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Post Harvest Technology :: Livestock


The term poultry is applied to all domesticated birds as food and includes chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and pigeons. Of these, chicken and turkey are most commonly used for their meat.


Poultry meat has a high protein content about 25 per cent and is comparable in quality and nutritive value to other meats. Like other animal tissues, poultry flesh is a good source of B vitamins and minerals. Because of its high protein to fat ratio, poultry meat is advantageous to persons who must restrict the intake of fats. Chicken fat is more unsaturated than the fat of red meat and this has nutritional advantage. Like other animal tissues, poultry flesh is a good source of B vitamins and minerals. The dark meat of chicken is richer in riboflavin than the light, but the light meat is richer in niacin. Because of its high protein to fat ratio, poultry meat is advantageous to persons who must restrict the intake of fats.


Poultry is marketed in ready to cook form that is the head, feet and entrails are removed (dressed chicken).

After the birds are bled they are scalded that is, dipped in hot water briefly. The temperature of the scald water may be 60°C and the bird is kept in it for about 45 seconds or more safely with less chance of the outer layer of the skin (cuticle) removal at 52°C for 2 minutes. Scalding loosens the feathers on the chicken and thus helps defeathering.

After defeathering, evisceration of the bird takes place. The eviscerated birds are thoroughly washed and chilled.

Rapid chilling - to 1.7°C is essential to control the growth of bacteria which contaminate the flesh once the skin is broken. Cooling is also necessary from the point of view of tenderness of meat.

Dressed chicken is graded before it is marketed. In India, two grades are assigned to chicken grade 1 and 2. This is based on conformation (deformations that detract from the normal appearance) meatiness, fat covering, defeathering, cuts and tears and discolouration.

The graded poultry is individually packed in low-moisture and low-oxygen transmission film or bags. Before sealing the packs, care is taken to expel the air between the carcass and the bag. The sealed bags may be stored under refrigeration or frozen. Refrigerated poultry, at –23°C to –18°C may be stored up to 9 months.


Raw chicken has little or no flavour and it develops during cooking. The principles of cooking poultry are basically the same as for cooking meats. The cooking method is selected on the basis of the tenderness of the poultry and its fat content. Moist heat methods are applied to older and tougher birds in order to make than tender and palatable. Dry heat methods are applied to young tender birds.

Tandoor chicken

This is a well known and popular Indian chicken dish. This is barbecued chicken. The cooking is done in a clay oven called a tandoor. Tender chicken, either whole or cut is used. The skin is removed from the ­chicken and the flesh is pricked with a fork and sprinkled with sat Tandoor sauce is then smeared on the chicken which is then left aside for 6-8 hours. It is then cooked in the tandoor. Half way through the cooking time it is removed from the oven and brushed all over with butter or oil and cooked again until the chicken is fork tender.


Poultry can be preserved by canning, chilling, freezing and curing.


In canning, the poultry meat is cooked and filled in the can alone the gravy. The can is placed in a vacuum chamber where the operation of double steaming is completed. It is transferred to heat sterilised cans at 2120 F for 30 minutes, double steamed and sterilized by cooking in steam under 14 lbs pressure at 250°F for 60 minutes.


The poultry meat is cut into pieces and cooked in steam for 30 at 10 Ibs pressure. The cooked meat is passed through meat and the chopper and the chopped meat dried in a continuous drier. The temperature ­incoming air is 150°F to 160°F and drying taking about 3 hours. The moisture content of dried meat is about 4% to 5%. The dried meat is compressed and packed in the cans.


Chilling poultry for storage purpose serves to protect it from spoilage for only a short period. Poultry can be chilled with cold air or by direct contact with ice or ice water and held at 3°C; keeps well for about 9 days. The closer the temperature to freezing the longer the poultry can be stored.


Chicken, duck and turkey are prepared for commercial freezing after eviscerating and washing. Each chicken is wrapped in a moisture-proof film and is quick frozen Small poultry such as chicken may be placed in a waxed carton before freezing. If the skin of the poultry dries out unevenly, it discolours and mottles, thereby disfiguring the frozen bird. This condition is commonly known as "freezing burn".

The dressed poultry is packed and frozen at 40°F and held at 10°F to 0°F. Storage temperatures below 0°F are recommended for poultry to retard oxidation and the resultant rancidity of the fat. The frozen poultry can be kept for about 6 months in good condition.


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