Today is the day I processed 14 of the 15 fry pan bargain chicks. It would have been 15 but I did have one pullet in the bunch so she was given a pardon. These guys are 21 weeks this week and are a good size and weight.
Two Havalon Edge knives ( I highly recommend these for processing. They are amazing for both killing and processing afterwards. The blade is a razor blade and it comes with replacements so when they get dull you can replace the blade with a new one. I also have a pair of loppers that I got at a hunting store years ago and use every year. These are great for breaking the neck to get the head off and also for helping with taking the neck off as you process out your bird. This year my husband got me a new knife called the Outdoor Edge to try that is a little bit longer and has a wider blade so that is the third blade on the table.
I have a foldable table that I wash down with bleach and antibacterial dish detergent for each processing. I have a frame we built with three kill cones on it. The two outside cones are for small turkeys the inside is a large chicken. I usually kill chickens in the middle one then move them to the turkey cones to bleed out. I use a rubbermaid tote that is also washed with bleach and antibacterial soap and then has clean water in it and salt and ice to keep the chickens cold as I do them. I use a large hunting sled to catch the blood from the chickens and then I drag that out into the pasture and bury it with the offal I don't eat or feed to my dogs so that predators don't get at it. I use a turkey fryer to heat the water with a large candy thermometer to check when it's ready for dunking and I have a tub plucker for plucking the birds.
I use shrink bags for packaging the birds. I hated them the first year until I learned you needed to get the turkey fryer water to 170ish and hold them under for 10 minutes with a straw through the end and zip tied in the bag so the air can escape out. It seals the birds very nicely and looks very nice post processing.
My findings with this batch. My lightest bird was a dominique and it was 4 lbs live weight. In fact most of the dominiques were on the lighter side. I had three wellsummer roos and they were the next size up followed by the Australorps and then the Orpingtons. Largest roo was close to 7 and a half pounds live weight using a standard luggage scale.
Weights of the birds after processing ranged from 2 1/2 lbs for the light little dominiques up to 5 lbs. When I process the birds I remove the feet, offal and necks and I also take of the tail. I was originally taught by someone who had been processing for years and this is how he had always done it and it just has become habit. I keep the gizzards, liver, heart, lungs, kidneys, testicles, feet, and necks in a separate bag from the chickens and they either would get eaten by us or my dogs who are all raw fed. I use the necks feet and backs to make stock with fresh veg and try to use as much of the birds as I can.
Total processing time was a total of 4.5 hours but I was slowed down by taking pictures and weighing birds. Without that I would have been closer to 3 hours.
Recent User Reviews
"Very good article, little improvement needed"
- 4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Sep 12, 2019
A very good article, indeed! All the tools are being showed, the setup is described in detail and then there's the end-product: A processed chicken in a bag, ready for the freezer.
How did you end the cockerels life? What did you do with all the blood? How to process a bird (get all the guts out)? - Not asking for bloody gruesome pictures, just a few sentences, explaining the necessary steps.
"More about the actual processing of the bird"
- 4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Sep 8, 2019
I liked the set up and the details about the knives.
I would have like to have seen pictures and read descriptions of exactly how you went about processing the cockerels after they had bled out.
I am trying to gear myself up to process my first two cockerels and I need to learn and prepare myself for what to expect and what needs to be done.