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First Harvest - Thank You!

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Harvested my first bird today...an 'extra' rooster...it went pretty well, thanks to all the stories I have read here.

 

So Thank You to all who have shared their experiences, I learned so many tips and tricks that came back to me both before and during the harvest. I had been dreading many aspects of the butchering for months and am relieved to have it over and successful. Things are always hard until you know how and have done them. I've cleaned many a fish but no other animal in my 55 years - tho I've cut up quite a few chickens from the store and that came in handy.

 

It wasn't perfect, but my homemade killing cone and one slice jugular opening worked perfect....which was of utmost importance to me. Tried to skin to save/stretch the hackle and saddle but that didn't go so well, I knew it might not but wanted to try. I ended up taking the breasts, legs/thighs, upper wing and neck without gutting, now that's a neat trick/tip! It'll make a nice pot of chicken and noodles and at least I didn't waste the whole bird. Next time I will scald, pluck and gut. But my planning, having gear ready and the words/pics from many experienced people was very helpful. The experience taught me which knives I want to use.....I want a scalpel with disposable blades and some real poultry shears...my plastic handled kitchen shears just didn't cut it, almost literally.

 

I'm not looking at doing a bunch of meaties(yet...lol), just wanted to responsibly/efficiently harvest any bird in my small flock that wasn't useful for making eggs...I didn't want to be the person whining for someone to take this rooster or older 'pet' hen....it was a big chicken keeping goal that I am beyond proud to have accomplished. It's not only a physical skill but an emotional hurdle of mindset to make food.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #2 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by aart View Post
 

Harvested my first bird today...an 'extra' rooster...it went pretty well, thanks to all the stories I have read here.

 

So Thank You to all who have shared their experiences, I learned so many tips and tricks that came back to me both before and during the harvest. I had been dreading many aspects of the butchering for months and am relieved to have it over and successful. Things are always hard until you know how and have done them. I've cleaned many a fish but no other animal in my 55 years - tho I've cut up quite a few chickens from the store and that came in handy.

 

It wasn't perfect, but my homemade killing cone and one slice jugular opening worked perfect....which was of utmost importance to me. Tried to skin to save/stretch the hackle and saddle but that didn't go so well, I knew it might not but wanted to try. I ended up taking the breasts, legs/thighs, upper wing and neck without gutting, now that's a neat trick/tip! It'll make a nice pot of chicken and noodles and at least I didn't waste the whole bird. Next time I will scald, pluck and gut. But my planning, having gear ready and the words/pics from many experienced people was very helpful. The experience taught me which knives I want to use.....I want a scalpel with disposable blades and some real poultry shears...my plastic handled kitchen shears just didn't cut it, almost literally.

 

I'm not looking at doing a bunch of meaties(yet...lol), just wanted to responsibly/efficiently harvest any bird in my small flock that wasn't useful for making eggs...I didn't want to be the person whining for someone to take this rooster or older 'pet' hen....it was a big chicken keeping goal that I am beyond proud to have accomplished. It's not only a physical skill but an emotional hurdle of mindset to make food.


Nice job Aart,   I felt the same way at my first.   Actually  I observed part of the process.  And I learned that the proper tools are key.  The lady I watched used a dull hatchet and a fairly dull knife.  I took over and did the skinning and processing and it didn't get any better.  Getting sharp tools will be the best investment for sure.

Moved to the Portland/Vancouver area in September.  BIG and beautiful.  

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/972255/byc-member-interview-lindab220 

 

Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.

Reply

Moved to the Portland/Vancouver area in September.  BIG and beautiful.  

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/972255/byc-member-interview-lindab220 

 

Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.

Reply
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks LindaB.

 

Harvested my second bird this week, another extra cockerel that was about 15 weeks old. Nope, not much meat, but it was really time for him to go and will at least get some nice rooster -n- noodles for sure and will try grilling a leg and breast just to see how that works out. Really wish I had a 'rooster coop' to grow those buggers out more...but alas, additional facilities not possible at this point.

 

This time I scalded, plucked and gutted. It went well. The killing is the hardest part, my whole body had adrenaline tremors. Scary with a very sharp blade in your hands and a specific target to hit, but fresh bladed utility knife got the jugular with one swipe and not sure I'll ever get used to the death throes, but the cone held.

 

 Borrowed a propane turkey fryer and heated water to about 145-150 and drip or two of dish soap. Was easy to pluck except for lots of pin feathers due to his age, but easy to see them as he was black and they came out pretty easily. Had to re-scald the feet after removing to get the skin off, but that was pretty slick. Didn't stink at all but only one bird and he was very clean having been confined in a clean environment for several days not to mention young. Wet feathers hard to put them all where you want them, sure would be nice to have one of those bucket pluckers!

