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Birds arrive at the plant in large cages with the Bright Cage Dump system used at Gold Kist Athens or small cages used with the Food-Craft system at Perdue ~ Dillon in 1995.

Hanging chickens is a hard, dirty task whether it be from small cages, ( Coops ) or off the belt with the Bright cage dump system. Air filtering, ventilation systems and large fan/cooling systems were to positively impact this area in the 90's.

The birds enter into a stunner that has a saline/water solution in a pan filled to a metal electrified drag plate to enhance the stun and keep the birds knocked out until the slaughter process is complete.

The birds then move into the automatic kill machine that slits both carotid arteries and allows for a rapid bleed out. Less than 2% of birds recover early from the stun or miss the stun entirely. They are hand slaughtered by a kill-machine back-up associate.

The birds are shown as they exit the scald tanks after a two to three minute hot scald to prepare the bird for the picking process.

Scald tanks are usually set at 127 to 130 degrees for the Perdue yellow-bird program. White-bird programs for fast food and deboning are usually at the 131 to 135-degree range.

Picking ~ Feather removal is literally beating the feathers off the birds with rubber fingers.

A hock cutter removes the bird carcass from the feet before entry into the rehang department on eviscerating lines.

The Eviscerating department ~ 1977 - Athens. The evisceration department was a labor intensive operation with as many as 120 employees needed to crew four 55 bird per minute lines. Automation from 1971 to the present eliminated many of these difficult eviscerating tasks.

Oil Bags are usually removed immediately after manual rehang or automatic transfer to the eviscerating lines.

Draw machines pull the viscera from the bird. It is left hanging by the attached stomach. The viscera package is placed on the left or right side to aid in automated machine efficiency and quality. Improper machine settings result in broken stomachs that allow intestinal contents into the breast carcass. Broken ribs from poor spoon adjustment can also result in major product downgrade.

Vent openers open the bird for drawing. Proper machine adjustments are needed to prevent cut-guts and vent fall-back, ------ Two main fecal contamination factors.

USDA trim/work stations with trim girls. Note the three birds hanging on the rack at the inspection station to the right. The middle bird is a cadaver. It was not slaughtered properly or entered into the scald tanks without proper slaughter. Cadavers are USDA condemned.

Liver harvest station. Line employees harvested the liver and heart ----- carefully assuring the gall sac is not left on the livers.

The Giblet area ~ Livers/hearts and Gizzards are inspected before moving to their separate chill systems.

Rehang onto various lines from the chiller. As many as four to six lines were run out of chiller rehang. A cutup line for heavy or downgrade birds, several USDA grade lines and several Plant A lines were standard.

A typical stainless steel 4-inch double debone line ~ 48 to 50 associates process up to 96 birds per minute on this double line ~ 36,000 pounds per hour.

The dreaded fast food circular saws ~ the most dangerous piece of equipment in a processing plant. Product was produced for KFC, Popeyes, Churches, Bojangles, Famous Recipes and others to a volume of over 1.5 million pounds per week. This was accomplished with manual saws and various automatic fast food machines from Dapec, Johnson and Automated Packaging.

Tender removal after completion of filleting process.

Fillets removed from front half of bird.

Mycom whole leg deboners for dark meat deboning. Amazing Japanese technology that removed 99.4% of the meat from the bone. Machines cost over $180,000 each. All Dothan product was deboned ~ white and dark meat.

Product staged for IQF ( individual quick frozen ). Usually wing portions, drumettes, thighs, drumsticks, fillets or tenders. This process of water glazing and quick freezing prevents freezing together of pieces in a bag.

Contamination salvage line. Birds with various quality issues were sent to this station. Includes fecal contamination washout with chlorine.

Breast fillet sizing on Marel sizers to 4; 6; 8; & 10 ounce portions for food service customers such as Chik-filet, Hardee's, Mrs. Winners, Roy Rogers and etc.

Cecil Buffington is the Chicken Plant Manager . . .

Breast frames, small back portions, out of shipping date product and other selected product were ground into chicken wiener fill or chub production. Perdue @ Dothan had the national Kroger chicken wiener account from 1994-2000. Mechanical Deboned Meat ( MDM ) was the most profitable item produced by Perdue Dothan in 1996 ~ 2000.

The Chicken Plant Manager presents a supervisory award in 1982 to fast food supervisor Karen Lockney. The Gold Kist Athens plant was the largest supplier of product to Corporate KFC stores in the United States from 1982 - 1989.

The Supreme Leader ~ Mr. Frank Perdue ~ ( left ). On a 1996 visit to Dothan, Alabama, the plant manager took over 1200 photographs of the Perdue Farms owner and CEO with plant associates. All were autographed later by Mr. Perdue and returned to the plant associates in Dothan. Working with Perdue Farms was the highlight of The Chicken Plant Manager's poultry career.

A Florida fishing expedition for the Chicken Plant Manager.

The Chicken Plant Manager presents the Gold Kist Athens 1986 Associate of the Year Award to Willie Meadows. Willie never missed a day of work during his 15 years with the company. He succumbed to cancer in 1988.

Mr. Gary Davis ( right ) was the leader ( Complex Manager ) at the new Perdue ~ White Bird Division in Dillon, South Carolina. In 1995 he made a vow to wear a placard all day and provide all the plant associates a dinner when the plant could achieve a 98.0% chain-speed for a full week. Chain-speed performance to goal had not been achieved up to that point. It was first accomplished in November of 1995. He was true to his word. Gary Davis is considered one of the top three managers from a competency standpoint the Chicken Plant Manager was associated with in his 33 years in poultry processing.