Fact Checked

What is a Chicken Plant?

Harriette Halepis
Harriette Halepis

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.

Plate of raw chicken gizzards.
Plate of raw chicken gizzards.

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.

Chicken plants process and package poultry for human consumption.
Chicken plants process and package poultry for human consumption.

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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Discussion Comments


I worked at a chicken plant when I first moved down here, and I can see why there is a lot of employee turnover. Most of the rooms are kept refrigerated below 45 degrees, so I had to wear several layers of clothing to keep warm. Almost everything is done on an assembly line, and it moves really fast. It took everything I had just to keep up the pace.

I really have no complaints about the general cleanliness of the plant or the handling of the chickens themselves. I would still eat the products that came out of that poultry processing plant. I just couldn't see myself doing that kind of work for the rest of my life. Some people had been working there for over 25 years, but I think they were promoted out of some of the more demanding entry-level jobs.


There are a few large chicken plants in my area, and the local newspapers almost have listings for chicken plant jobs. Every so often, these plants will get raided by federal immigration officers and about a third to half of the workforce will be deported to their home countries. The problem is that most of these workers who get deported were the employees who worked the hardest. The company is always having to train new employees while trying to keep up with existing orders. I wouldn't want to manage a poultry processing plant these days, that's for sure.

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    • Plate of raw chicken gizzards.
      Plate of raw chicken gizzards.
    • Chicken plants process and package poultry for human consumption.
      By: picsfive
      Chicken plants process and package poultry for human consumption.