Processing begins with the removal of feed from the birds approximately 8 to 12 hours prior to slaughter. Feed withdrawal allows the bird time to void its intestinal tract and reduce the potential for gut breakage and contamination during evisceration. Feed withdrawal is closely monitored to optimize the emptying of the intestinal tract without excessive weight loss (live shrink).

After about four hours, the water is also removed, the equipment removed, the birds caught and placed in transport cages, and the cages placed on large trucks.

The birds are then transported to the processing plant to await unloading and slaughter. During holding at the farm or processing plant, fans and evaporative coolers are used to prevent overheating of the birds and to reduce heat stress mortality. In colder climates, truck covers may be used to reduce wind chill and cold stress. Table 1 summarizes the steps that are part of the harvesting and other poultry processing operations.

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