If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook you probably remember me tweeting out photos before Eid ul Adha of my trip to a facility and hen house right here in the Midwest where the folks at Crescent Foods raise and process their chicks for Halal poultry products that are widely distributed across U.S. supermarkets and stores like Wal-Mart.
I had the honor and pleasure of a follow up visit to their Chicago processing plant so that I could see where the chicks are raised and to witness the actual Halal processing of the birds at the plant where all of this takes place.
and more corn fields…
lies a really clean facility that processes the Crescent Foods poultry.
The live birds are housed not too far away in an equally serene place…
a hen house with lots of light…
well-circulated air for chicks and their caretakers to breathe clean air that is free of any foul smells.
The chicks have a lot of room to move around, despite how many are actually in the hen house. It doesn’t feel or seem as though there are many housed there, perhaps because they are at ease and none seemed nervous or disturbed.
They could travel to and fro and actually seemed quite interested in us who came to visit them- signs of being healthy and alert. Those pictured here are quite young still so they didn’t have many feathers. At about six weeks they will be transported to the processing facility for processing.
It’s so easily noticeable that the chicks have lots of room to take in water and (antibiotic-free) food– an incredibly important detail in raising any livestock. How can they possibly be healthy if this is not maintained?
I didn’t expect to see this little black box (pictured below) that the chicks can use for some private time, away from the other chicks- some really were in and out of that space, as if they knew exactly what it was for. What a great idea, and it’s actually one of the steps needed for farms to gain GAP-certification when doing so. To read more about the Global Animal Partnership, and their goal of improving animal welfare in agriculture, read more here.
Once the chicks have reached the target age and are obviously in good health, they are transported to the processing plant several miles away. I saw a couple truck loads of chickens like this and none of them seemed nervous or flighty.
Back at the processing facility, I was able to witness so much. It should be duly noted that the birds are alive at the time of hand-processing. The room in which this is done is a completely different and separate room from anything else in the entire plant. First of all, it’s a dark room with blue lights, said to calm the birds down. I think that works because I didn’t hear a single bird squawk or see any of the birds ruffle their feathers too much. It’s very important for the birds to be calm (as it is for any livestock, for that matter) because it keeps the process humane and protects the birds from hurting themselves by breaking a wing or body part if they become anxious and scared. I learned a lot about how much thought goes into this process, as Mr. Adam talked me through the whole process and explained the why’s and how’s of it in its entirety.
About 90,000 birds are processed here and in this way, every single day.
Mr. Ahmad Adam, Founder and CEO of Crescent Foods, partners with the processors who oversee how his birds are raised, maintained and processed every step of the way. Photographed below, his sharp perception of every minute detail never ceased to impress upon me the serious approach he takes towards the integrity of his products, which is evident in all the others who are part of the team effort it takes to make that happen.
In the same facility I was able to see the enormous production process of everything from how the birds’ feathers are steamed clean off of their bodies to how the USDA inspectors check for quality standards and grade the birds.
Then, of course, comes the further processing of cutting, de-boning packaging what is now the meat of the bird.
Although we were not able to take photographs of this part, I asked a little more on the topic of inspection. Interestingly enough, there has to be a USDA inspector on the line at all times or the birds cannot be processed and all production has to stop.
For more photos and details about how Crescent Foods processes their halal poultry products, check out my post on the tour I took of their Chicago processing plant– a fascinating glimpse at their uniquely modern facility jam packed with halal assurance and a high dose of integrity we as a community can feel very good about supporting.
After reading this, I’d like to know…
Are you much more likely to buy a product that is as transparent as Crescent Foods is here in showing us how their chickens are raised? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Note: I was not paid to tour the facilities of Crescent Foods products or to write about my experience; in fact, I initiated the trip and was graciously accepted by the owner and his staff who strive for transparency and integrity in every way possible.