AAaaaagh ... the SMELL ...

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Theo, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. Theo

    Theo Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 1, 2010
    OK, egged on by the recent successes of other members, I decided to butcher my rooster today. I recently lost two out of three hens to predators, and I am about to add 10 half grown chicks to the chicken yard, so it just seemed like the right time to process Mr. Stew.

    The things that went right:

    It was not a huge emotional deal. I did not faint or get sick. I used a loop of rope on a stick to lasso Stew, then I grabbed his feet and held him upside down. Once he was upside down, all the fight went out of him. I hung him up and slashed his jugular with a box cutter. Deed done, no pain or suffering. Took 30 seconds.

    I used my enamel canner for scalding. I didn't use a thermometer, I just took the water off the heat as soon as it looked seething hot. I forgot the dishwashing liquid, but that didn't seem to matter. A few swishes in the water, and the feather came right off. The tail and wing feathers needed some pulling but all other feathers were easy to remove. It took a few minutes to pluck the carcase clean. I hung the bird up again and used one of those charcoal lighters with the long neck to burn off the hairs. It worked well and did not leave any smudges.

    I had my equipment laid out. I did the scalding and gutting outdoors. That was a good idea, because the smell was indeed very bad and lingering. I used a card table covered with a vinyl table cloth, a large enamel basin for feathers, blood and guts, an ice chest for the carcase and bits I wanted.

    Things that didn't go so well:

    I used a box cutter, because I was away from home. Our farm house is rented to a friend, and I could not in good conscience use her stuff for butchering my chicken. So because I forgot to bring a good knife, I was reduced to using the box cutter. It turns out that you -can- use a box cutter for this work. you could probably do it just with your teeth and fingernails too, but it is not recommended. The box cutter did a neat and efficient job of cutting the jugular vein, but it did a lousy job of everything else. The carcase was pretty hacked up when I was finished.

    Using the outdoor setup was definitely not a sanitary operation. I just tried to get the plucking done and the guts out as fast as possible, get the carcase washed (in the bathtub in my tenant's house, sorry, Angela) and get it on ice as quickly as possible. The whole thing took about 30 minutes, so I'm hoping the meat is still good and we won't all die from chicken poisoning when we eat it.

    When I got to the gutting part, it was harder than I thought to get the guts out of the cavity. I thought they'd just flop out with a little coaxing from me, but no: they were firmly held in place with extra-strength connective tissues. I tried "hand dissecting" the tissues, then I hacked at it with my box cutter. Eventually I yanked everything out, and I was lucky I didn't split open the guts while doing it. Similarly, when I opened the neck, the crop did not gracefully fall out as I thought it would. It was down in the neck cavity, and it took a good deal of cutting and tugging to get it to come out (maybe because of the way I lassoed my bird).

    Also, my Fiskar pruning shears where not as useful as I'd hoped they'd be, when it came to cuttng off the neck and feet. I'll try the tin snips next time.

    The smell is indeed atrocious and lingering. It didn't help that I splashed the dirty scalding water all over my feet when I was throwing it away. My crocks, socks and feet were soaked. Even though I wore rubber gloves throughout the process, my hands definitely stank. When I got home, I put all my clothes and my crocks in the washer with some ensyme cleaner and put it on soak. I showered, but I still smelled chicken on my hands. I remembered another post suggesting that the smell might linger in your nose, so I tried nasal lavage with a saline solution. Voila! The smell is gone. Granted, it may be that I just stunned my smelling apparatus with the saline solution, but one way or another, it worked.

    So there you have it. The rooster was an 18 month old Buff Orpington; the carcase weighed 4.5 pounds dressed out. The innards had some fat on them, but they looked pretty healthy. I am going to cook him on Sunday. I'll probably make chicken and dumplings.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2011
  2. gertiie

    gertiie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2011
    Warsaw, Indiana
    get the carcase washed (in the bathtub in my tenant's house, sorry, Angela)

    What an adventure. I dont think I could do it . Interesting though and thank you for sharing that , now I know what goes on !​
  3. itsy

    itsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 14, 2011
    New England
    Poor Angela!!! [​IMG]

    I felt the similarities between our two adventures. A couple things I would agree on: The crop on my bird was much further down than I expected as well. I also used an enamel canning pot. I agree - the guts didn't come out as gracefully as I imagined, either. I was wet, too. YUCK! Washing the bird in the tub, though? Notsomuch. Did you use Ivory or Dove? [​IMG]

    I don't believe I've ever had chicken and dumplings. I should try it sometime.

    Thanks for sharing your experience! It made me feel better to read it!!!
  4. Theo

    Theo Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 1, 2010
    I just rinsed the carcase, in the tub instead of the kitchen sink because there were some dishes in the sink ... I am not the ideal landlord, I am always going in the house. My tenant doesn't mind, she is well named! She also feeds my chickens for me.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2011
  5. louloubean

    louloubean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 19, 2009
    OC, NY
    the second one will go easier!

    check out the meat bird notable archives. the guy in the pictures uses heavy duty scissors a lot. i found that helps!

    also try putting some dish soap into your scalder and ice bath, that helps takes away some feather stink, and it's easier to pull feathers.

    guts always stink. try getting your hand inside and loosening all the way around before pulling, it should come out cleaner.

    good luck!

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