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Ready-to-cook poultry parts are graded with a slightly different set of standards (see Table 1). Parts for any weight category can be used (broiler, heavy broiler, and turkey). To make parts grading standards more uniform and less confusing, we are only allowing the following parts to be used in the RTC parts grading class in 4-H.

 Parts that can be used for grading include:

  1. Breast Quarter
  2. Breast Quarter without Wing
  3. Leg Quarter
  4. Whole Leg
  5. Thigh
  6. Thigh with Back
  7. Drumstick
  8. Whole Wing
  9. Wing Drumette
  10. Wing Flat

Table 1. Ready-to-cook summary of specifications for standards of quality for individual carcass parts (click on image to enlarge).

Table 1. Summary of specifications for USDA grading of ready-to-cook poultry parts

1. Part Exposed Flesh

For all parts, trimming of skin along the edge is allowed, provided at least 75 percent of the normal skin cover associated with the part remains attached, and the remaining skin uniformly covers the outer surface and does not detract from the appearance of the part.

The amount of exposed flesh allowed on a Grade A poultry part depends on the weight category. For broilers, only allowed a ¼ inch cut in the skin is allowed for a carcass to stay a Grade A (see Figure 1). For the higher weight categories, the limit is ½ inch.

Figure 1. Grade A parts (breast quarter without wing and drumstick).

Figure 1. Grade A parts (breast quarter without wing and drumstick) with exposed flesh less than ¼ inch (Click on image to enlarge) (Photo credit: Dr. Casey Ritz, University of Georgia).

Grade B parts are graded the same for skin trim or removal as whole carcasses with up to 1/3 of the flesh on the entire part exposed (see Figure 2), and the Grade C carcass has more than 1/3 of the flesh showing on a given part (see Figure 3). A moderate amount of meat may be trimmed around the edge of a part to remove defects without affecting the grade. However, if an appreciable amount of flesh is removed from any part in which the normal meat yield is materially affected, the part should be graded as a NO GRADE.

Figure 2. Grade B parts (breast quarter without wing on the left and drumstick on the right) because of excessive skin trim along the edges (more than ¼ inch but less than 1/3rd of the part).

Figure 2. Grade B parts (breast quarter without wing on the left and drumstick on the right) because of excessive skin trim along the edges (more than ¼ inch but less than 1/3rd of the part) (Click on image to enlarge) (Photo credit: Dr. Casey Ritz, University of Georgia).

Figure 3. Grade C parts (breast quarter without wing on the left and drumstick on the right) with greater than 1/3rd of the flesh missing.

Figure 3. Grade C parts (breast quarter without wing on the left and drumstick on the right) with greater than 1/3rd of the flesh missing (Click on image to enlarge) (Photo credit: Dr. Casey Ritz, University of Georgia).

2. Parts Disjointed Bones

Thighs with back, whole legs, leg quarters, and whole wings are the only parts for possible disjoints.  Grade A leg quarters may have the femur disjointed from the hip socket. Whole wings are not allowed to have a disjoint and remain a Grade A.  Any disjointed whole wings are automatically Grade B (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. Grade A (left photo) and Grade B (right photo) wings based on the presence of a disjoint.

Figure 4. Grade A (left photo) and Grade B (right photo) wings based on the presence of a disjoint (Click on image to enlarge)  (Photo credit: Dr. Casey Ritz, University of Georgia).

3. Parts Broken Bones

NO broken bones are allowed for Grade A or Grade B Parts. Any parts with a broken or cut bone are automatically assigned a Grade C. Figure 5 shows examples of miscuts on drumsticks that make them a Grade C.

Figure 5. Grade C drumsticks based on cuts into the bone.

Figure 5. Grade C drumsticks based on cuts into the bone (Click on image to enlarge)  (Photo credit: Dr. Casey Ritz, University of Georgia).