MARKETING POULTRY CARCASSES
In the marketing of poultry carcasses as in other phases of the industry, we really have two systems to discuss. The one is used for the marketing of the product of the farm of the Central West, and the other the product of the poultryman or eastern farmer, who is near a large market and who will be repaid for taking special pains in preparing his poultry for market.
At the present time almost the entire poultry crop of the Central West is sold from the farm as live poultry. This farm stock is purchased by produce buyers or general merchants and shipped to the nearest county seat or other important town, where there are usually one or more poultry-killing establishments. These establishments may vary from a simple shed, where the chickens are picked and packed in barrels, to the more modern poultry-packing establishment, with its accommodations for fattening, dressing, packing, freezing, and storing.
The poultry-buying stations may be branches of the larger packing establishments, branch houses of large produce firms, or small firms operating independently and selling in the open market.
The chickens as purchased are grouped into the following classes: Springs, hens, old roosters and (at certain seasons) young roosters or staggy cockerels. Early in the season small springs are quoted as broilers, while capons form a separate item where such are grown.
Chickens are starved before killing, for the purpose of emptying the crop, and, to some degree, the intestines. If this is not done the carcass presents an unsightly appearance and spoils more readily in storage.
The method of picking is not always the same, even in the same plant. Scalding is frequently used for local trade, in the summer season, or with cheap-grade stuff. The greater portion of the stock is picked dry. The pickers are generally paid so much per bird. In some plants men do the roughing while girls are employed as pinners. Pickers work either with the chickens suspended by a cord or fastened upon a bench adopted to this purpose. The killing is done by bleeding and sticking. The last thrust reaches the brain and paralyzes the bird. The manner of making these cuts must be learned by practical instruction. The feathers are saved, and amount to a considerable item. White feathers are worth more than others. The head and feet are left on the chicken and the entrails are not removed.
The bird, after being chilled in ice-water or in the cooling room, is ready for grading and packing. This, from the producer’s standpoint, is the most interesting stage in the process, for it is here that the quality of the stock is to be observed. The grading is made on three considerations: (1) The general division of cocks, springs, hens and capons is kept separate from the killing-room; (2) the grading for quality; (3) the assortment according to size.