4 Factors for Creating an Effective Holding Area

The holding area is the first of three phases during poultry processing. Although each step is very different, they are all equally important to maximizing yield. A successful holding area keeps the birds comfortable before processing and prepares them for all subsequent steps.  

“Maximizing yield by following the proper steps during processing is the difference between an average and outstanding returns,” said David Beavers, Technical Processing Specialist at Cobb. “Cobb is committed to providing the best broiler stock for our customers, but we also want to help them get the most out of their purchases.”

Below, Beavers outlines four main factors that create an effective holding area and help maximize yield – environment, time, design and measurement:

Holding Environment

Holding areas provide broilers with cool, well-ventilated spaces that block exposure to direct sunlight. This environment protects the birds’ welfare and eliminates several causes of yield loss:
  • Thermal stress: Thermal stress, or overheating, is the main issue because it directly contributes to live shrink and rate of Dead on Arrival (DOA) birds. Combat thermal stress by using high-speed fans to remove heat and create a cooling wind for the birds.
  • Live shrink: Live shrink is the amount of body weight that birds will lose from the time they arrive at the plant until they are processed. It is caused by thermal stress or excessive holding times. Shrink loss should never be more than .5 percent per bird. If birds shrink too much, they will create problems further down the line.
  • DOA: Research shows that thermal stress causes approximately 40 percent of all DOAs. This includes DOAs during transportation and holding time at the plant. To comply with industry standards, the percent of DOA birds must not exceed .25 percent.

Holding Time

Holding time is part of a comprehensive plan that includes transportation as well as plant operations. The best results are those that have the shortest holding time at the plant. Unless otherwise specified, plants should aim for a holding time of two hours or less. 

Holding Area Design

There are two main types of holding areas – Lairage, where birds are unloaded on arrival, and Holding Sheds, where birds remain on trailers until the next phase. Both designs are very effective at controlling temperature, ventilation and sunlight and keeping the birds comfortable. 

Measuring and Monitoring

Loss in the holding area is controllable, just like any other stage of processing. Whether plants measure each load or conduct seasonal tests, ongoing monitoring is necessary to track results and identify problem areas. Visual inspection is another invaluable method for tracking birds’ performance and welfare on the fly.  Follow these steps to preserve the broilers’ volume, maximize yield and increase returns. For more information about maximizing yield through each step of poultry processing, download our guide to Achieving High Yields.



Related Articles

Brooding - Temperature management

Correct litter and ambient temperatures are vital to ensure chick activity. Pre-heating is important

Managing 21st Century Birds

Every year, we strive to bring innovative solutions to every facet of the poultry industry, includin

Brooding - 5 essentials

By providing chicks with the right environment and nutrition during the brooding period — the first

Brooding - Ventilation management

This is the 3rd of our five essentials series of articles. All five brooding essentials are equally

How to give chicks the best start in the brooding period

The brooding period – the first 14 days of the broiler’s life – is the most sensitive period because

Water Management in Broiler Flocks

Water management is one of the most crucial components in a top-performing broiler flock. Broilers h

Good feather cover for optimising energy use

More than 8,000 feathers cover broilers although their number differ by breed and genetic line. Feat

Brooding – Feed Management

Chicks need special care as they transition from the incubator to the rearing house. It is imperativ

Choice of Ventilation Key Decision in Any New Project

In hot summer weather house design becomes critical in ensuring optimal airflow for the cooling and

Brooding – Key Performance Indicators

The brooding period – the first 14 days of the broiler’s life – is the most important stage because

The Importance of Ventilation in Broiler Management

Broilers should easily achieve their economic and genetic potential when they live in a specifically

Cold Weather Preparation

Today’s broilers have huge genetic potential and can reach their target body weight sooner and on le

Brooding - Light management

Light intensity is not always seen as an important factor in brooding, yet it is. Chick activity dur

Designing Ventilation and Airflow to Optimize Bird Comfort

When designing a modern broiler house the first question one considers is the optimum floor area for

Brooding - Water management

The following is the fourth of our five essentials series of articles. All five brooding essentials

How To Optimize Feed Intake in Young Broilers

Getting broiler chicks eating early pays dividends in the long term. Today, feed accounts for up to

Brooding – Pre-Placement Checklist

The key to successful broiler rearing starts with having a systematic and efficient management progr

Brooding – Post-Placement Checklist

After chicks arrive, use this checklist to ensure that chicks have the feed and water they need to a

How to Establish Water Purity for Broiler Management

Water is an essential nutrient that impacts virtually all physiological functions; and good water qu

Countering Early Losses in Chick Condition

Chick quality varies from chick pullout to farm placement due to procedures such as vaccination, qua

The Importance Of Appetite Development In Young Broilers

Appetite development is the most important priority for every broiler grower during the first 72-96

Mobile App

Get the Mobile App

Available on Google play and the App Store