Poultry To Get High-Tech Boost from ScienceBy
Poultry farmers, processors and consumers stand to benefit from new
technologies under development by researchers at the
Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural
Research Center (BARC), part of USDA's
Agricultural Research Service.
At the center's Poultry Field Day on Oct. 7, ARS scientists
discussed their latest technologies for improving poultry health,
production and processing, including:
- An experimental meat tenderizing process called hydrodyne. The
approach uses shockwaves that instantly soften muscle tissue in
packaged, boneless chicken breast meat submerged in a chamber of
water. Now, the broiler industry must first age breast meat on the
carcass for 4 to 7 hours, increasing storage, labor and
- A process for making air filters, diaper absorbents and other
non-woven pulp or paper products using keratin fiber from chicken
feathers. Why feathers? More than 2 billion pounds are produced
annually, creating a solid waste disposal problem for poultry
plants. Fiber-based products would open new markets that could raise
the feathers' worth.
- A patented, edible gel vaccine that newborn chicks eat to
immunize themselves against avian coccidiosis, an intestinal disease
caused by single-celled protozoa of the species Eimeria.
Coccidiosis costs poultry farmers about $350 million annually in
losses and treatment. New alternatives are sought because of Eimeria's
increasing resistance to anticoccidial drugs like salinomycin.
- An automated poultry inspection system. The system uses special
cameras and imaging techniques to spot chicken carcasses with signs
of disease or other defects at the slaughter house. BARC studies
show the system can distinguish unwholesome birds from acceptable
ones at a commercial rate of about 90 per minute with 96 to 100
percent accuracy. This could be a boon to industry, which processes
more than 7 billion chickens annually.