butchered our first foul today


In the Brooder
5 Years
Jun 3, 2014
Questions and journal LOL-

we hatched chicks in march and today we butchered two roo- 8 mos old

this was our first experience. we watched youtube videos and learned a lot today-

1. SHARP knives are a must 2. learn how to bleed them 3. need sharp meat cleaver -

We got them done and used our crawfish pot to dunk them to remove the feathers- they didnt come out a pretty as those hens in the store ! Are roos tougher than a hen to butcher ? They dont have near the meat on them- what would have been the ideal age to butcher them should be raise more in the spring?

need suggestions on equipment ! a knife that will hold an edge and be easy to sharpen thanks for any advice !!


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Compost King

Free Ranging
Apr 19, 2018
Salisbury, North Carolina
If you want more meat you need to get birds (hybrids) specific to meat production. 8 Months is rather old I guess but I never processed a heritage breed. Looking at the roosters I have had 6 months is when I would dress them out but since I never have done that with heritage breeds I would believe someone else over me. I had Red Rangers (meat hybrid) this year, I gave 2 males to a Neighbor at 12 weeks when they seemed to reach peak meat to Feed conversion.


9 Years
Jun 3, 2013
North Alabama
I use a utility knife. If you get a disposable one, you just advance the blade and snap off the dull one. Can't be beat for sharpness. I also have Henkel knife that stays razor sharp with just a few swipes on the steel. I don't use a cleaver. For the neck, I just use pruners from the garden supplies. If you cut the joints properly you won't be cutting bones other than cutting the head off.


Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
On equipment, you can get a knife that deer hunters and others use to skin an animal. It has a replaceable blade. If you google "hunting knife replaceable blade" you'll get a lot of hits. I can't remember which brand I got.

I suggest an investment in poultry shears. I use those instead of the knife for joints or any place I might be cutting bone. That keeps the knife sharper.

When to butcher is a wide open question. We all have our preferences for many different reasons. When a cockerel goes through adolescence the hormones add flavor and more texture develops. Also connective tissue similar to ligaments or tendons develop to hold the skin to the carcass. I skin mine instead of pluck. That connective tissue starts getting noticeable around 5 months. The older they are the tougher it is to butcher, especially if you cut them up into serving pieces instead of leaving the carcass whole.

The older they get the more limited you are in how to cook them. If you want to grill or fry them you need to butcher pretty young. If you roast you can go a bit longer. You can bake them when they are even older. But at some point you are restricted to stews, soups, pressure canners, or crock pots. You can make a gourmet meal out of a rooster several years old (like Coq au Vin) but you need to know how to cook it. Old roosters make the best broth by far.

I don't know what breeds you have but our dual purpose birds will not grow like the Cornish X and will not have the same configuration. If your standard is the Cornish X from the store you may be disappointed in the flavor texture, or ratio of white to dark meat with our dual purpose birds.

Some people butcher at 12 weeks. There is not much meat there at all but you can still grill or fry them, plus that's generally before they hit adolescence and start crowing for people not allowed to have roosters. Others for their own reasons prefer other ages. 16 weeks seems to be a popular age. I prefer mine around 23 weeks, that suits my goals. How you feed them can make a difference. If you keep them locked up and feed them a high powered diet they will grow a lot faster. If they forage for most of what they eat they will not grow as fast and may not get as big, but your feed bill might be less.

There are a lot of moving parts to what the best age to butcher is. Try a few different ages and see what works best for you.


12 Years
Dec 1, 2007
Puna, Big Island, HI
I'm too sleepy to write a comprehensive list at the moment, but one tip I can share is to obtain a traffic cone to make into a "kill cone". You turn the thing upside down, firmly affix the rigid part of its base to a wall on a shed, tree, etc, and cut off a couple inches of the tip (skinny end).

They go in upside down, head and neck exposed through the skinny hole. Keeps them still and secured so they're not spinning around, trying to do curl-ups and flapping. There's also no need to tie feet this way.

Not my photo:


Smiling. I'm up to something.
5 Years
May 19, 2017
Swamps of Texas
Disposable blade knives or a carbon steel blade. The disposable will be cheaper. A good carbon blade is out there. Look at the MORA knives. If you have no interest in knives, disposables are your friend. You will need to dress/hone/strap/sharpen a knife depending on use. Don't cut bone. Feathers don't help either.

I use one heavy knife for bleeding and a second "steak knife" for the finer cuts. Works better for me. The 5" MORA is good.

Meat cleavers are good for hacking. The steak knife will cut the sinew and the joints come apart. Your choice. Brute force or finesse. They both get the job done.

Crawfish pot or turkey fryer. Both work great. Temperature is critical. Get a good thermometer. Too much and the skin comes off. Too little and the feathers are a fight.

Remember the scrawny rubber chickens? Those roos are real birds. The grocery store CX are the "abnormal" ones. What is your baseline? Yes, breeds other than CX will look scrawny compared to the mass produced grocery store birds.

What age to butcher? Like Ridgerunner said, try it. You may like it. There is no one answer.

Congratulations on your first butcher. Wishing you many more.

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