Stunning Slaughter Dressing Evisceration

The incorporation of mechanization into poultry processing lines has allowed the poultry meat industry to be cost competitive compared with other species. This mechanization started with the introduction of an automatic eviscerating machine. This machine started a revolution in methods of dressing chickens.

Today we have systems that involve overhead conveyors and a large number of machines—each capable of a line speed of around 4000 birds per hour. At present, the major manual effort into poultry processing lines occurs only where the birds are loaded into the processing conveyors. Once on these conveyors, the birds are transported through an electrical stunning area, a killing machine, a scalder, and a defeathering machine. Stunning generally occurs when the heads are immersed in a saline water bath, which causes cardiac arrest and also reduces poststun movement. Problems reported to be associated with stunning can be eliminated. All machines on the killing line can be adjusted to suit the various sized birds being processed.

As with pig processing, the scalding process largely determines the defeathering result. Much work has been done to improve the temperature regulation of the water in the scalding tanks and to develop new systems for improved heat transfer from the water to the feathers.

The defeathering machine uses large rubber fingers which, when rotated in close proximity to the birds, remove the feathers. A number of other jobs are also carried out mechanically following this defeathering operation. The gullet is removed by machine, then a rotating knife removes the feet. In both cases, the design of the machine can cope satisfactorily with birds of various sizes.

After 10 years of effort, automation experts have succeeded in producing a fully automatic evisceration line for chicken. As with the killing lines, the principle of the evisceration line is to transport the birds on overhead conveyors, through a number of processing stations. These processing stations or machines include a vent cutter, an opener, an evisceration cut opener, and viscera removal. Machines are also being developed and manufactured for the automatic evisceration of other species, such as turkeys and ducks. Following evisceration, the birds are chilled, weighed, and packed. Much of this work has now been automated. For example, the birds are weighed on the conveyor and a trip system is used to grade the animals into certain precise weight ranges.

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