Butchering/aging/timing question

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by wafflechicken, Aug 15, 2013.

  1. wafflechicken

    wafflechicken Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 25, 2012
    So I have several weeks yet before the first round but I have a question that I ran up against last year.

    Or several...

    I was under the impression that once you killed a bird you needed to immediately pluck and gut it. But then I've seen stuff on hunting boards and cooking shows with fully intact birds - feathers, heads, guts.

    I'm a smallish operation here. And by smallish I mean just me and by operation I mean birds for my own freezer.

    Thus far I've only had a few things to cull and been able to do just one thing at a time. This spring I had, while not as nice of a hatch as I wanted, still a fair few birds. And things are a few weeks off but I'm trying to figure out the logistics. I don't have anyone that can help me to make things go faster so having more than one is not an option.

    Given that there's just one of me, I don't want to freak the rest of the birds out and I'm new enough that plucking still takes a while:

    1) The upshot question - can I cull 8 or 10 birds and then chill them (not freeze) for a while before I pluck/clean them?
    1a) More to the point can I cull birds and leave them entirely intact through rigor and THEN pluck and clean provided they're kept cool? (and, in this case what would "cool" need to be?)

    I just think culling all I want to at once will freak the flock out less than having 14-20 days of their friends disappearing one at a time. You think they don't know but I've had the turkeys follow me and call to their friend right up until the point I killed it and then keen for 15 minutes after. I don't want to go through that with the ducks and geese and chickens (and yes, more turkeys), the first two of which are VERY close to each other.

    And if anyone has any thoughts on making this easier for me (but I DO want to save my down) then I'd love any advice. I know I'll get quicker with experience but I've got to start somewhere and somewhere at this point is... nowhere.
  2. thriftyfarmer

    thriftyfarmer Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 24, 2013
    I don't have any personal experience aging birds in their feathers... but, I read a book once that talked about it.

    Check it out here:

    The River Cottage Meat Book

    Great book that covers meat of all varieties, but also has a section about poultry and fowl.
  3. rswojo

    rswojo Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 10, 2013
    If the bird sits for a while after being killed the crop is extremely difficult to remove, it sticks to the skin like glue. Game birds are different in that they are not plucked nor is the skin saved. The feathers, skin, crop and guts all go at once. If you don't pluck and save the skin they don't have to be cleaned right away but I still wouldn't let any animal sit around with the guts in it for too long.

    I kill four at a time, pluck, remove crop and guts, repeat.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2013

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