EFFECT OF SEX ON QUALITY
When birds of any kind are young, sex has very little to do
with the quality of the flesh. But as they grow older the flesh of males develops a stronger flavor than that of females of the same age and also becomes tougher. However, when birds, with the exception of
mature ones, are dressed, it would take an expert to determine the sex.
The mature male is less plump than the female, and it is more likely to be scrawny. Likewise, its spurs are larger and its bones are large
in proportion to the amount of flesh on them.
Very often the reproductive organs of young males are removed, and the birds are then called capons.
As the capon grows to maturity, it develops more of the qualities of the hen. Its body becomes plump instead of angular, the quality of its flesh is much better than that of the cock, and the quantity of flesh in proportion to bone is much greater. In fact, the weight of a capon's edible flesh is much greater than that of either a hen or a cock. In the market, a dressed capon can usually be told by the long tail and wing feathers that are left on, as well as by a ring of feathers around the neck.
Female birds that are spayed are called poulards. Spaying, or removing the reproductive organs, of female birds, however, makes so little
improvement that it is seldom done.
PREPARATION OF POULTRY FOR MARKET
The manner in which poultry is prepared for market has a great bearing on its quality as food. In some cases, the preparation falls to the producer, and often, when birds are raised in quantities, they are sold alive and dressed by the butcher. However, poultry that is to be shipped long distances and in large quantities or stored for long periods of time is usually prepared at a slaughtering place.
This process of slaughtering and shipping requires great care,
for if attention is not given to details, the poultry will be in a state of deterioration when it reaches the consumer and therefore unfit for food.
In order to avoid the deterioration of poultry that is slaughtered some distance from the place of its consumption, each bird is well fed up to within 24 hours before it is killed. Then it is starved so that its
alimentary tract will be as empty as possible at the time of killing.
Such birds are killed by cutting the large blood vessel running up to the head. When properly done, this method of killing allows almost all
the blood to be drained from the body and the keeping qualities are much improved.
At practically the same time, the brain is pierced by the knife thrust, and as soon as the bleeding commences the fowl becomes paralyzed. As the tissues relax, the feathers may be pulled easily from the skin without immersing the bird in hot water.
This method of plucking, known as dry plucking, is preferable when the skin must be kept intact and the poultry kept for any length of time. The head and feet are left on and the entrails are not removed. The poultry is then chilled to the freezing point, but not below it, after which the birds are packed ten in a box and shipped to the market in refrigerator cars or placed in cold storage.
Unless the poultry is to be cooked immediately after slaughter, such measures are absolutely necessary, as its flesh is perishable and will not remain in good condition for a long period of time.