How The Government Weighs A Chicken

§ 201.108-1 Instructions for weighing live poultry or feed.

Live poultry dealers who operate scales on which live poultry or feed is weighed for purposes of purchase, sale, acquisition, or settlement are responsible for the accurate weighing of such poultry or feed. They shall supply copies of the instructions in this section to all persons who perform weighing operations for them and direct such persons to familiarize themselves with the instructions and to comply with them at all times. This section shall also apply to any additional weighers who are employed at any time. Weighers must acknowledge their receipt of these instructions and agree to comply with them by signing in duplicate, a form provided by the Packers and Stockyards Programs, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration. One copy of this form is to be filed with a regional office of the Packers and Stockyards Programs, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration and the other copy retained by the Agency employing the weighers. The following instructions shall be applicable to the weighing of live poultry on all scales, except that paragraph (c)(1) of this section is only applicable to the weighing of live poultry on vehicle scales.

(a) Balancing the empty scale.

(1) The scale must be maintained in zero balance at all times. The empty scale must be balanced each day before weighing begins and thereafter the scale must be balanced; and the zero balance, the time and date the empty scale was balanced must be mechanically printed on the scale ticket or other basic transaction record before any poultry or feed is weighed. In addition, the zero balance of the scale must be verified whenever a weigher resumes weighing duties after an absence from the scale.

(2) Before balancing the empty scale, the weigher shall notify parties outside the scale house of his/her intention and shall be assured that no persons or vehicles are in contact with the platform. When the empty scale is balanced and ready for weighing, the weigher shall so indicate by appropriate signal.

(3) Weighbeam scales shall be balanced by first seating each poise securely in its zero notch and then moving the balance ball to such position that a correct zero balance is obtained. A scale equipped with a balance indicator is correctly balanced when the indicator comes to rest in the center of the target area. A scale not equipped with a balance indicator is correctly balanced if the weighbeam, when released at the top or bottom of the trig loop, swings freely in the trig loop in such manner that it will come to rest at the center of the trig loop.

(4) Dial scales shall be balanced by releasing all drop weights and operating the balance ball or other balancing device to obtain a correct zero balance. The indicator must visibly indicate zero on the dial reading face and the ticket printer must record a correct zero balance. “Balance tickets” shall be filed with other scale tickets issued on that date.

(5) Electronic digital scales should be properly warmed up before use. In most cases it is advisable to leave the electric power on continuously. The zero balance shall be verified by recording the zero balance on a scale ticket. The main indicating element and the remote visual weight display shall indicate zero when the balance is verified. The proper procedure for balancing this type of scale will vary according to the manufacturer. Refer to the operator’s manual for specific instructions.

(6) A balance ball or other balancing device shall be operated only when balancing the empty scale and shall not be operated at any time or for any other purpose.

(b) Sensitivity control.

(1) A scale must be sensitive in response to platform loading if it is to yield accurate weights. It, therefore, is the duty of a weigher to assure himself that interferences, weighbeam friction, or other factors do not impair sensitivity. He shall satisfy himself, at least twice each day, that the scale is sufficiently sensitive, and, if the following requirements are not met, he must report the facts to his superior or employer immediately.

(2) A weighbeam scale with a balance indicator is sufficiently sensitive if, when the scale is balanced with the indicator at the center of the target, movement of the fractional poise one graduation will change the indicator rest point (1/4) inch (0.25) or the width of the central target area, whichever is greater.

(3) A weighbeam scale without a balance indicator is sufficiently sensitive if, when the scale is balanced with the weighbeam at the center of the trig loop, movement of the fractional poise two graduations will cause the weighbeam to come to rest at the bottom of the trig loop.

(4) Adjustable damping devices are incorporated in balance indicators and in dial scales to absorb the effects of load impact and to bring the indicator to rest. The weigher must be familiar with the location and adjustment of these damping devices and keep them so adjusted that when the indicator isdisplaced from a position of rest, it will oscillate freely through at least one complete cycle of movement before coming to rest at its original position.

(5) Friction at weighbeam bearings may reduce the sensitiveness of the scale, cause sluggish weighbeam action and affect weighing accuracy. A weigher must inspect the weighbeam assembly daily to make certain that there is clearance between the weighbeam and the pivot bearings.

(6) Interferences or binding of the scale platform, or other “live” parts of the scale, are common causes of weighing inaccuracy. A weigher shall satisfy himself, at the beginning of each weighing period, that all such “live” parts have sufficient clearance to prevent interference.