 

This is my favorite butchering documentation as it shows very clearly how to remove the anus without 'spilling the gut' and removing the gallbladder, two of my main concerns. Didn't get the esophagus detached enough at first but once that's done, and the anus detached the rest all came out pretty easy. It's hard to know what it means to 'reach in and grab the heart and pull it all out' until you actually feel it. Like most things, fear of the unknown/unexperienced holds true here too. Was able to get all the guts spread out and examined, like doing a dissection, interesting to me. Again no stink, until I sliced the intestine to examine internally out of curiosity.

 

Was able to do the whole job with just a utility knife(the old school kind that can be totally taken apart to wash), a brand new blade being essential, and some cheap but sharp scissors to snip skin and fascia. A scalpel would be nice but not necessary tho heavy duty poultry shears would really save time cutting thru between joints if doing more than one bird.

 

Writing this up for catharsis as well as to maybe assist someone else reading up before their first harvest.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by aart View Post
 

Thanks LindaB.

 

Harvested my second bird this week, another extra cockerel that was about 15 weeks old. Nope, not much meat, but it was really time for him to go and will at least get some nice rooster -n- noodles for sure and will try grilling a leg and breast just to see how that works out. Really wish I had a 'rooster coop' to grow those buggers out more...but alas, additional facilities not possible at this point.

 

This time I scalded, plucked and gutted. It went well. The killing is the hardest part, my whole body had adrenaline tremors. Scary with a very sharp blade in your hands and a specific target to hit, but fresh bladed utility knife got the jugular with one swipe and not sure I'll ever get used to the death throes, but the cone held.

 

 Borrowed a propane turkey fryer and heated water to about 145-150 and drip or two of dish soap. Was easy to pluck except for lots of pin feathers due to his age, but easy to see them as he was black and they came out pretty easily. Had to re-scald the feet after removing to get the skin off, but that was pretty slick. Didn't stink at all but only one bird and he was very clean having been confined in a clean environment for several days not to mention young. Wet feathers hard to put them all where you want them, sure would be nice to have one of those bucket pluckers!

 

This is my favorite butchering documentation as it shows very clearly how to remove the anus without 'spilling the gut' and removing the gallbladder, two of my main concerns. Didn't get the esophagus detached enough at first but once that's done, and the anus detached the rest all came out pretty easy. It's hard to know what it means to 'reach in and grab the heart and pull it all out' until you actually feel it. Like most things, fear of the unknown/unexperienced holds true here too. Was able to get all the guts spread out and examined, like doing a dissection, interesting to me. Again no stink, until I sliced the intestine to examine internally out of curiosity.

 

Was able to do the whole job with just a utility knife(the old school kind that can be totally taken apart to wash), a brand new blade being essential, and some cheap but sharp scissors to snip skin and fascia. A scalpel would be nice but not necessary tho heavy duty poultry shears would really save time cutting thru between joints if doing more than one bird.

 

Writing this up for catharsis as well as to maybe assist someone else reading up before their first harvest.


I have to tell you aart, that this is the BEST ever butchering documentation.    Barr done  Thanks, I bookmarked it.    :weee

Moved to the Portland/Vancouver area in September.  BIG and beautiful.  

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/972255/byc-member-interview-lindab220 

 

Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.

Reply

Moved to the Portland/Vancouver area in September.  BIG and beautiful.  

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/972255/byc-member-interview-lindab220 

 

Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.

Reply
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Was able to grill this 15 week old cockerel and he was delicious!!

I grilled one breast half and one leg/thigh to see if it was too tough, and it was not. The meat is, we'll say toothsome but not tough, the flavor is full and rich. The skin was incredibly crunchy....even after reheating in microwave it stayed crunchy.  Grilled up the rest of it today for lunch...mmmmmm.

 

The resulting good food offsets the difficulty of the butchering.

Grocery bird flesh feels mushy and very bland after eating a homegrown bird.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by aart View Post
 

Was able to grill this 15 week old cockerel and he was delicious!!

I grilled one breast half and one leg/thigh to see if it was too tough, and it was not. The meat is, we'll say toothsome but not tough, the flavor is full and rich. The skin was incredibly crunchy....even after reheating in microwave it stayed crunchy.  Grilled up the rest of it today for lunch...mmmmmm.

 

The resulting good food offsets the difficulty of the butchering.

Grocery bird flesh feels mushy and very bland after eating a homegrown bird.


Yea!!!!    Good to know.    I'm getting close on my 12 wk old rooster.     :D

Moved to the Portland/Vancouver area in September.  BIG and beautiful.  

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/972255/byc-member-interview-lindab220 

 

Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.

Reply

Moved to the Portland/Vancouver area in September.  BIG and beautiful.  

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/972255/byc-member-interview-lindab220 

 

Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.

Reply
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Linking this for someone thought I'd add my harvest area set up.

 

 

and these nifty broom clamps worked great for the plucking station.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
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