Poultry... Touching You Daily

Chicken Facts

  • A male chicken is called a rooster.
  • A female chicken is called a hen.
  • A young chicken is called a chick.
  • The most popular chicken breed raised for meat is the Cornish Rock Cross.
  • Broiler & Roaster chickens provide main products such as drumsticks, wings, chicken breasts, chicken nuggets and chicken tenders.
  • They also provide by-products that are used in making noodles, candy, hot dogs, dog food and much more.
  • A broiler house may hold as many as 20,000 chickens. Broiler houses are cleaned and disinfected before each new flock of birds is brought in.

Turkey Facts

  • A male turkey is called a tom.
  • A female turkey is called a hen.
  • A young turkey is called a poult.
  • Turkeys are raised in scientifically designed and environmentally controlled barns that provide maximum protection from predators, disease and bad weather.
  • Turkey companies are vertically integrated, meaning they control or contract for all phases of production and processing – from breeding through delivery to retail. By maintaining control over research, hatching, growing, feeding, processing, packaging, transportation and marketing, the industry is able to produce wholesome, safe, high-quality products at the lowest possible cost to the consumer.
  • Brooder Houses house poults for 6 to 8 weeks, where they have feed and water at all times.
  • Grower Houses is where toms and hens are fed until they go to market.
  • Toms are ready for market at 18 to 22 weeks of age and weigh 30-38 pounds.
  • Hens are ready for market at 13 to 14 weeks of age and weigh 13-14 pounds.
  • Both are fed grains such as corn and soybeans. On average, it takes 75 to 80 pounds of feed to raise a 30-pound tom turkey.
  • Hens are processed and usually sold as whole birds, drumsticks, and turkey breasts, while toms are further processed into products such as cutlets, tenderloins, turkey sausage, bacon, franks and deli meats.

From Hatchery to Table

  1. Laying Houses: At a modern egg farm, hens are kept in large laying houses where the light and temperature are controlled and the hens are safe from predators. Inside the houses the hens are kept in cages. The hens are fed a balanced diet high in vitamins and minerals.
  2. Laying & Collecting: When a hen lays an egg it rolls down onto a conveyor belt with all the other eggs that carries them to the processing facility. Hundreds of eggs can be moving along the conveyor belt at any one time.
  3. Cleaning: First, the eggs are washed to remove dirt and debris, and then sanitized to remove bacteria from the shell. A light coating of mineral oil is sprayed on the egg to seal the tiny pores in the shell. This process slows down aging and prevents bacteria from entering the pores.
  4. Candling and Grading: The eggs are passed over a very strong light called candling. The strong light allows a worker, called the Candler, to inspect the exterior and contents without cracking the shell. The Candler grades the eggs AA, A or B, based on the quality of the interior and exterior. Eggs that don't meet the guidelines are removed.
  5. Sorting: Next, a machine automatically sorts the eggs according to size.
  6. Sizing: Eggs can be Jumbo, Extra Large, Large, Medium, Small or Peewee. Generally, a hen lays larger eggs as she gets older. The breed of the hen also is a factor in egg size, along with nutrition, and environment.
  7. Packing: A special machine carefully places the eggs, small end down, in cartons that protect them from breakage. The cartons are marked with the grade and size.
  8. Cooling: After packing, the eggs are placed in a large refrigerated room where they are cooled to 45 degrees F to maintain quality and freshness.
  9. Shipping: The eggs are shipped to grocery stores in refrigerated trucks. Typically, an egg reaches the grocery store shelf just 3 to 4 days after it was laid.
  10. Marketing: To maintain freshness and quality, the grocery store keeps the eggs in a refrigerated display case where they are purchased by the consumer.

