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What is the best way to dispatch/slaughter chickens?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I've had egg layers now for over two years and recently decided to try my hand at meat chickens (ended up buying red cornish from Ideal Poultry earlier this wk). Now I'm stressing over whether or not I'll actually be able to kill them when they reach weight although my reasoning is that I dont want to support commercial meat production any longer and I know they'll at least have an amazing life free ranging on my 1/2 acre property. So, I decided to join BackYard Chickens specifically so I could get some opinions from people that have actual experience in the slaughtering process and make my decision based on those replies.

I did spend a few summers with my aunt & uncle in Nebraska and when I was around 12 I helped them slaughter their spring supply of cornish crosses...the method used? Neck breaking by twisting quickly and while I was fine with it at age 12 I dont think I'd be able to do that method again..it just wasnt quick enough for my liking and left too much room for error. So, my options are (to my knowledge) cone method, brain pithing, and/or a quick beheading. I'm leaning towards the cone method after some research but I'd like to hear any suggestions and experiences to make sure the chickens will be dispatched as quickly and humanly as possible...

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Courtney

post #2 of 19
Thread Starter 

I noticed after posting that people are mentioning lettin their butchered birds rest for a few days (2-3)...to those who do rest do you let them sit out at room temperature or refrigerate them while they're resting? Hadn't heard that one before although I have some foggy memories of my aunt letting the birds sit in the milk shed after processing...

Thanks again! Really enjoy this forum/community's postings and knowledge...definitely going to be a life saver for me!! smile

post #3 of 19

I've got some dual purpose Roos who need to be dispatched soon so I am looking forward to any advice you get - I have been watching videos on you tube and am also leaning toward using the cone and a sharp knife.

post #4 of 19

This is a post here on BYC that is good, I don't have a plucker so it was done by handfull of feathers for me.

http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=109583

I kept in refrigerator for 2 days then to freezer camp.

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post #5 of 19

I process my own meat birds - I kill them by chopping their head off and letting them bleed out.  Then I dunk/swirl them in 140 degree water with a little dish soap which helps loosen the feathers (so I'm told).  Dunk a couple minutes until the tail feather pull out easily.  Not too long or you will damage the skin.  I clean them and put them in cold water for a couple hours and then transfer them to a cooler and cover them with ice for 2-3 days.  After that, you can either debone the meat, part them out or freeze them whole.  There are good reference threads here on BYC as well as by doing a google search on how to process your chicken.  It's really not that hard - it's time consuming but so worth it knowing you control the entire process and you know the way the birds are cleaned and processed (this is VERY important to me).

Good luck - if you need help when the time comes, feel free to post a thread or PM me.

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post #6 of 19

By the way, room temperature is only intended for live birds. Once they are dead, they need to be refrigerated or iced or you will have spoiled meat. sickbyc

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post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

Yvonne! That instructional is amazing! Start to finish...although graphic it makes me feel much better seeing the process laid out so completely (other sites I've looked at seem to skip steps, etc.).

Potluck, good luck on your butchering...hope it goes well and that you get some tasty meat from it smile I'd love to hear an update once you've gone through the process!

post #8 of 19

Most people ice.
I usually vacuum seal and refrigerate.

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post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hens_And_Chicks 

I process my own meat birds - I kill them by chopping their head off and letting them bleed out.  Then I dunk/swirl them in 140 degree water with a little dish soap which helps loosen the feathers (so I'm told).  Dunk a couple minutes until the tail feather pull out easily.  Not too long or you will damage the skin.  I clean them and put them in cold water for a couple hours and then transfer them to a cooler and cover them with ice for 2-3 days.  After that, you can either debone the meat, part them out or freeze them whole.  There are good reference threads here on BYC as well as by doing a google search on how to process your chicken.  It's really not that hard - it's time consuming but so worth it knowing you control the entire process and you know the way the birds are cleaned and processed (this is VERY important to me).

Good luck - if you need help when the time comes, feel free to post a thread or PM me.


Thanks so much! I also want to control the process and feel that the distress I'll feel over killing my "pets" will be outweighed by the benefit knowing what they went through from start to finish + the added benefit of knowing I cleaned them properly! Hopefully this will be the start of a seasonal ritual for me and my family (maybe even some friends will hop on the bandwagon and stop supporting commercially grown chicken meat!).

Thanks again and I will definitely keep you in mind when the time comes...


Edited by crenees - 11/30/11 at 10:07am
post #10 of 19

welcome-byc  I've tried various methods and have settled on putting the birds in cones and slicing their neck arteries with a very sharp knife.  This method works best for me and gives my birds a humane, quick end.  They are settled into the cone, then I gently pull on their heads to stretch their necks, and bend the head to the side to make the skin taut and expose the bare patch right behind the point of the jaw.  Then I take my sharp fish fillet knife and make a quick deep slash.  I know I've done it right if there is a good blood flow instantly.  With the loss of all that blood I know they've Crossed the Road right away, but I still bend the head the other way and slash the opposite side of the neck. 

Here's the processing station I made from a repurposed yard swing frame:
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/7277_processing_station_005.jpg

http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/7277_processing_station_001.jpg

I keep my finished birds in plastic bags in the refrigerator for 2-3 days to rest before cooking or freezing.  All my chickens have turned out nice & tender.

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