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post #41 of 51
Originally Posted by romea View Post

these are very interesting different opinions. 

in my case, i have never killed for food let alone skinned and plucked a chicken. i have been a vegetarian for most of my life and a vegan for some - so this is a big step for me. i am, however, not overly squeamish. on 1 hand, i have dissected animals yet also worked in animal welfare for many years. making life & death decisions have been a sad yet inevitable part of it.

my focus has always been on the quality of life an animal is able to lead - so organic is pretty much all i ever purchase. and yes, i am aware of the abundance of greenwashing going on. to me, supporting organic farming is more of a political decision than one made for health reasons. 


in any event, we will most likely take the plunge and 'dispatch' at least 1 of our 2 roosters - maybe both.

with all that being said, i wonder how tasty a 6 month old buckeye respectively easter egger is going to be. i read various comments on these older roosters and for some they are 'only' fit for dog food - which i don't mind as our dogs would certainly enjoy such a christmas dinner. 

to cut a long story short: the quality of meat will also influence me plucking vs. skinning... can anybody tell me more on said quality?


Six months is not old at all!


That's the typical MINIMUM age for a "roaster" or "roasting bird."


Generally they can still be great for roasting up to a year, or nearly (slow-roasted, that is--by which I mean 325 degrees, and 1/2 hour per pound, with a little water or stock the pan, basted occasionally, and covered most of the time--it also helps if the bird is properly rested in your fridge for at least a few days before cooking which improves the texture of the meat by making it more tender and less stringy). You should check out this article when you have a chance--it's a bit long, but really good info to glean from when you're trying to prepare real chicken that is not from 6 week old cornish X rock broilers (what you get at the supermarket):


We've slow roasted cockerels six, seven, eight, nine months old and they were perfectly tender, yet firm and juicy when prepared right--they also yield more meat and get more flavor the bigger they get. Even 6 YEAR old chickens are delicious--when cooked properly (in water or stock, for several hours, on very low heat). In general the older the animal the more the flavor develops, but knowing how to cook animals of different ages is key to enjoying it.


Good luck!


[edited for clarity]

Edited by triplepurpose - 11/30/14 at 3:28pm
Chickens are the Swiss Army knife of farm animals
Chickens are the Swiss Army knife of farm animals
post #42 of 51

amina, i meant to 'PM' you but since this thread is already slightly derailed, i hope it's okay to ask you: what you mean by "it is better for the flock". i'd love to get your insights on that...


sky, thank you for sharing your expertise as well as this excellent article!

post #43 of 51

Without culling extra roos, you end up with very stressed hens from overmating. The roosters all gang up on a hen at one time to mate her. The hen loses feathers from such frequent mating, and she will typically just sit on the roost or in a hiding place, to get away from the roosters. That's no life for a hen.


The roosters will also fight amongst each other, and these fights can get pretty brutal and sometimes deadly.


One option I suppose is to have an all-rooster flock. Some people report success with a group of roosters that can't see any hens, IF the roosters all grew up together. Even then, this is still no guarantee that the roosters won't become too aggressive with each other.


So IMO, culling the extra roos makes for a much more peaceful, happy flock.

post #44 of 51

thanks for elaborating. 

the two roosters grew up together and things were going quite well. however, the flock changed over time. (originally, we got a straight run of 6 birds, 2 of them being roosters - an easter egger & a buckeye.)

when we lost 3 hens of our original 4 to predators, we added 2 hybrids and moved the chicken coop close to the house where we also keep our dogs. from there, we would see the whole group walk around together quite harmoniously but the buckeye was mostly trailing behind - a bit like a lost bird. :-( we then added another 7 hens including 3 bantams. this changed the dynamics quite a bit...


when i saw the buckeye, the size of a turkey, sitting on top of one of the bantams (an old english hen) the size of a dove, i thought "this is not working..." and started my research into the... ahem... dispatching side of things. a few days later, i saw the buckeye offer a worm to the little girl - "awww....!" - and ended up questioning my decision. was i possibly disrupting a beginning love-affair? maybe there was a chance after all?


to cut a long story short: we basically ended up having 3 groups: 3 daring hens wandering off by themselves, then the group that walked with the easter egger rooster, 3 stay-at-home-bantams who prefer to spend their days mostly inside the coop - and the buckeye still being by himself.


you probably notice the past tense... so to bring the story to a close: since this morning, the buckeye is no more. as for the group-dynamics, i am very curious to see where things go from here.

