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Carcass balance means making the very best use of all the component parts of a chicken. Marel's expertise helps processors use every possible piece of the chicken.


Marel’s in-line technology, involving the automatic transfer of the drawn viscera pack to a separate pack processing line, has in the meantime become the industry standard. Marel offers market-leading flexibility in both how the pack is processed and the degree to which the process is automated. All will depend on demands from the local market and the cost and availability of labour. If cost-effective labour is abundantly available, all giblets can be harvested manually.

Automated giblet harvesting
Marel’s pack process starts with the PGI system, to remove intestines, which hang down and away from the rest of the viscera pack, and gall bladder. It is important to know that lungs and heart are situated above the pack clamp, with the liver and gizzard below the clamp. Now the PLH machine harvests the liver that, until then, partly covered the gizzard. Next, the HLH system can harvest the ‘disclosed’ gizzard below the camp and simultaneously unloads the lungs and heart. These proceed to the HLS where they are separated, while the gizzards enter the MG-150 for processing.

Around the world, livers are the most popular poultry giblets for human consumption. Chicken liver pate springs readily to mind. The entire process, from evisceration to liver harvesting, aims to prevent any liver damage. This is vital for both yield and quality. That is why Marel’s PLH liver harvester executes its job with great precision.

In the automated giblet process, hearts are treated with great care. This is not without reason. In Brazil, hearts are so popular with consumers that this small organ is the most valuable part of a chicken. In other markets, hearts find their way into pet food.

For processors selling lungs to pet food manufacturers, the main benefit of the HLH system is that the whole esophagus remains with the gizzard. As any esophageal material attached to the lungs is unwanted by pet food manufacturers, this must be removed manually beforehand, a fiddly and difficult job. With an HLH module in the line, this is no longer necessary.


In many markets of the world, gizzards are a delicacy, popular with consumers. Where gizzards are not sold for human consumption, they are usually sold to pet food manufacturers. Marel gizzard harvesting systems, such as the MG-150, have a long successful history and are a common sight in processing plants across the globe. Gizzard fat at some 10 grams [0.35 oz] per bird is also a potentially valuable input product for other industries, which can earn processors additional revenue. Marel can now offer a solution to harvest this fat automatically.

Finding the most profitable home for all edible internal organs is not the whole story when aiming for optimum carcass balance. Heads, feet, necks and abdominal leaf fat can all fetch good prices. In some markets, heads are sold as a product for human consumption. In these markets, heads should be cut off cleanly without attached feed and windpipes. For these situations, Marel has introduced its new Head Cutter. This is installed after an electrical or controlled atmosphere stunning system and kills birds by decapitating them. The machine has several additional advantages. It operates at high line speeds, currently 15,000 bph [250 bpm], is technically simpler than the Head and Trachea Puller it replaces, will cost less to own and, importantly, gives additional neck and neck skin yield.

Chicken feet are a particular delicacy in Far Eastern markets such as China. Processors selling feet to these markets will want to ensure that damage to feet during the preceding plucking process is kept to an absolute minimum. For such processors, Marel offers a package consisting of a special plucking line-up and a longer shackle to hold feet better and prevent them from swinging. Other equipment provided by Marel to optimize the performance of the feet process is the Tarsal Joint Incision module and an anatomic Paw Cutter.

The neck is a particular delicacy in Asian and some African cuisine. Unlike the other items, which are all collected during the primary process, necks can be cut off in an ACM-NT cutup system. If so, the system can include a module designed to optimize neck yield without risking contaminating breast skin with crop skin and crop fat.

Other by-products
Abdominal leaf fat can be removed warm in the evisceration department or chilled in the ACM-NT cut-up system. Both processes are fully automatic. If there is a market for cloacas, gizzard skin or pre-stomachs, these components can all be harvested, albeit manually.

Achieving optimum carcass balance means that a processing plant is operating at truly optimum efficiency. To help processors achieve this, Marel offers a uniquely wide range of techniques and equipment.

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