Can I do this by myself?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by DawnSuiter, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. I have some extra roos, Buff Orps, which we planned on putting extra roos in the freezer. They are now 3.5 months old, and 2 or 3 are looking pretty yummy. The other 4 or so are still looking a little thin... space is becoming a premium around here and hubby and I weren't planning on butchering until the weather turned cool in the fall. I don't think we can wait that long.

    Being that DH is not prepared to butcher a chicken, and he's gone 90% of the time, and it's only 2 or 3 roosters... do you think I can do it myself? I'm pretty handy, although never slaughtered anything, needlessly or otherwise.

    I sort of feel like I have to get it done on my own first, I don't know.. to prove to myseelf that I can? or perhaps just to havev some experience before we handle a big group. Everyone always seems to have help with this... so.. what do you think?

    I don't have my materials yet I suppose, special knife or somthing. Was thinking of using the killing cones, but not sure about the actual method.. seems like slitting the throat is easier to handle than the knife in the brain & twist.. but the latter always has better reviews. How does that work with bleeding them out?

    help? advice?
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Can't see any reason why you couldn't do it alone - when I killed and processed our first chicken last month, I had never done anything remotely similar (aside from preserved fetal pig and rat dissections in long-ago biology labs) but it went just fine and took about 50 minutes from walking into the coop to get the chicken to putting him in the fridge. It would have taken less time had I not, as an experiment, about 85% plucked him and *then* also skinned him - I would guess that probably wasted 10 minutes or so. (e.t.a. - this was singlehanded; I doubt I will ever get DH within fifty feet of a chicken being killed or processed [​IMG])

    Read some of the online directions (they are stickied at the top of this forum) that have tips and photos, I found that helpful to organize and rehearse the procedures in my head.

    It really isn't rocket science, though.

    I used the axe and stump-with-two-nails method for my first time, because there was no chance of it going wrong or needing to be fiddled with for an unreasonable amount of time. You do have to expect some flailing around afterwards that way.

    Good luck, you CAN do it,

    Last edited: Sep 3, 2008
  3. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    The knife in the brain (called "pithing") is actually easier, to me. The neck skin is very loose and rubbery, and even with a sharp knife it can be difficult to cut cleanly.

    I have some velcro strips that are sold for wrapping around bundles of wires, (like excess phone cord length, extension cord storage, etc.) they're about the right size to hold chicken feet together. And reusable.

    Secure the feet. Put bird upside down in cone. hold beak open, see slot, stick the knife in, aiming at the rear upper portion of the scull. The bird is now dead. You can give it a little twist to make sure. Now you have a limp, motionless bird, you can now stretch out the unresisting neck and remove the head so it can bleed out, and there will be no flapping.

    From that point on, just follow the direction on the set of instructions that seem the most workable for you. I'd read several beforehand, to find the one you like best.

    Some only show how to skin, some show how to pluck, some only show what to do after the birds already dead and plucked, some show it all. I have not yet seen anything that shows pithing. Ninja Poodle is thinking of making a video, I hope she does. When I do mine, I'll be home alone, so nobody to take pics to show what I'm doing, unless I can get my neighbor to come over and man the camera. If I can get pics, I'll post them. I'll be doing a few birds next week, sometime.
  4. Pithing does really sound like the way to go, along with cones. I have instructions in one of my chicken books I'll have to go back & reread all of that before I process.

    They also mention making "ghetto cones" or that's what I'm calling them.. out of old milk/water jugs. I certainly have tons of those here.

    dancingbear - how does the cone stay attached to the bird if the bird is hanging from it's feet. I thought the CONE was hung and the bird sorta, I dunno, I guess just stayed in it....

  5. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    You hang the cone, you can attach it to a post or wall or fence, anything that it can be attached to and rest against so that it's stable enough not to dump out the bird. Securing the feet keeps the bird from being able to launch itself out of the cone before you can dispatch it.

    Then after the bird is dead, you can pull the head down firmly and cut it off, and leave the bird upside down in the cone to bleed out. If your cone isn't where you want the blood running out, you can transfer the bird to where you want, and hang it by the feet before you cut off the head.

    Plastic milk jugs and other such containers should work just fine, cut off the bottom of the jug. Some people use traffic cones, (trimmed to size, and mounted on a wall or post) you can get those at most "big box" hardware stores.
  6. Thanks, I have 4 waiting for dispatch and I think I'll try my first one this week/weekend. Obviously if I can get through it, I'll do all 4. Wish me luck.

    I plan to try both skinning & plucking but I don't have the setup to scald or wax so most will likely be skinned these first few times.
  7. pdpatch

    pdpatch Songster

    Apr 5, 2008
    Hastings, Nebraska
    The quickest method we found to dispatch the chickens while using a killing cone is a pair of sharpened tree loppers.

    As far a skinning, we eave the skin on them as it helps keep the moisture in the meat while cooking.

    For scalding we use a turkey fryer, most come with just about everything you need. Burner, pot and lid, stand, thermometer, the propane tank is usually extra. You just need something to hange the chicken from so you can pluck.

    A fish fillet knife works well for a beginer it will do most of the cutting you need to do while butchering. Most come sharp enough to use out of the package. I usually find myself grabbing one even though have a set of knifes to butcher with.

    Having running water near by also helps a lot. A garden hose works well.

    For lung removal tool I use one of those fish scale removers, and a melon ball maker with serated edges.
  8. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    To dispatch the bird I use a cone and a good sharp knife and slit the throat. I don't have a good place to hang the cone so I use a board to slit against and then quickly pick the bird up by it's feet and hang to bleed out and pluck.

    You can dry pluck a bird if you haven't chopped the head off to kill it. You debrain them.

    Here's an excert from Storey's Guede to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow.

    "Debraining helps loosen feathers for hand picking. After cutting the vein for bleeding, insert your knife into the mouth, its sharp edge toward the groove at the roof. Push the knife toward the back of the skull and give it a one-quarter twist. The trick is to avoid sticking the front of the brain, whick causes feathers to tighten instead of loosen. You can tell your knife hits home when reflex causes the bird to shudder and utter a characteristic squawk."

    I have had good luck plucking birds this way. I usually do the big wing and tail feathers first as they can be the hardest and are better done when the bird is at it's warmest.
  9. Can someone answer for me, how to deal with the crop?

    I'm wondering, how do those who hatchet off heads deal with the crop? Wasn't it mostly cut off or at least open during the chop?

    I watched many how-tos and the most detailed seemed to indicate that the crop comes out with the insides.. but somehow, that doesn't seem logical if it's located outide the carcass on the "other" side..

    does this make any sense?
  10. pdpatch

    pdpatch Songster

    Apr 5, 2008
    Hastings, Nebraska
    The crop is located low enough, and below where you chop the head off. So you won't be chopping the crop out if you use the hatchet method.

    This one close to how I do it.

    The above link kind of show How I do it. I remove the crop from the front of the bird.

    The pictures there is easier to follow then the text.

    I cut the skin on each side of the near the neck on each side of the crop. The carefully loosen membranes fingers to expose the crop. I cut the crop out and the neck off at the same time once I have exposed it and can see where it is.

    I have done both full and empty crops this way.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2008

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