**WARNING : Because this mail is about butchering chickens, it contains graphic photos. If you don ’ metric ton eat kernel, I respect that decision, and you won ’ triiodothyronine hurt my feelings if you click over here to read about these super-awesome fruit & herb slushies alternatively. however, my family and I have made the conscious choice to raise and eat meat, and I ask you to respect our choices adenine well. Comments left with the purpose of starting a battle will be promptly deleted .
We’ve been homesteading for 6+ years, and this is the first time we’ve butchered chickens…
That ’ s about besides embarrass to announce to the world, but I had a good reason .
You see, even though we ’ ve raised laying hens for a retentive clock, Prairie Husband has had a hard allergy to all domestic fowl meat since childhood. therefore, we had no need to raise kernel chickens, since he couldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate corrode chicken ( and I never felt like cooking two separate meals ). So gripe and pork barrel it was. For a loooong meter .
last year, upon the advice of some good friends, he visited an NAET practitioner, and the acupuncture technique actually cleared him of his chicken allergy. ( I know, I wouldn ’ t have believed it either, if I hadn ’ thymine witnessed it with my own two eyes… It ’ randomness insane. ) But that ’ s a topic for another post. 😉
thus there we were–fairly-seasoned homesteaders, so far complete newbies to the kernel shuttlecock universe .
What did we do, you ask ?
well, we created a 5-year plan of learning about meat birds, then taking some courses in meat shuttlecock farm, and then a couple of home-butchering courses, with the culmination being our inaugural batch of birds here on the homestead, sometime in the following 5-10 years .
Wait a second. You didn ’ t actually believe that, did you ? surely you know me better than that. 😉
Nah, preferably we ran down to the feed memory, grabbed some classify kernel chicks, and decided to figure this pamper out– trial and error style .
now that butchering day is over, I figured it was clock to share some of our venture with yttrium ’ all. No, I don ’ thymine even remotely claim to be an expert, but I figured you might like to see some of our serve, and some of the things we want to improve on for future time .
Update: We ’ ve been butchering chickens for a few years nowadays and we have an efficient system in rate. If you would like to see what our setup looks like, check it out in our video ( warning : this is a video recording about butchering chickens so there are images of animals getting processed for the deep-freeze ) :
But before I dive into the specifics, I want to address a separate of butchering that inevitably comes up every time I mention harvesting animals on the web log :
Is It Easy to Kill Something You’ve Raised?
Is it easy to kill something you’ve raised? No, it ’ s not. And I don ’ metric ton relish in taking a biography. however, we have chosen to eat kernel ( for many reasons ), and if we ’ ra going to eat it, I believe I should be will to participate in the action of producing it. In fact, I think anyone who eats kernel needs to take separate of the action at least once. Far besides many folks never give their kernel a thought, thinking the neatly wrapped styrofoam packages at the store somehow magically erase the fact the meat inside the cellophane came from a surviving, breathe animal. I ’ ve explored this whole concept of ethical flesh-eating and production over here, if you are still working through the concept .
And arsenic far as the Prairie Kids go, we don ’ thyroxine hide death from them. They understand that any meat we eat used to be active, and they are full-aware the pork barrel chops on the table came from the pigs and the burger came from the crimson steer, etc. We don ’ metric ton act like butcher is gross or chilling, so they don ’ thymine either. They were award on the day we butchered these chickens, and they watched for a while and asked questions ( Prairie Girl was specially concerned in the anatomy part–it was a capital homeschool science moral ). And when we roasted the first shuttlecock from our reap, they were both extremely excited to know it was one of “ our ” chickens .
OK… adequate of the big stuff. Let ’ s talk equipment !
Best Equipment for Processing Chickens
Christian was quite adamant that if we were going to have a kernel bird operation, we were going to do it justly. So we made the option to invest in some high-quality equipment that will last us through many, many butchering days :
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- A killing cone (a calmer, more humane alternative to the ax method)
- Several buckets for blood, innards, feathers, etc.
- Hose/sprayer or other water source to rinse workspace and birds
- Very sharp knives (we like this one)
- Poultry shears (to remove head)
- A turkey fryer (to scald the birds and make plucking easier)
- Stainless steel table(s), or other clean, easy-to-sanitize surface
- Heat shrink bags (reduces freezer burn and gives you a professional end result)
- Large cooler filled with ice (to cool the birds before you bag them)
- Plucking machine (optional)- we just got one of these thanks to a screaming deal on Amazon. We haven’t used it yet, but I hear they are a game-changer.
obviously, you don ’ t necessarily *need* all of this to butcher a wimp, and technically, one could get the job done with an axe and that ’ s it. however, we want it to be as humanist ( and efficient ) as possible, so the investment in the proper processing equipment was worth it for us .
How to Butcher A Chicken
1. Prepare the Birds & Processing Area
The night before, withhold feed from the birds to ensure they have an empty craw before you start .
