BACKGROUND 
Poultry is defined as birds raised to provide meat and eggs for human consumption. Chickens, ducks and turkeys are the most common kinds of poultry. Each person in the United States eats, on average, about 64 pounds of poultry each year. Of those 64 pounds, about 83 percent is chicken. The other 17 percent is turkey.  It’s thought the chickens common in the U.S. today were brought by Spanish explorers around the 1550s. On Columbus’ second voyage, he brought hens to supply the crew with meat and eggs on their journey, and many English settlers brought chickens with them to the New World. All were added to American flocks and, by the early 1600s, many settlers had flocks of chickens to feed their families.  Over the past 100 years, poultry production has grown from backyard flocks and small, local businesses into highly efficient family farms.  


PRODUCTION 
Poultry production consists of two parts; broiler production and egg production. Broiler production makes up most of the poultry industry in Louisiana and is the largest animal agricultural industry in the state

Egg Production 
Female chickens raised to produce eggs are called laying hens. They begin laying when they are about 20 to 22 weeks old. After eggs are laid, they are gathered either by hand or machine. A laying hen can produce between 260-300 eggs per year. Eggs are used in a variety of products including ice cream, cakes, cookies, and candy. 

Broiler Production 
Chickens raised for only their meat are called broilers or fryers. Broilers reach a harvest weight--about four and a half pounds--in about 42 days. The rapid growth of chickens, called pullets because they are less than a year old, is due to a controlled diet, good housing and careful attention to their health by the farmer. Broilers are raised in long, low houses approximately 43 feet by 500 feet or larger, usually equipped with heaters, cooling misters and other amenities to keep the birds comfortable year-round. It is possible for one poultry house to hold 100,000 birds at one time. One of the greatest values for the poultry industry is the fast food business. 


NUTRITION 
Chicken is an excellent source of complete protein and contains no carbohydrates. The liver is a good source of vitamin A and B vitamins. A short fibered meat, chicken is highly digestible. When is compared to other meats, lean chicken has a lower fat content. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and supply the body with a wide array of minerals and vitamins.


PROCESS

  1. Primary Breeders—Develop strains of poultry for best meat and efficient feed conversion.

  2. Feed Mills—Create food for different stages of growth in poultry.

  3. Breeders—Chicks raised to adults. Produce fertile hatching eggs.

  4. Hatchery—Hatches eggs in incubators that maintain temperature and humidity.

  5. Grow out Ranches—Raise newly hatched chicks to market weight. 

  6. Processing Plants—Birds are harvested and USDA inspected.

  7. Further Processing—Whole chicken is further processed by breading, marinating, or cooking.

  8. Transportation & Marketing—Products are transported in refrigerated trucks to stores and restaurants. 

**Refer to California Ag in the Classroom for graphic examples
https://learnaboutag.org/resources/fact/poultry.pdf


TERMS TO KNOW

  • Air Cell - Pocket of air formed at the large end of the egg between the shell membranes that increases in size with age. This is caused by the contraction of the contents as the egg cools after laying.

  • Albumen - Translucent content of the egg that provides the major source of egg riboflavin and protein. It provides protein to the growing embryo and cushions the embryo during its development. It also protects against microbes.

  • Beard - The black lock of hair found on a male turkey’s chest 

  • Blastodisc - Location in which an embryo will develop if the egg is fertilized. If fertilized, it is called a blastoderm.

  • Broiler/Fryer - A chicken bred for meat. 

  • Caruncle/Comb - The red-pink fleshy growth on the head and upper neck of turkeys and chickens

  • Chalaza - Cord-like twisted strand in the albumen that anchors the yolk in the center of the egg

  • Chick - A baby chicken

  • Flock - A number of animals of one kind that keep or feed together or are herded together 

  • Gizzard - A part of a bird’s stomach that contains tiny stones, which helps them grind up food for digestion

  • Hen - Female chicken 

  • Incubator - A box which maintains a constant temperature and is used to hatch eggs 

  • Poult - A young turkey 

  • Pullet - A chicken less than a year old 

  • Rooster - A male chicken 

  • Shell - Outer covering of the egg, composed largely of calcium carbonate, that provides protection to the rest of the egg

  • Shell Membrane - Two paper-like membranes that are protective barriers against bacteria

  • Snood - The long, red fleshy growth from the base of the beak that hangs down over the beak of a turkey 

  • Tom - Male turkey

  • Wattle - A bright red appendage at the neck of a turkey 

  • Yolk - The yellow portion of the egg which is a major source of vitamins, minerals, and contains almost half of the egg’s protein 


RECIPE
Chicken Fricasse with Dumplings
Serves 6 to 8. 

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)

  • stalks celery, chopped (optional)

  • 1-1 ¼ quarts water

  • 2 to 3-pound broiler-fryer, cut up

  • 1 10-ounce can biscuits 

  • Salt and pepper to taste 

  • Hot cooked rice (optional)

  1. In a thick cast aluminum or heavy iron pot, heat oil; add flour and stir constantly until flour-oil mixture is slightly darker than a brown grocery bag.

  2. Remove from heat; stir in chopped onion, pepper and celery, if desired, stirring until transparent.

  3. Return to heat and add water.

  4. Heat to boiling; add chicken pieces, salt, and pepper. Simmer for about one hour.

  5. Cut canned biscuits in half; place on top of meat.

  6. Cook, covered, for another 25 minutes. Serve over rice.

Louisiana Farm Bureau Women Cookbook, Page 154
Submitted by Marie Bordelon of Avoyelles Parish