Success with Dry Alternative to Water Scalding

UK - Sheepdrove Organic Farm is using a new dry scalding system, which is proving to be effective whilst improving hygiene and the use of water and energy.
calendar icon 21 July 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

Sheepdrove Organic Farm has been working with C&C Systems and Kelly Turkeys to create a new 'hotbox' that aims to replace the more familiar scald tank, reports Farmers Weekly (FWI).

This dry method produces chickens similar to those from traditional hand-plucking, with the skin supple and dry.

"It's a step towards dry pluck but it's actually dry scalding," says farm manager, Peter Kindersley.

The old system at Sheepdrove involved a scalding tank filled up with water and brought to 54ºC, with the temperature maintained throughout the day. The hot water softened the feathers prior to the plucking process.

Water quality deteriorates with up to 5,000 chickens passing through the scalding tank during the day. This allowed the build-up of faeces and bacteria and to cross-contamination between carcasses, he says.

Immersion in hot water can also alter the taste, explained Mr Kindersley, as water scalding tanks can melt away fat underneath the skin surface, causing water is be absorbed and the meat becomes 'soggy' and does not refrigerate well under age.

"A prototype dry scalder was first used in a nearby barn. We learned from the prototype and from this came the hotbox, which has now been in action for more than two months," he says.

The processing method for chicken remains virtually the same, with the birds first being placed on the line before being stunned. However, after killing, the carcasses enter the hotbox instead of the scald tank.

Water is heated to create steam in the hotbox and then cooled to reach 54ºC. This temperature is then maintained. The carcasses enter through a closed area and the hot and moist air is blown onto the carcasses for a period of time before plucking commences.

Experiments were carried out at the farm to compare the two scalding systems. The hot box was effective for removing feathers and it offered a number of advantages: lower microbiological contamination, better hygiene and reduced requirements for water and energy.

View the FWI story by clicking here.
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