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Poultry production guide – Part 5: Process your poultry to boost your profit

A farm is above all a business and should therefore be operated on sound business principles to be successful.

In order to expand your poultry business to become a real poultry producer, you will need to focus on poultry processing. Processing, when done correctly, will enable you to market your product to an entirely new market and unlock potential income.

In order to produce profitable poultry, the farmer should ensure that:

• everything is done in strict hygienic conditions;

• quality and appearance remain consistent;

• prices are affordable;

• the product is produced with a realistic expiry date.

Small-scale farmers can also capitalise on the opportunity to expand their chicken farms into a poultry producing enterprises. However, certain aspects need to be kept in mind when planning a poultry processing plant.

Type of poultry

Poultry means more than chickens. The information provided is focussed on broilers, chicken, turkey, and geese. Other types of poultry have different requirements.

Poultry handling before slaughter

Ensure that feeding stops at least four hours before the poultry arrive at the abattoir. This will ensure that their stomachs and gizzards are empty, which helps to keep conditions in the abattoir more hygienic.

Evisceration

This part of the process will depend greatly on the target market. Do the research and make sure that you take local religion into consideration. You might need to comply to Halaal or Kosher standards in order to sell your product to the community.

Packaging

Packaging can be a very expensive part of the process, depending on how you wish to present your product. Apart from being visually attractive, packaging needs to be functional. If packaging can keep your product fresh, enable easy storage and transport, and does not increase the price of the product too much, there is no need to buy more expensive packaging. There are three basic types of packaging that can tick all the boxes.

• Over-wrapping where the meat is wrapped in a clear layer of plastic.

• Bag wrapping where the meat is placed into a bag and sealed. The bag can be branded with your logo and product information.

• Vacuum packaging where the meat is placed inside a bag and all the air removed to ensure a longer shelf life.

Processing poultry will increase the profit of your chicken farm by enabling you to access new markets.

Refrigeration

Refrigeration is a key part of this process, and no poultry processing plant can exist without it. Meat will easily spoil in the heat of Southern Africa, therefore the product must be kept cold throughout the whole process. A cold chain needs to be established from start to finish to keep the products fresh and safe for consumption.

Distribution

After the meat is frozen for the first time it should remain frozen until it is ready to be used by the end consumer. It is vital that refrigerated transport is used to distribute the meat from the processing plant to the retail store or market. Meat that is thawed and refrozen will spoil very easily, which will have dire consequences for the producer.

In the next article in this series, we shall provide more information on the steps in the slaughtering process and discuss the equipment needed in greater detail.

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