Egg Composition

  • Shell
    Outer covering of egg, composed largely of calcium carbonate.
    May be white or brown depending on breed of chicken.
    Color does not affect egg quality, cooking characteristics, nutritive value or shell thickness.
  • Shell Membranes
    Two membranes-inner and outer- that surround the albumen.
    Provide protective barrier against bacterial penetration.
    Air cell forms between these two membranes.
  • Air Cell
    Pocket of air formed at the large end of egg.
    Caused by contraction of the contents during cooling after laying.
    Increases in size as egg ages.
  • Thin Albumen (White)
    Nearest to the shell.
    Spreads around thick white of high-quality egg.
  • Thick Albumen (White)
    Major source of egg riboflavin and protein.
    Stands higher and spreads less in higher-grade eggs.
    Thins and becomes indistinguishable from thin white in lower-grade eggs.
  • Chalazae
    Twisted, cordlike strands of egg white.
    Anchor yolk in center of egg.
    Prominent chalazae indicates freshness.
  • Vitelline (Yolk) Membrane
    Holds yolk contents.
  • Germinal Disk
    The area of the egg which will form the embryo if egg were fertilized.
  • Yolk
    Yellow portion of egg.
    Color varies with feed of the hen, but doesn't indicate nutritive content.
    Major source of egg vitamins, minerals, and fat.

Egg Facts

  • Most popular chicken breed raised for egg production is the White Leghorn.
  • Eggs are used as ingredients in such foods as cakes and cookies, or they can be scrambled, fried, poached, or hard-boiled.
  • A hen requires 24 to 26 hours to produce an egg. Thirty minutes later, she starts the process over again.
  • The egg shell may have as many as 17,000 tiny pores over its surface. Through them, the egg can absorb flavors and odors. Storing them in their cartons helps keep them fresh.
  • Eggs age more in one day at room temperature than in one week in the refrigerator.
  • A hard-boiled egg will spin because it's solid inside; a raw egg will wobble because it's liquid inside
  • Eggs are included in the meat group on the food pyramid because they are the highest quality protein available after mother's milk.
  • The average laying hen begins producing eggs at 5 to 6 months of age and can produce between 250 and 300 eggs per year.

Food Safety

  • All poultry products found in retail stores are inspected by the USDA for evidence of illness.
  • Turkeys and chickens are hormone and steroid free, only antibiotics are provided to the birds to prevent disease to ensure that consumers receive a healthy product. A withdrawal period is required therefore assuring that no residues are present in the bird's system at time of processing.
  • Poultry Handling Rules:
    Cool It, Store It, Clean It, Separate It (with explanation of each)
  • Poultry Thawing Tips
    Poultry can be thawed in the refrigerator (the safest), in cold water or in the microwave. Never defrost on the counter. Once thawed, refrigerate until it is ready to be cooked. If thawed in microwave, poultry should be cooked immediately. Turkey side note: A whole turkey takes about 24 hours per 4 to 5 lbs to thaw in refrigerator. In cold water, changed every 30 minutes, takes about 30 minutes per pound to thaw. Keep turkey refrigerated at 40 degrees F until ready to be cooked.
  • Eggs
    The risk of getting a food borne illness from eggs is very low. In the rare event that an egg contains bacteria, you can reduce the risk by proper chilling and eliminate it by proper cooking. Discard eggs that are unclean, cracked, or leaking and use good hygiene practices, including properly washing your hands.

Egg Nutrition Chart & Nutrition Facts

  • One egg has 13 essential nutrients in varying amounts – including the highest quality protein, choline, foliate, iron and zinc – for only 75 calories. Eggs play a role in weight management, muscle strength, healthy pregnancy, brain function, eye health and more.

Chicken Nutrition Chart & Nutrition Facts

  • Chicken is a significant source of daily requirements of protein, niacin, B-6, B-12, vitamin D, iron and zinc. It's lower in fat and calories than most protein sources. White meat is lower in fat and calories than dark meat, but dark meat supplies more iron – a crucial nutrient, especially for women.

Turkey Nutrition Chart & Nutrition Facts

  • Turkey has lower calories and more protein than beef or pork. It provides the opportunity for quick meal preparation, and blends well with other meat for a delicious taste.

Did You Know?

Chicken is a significant source of daily requirements of protein, niacin, B-6, B-12, vitamin D, iron and zinc.