Do you know Malaysia has one of the highest chicken comsumption per capita in the world?
My first internal audit fieldtrip to a chicken company came as a surprise to me. I was not expecting to count chicks/chicken in this first job of mine and also in the first month of work as an audit assistant.
So in the early morning of March 18, I travelled to a semi-rural town of Sitiawan (and Lumut), on the west coast of Perak state. I visited my client's feedmill, a broiler farm and a processing facility. Next time I would love to visit their breeder farms (mother hens) and hatcheries.
Here's what happened:
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Visiting the feedmill allows me to understand what matters most in producing good quality chickens.
Chickens nowadays eat better than myself, their feed comprised of 20+ ingredients formulated by and cooked under computerised systems, rather than putting some stuffs in the wok and frying them manually in the kitchen.
This is the final product known as chicken feed, which was cooked above 80C. It has all the ingredients, vitamins, organic growth hormones and antibiotics, exactly what's required by teens like me too.
Bear in mind, chicken food has salt as well for their taste buds.
I don't really know what is this but it's definitely one of the "good" ingredients to make the chicken feed, or perhaps something like our herbal soup but for the chickens?
The so-called kitchen for chickens is obviously much more complicated than our usual kitchen at home. The machines here are superior than our Panasonic microwave ovens.
When the chicken food is cooked, it can be stored in gigantic tupperwares known as feed silos.
And that's the end of the feedmill visit.
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The following morning, I visited the broiler farm.
This is perhaps the largest broiler farm the company has. The company produced more than a million chicken every 42 days in all its 16 broiler farms combined (and not 60 farms).
This farm has about 15 chicken houses, just like those longhouses inhabited by humans you see in Sarawak, Borneo.
Each house is taken care of by one master, either from Indonesia or Nepal or Bangladesh.
20 days old chicks
"I've never seen sooo many chickens in my life," I cried as the chickens were busy chirping about their good food.
All of sudden, a small-sized fellow fell off the gap in between the platform floor and died almost immediately.
(The purpose of the gap is to allow chicken excrements or shit to drop to the ground, then collected for other purposes. As such the chickens don't play with their shit if it would to lay on a flat surface.)
As the air temperature outside the house rises, the house curtains will be closed automatically.
With good ventilation (fan turbines at the side) etc, the temperature in the house is always kept 7C cooler than the outside to prevent overheating and dehydration amongst the young chicks.
My colleagues and I also spent some time hanging out with the chicken farmers, wait, it's now called chicken supervisors.
This was the truck transporting the chicken feed from the feedmill to the farm. Its role is the same as the restaurant waitress.
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Next stop is the chicken processing plant. Photos are not allowed inside but I managed to take quite a number of shots. (ok maybe I got less integrity)
After 42 days of birth and growing up with good food, these chickens are harvested and slaughtered by we humans.
It's really a sad sad ending.
In Malaysia, all chickens are slaughtered in Islamic halal way. After going through many worldwide standard procedures, there are 3 main things done to "cleanse" the chickens.
What I didn't know before this was the chickens were hanged upside down and left to bleed after slaughtering, as they travelled in a "monorail ride". Most of the chicken blood must flow out from the body as blood is an agent for pathogens.
Incidentally, I also saw Jesus Christ's cross in the main chamber at the so-called chicken mortuary.
Here the chickens are chilled to low temperature to maintain its freshness.
The machines are sophisticated enough to drill and screw up the chickens to remove their internal organs and genitals.
Imagine thousands of male and female chickens are raped like this everyday.
After going through 20+ steps and some hygienic procedures, the chickens are ready to be packed as a whole bird or put into trays for further processing, normally the "tearing" stage.
I witnessed myself the whole bird being tear apart by machines to yield your favourite KFC drumsticks, wings and breast meat.
My main concern is whether all the chickens produced daily can be sold immediately.
In bad economic times like now, the answer is no. Then the chickens will be stored in refrigerators as big as my entire house at -18C... and kept there till Tesco buys them.
A word of advice to housewives out there is that those Tesco chickens are still very fresh indeed. Don't worry! (I can't say the same for chickens at Giant and Carrefour)
Lastly, guess what happened to the chicken heads after slaugthering?
I know the answer is scary.