that take place each week and in which decisions are not taken can result in employees questioning the value of attending.

The above scenarios can be seen as part of a culture of complexity, harming a company’s competitiveness while the broader market becomes more dynamic.

What constitutes simplicity?

To work simply means identifying two important factors: which are the activities that constitute a waste of time and which activities lead to lasting value?

While, traditionally, it has been said that staff are a company’s most valuable asset, particularly now in the era of COVID, it is, rather, an employee’s time that has become the most valuable asset.

To work within a culture of simplicity, administrative and operational procedures should be minimal. All communications, be they verbal, written or digital, must be easily understandable. The language used must be clear and direct, making it easily understood by everyone.

Additionally, work routines should comprise reliable practices to minimize the risk of errors, while information must be readily available to anyone who may need it.

In short, the aim of working simply is to ensure that everyone works well. This can result in a dynamic culture that ultimately raises productivity.

Simple benefits

The benefits of simplicity are that plants become places where staff become enthusiastic about working, administrative and operational efficiency is increased, and fewer resources are needed to achieve greater gains.

Moreover, there can be greater client satisfaction, as orders are dealt with promptly, and it becomes easier to develop new products and services.

There are many areas where simpler working practices could be applied.


On many broiler farms, birds are not separated within the poultry houses, meaning that, when the capture teams arrive, birds have to be grouped together for harvesting.

In some harvesting teams, two workers may walk with a length of plastic sheet to group the birds together, but they tend to walk quickly, scaring the birds, which can result in physical harm.

It could be far simpler to use a sheet stretched across a plastic frame, forcing workers to walk more slowly and to synchronize their movements, reducing the stress experienced by the birds.

Cage movement could also be achieved in an easier and simpler way than the common practice of using a forklift truck, which also stresses birds. Consider using a truck with a hydraulic arm for loading and unloading and a winch system for moving the cages across a series of metal tubes placed within the broiler house.

At the processing plant

Within the broiler processing plant, there are numerous areas where simplification and careful thought could bring benefits.

When crated birds are to be hung on the overhead conveyor, ensuring that crates are slightly tilted toward the workers will result in less effort being needed to take them, saving time and allowing workers to work more comfortably.

When birds arrive at the hanging area uncaged, using guides can help to ensure they are always at a comfortable distance from workers, which will make hanging birds easier. 


The aerial transporter that delivers birds without giblets for packing typically delivers them onto trays, from which they are taken automatically or manually to bagging funnels. This system, however, can suffer from bottlenecks, affecting quality and yield.

Bagging Equipment Poultry Processing

Bagging equipment can help to reduce bottlenecks that might result in lower carcass quality. (Eduardo Cervantes LĂłpez)

Use of automatic baggers, however, where carcasses are simply dropped from the overhead conveyor into open bags, can prevent these issues. The filled bags are then transported to workers who seal them.

Bottlenecks can also occur at cut-up and deboning, but they become less frequent if pieces on the conveyor belt are always within easy reach of the section’s workers.

Quick meetings

It is common in some sports for a coach to call a meeting with players for a strategy update. This approach can also be taken in the processing plant. Should issues arise during the shift, managers can quickly update workers, advising them of any alteration in working procedures that may be needed.

Subscribe to Magazine
Page 1 of 34
Next Page