Two Research Projects on Processing Completed

by 5m Editor
22 July 2009, at 7:37am

US - US Poultry & Egg Association has announced the completion of two research projects: intelligent automated transfer of live birds to the shackle line, and preparing value-added products from slaughterhouse poultry blood.

The projects are part of the Association's comprehensive research programme encompassing all phases of poultry and egg production and processing. Summaries of the two projects are shown below.

Intelligent Automated Transfer of Live Birds to Shackle Line

Project 631 was carried out by Kok-Meng Lee, PhD (The George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology), Bruce Webster, PhD (Department of Poultry Science, University of Georgia), Gary McMurray (Food Processing Technology Division, Georgia Tech Research Institute) and Richard J. Buhr, PhD (USDA-ARS, Russell Research Center, Athens).

This report – "Continuation of Automated Chicken Processing Research" – covers the funding period November 2006 to May 2009 on the project entitled 'Intelligent Automated Transfer of Live Birds to Shackle Line'. The project continued to make good progress in developing an automated system for transferring live birds from a moving conveyor belt to a moving shackle line.

The project team focused on three tasks:

  1. Develop methods to integrate/synchronise previously developed individual processes, which include singulating randomly oriented birds on an incoming conveyor, separating singulated birds to maintain uniform spacing, and body-grasping processes.
  2. Develop methods to integrate an electrical stunner in the humane transfer system.
  3. Design a prototype for the continuous handling of a large number of live birds for use in a field evaluation.

Specific research findings are briefly outlined as follows: The group investigated two preliminary-handler designs for integrating previously developed individual processes: singulating randomly oriented birds on an incoming conveyor and shackling both legs of the bird, with inverting/stunning/transferring of the bird to a moving kill-line; multi-conveyor preliminary handler and sensor-based active singulation. Experiments showed that birds react to motion-related changes as they move from one conveyor to the next. Although birds 'rehabitualise' when they experience more than one handling, the multi-conveyor system takes up excessive room space. To minimise the number of conveyors and the undesirable bird reaction, an active singulation algorithm was developed which estimates the spacing between two incoming birds with line-scan sensors which control bird arrival.

Motivated by the desire to eliminate wing-flapping due to free-fall inversion, the group compared two classes of designs to integrate electrical stunning immediately after the bird legs are shackled. In the first, birds are cradled while undergoing electrical stunning and neck-cut or decapitation before being transferred to the moving kill line shackles. The second design bases its principle on an earlier version patented by Georgia Tech (US Patent 7,134,956) except that birds are shackled on a separate track. Tests with live birds confirmed the concept feasibility of body-supported inversion to eliminate wing flapping.

The interest to shorten the time for technology transfer from laboratory prototype to shop-floor implementation led us to direct our efforts towards designing a human-assisted sensor-based live-bird transfer system. It is based on the second design which offers two major advantages of low-cost and high-throughput. Through realistic simulation, the prototype design for continuous handling of large numbers of live birds has been numerically demonstrated. We have also formed a team with several equipment companies (Georgia Mechatronics LLC previously InControl Inc., Banner, Turck, Stober and Fuji) to seek additional funding from the Georgia FoodPAC to design and fabricate an industrial-hardened prototype for experiments with large numbers of birds.

Preparing Value-Added Products from Slaughterhouse Poultry Blood

Project 642 was undertaken by Sundaram Gunasekaran, Ph.D. and Hailin Lin, Ph.D. of the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Animal blood-based adhesives were first developed in 1930s. A serious limitation of such efforts is that fresh whole blood should be dried first by spray-drying, which is an energy-intensive process. The researchers wanted to develop a method of making poultry blood-based adhesive using fresh blood direct from poultry slaughter houses.

The objectives of the research were to:

  1. make adhesives from fresh poultry blood, and
  2. evaluate their physico-chemical and adhesive strength properties.

Fresh poultry blood, direct from slaughter houses, can be used to prepare adhesive by chemical (alkali) modification. However, adhesion strength of poultry blood adhesive is rather low compared to synthetic glue and glues made from fresh blood of other animal species, e.g., cow and pig. The adhesion strength of all glues decreased more than 50 per cent when they were tested in wet conditions (after high-temperature curing). However, the decrease in adhesion strength was the lowest for poultry blood adhesive compared to other adhesives tested. The adhesion strength of poultry blood adhesive can be improved by adding solids such as soybean powder and sawdust. However, improved adhesion strength values are still below the corresponding values of control adhesives. As such, poultry blood adhesive may be suitable for applications where strong adhesion strength is not important – for temporary bonding and bonding that would be easily removed, etc.

Further investigation with some synthetic polymer blends can be investigated to improve the adhesion strength of poultry blood adhesives to a point where it may be commercially feasible for wood furniture and house construction industries.