Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Poultry Science (PhD)

Degree Level



Poultry Science


Casey M. Owens

Committee Member

Andy Mauromoustakos

Second Committee Member

John A. Marcy


Image Analysis, In-line Carcass Sorting, Meat Quality, Poultry Processing, Poultry Products, Woody Breast


Woody Breast (WB) myopathy causes significant economic losses to the global poultry industry and the lack of objective, non-invasive and rapid methods for its detection as well as profitable alternatives for its utilization are contributing factors. This dissertation is divided into two main areas. The first area aimed to determine if there are carcass conformation changes that can be used to identify WB characteristics in commercial broilers using image analysis. In the first experiment, images of broiler carcasses were captured before evisceration to obtain and evaluate carcass measurements from the breast region. Eight image measurements and four ratios were used to develop models for predicting carcasses that yielded fillets moderately or severely affected by WB condition. The best validated model to predict WB included the breast width at cranial and caudal sections along with a fraction (1/5th) of the breast length of broiler carcasses. Using this model, 84% of carcasses were correctly classified as WB or normal with a sensitivity of 82% to detect affected birds. The compression force of breast fillets, which was highly correlated to WB tactile scores, validated the WB prediction using carcass measurements. In the second experiment, the same image measurements were used to predict WB in broiler carcasses from different strains, gender, and ages or live weights. Although the predictive performance of models for detecting WB was related to differences in WB severity and occurrence rates among broilers, overall 91% of carcasses were accurately classified as WB or normal with a sensitivity of 71% to identify carcasses with WB. The second area aimed to evaluate the effect of WB meat utilization on instrumental quality traits of chicken patties and deli loaves. Nine formulations of patties and deli loaves were prepared using broiler breast fillets at different degrees of WB severity and proportions. There was evidence of the poor functionality associated with the inclusion of severe WB fillets, either alone or combined with mildly affected fillets, into these products. However, WB fillets could be used at relatively low proportions combined with normal fillets as a feasible alternative in commercial chicken patty and deli loaf formulations.

Available for download on Saturday, July 23, 2022