(c) Weighing the load.

(1) Vehicle scales used to weigh live poultry shall be of sufficient length and capacity to weigh an entire vehicle as a unit; provided, that a trailer may be uncoupled from a tractor and weighed as a single unit. Before weighing a vehicle, either coupled or uncoupled, the weigher shall be assured that the entire vehicle is on the scale platform and that no persons are on the scale platform.

(i) On a weighbeam scale with a balance indicator the weight of a vehicle shall be determined by moving the poises to such positions that the indicator will come to rest within the central target area.

(ii) On a weighbeam scale without a balance indicator the weight shall be determined by moving the poises to such positions that the weighbeam, when released from the top or bottom of the trig loop, will swing freely in the trig loop and come to rest at the approximate center of the trig loop.

(iii) On a dial scale the weight of a vehicle is indicated automatically when the indicator revolves around the dial face and comes to rest.

(iv) On an electronic digital scale the weight of a vehicle is indicated automatically when the weight value indicated is stable.

(v) A feed hopper attached to an electronic digital scale must be empty of feed and the electronic digital scale must be balanced at zero prior to first weighment for each grower or per truckload, whichever is applicable. The date and time that the empty hopper scale is balanced with proof of the zero balance must be mechanically printed on the scale ticket or other permanent record that must be attached to the grower’s copy of the scale ticket.

(vi) An onboard weighing system must be level and locked in position and zero balanced prior to weighing. The date and time the onboard scale is balanced with proof of the zero balance must be mechanically printed on the scale ticket or other permanent record that must be attached to the grower’s copy of the scale ticket. When more than one grower’s feed is weighed, the preceding grower’s gross weight can be used for the next grower’s tare weight, and can be repeated until the unit is full.

(2) The correct weight is the value in pounds indicated by a weighbeam, dial or digital scale when a stable load balance is obtained. In any case, the weigher should concentrate on the beam tip, balance indicator, dial or digital indicator while weighing and not be concerned with reading the visible weight indications until a stable load balance is obtained. On electronic digital scales, the weigher should concentrate on the pulsing or flickering of weight values to assure that the unit indicates a stable weight before activating the print button.

(d) Recording the weight.

(1) The gross or tare weight shall be recorded immediately after the load balance is obtained and before any poises are moved or load removed from the scale platform. The weigher shall make certain that the printed weight record agrees with the weight value visibly indicated on the weighbeam, dial or digital indicator when correct load balance is obtained. The weigher shall also assure that the printed weight value is sufficiently distinct and legible.

(2) The weight printing device on a scale shall be operated only to produce a printed or impressed record of the weight while the load is on the scale and correctly balanced. If the weight is not printed clearly and correctly, the ticket shall be marked void and a new one printed before the load is removed from the scale.

(3) When returned feed from a contract poultry grower is picked up andweighed on an onboard weighing system, the weight of the feed must be recorded and a ticket printed. That weight must be used as the tare weight when feed from another contract poultry grower is picked up on the same load. The procedure must be followed each time another grower’s feed is added to the load.

(e) Weigher’s responsibilities.

(1) The primary responsibility of a weigher is to determine and record the true weight of live poultry without prejudice or favor to any person or agency and without regard for poultry ownership, price, condition, shrink, or other considerations. A weigher shall not permit the representations or attitudes of any persons or agencies to influence their judgment or action in performing his/her duties.

(2) Accurate weighing and weight recording require that a weigher shall not permit operations to be hurried to the extent that inaccurate weights or incorrect weight records may result. The gross, tare and net weights must be determined accurately to the nearest minimum graduation. Manual operations connected with balancing, weighing, and recording shall be performed with the care necessary to prevent damage to the accurately machined and adjusted parts of weighbeams, poises, and printing devices. Rough handling of these parts shall be avoided.

(3) Poultry growers, live poultry dealers, sellers, or others having legitimate interest in a load of poultry are entitled to observe the balancing, weighing, and recording procedures. A weigher shall not deny such persons that right or withhold from them any information pertaining to the weight. The weigher shall check the zero balance of the scale or reweigh a load of poultry when requested by such parties or duly authorized representatives of the administrator.

(f) General precautions.

(1) The poises of weighbeam scales are carefully adjusted and sealed to a definite weight at the factory and any change in that weight seriously affects weighing accuracy. A weigher, therefore, shall observe if poise parts are broken, loose or lost or if material is added to a poise and shall report any such condition to his/her superior or employer. Balancing or weighing shall not be performed while a scale ticket is in the slot of a weighbeam poise.