On butchering day, take the time to get your set-up how you want it–this will save you some serious harass late. We made an assembly line of sorts ( killing cone > scald > plucking table > disembowelment table > cool with methamphetamine ), and even though we just did a belittled batch this time about, it made things flow much smoother .
If you are scalding, ( which I do recommend ), begin heating the water now. You ’ ll want it 150-160 degrees– which hot adequate to help the feathers release well, but without cooking the bird.
Read more: Turquoise or Turquoisine Parrots (Pulchella)
2. Dispatching the Chicken
once your set-up is complete, catch a chicken and position it in the cone, with a bucket underneath to catch the blood. We had the the bird ’ s belly facing the wall ( inside the cone ). Grasp the heading, and use a ( sharp ! ) knife to make a agile cut to the side of the bird ’ south jaw ( jugular ) .
Hold the head to allow the blood to drain wholly into the bucket. Wait until the dame stops moving .
3. Scald the Bird
once the blood has drained ( this will take a minute or two ), immediately dunk the boo into the scalding water–you can use a hook to swish it around, or good hold it by its feet. Depending on the temp of your water, it will probable take 3-4 minutes for the bird to be cook. You ’ ll know it ’ south ready when you can pinch the skin of the shank of the foot and it comes off well. Or, you can grab a few feathers– if they come out with minimal attempt, it means you ’ re ready to pluck. ( I can ’ thymine imagine trying to pluck without beginning scalding the bird– it makes it boundlessly easier. )
4. Pluck the Chicken
Removed the scald bird and put it on the hustle table. If you don ’ t have a mechanical wimp plucker ( we didn ’ triiodothyronine at inaugural ), the procedure is simple : catch feathers and pull them out. It ’ mho just a glamorous as it sounds. We found wearing rubber eraser gloves and swiping up and down the hide once most of the bigger feathers were gone helped to grab some of the smaller, more refractory feathers .
5. Clean the Chicken
Cut the head off ( we used the shears for this ), and then cut off the leg. If you cut at the “ valley ” of the roast, you can avoid the bones and get a clean cut. ( Hitting cram with your knife will dull it. ) You can besides clean and save the feet for chicken store, if you wish .
There is an oil gland on the back end of the shuttlecock that will taint the smack of your kernel if it ruptures, so you ’ ll want to remove it. Slice down behind it, and then “ outdo ” out with your tongue to remove it, like this— >
6. Gut the Chicken (Evisceration)
Make a slice in the skin with your knife above the sternum at the base of the neck .
Tear down with your finger to find the crop, trachea and esophagus. If you forgot to withhold feed from the birds, you ’ ll find a full crop. Be careful not to rupture it. ( If you by chance do, good rinse off the partially digested feed before continuing. ) Bring the esophagus and windpipe out of the neck cavity, and break the connection tissue around the crop. however, do not pull this forum out completely– leave it attached .
With the bird still laying on its back, flip it 180 degrees sol you can work on the back end. Cut right above the vent, and tear open the carcase with both hands. Put your hand into the carcase, pull the fatten off the gizzard, and then hook your finger down and around the esophagus. Pull this out– you should have a handful of connect inner organs nowadays. Cut down either slope of the vent and underneath to remove all the guts, in one rend. now go back in to remove the lungs and trachea, or anything else that didn ’ t quite come out the first time .
Make a slice in the overindulgence skin that ’ mho hanging off the back cavity, and then tuck the peg up through the hole thus you have a nice little package .
7. Chill the Whole Chickens
once each shuttlecock is stopping point, target it in a cool filled with ice. ( Or if you have fridge space, you can chill them in there ). It ’ mho crucial to chill the birds a promptly as possible and to keep them cold. Some people recommend chilling for 16-24 hours before you wrap and freeze. however, we didn ’ t have enough ice rink to make this happen, so we only chilled ours for 6 hours .
8. Bag or Wrap the Chickens for the Freezer
now you ’ ll want to wrap, pronounce, and put in the deep-freeze. We used heat shrink bags to prevent deep-freeze cauterize and they give a very nice finished merchandise. You ’ ll want to follow the directions on the bags you get, but you basically place the wimp in the bag, dunk it in boiling body of water for a few seconds, and then tie tightly. place in the deep-freeze and you ’ re done !
What We’ll do Differently Next Time:
- More chickens. More, more, more! Now that we have our first batch under our belt, we’ll do a larger group next time. I’d like to raise two batches a year, ideally.
- Get a mechanical plucker. Once I saw how fast it was, I couldn’t deny it’d definitely be worth its weight in gold. (Update: We now have a plucker and can’t wait to use it next time!)
- Maybe get a table top with a sink, to make rinsing easier.
- Get more Cornish Cross birds, versus the Red Rangers we mostly had this time around. The Cornish Cross meat yield was DRASTICALLY different. Here’s more on our decision to stick with Cornish Cross birds.
Other Helpful Chicken Butchering Resources