Wondering how to start poultry meat processing in Nigeria? In this post, you’ll find all you need to get started.
Poultry is one of the primary sources of consumable animal protein. They‘re domesticated birds, which humans keep for their eggs, meat, and/or feathers.
The birds almost always belong to the super-order Galloanserae (fowl), particularly the order Galliformes that has other members like chickens, turkeys, and quails.
While poultry meat is mainly chicken, turkey is emerging as an increasingly important type of protein. Also, chicken is gradually making its way into the cured meat market as a cheaper yet functionally and nutritionally similar alternative to beef or pork.
Poultry processing in industrial countries, since the 1970s, has transitioned into large-scale killing and dressing activities, which are nearly entirely automated. If you want to start a poultry meat processing business in Nigeria, here are the procedures to follow. The techniques are used for the production of processed chicken and turkey.
Generally, the birds are not given feed and water any longer when they’ve reached “harvest” time. You need to do this to enable their digestive tracts to empty. Also, the practice helps in reducing the potential for contamination during processing.
The birds are caught at night by specially trained crews, after which they’re put into wooden or plastic transport cages.
Then, they’re transported to the slaughterhouse. In this facility, the trucks are typically kept between sets of fans to provide the cages with ventilation.
The next thing is to take the birds out of the cages and transfer them to moving shackles. On the equipment, they’re suspended by the two legs.
The transfer is usually carried out in a dark room, which is illuminated by a red light. The birds are insensitive to the red light, and this ensures they stay calm.
Handling the birds and transferring them can be stressful both on the farm and at the slaughterhouse. According to research, stress can produce negative effects on the quality of the final meat product.
This is why you need to ensure efforts are made constantly to enhance the pre-slaughter procedures.
Slaughtering the Birds
Stunning in Water Bath and Killing
After you’ve transferred the birds to the moving shackles, the next step usually involves getting them stunned by running their heads through a water bath that’s an electric current conductor.
In this stunning process, the birds lose consciousness. However, it doesn’t kill them.
They’re either killed by hand or a mechanical rotary knife, which cuts the jugular veins as well as the carotid arteries at the neck. If you find any birds that have been not killed by the machine, you can quickly kill them using a knife assigned to the bleed area.
You’ll allow the birds to bleed for a fixed amount of time, according to size and species (for instance, 90 seconds for broilers). Any bird, which isn’t bled appropriately, will be significantly redder when it’s been de-feathered.
So, it’ll be condemned. It’s crucial to avoid such issues in your turkey or chicken meat processing.
Scalding in Tanks
After bleeding is done, you’ll now transfer the birds into a scalding tank, containing hot water. This will make their skin become soft, facilitating the removal of the feathers.
Ensure the water temperature is controlled carefully, and if you want the yellow skin color to be retained, utilize a soft-scald (around 122 degrees Fahrenheit or 50 degrees Celsius). On the other hand, if you want a white bird, use a higher scald temperature that causes the removal of the yellow pellicle.
Generally, turkeys and spent hens are run at higher temperatures within the range of 59 – 60 degrees Celsius (138 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit). (Spent hens are egg-laying birds that have complete their laying cycles.)
Then, the carcasses are moved into the feather-picking machines. These are equipped with rubber “fingers” that are specially built to beat the feathers off.
Carcasses are to be made to pass through a sequence of machines, with each of them optimized for the removal of various sets of feathers.
Now, the carcasses will usually be singed by exposing them through a flame, which will burn any remaining feathers off.
If you’re dealing with waterfowl, it’s often advisable to use an additional procedure, known as wax dipping, because removing their feathers is more difficult.
After the mechanical feather picking, you’ll dip the carcasses in a melted, dark-colored wax, which is allowed to harden and is to be peeled away. This pulls out the feathers in the process.
The wax is heated again, and the feathers filtered out to ensure the wax is reusable. This procedure is often carried out twice.
Removing Heads and Legs
In this stage, you’ll put the heads of the birds into a channel where they’re mechanically pulled off. The birds’ legs are to be taken off using a rotary knife (that works like a meat slicer) either at the hock or a bit below it, based on your national custom.
When the carcasses drop off the shackle, they’re to be rehung onto the eviscerating shackle line using their hock.
The Evisceration and Inspection Stage
This stage involves the removal of the preen/oil gland from the tail. Then, the vent is opened to take away the viscera (or internal organs). This evisceration process can be done using either your hands (with knives) or complex, highly automated mechanical equipment.
Automated evisceration lines have the capability to work at a rate of around 70 birds per minute. After each bird, the tool is cleaned using relatively high levels of chlorine.
The inspection of the carcasses is generally performed when the evisceration procedure is ongoing. The inspection processes in the poultry industry differ from one place to the other around the world.
Based on a country’s laws, they could be done by government inspectors, plant personnel, or vets. For example, in the US, when the viscera are taken out of the carcass, they’re placed beside it. After that, inspectors from the United States Department of Agriculture will examine the whole bird.
The carcasses are further cleaned when the inspection is complete. The next thing is to get the viscera separated from the carcasses and remove the edible offal from the inedible one.
The heart, stomach, and liver are all regarded as edible offal. And they’re processed independently. The birds are cut open, followed by removal of the inside yellow lining of the stomach, in addition to the intestines.
A vacuum pipe is used to remove the lungs and kidneys separately from the other visceral organs. At this point, a final inspection is usually performed, with the carcasses then thoroughly washed.
After washing the carcasses, the next thing is to have them chilled to a temperature less than 40°F (4°C). Water chilling and air chilling are the two primary methods you can use for chilling poultry.
This technique is used in the whole of North America. It has to do with a prechilling step where a counter-current flow of cold water is made use of in lowering the temperature of the carcasses.
Then, the carcasses are transferred into a chiller. This is a large tank that is specially made to move the carcasses through in a particular amount of time. Two tanks are used for minimizing cross-contamination.
In some countries like the US and Canada, a specified overflow of water for each tank is mandated by law.
While this leads to the chilling procedure demanding a large amount of water, it does help in minimizing bacterial cross-contamination by diluting the microorganisms, which are washed off the carcasses, thus preventing re-contamination.
The water chilling procedure results in an increase in poultry weight, and the quantity of water gained is regulated carefully.
In a country like the US, the legally allowed limits for water pick-up are 8% for birds heading to market directly and 12% for birds to be further processed. The assumption here’s that by the time they get to the consumer, they’ll lose the extra 4%.
The standard procedure in Europe is air chilling. The carcasses are hung by shackles. Then, they’re made to pass through coolers containing rapidly moving air. The process has lower energy efficiency compared with water chilling. And the birds experience weight loss due to dehydration.
Air chilling helps you avoid cross-contamination between birds. But if a single bird carries pathogens in large numbers, the pathogen count will stay on the bird. For this reason, water chilling could actually bring about a lower overall bacterial load, as a lot of the pathogens are discarded in the water.
The final temperature of the carcasses before they’re shipped is normally around 28-30°F (-2 to -1°C), which is just above the freezing point for poultry. You could find that in certain cases, a bit of crusting is seen on the surface during the final chilling.
An air chiller is used in the final stage of water-chilled carcasses, which occurs after packaging.
Following the procedures laid out above, you can produce processed chicken or frozen chicken, and frozen turkey. We do hope this guide has been able to enlighten you on how to start a poultry meat processing business in Nigeria.