The poultry industry in itself forms one of the largest industries in the United States It is claimed that the total value even exceeds that of the annual wheat crop in the United States.
From the meat retailer’s standpoint, however, poultry is not as important as it is to the farmer, as only a certain amount of poultry is marketed through the retail meat market.
From the past available statistics, the annual per capita consumption of poultry is 5.41 pounds. The amount of poultry which is marketed through the retail meat market is unknown.
Market Grades of Poultry
Grades of poultry have been defined in the United States Deapartment of Agriculture Farmer’s Bulletin No. 1337:
“Two grades for each of the various classes of dressed poultry are commonly made. The better grade includes those birds which are in good condition of flesh, clean, well-dressed, and comparatively free from pin feathers and tears of the skin. The lower grade includes birds which are in thin flesh, poorly dressed, pinfeathery, hump-backed, or have torn or bruised skin. Culls are birds inferior to both of these grades.
“The following market grades of dressed poultry are in common use and some or all of them will be found in every important market :”
Broilers are immature chickens, usually young males, weighing from i to 21 lbs. each or 9 to 30 lbs. to the dozen. The lighter weights are sometimes quoted as squab broilers.
Fryers are immature chickens which, as a rule, weigh from 2j to 31 lbs. each, or 30 to 42 lbs. to a box of 1 doz. birds.
Young chickens which weigh 4 lbs. or over are usually called roasters. A box of one doz. will weigh 48 to 60 lbs. or more, net.
Sometimes young males which have matured to some extent, show spur development, and have begun to get stringy and hard in flesh are termed stags. Stags are less desirable and bring a lower price than soft-fleshed chickens.
Springs or Springers
Springs is a term commonly used to designate all young stock hatched during the preceding spring and early summer. In a more restricted sense the term is sometimes used to designate a class of chickens corresponding to fryers.
Capons are unsexed male chickens. When marketed at an age of 7 to 10 months they weigh from 5 to 10 lbs. each and still retain their softness of flesh. The heavier capons are usually quoted at a higher price than the lighter capons. Slips are birds which have been caponized but on which the operation was not completely successful. The price of slips is considerably below that of capons.
Fowls are mature females and are generally divided into several grades, according to the weight per dozen or per fowl.
Old cocks are mature males. They have entirely lost their softness of flesh and consititute one of the lowest-priced classes of poultry. Sometimes they are quoted under the class of old roosters.
Ducks are often quoted as such without any other distinction. At certain times of the year, however, spring or “green” ducklings are commonly quoted. These may be young ducks which have been grown and fattened quickly (10 to 12 weeks). They may include also young ducks hatched in the spring and marketed early in the fall. The green ducklings produced on Long Island have become widely known and are quoted on the New York market as “Long Island ducklings.”
Geese are commonly quoted simply as such, though occasion-ally “green geese,” that is, young geese quickly grown and fattened for market, are separately quoted. Young birds may also be quoted as young geese. The actual condition of geese influences the price greatly and specially fattened geese usually bring a special price. Mongrel geese, a name applied to birds produced by crossing the wild gander on domestic geese, are particularly favored. on the Boston market, and often bring a premium of 10 cents per lb. Wisconsin “noodled” (fattened by feeding noodles) generally command a substantial premium.
When different classes and grades of turkeys are quoted they are commonly designated as young hens and toms, also as old hens and old toms. Young turkeys are quoted highest, while old hens are salable at a higher price than old toms.
Guineas are sold largely as a substitute for game. They are commonly quoted by the pair, and occasionally by the dozen. At certain seasons, guinea broilers, that is, young guineas, may be quoted in the market. In some markets guineas are called “keets” or “guinea keets.”
Squabs are young pigeons which are marketed just as they are ready to leave the nest but before they have begun to fly, and usually are from 3 to 4 weeks old. At this age they retain their softness of flesh and “baby” fat. They are commonly quoted by the doz. and grades are based upon their weight per doz. and upon their color. The best grades run 10 to 12 lbs. per doz. The most desirable squabs are light in color.
Pigeons are commonly sold by the pair but may be quoted by the dozen.
In practically all classes of dressed poultry the grades are based upon the weight of the birds, either per doz. (the number commonly packed to a box) or the weight per bird.