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Poultry Processing Shears vs. Poultry Knives

Poultry Processing Shears vs. Poultry Knives

The job of efficiently and safely processing poultry by hand often falls to shears or knives that are specially designed for the task at hand. While Plant Management usually dictates the preferred tool, that choice is based on best practices for industry applications, as well as state and federal regulations, in some cases.

Speed, yield, and safety are three essential considerations that will dictate whether workers use a knife, pair of shears, or a combination thereof. Read on to learn more about poultry processing shears vs. poultry knives and which one may be right for your application.

Decision Factors

A lot of times, the choice comes down to the worker's motion as to whether a knife or pair of shears is better. The choice is often made for worker safety to reduce MSDs by reducing the worker's motion. The chosen method of removing meat from the carcass will dictate which tool to use.

For example, if your workers are pulling tenders, one person uses a knife to score the side, the next person makes another score, and the third makes a final score down the keel bone in the middle. The following person in line uses their hands to pull the tenders loose from the bone. They then use shears to cut the tendon at the top of the tender. 

Following the 80/20 rule, this above process reflects the majority; however, not all facilities clip the tendon. Wolff Industriels sells a double-bladed knife that eliminates steps in this process. The Wolff double-bladed knife is different than all other double-bladed knives in several ways:

  • It allows for a singular, quick-cutting pass that reduces labor and increases productivity levels
  • Training is reduced from months to mere hours 
  • It’s spring-loaded to fit all bird sizes. Most other double-blade knives have fixed handles and don’t adjust
  • Increases yield by 1 to 2 points when used correctly

Both tools have their place and sometimes can’t be interchangeable, but there are jobs where it boils down to personal preference. Generally speaking, you will usually find a lot more poultry knives vs. shears being used in a processing plant. Typical usage rates fluctuate, but are usually around 4 knives for every 1 pair of shears per shift. 

Several other factors can influence the buying decision:


A lot of times the choice is made based on worker safety. Reducing the worker’s motion helps to reduce MSDs.


In a 1-to-1 comparison, knives tend to cost less than poultry shears. However, knives often cost more due to pure volume. Typically, there is two times the number of knives used in a plant than there are shears.

The design, quality, craftsmanship, and engineering of poultry scissors or knives can also affect the total cost of ownership. While it may seem more cost-effective to buy lower-priced (and lower quality) shears or knives, you’ll often wind up paying more over the long run versus buying higher quality right from the start.

Ease of Resharpening

Depending on the sharpening system and method used, knives may be easier and quicker to sharpen. When it comes to sharpening shears, many poultry plants utilize the Twice as Sharp® Scissors Sharpening system.

The Twice as Sharp® system makes sharpening shears fast, precise, and easy. This professional scissors sharpening system comes with a 100-grit sharpening wheel to create an ultra-sharp edge and honing wheel for a shiny cosmetic finish. 

Also consider other sharpening factors, such as:

  • Total time it takes to resharpen
  • Thinning
  • Quality
  • Overall sharpening process
  • Testing
  • Sharpening equipment

At Wolff Industries, we are releasing our new and much faster WereWolff sharpening system. We designed it to sharpen scissors related to meat processing and industrial manufacturing. Our fastest average times are currently approximately 20 seconds.

Cutting Through Bone

Cutting through bone with a standard knife or shears is tough work and causes the blades to dull very quickly. Some poultry, such as quail, contains more bones to cut through than others. 

This is where the Wolff PS775S Poultry Scissors come in handy. These stainless steel utility shears feature corrugated blades that slice through bones like a hot knife through butter. They can withstand the daily grind of cutting through bone easier than a standard pair of shears.

The Wolff PS775S Poultry Scissors also require less hand pressure as they are considered a high-leverage shear with specific design elements, such as:

  • Thicker blades
  • Wide bill
  • Long shank (the distance between pivot and handle)
  • Short blades
  • Longer movement arm
  • Greater/higher leverage
  • Stainless steel to reduce/prevent rusting (i.e. “food safe”)

Best Poultry Shears

There are several different types of poultry processing shears that will improve efficiency and reduce costly rework.

Wolff® 6287 poultry shearsWolff® 6287-LR 9" Ergonomix® Poultry Scissors - 6000 Series Stainless Steel Shears

The high-carbon stainless steel blade of the Wolff® 6287 poultry shears provides high cutting efficiency and extra long edge life.

An ergonomic design and thermoplastic handles allow for maximum cutting efficiency and comfort.

Wolff® 6294 poultry shearsWolff® 6294-LR 9 5/8" Ergonomix® Poultry Scissors - 6000 Series Stainless Steel Shears

The Wolff® 6000 series 9 5/8" poultry scissors will allow you to process many different types of meat. 

A 58 HRC hardness rating makes this pair of poultry shears one of the smoothest and hardest available.

KAI® 5220 poultry shearsKAI® 5220 8 3/4" Ergonomix® Poultry Scissors - 5000 Series Stainless Steel Shears

The high-carbon molybdenum vanadium stainless steel blades of the KAI® 5220 poultry scissors allow for clean, quick, and precise cuts.

Santoprene® ergonomic handles gently cushion hands while providing maximum cutting comfort and efficiency.

KAI® 5240 poultry shearsKAI® 5240 9-1/2" Ergonomix® Poultry Scissors - 5000 Series Stainless Steel Shears

KAI® 9-½” poultry scissors feature highly durable and high-carbon molybdenum vanadium stainless steel blades.

Wolff Poultry Processing Shears 

For over 35 years, Wolff shears have been the scissors of choice for countless poultry processing plants. Our high-quality shears and dedication to customer service add tremendous value to your processing line while improving profits. Click below to view our scissors and shears.

Poultry Processing Scissors

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