Poultry Picture Series

The Poultry Grading Picture Series illustrates various defects described in the official U.S. Classes, Standards, and Grades for Poultry. The illustrations selected are to assist USDA poultry commodity graders, industry, academia, and food buyers. All photos and defect criteria referenced in this picture series apply to chickens within the 2-6 pound size range. Refer to the official U.S. Classes, Standards, and Grades for Poultry for tolerances of other carcass weights.

AMS has developed official grade standards for poultry carcasses, which measure such factors as meat yield, fat covering, freedom from defects such as cuts and tears in the skin, feathers, broken/ disjointed bones, discolorations, and ready-to-cook (RTC) factors. The standards are applied to determine the quality of the product, and are not a reflection of wholesomeness, which is determined by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) prior to the grading process.

Poultry grading service is provided in accordance with the official U.S. Classes, Standards, and Grades for Poultry which are available on our website.

AMS also maintains the Poultry Grading Manual, which is a guide to the uniform application of the U.S. Classes, Standards, and Grades for poultry. 

USDA graders also utilize AMS’ Quality Assessment Division policies and procedures for grading known as the 500 series. The 500 series further defines certain information from the U.S. Classes, Standards, and Grades for Poultry. 

Poultry producers, packers, wholesalers, food manufacturers, food service operators, food retailers, and consumers rely on USDA’s poultry grading services to ensure that their requirements are met for class, quality, condition, and other factors. The grading program offers several advantages, for example, independent third-party opinion on product quality based on the U.S. Classes, Standards, and Grades for Poultry, which assures the buyer the quality meets or exceeds those standards. Additionally, the grade shield assures the consumer or end user they are purchasing top quality poultry and poultry products.


Printed copies of the Poultry Picture Series and other poultry grading resources may be requested by sending an email to  AMSPoultryResources@usda.gov