Grade C Poultry
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Grade C Poultry are the least meaty and least good looking grade of poultry. Grade C Chicken is not frequently seen in the butcher or grocer’s meat case.

Poultry Grading is a voluntary, fee-based system whereby poultry producers can have their product graded by a Federal Inspector.

A carcass that does not qualify as Grade A Poultry or Grade B Poultry can qualify as Grade C Poultry. Scrawny Turkeys are an example of the type of poultry that most often becomes Grade C Poultry.


Specifically, according to the USDA, Grade C Poultry will be judged on its conformation, fleshing, fat covering, de-feathering, broken & disjointed bones and amount of exposed flesh.

  • Conformation: The carcass or part may have abnormal deformities that detract from the appearance of the product and affect the normal distribution of flesh, such as seriously curved, or crooked breast, seriously crooked back, or misshapen legs and wings.
  • Fleshing: The carcass or part may have a poor covering of flesh considering the kind, class and part based on United States Classes, Standards, and Grades for Poultry.
  • Fat Covering: The carcass or part, considering the kind, class, and part, may have insufficient fat covering in the skin and allows the appearance of flesh through the skin.
  • De-feathering: The carcass or part may have a scattering of protruding feathers and hairs. Hair or down is permitted on the carcass or part, provided the hair or down is less than 3/16-inch in length, and is scattered so that the carcass or part has a clean appearance, especially on the breast and legs.
  • Exposed flesh: The carcass or part may have unlimited exposed flesh.
  • Disjointed and broken bones and missing parts: The carcass or part may have disjointed and broken bones. The carcass may have the tail and any portion of both wings removed.  Parts which might normally have the tail present may have the tail removed.  Parts with wings may have the wing tip(s) removed at the joint.
  • Discolorations: The carcass or part may have areas of discolorations and flesh bruises that do not render the carcass or part unfit for food.
  • Trimming: Trimming of the Breast and Legs is permitted, but not to the extent that the normal meat yield is materially affected.  The back may be trimmed in an area not wider than the base of the tail and extending from the tail to the area between the hip joints. 
  • Backs: Grade C quality backs shall meet all applicable provisions of this section pertaining to parts.  Backs shall include all the meat and skin from the pelvic bones, except that the meat contained in the ilium (oyster) may be removed.  The vertebral ribs and scapula with meat and skin and the backbone located anterior (forward) of the ilia bones may also be removed (front half of back).
  • Freezing defects: The carcass or part may have severe defects resulting from handling or that have occurred during freezing or storage.  The carcass or part may have numerous pockmarks and large dried areas due to drying of the outer layer of flesh.  There is no limit on the amount or color of ice present.

Source: USDA’s United States Classes and Grades for Poultry. The link goes off the Smart Kitchen site to the USDA web site.

Culinary Uses

Grade C Poultry most often goes into processed meat products and/or frozen and pre-made products.