Saskatchewan's Heated Truck Cuts Chicken Losses

CANADA - Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan have developed a way to reduce mortalities from cold in chickens during transport to the processing plant.
calendar icon 23 February 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Why do so many chickens die when they are being trucked to the processing plant in the winter? In Saskatchewan at least, it is because of the cold but a team of researchers at the University of Saskatchewan has devised a way to prevent such deaths during transport, according to a CBC report.

Trever Crowe, a professor in the university's department of agricultural and bioresource engineering, and his team have built a semi-trailer for transporting poultry that is outfitted with heaters and fans.

Professor Crowe said: "With more active air flowing through [the truck], the birds stay drier, and they are more easily able to maintain their heat, and that makes a better, uniform meat quality."

He said it is important for the poultry industry to keep the birds comfortable.

He explained: "[The] birds are quite capable to generate enough heat to stay warm during the coldest days," he said. "We do need to think about ways to more effectively harness the heat that they produce."

With the fan-equipped semi-trailer, even when it is minus 28°C outside, the temperature inside feels like 28°C, Professor Crowe said.

Mike Pickard of the industry group Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan, said: "You put your heart and soul into raising them. It doesn't make any sense to have an atmosphere where they are housed in a perfect atmosphere for six weeks and then forget about it the last day."

He said he will be happy to see fewer dead on arrivals.

Professor Crowe told CBC there is another benefit to keeping birds warm: a warm chicken is a better-tasting chicken.

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