Carcass contamination during processing is an expensive problem for poultry processors. Feed withdrawal (FW) is commonly used to reduce the amount of gut contents prior to slaughter, thereby reducing the probability of contamination. The present study used market aged mixedsex broilers to evaluate the effect of FW time on the incidence of fecal spillage and contamination of broiler carcasses at processing. In order to develop a more simple research protocol for FW, the effects of live haul and holding in stationary crates were compared. Broilers were subjected to 1 of 4 FW times (4, 8, 12, and 16 h) prior to slaughter at a commercial processing plant, in which the incidence of carcass contamination was recorded. Carcass yield and clearance of contents from 8 gut sections were determined. Moisture content of the pooled gut contents was assessed. Shrink increased from 2.1 to 3.3 % of pre-FW BW after 4 and 16 h, respectively. Gut weights decreased significantly with every additional 4 h of FW. The incidence of processing plant inefficiencies decreased with increasing FW time. Gut moisture was not correlated with FW time, although moisture of the gut contents was reduced in birds subjected to live haul. Twelve hours of FW resulted in an optimal combination of gut clearance and carcass yield. Key words: broiler processing, feed withdrawal, food safety, carcass contamination, gut clearance, live hau
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