and to get the whole thing back to topic: i did my first-ever plucking without scalding (!) and found it not to be difficult at all. i did not bother with the wing-feathers but otherwise ended up with a very clean bird (no tearing of the skin). 

eviscerating was a bit of a different story as i clearly had (and have!) no clue what i was doing. it was not really a huge problem but i ended up partly cutting the bird open in order to access the organs - and was quite surprised to find the lungs much further down than i had thought. *cough*

there was also a strange, comparatively large and almost round 'thingy' pretty much in the middle of things and of hard consistency. anybody any idea what that was?


as for the further fate of the bird: we can not get ourselves to eat its perfectly fine (reddish) meat - much to the amusement of our dogs.

sky, you are probably rolling your eyes but since we feed our dogs raw (amongst other things) it feels okay to include them in the... experience. ;-))

Edited by romea - 12/1/14 at 10:00am
post #45 of 51

I'm sorry you had to do all that. I know how hard it is to process a bird.


As for its innards, you might find this diagram useful:


For the round hardish thing, I'm wondering if you were looking at the gizzard?

post #46 of 51

amina, thanks again! (and don't worry about me! :))

the unidentified organ was most likely indeed the gizzard. i am quite familiar with them as they are frequently sold in europe but i have never seen one of this size (almost the palm of my hand) nor of this roundish and even shape. interesting.

Edited by romea - 12/1/14 at 10:57am
post #47 of 51

Hi. Last summer for the first time I did meat birds(and the layers that I have that are less than a year old.) I did 2 batches of meat birds. I was unfortunately unaware of this site. I watched about every youtube video on butchering chickens that I could. I found it quite helpful. After my 1st batch of 6, I never wanted to do that again....until after I ate one! The next batch I did was 10 birds. I am still not sold on skinning vs plucking. I did some of each. Each has it's ups & downs. I will do birds for meat again.

1 golden sex-link (Brownie)like a red star, I think;  1 Buff orpington (Goldy);   2 Barred Rocks (comfy & cozy);  2 silver laced wyandottes (lacy & dottie);  2 aracaunas (poofy & Buff). These girls are all from the feed store March 2014. 

These ones were ordered from Murray McMurray  the end of June 2014:  2 pearl white leghorns (snowflake & daisy);

2 Black Australorps (Raven & Roxy); ...


1 golden sex-link (Brownie)like a red star, I think;  1 Buff orpington (Goldy);   2 Barred Rocks (comfy & cozy);  2 silver laced wyandottes (lacy & dottie);  2 aracaunas (poofy & Buff). These girls are all from the feed store March 2014. 

These ones were ordered from Murray McMurray  the end of June 2014:  2 pearl white leghorns (snowflake & daisy);

2 Black Australorps (Raven & Roxy); ...

post #48 of 51
I skin mine less mess less fuss less smell did to much plucking on great grans farm to deal with it now the smell put me off chicken for awhile.
post #49 of 51
Originally Posted by ThePamperedPullet View Post

Any of our Roos that we end up getting rid of usually go to the freezer. I have plucked and I have skinned but what we do now is filet. I am a bird hunter from way back and with waterfowl it is much easier to filet them. On any bird, your most meat is on the breast and thigh portions. So I take the Roo and dehead him to bleed him out quickly. I take a sharp knife and cut a slit in the skin at the breast bone. You can tear the skin back to reveal the whole breast. Run a filet knife down both sides of the breast bone to get the breast meat. I then skin the thigh portion down to the knee. Cut off the foot at the knee and cut the thigh portion away at the hip joint. Wash, wrap and freeze. This way you don't even have to clean the bird. Neither of us cares for the back as there is not much meat there. Quick, clean and takes about 3 minutes per bird from deheading to freezer.
How long do you set your meat for? We only eat legs and breast, I believe your waymay be best for us.
post #50 of 51

wow, this thread goes way back..  I had forgotten I even posted here..


just a few comments from my reading ..


in making a pillow, you do not use the feathers with the heavy quills, like tail and wing feathers.  however you can strip the soft feathery part off of the quills,  I hope you have lots of spare time..

  Use the breast feathers mostly,,


I build electric operated feather pluckers.  they are of the whiz-bang variety,  with many improvements over the original whiz-bang design..


we do several birds at a setting.    I can pluck two birds at one time ,,  and it takes less than one minute.


I have tons of pictures of my pluckers. I have built and sold 4 of them,, I kept the 5th one for myself.

they are not cheap to build.  but they should last a lifetime.




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