(2) Stops are provided on scale weighbeams to prevent movement of poises back of the zero graduation when balancing or weighing. When the stops become worn or broken and allow a poise to be set behind the zero position, this condition must be reported by the weigher to their superior or employer and corrected without delay.

(3) Motion detection circuits are a part of electronic scales. They are designed to prevent the printing of weight values if the load has not stabilized within prescribed limits. The weighmaster’s duty is to print the actual weight of the load within these limits. This requires printing the actual weight of the load, not one of the other weights that may be within the motion detection limits.

(4) Foreign objects or loose material in the form of nuts, bolts, washers, or other material on any part of the weighbeam assembly, including the counter-balance hanger or counter-balance weights, are potential sources of weighing error. Loose balancing material must be enclosed in the shot cup of the counter-balance hanger and counter-balance weights must not be of the slotted type which can readily be removed.

(5) Whenever, for any reason, a weigher has reason to believe that a scale is not functioning properly or not yielding correct weight values, the weigher shall discontinue weighing, report the facts to the parties responsible for scale maintenance and request inspection, test or repair of the scale.

(6) When a scale has been adjusted, modified, or repaired in any manner which can affect the accuracy of weighing or weight recording, the weigher shall not use the scale until it has been tested and inspected and found to be accurate.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 0580-0015)

[37 FR 4955, Mar. 8, 1972, as amended at 61 FR 36282, July 10, 1996; 68 FR 75388, Dec. 31, 2003; 78 FR 51664, Aug. 21, 2013]

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Chickens: The Basic Difference Between Broilers, Fryers, and Roasters

Get to Know Your Chickens

Broilers: Chickens 6 to 8 weeks old and weighing about 2 1/2 pounds

Fryers: Chickens 6 to 8 weeks old and weighing 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds

Roasters: Chickens less than 8 months old and weighing 3 1/2 to 5 pounds

Stewing Chickens: Chickens (usually hens) over 10 months old and weighing 5 to 7 pounds

Capons: Castrated males that weigh 6 to 8 pounds

Cock/Rooster: Male chickens over 10 months old weighing 6 to 8 pounds

Broilers, Fryers & Roasters

Broilers, fryers, and roasters can generally be used interchangeably based on how much meat you think you’ll need. They are young chickens raised only for their meat, so they are fine to use for any preparation from poaching to roasting. You may need to adjust cooking times or amounts of other ingredients (like stuffing) based on what the recipe called for and the size of your chicken.

Stewing Chickens

Stewing chickens are usually laying hens that have passed their prime. They are older and their meat is usually tougher and more stringy. This type of chicken is best used in stews (as the name implies!) where the meat has time to break down during the long, moist cooking.


Since they’ve been castrated, capons don’t develop in the normal way of a hormone-crazy chicken teenager. They grow more slowly and put on more body fat. Because of this, their meat is more tender and flavorful than that of any other chicken of the same weight. Capons are great for roasting but can also be used for braises and poaching.

Cocks & Roosters

Roosters are tough old birds with low body fat and lean, ropey muscles. They’re rarely found in chain grocery stores, but can be found in specialty markets and many Asian markets. Like stewing chickens, roosters are best used in slow cooked stews and braises, like the traditional Coq au Vin.

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Chickin Sticker Shock

(Yes, I know how to spell Chicken, but that is no fun.)

I am rethinking the value of my little flock. To replace the chicks I paid $3.65 each for last year will cost $4.99 each this year. Both prices are for 25+ chicks. That would be over $125 for 25 day old chicks that cost around $95 last year. That is a 25%+ increase. Can’t wait to see if the price of feed jumps.

There is probably an increase in demand and operating costs for a couple of reasons. Millions of laying hens were destroyed last year over the bird flu hysteria created by 35 reported cases. Your government is protecting you. There is also an increasing demand for local and backyard flocks for food independence and security. Some people are protecting themselves.

The over reaction to the minor threat of bird flu has also increased operational costs to hatcheries. Hatcheries have to be able to certify their flocks are bird flu free to maintain customer confidence in the product. Certifying that condition requires an extensive regime of inspections, precautionary treatments and operational restrictions in handling the birds.

The Bio-Security guidelines for keeping a flock bird-flu and disease free are ridiculously extreme. Essentially you have to treat your flock like a bubble-boy. That kinda throws the whole free range concept in the toilet.

Interesting is how all this works to the advantage of justifying centralized control of food sourcing and production. All this over 35 sick birds.

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