Processing: adding value to your poultry
In a diverse and continuously growing global poultry consumer market it is of utmost importance to produce and supply the right quality. This quality can be for instance determined by various criteria (figure 1) such as food safety, the way the poultry is raised (concept growing), meat characteristics (taste, smell, appearance, tenderness, size) and the convenience to prepare the food and as such can differ from region to region, from one culture to another.
The processing of poultry plays a key role in the final food quality and in the final cost of the meat, but previous activities also have a responsibility in this. It goes without saying that processing is a very precise and capital-intensive business in which inefficiency and waste during the process are not tolerated. Today state-of-the-art, highly automated and transparent processing plants are able to produce any type of cut and deboned meat in the most efficient way. Lack of quality of the broilers and poor uniformity lead directly to more rejections, condemnations, second grade quality meat and inefficiency during the processing activity.
In the broiler meat supply chain with different stakeholders present, the focus is often on the most important cost factor, which is feed cost. Of course, each stakeholder has its specific Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for this. Looking at a complete supply chain, the variation in it (difference between best and worst result with regards to feed cost) will increase as you go further to the end of the chain (figure 2). Therefore, it should be the objective of any stakeholder or farm manager at any stage to raise and grow the breeders and broilers with the aim to minimize the variation within and between their flocks. As such this will contribute to the zero-waste strategy in the processing plant.
Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs) are known for their antibacterial, antiviral and immune modulating properties and therefore have great potential to contribute to improving food quality and performance of processing plants (table 1). The quantity and quality of the carcass is strongly dependent on the protein efficiency during the growing process of the broiler. At that stage, the quality of the broiler (weight, uniformity, body composition, health status, bacterial contamination, etc.) and the environmental conditions will positively or negatively affect the quality of the carcass and the profitability of the processor.
Footpad lesions, an important welfare parameter, as well as breast meat yield being an important indicator for the general health status of the broilers are KPIs that broiler farmers need as input to improve their growth process.
Field observations show that rejections, condemnations and downgraded meats and cuts can reach up to 5%. In most cases the cause is multiple, but very often linked to the quality of the day-old chick, mycotoxins, diseases (E. Coli), nutritional and digestive problems, climate control, general farm management and rough handling during catching and transport.
Due to the positive effects of MCFAs on broiler breeders, resulting in more uniform and vital day-old chicks, the positive effects during the growth process on protein deposition (figure 3), on protein quality and on protein efficiency, supporting the genetic progress, MCFAs can contribute to the profitability in the processing plant.