What Is a Chicken Plant?

Chicken plants process and package poultry for human consumption.
Plate of raw chicken gizzards.
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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2014
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A chicken plant is a type of meat plant that produces chicken meat suitable for human consumption. Chicken meat is the most popular type of poultry in the world, and it is consumed by many different cultures around the globe. Nearly every part of a chicken is edible including the muscle tissues, gizzards, heart, and liver. In some cultures, chicken feet are also widely consumed.

Chickens that come from a chicken plant are mechanically slaughtered, feathered, de-beaked, and then separated into various portions of chicken meat. Upon arrival at a chicken plant, live chickens are sent directly to a killing floor where they are beheaded. Following this process, beheaded chickens are then dropped into a large vat of boiling water in order to remove feathers. Finally, they are sent to different packaging and processing stations inside of a chicken plant where the chicken meat is separated according to meat type.

In the United Kingdom, young chickens, known as poussins, are considered a delicacy. Within North America, chickens are sold as fryers, broilers, and roasters. Fryers are generally smaller in size than roasters of broilers, since chickens do not take too much time to reach the adequate shape and size of a fryer chicken. Chicken may also be sold in various pieces across the world. Nearly every culture has a different way of preparing chicken meat.


While most supermarkets around the world sell chickens that come directly from a chicken plant, there are other options available. Purchasing chicken meat from local farmers is the best way to ensure fresh meat. Frequently, factory farmed chickens are given 4-Hydroxy-3-nitrobenzenearsonic acid, which is a type of organic arsenic. This arsenic is ingested by chickens, which, in turn, becomes part of a chicken's flesh.

Based upon this knowledge, there has been considerable debate surrounding the safety of factory farmed chicken. Within the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not found enough arsenic within factory farmed chicken meat to cause alarm, though the FDA does admit that arsenic is present. Those who are opposed to consuming factory farmed chicken meat claim that organically farmed meat is a better option.

Many organic farmers do not use any kind of arsenic-based acid when feeding their chickens. Organic farming techniques produce chicken meat that does not contain any contaminants. However, not all organic farmers follow these guidelines, which is why it's important to speak with an organic farmer prior to purchasing chicken meat.


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