Advice for a first timer?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by jeepgirl13, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. jeepgirl13

    jeepgirl13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey all, hope you are all having a good new year! I am currently working my way on to being pretty darn self-sufficient, growing and raising my own food especially, and i have decided to come here for advice.

    I recently found myself with a couple extra roosters from the last batch of chicks I got. I really don't like the attitude of the one. He is very rough and forceful with my hens, tearing out the feathers on their heads and ripping up their backs. Its worse when the other rooster, the one my hens seem to like, mates them, because the bad roo will run over when the good roo is mating, and grab the hens head, (with the good roo on her still), try to mount her, and when he is unsuccessful claws and scratches the HECK out of the poor lady on the ground. My poor girls are so ragged looking because of this now. :'( SO, since I spent money on feed and dedicated much time to raising this bird, I have decided to butcher instead of re-home. Aside from that, I also do not want to pass this bad roo onto someone else, or allow his genes to continue.

    Is there any advice anyone has to give a first timer on processing? Mistakes you can share so others can learn? Tips or tricks to help make the whole thing easier on everyone? Supplies I may need? What about prepping the meat for cooking? I've let it rest in a brine for three days.before cooking, anything else to add? How old is too old for butchering?

    I've been doing a lot of reading and video watching, and now want advice from all you experts out there. I eventually want to have a small flock of meat birds, so I really want this to go right.

    Please feel free to share do's and dont's, stories, pics, and your experiences. Anything you may feel you wish you knew your first time processing.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Just take a deep breath, know you gave it a good life, and whack its head off with an ax. You really don't need anything but a sharp knife, though a big pot of 140 degree water for loosening the feathers is a lot of help - unless you plan on skinning them, which is faster and easier. Brining for a few hours is probably sufficient, then lit him rest in the refrig for a couple of days. (People do these things many different ways.) There is no such thing as too old, but the older they are, the more important long, slow cooking methods are. The classic French recipe for coq au vin calls for a two year old rooster.

    Look at the stickies on this forum -- threads linked in the box just under "meat birds" in the forum view, where you see the list of thread titles. There are excellent instructions with pictures there for how to process, and also an excellent article on cooking and eating this kind of chicken meat.
     
  3. jeepgirl13

    jeepgirl13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 13, 2013
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    Thank you!

    I cook almost all my meats low and slow, they come out so much more juicy and flavorful that way.

    I have read some people prefer to slit the throat rather than lop off the head, and I have heard the opposite also. Does the killing method affect the flavor/tenderness/appearance of the bird at all?
    How long should I let the blood drain?
    Do I need to cage him for a day prior to butchering? I read something about doing this to reduce the amount of feces in the intestine, which in turn reduces the risk of poisoning the meat should you puncture the intestines. How much truth is there to this?
    I never eat the skin of animals. It grosses me out. Lol. So I can skin it with the feathers in tact? The bird has very beautiful feathers. I was hoping to save them if possible for some crafts. How can I get them out of the skin without damaging them?

    This will be my first time eating fresh chicken. I'm very excited and plan to do this this weekend. I may take pics and do a write up on it. Thank you very much for your info! I'm off to the area you suggested to do more reading!!
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Again, there is no one "right" way. Someone may well disagree with much of what I say. But, I have done this, a number of times.

    Slitting the throat is popular, yes, and it may ensure a better blood drain than cutting off the head. I would think it would be difficult to do properly without a killing cone, though. We cut off heads then hang them by a foot, and they drain pretty thoroughly in a few minutes. Probably the ideal method is a certain way of sticking an ice pick through the top of the mouth into the brain. followed by the throat slit. The bird is instantly unaware of anything, but the heart beats for a while, thus clearing all blood out. I have never tried this as I have never seen it done and would be afraid of making a mistake.

    What can affect the taste and tenderness of the meat is the chicken doing a lot of running / being chased before the kill, as this gets the testosterone flowing. This is most of why caging for a day is a good idea. An early morning kill is a good idea for the same reason.

    Caging reduces food in the intestine, yes -- but you will not ruin your meat if some feces touches the meat. It's just a lot messier. Just flush it thoroughly with water if it happens. (A hose or faucet handy is also almost a necessity, as is a container of ice water.) What will ruin the meat is the contents of the gall bladder (bile) touching it -- a very small, dark green organ the size of a medium capsule, near the gizzard. If this happens, you will want to toss that portion of the meat. Just learn beforehand where it is and be careful not to cut it so close you open it.

    Good processing!

    I would definitely skin rather than pluck, then. Yes, you can skin it with the feathers intact. I'm afraid I don't know anything about saving feathers. You can pull them out without blanching, it just takes more effort.
     
  5. jeepgirl13

    jeepgirl13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you! You have been very helpful! :) I found a wonderful write-up with pictures for every step done by a gentleman whose name escapes me right now in the stickies section you directed me to. It seems there is a lot more to this site than shows on the mobile version! Didn't know about the testosterone though. Good to know!

    Thank you again for your advice! Love this place! Such a wealth of information! :)
     
  6. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    You're welcome! Almost all my info comes from reading BYC. And we hope you will find that the sticky section on the other forums is also quite helpful.
     

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