Can I 'harvest' my roos myself?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by jnbyoung, Jun 17, 2010.

  1. jnbyoung

    jnbyoung In the Brooder

    May 3, 2010
    Greer, SC
    I'm thinking since I put forth the effort to raise them on an organic free-ranged diet(they're 9 weeks or so) could I maybe be brave enough to do the deed? Is it worth the effort to have 2 birds (WR and BR roos). The EE roo is way too small to think about *gulp* eating.
  2. Dar

    Dar Crowing

    Jul 31, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  3. jnbyoung

    jnbyoung In the Brooder

    May 3, 2010
    Greer, SC
    I read that one before (eeek!) I just have absolutely no equipment (besides knives and scissors) and don't want to buy any just to be rid of my roos.
    I was wondering too at about what age I should do it? The big BR roo is making himself a pest by waking the neighborhood up but he's only 9 weeks and doesn't seem all that big.
  4. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    You don't really need a bunch of equipment. I strung a line behind our shed, you can use a tree limb, or whatever, to hang them upside down for the slaughter. I tie a slip-loop to go around the legs. I do the slice on each side of the throat to bleed them out quickly. The last ones I did, a few days ago, I did as another BYC'er suggested and put duct tape around the wings to stop them flapping. It was nice not to get beaten by the wings while I was holding the head down to help it bleed out faster. And they didn't tear their wings up. Or you can make a cone from a 2-gallon bleach jug. For scalding, I use a big pot on the stove, with a candy thermometer to check the temp. (Target for me is 145-150F) I use another empty pot, or large bowl, or a bucket, to plop them into after I scald, so I don't drip water all over as I take them to the sink. I pluck them in the sink, throw the feathers into an empty buck to dump on the compost pile when I'm done. Rubber kitchen gloves are great to remove pin feathers. Or you can get some rough textured rubbery-sort of gloves at Walmart, in the paint department, those are probably better, because of the texture, better traction on the feathers.

    I line an empty coffee can with a double layer of empty bread bags. Or a bowl with plastic grocery bags. That's my gut bucket. The feet I toss to one side on the counter, if I feel ambitious I peel off the membrane to save them for stock, if not, when I'm done I wrap them in newspaper, so the claws don't rip holes in the plastic bag. The bags in the gut bucket gets tied shut, and along with the feet, if I'm not saving them get put into a double layer of plastic grocery bags, and I stash them in the deep freeze until garbage day. If I had my compost pile where the dogs couldn't get into it, I'd put the remains there, and bury them.

    I use one very very sharp fillet knife for slaughter, and use the same knife when gutting.

    So, the equipment list:

    a line or tree limb or some such to hang them from, upside down, or a bleach jug for a cone (and something to attach it to)

    sharp knife

    a pot big enough to dunk a bird in, and slosh it around, (mine's an enamel water-bath canner, you can probably find one cheap at a thrift store or yard sale)

    A bowl or pot or bucket, to catch drips while moving the birds from pot to sink (and to carry the birds into the house without dripping blood all over)

    empty coffee can

    some empty bread bags or grocery bags



    a bucket or some such to throw feathers in

    Before doing this, especially since it's your first time, I strongly suggest watching the Polyface Farm evisceration videos, and also the slaughter videos. They helped me a lot.

    Slaughter and bleed out:

    don't have the nice cones, but the technique is the same. I do a few things differently than Joel, I keep the gizzards, and he doesn't show lung removal, I don't recall if he shows how to cut off the feet.

    Plucking: Scald until a big feather on each wing slides out easily, and a big tail feather does likewise. I use rubber gloves, yank out the big wing and tail feathers first, then start ripping out all the rest. Once the bulk of the feathers are gone, I give it a rinse, then rub all over, against the direction of growth, with the rubber gloves. Almost all the small feathers will come right out. I've gotten faster at this, but I still take at least 12 minutes per bird to pluck. I find it helps to pull the skin one way with one hand, while rubbing in the opposite direction with the other, so the skin is pulled taut while you rub off the feathers. So it's pull to right with the right hand, rub toward the left with the left hand. Or vice versa.

    Feet removal: I lay the bird on it's back, after I'm finished plucking. Bend the leg like the bird would bend it when roosting, pushing the foot in toward the abdomen. As the hock joint bends, you'll see a bulge where the joint is. Moving from the joint toward the foot, just barely past the bulge, still right up against it, that's where you cut. That's where the bones meet, and there's cartilage and tendon, rather than bone, to get through. Gently slice in right there, not real hard, you don't want to dull the knife on bone. The skin and tendons will be cut, and the toes will fall open. Cut through the skin on the side of the joint, give the leg a bit of a twist, and the joint will separate. Then you can easily see where to cut through the remaining soft tissue. You will not be cutting through bone, if you do it right.

    Head removal: As close to the head as possible, slide the knife in, dull side toward the bones, and cut outward through the throat tissues. Cut only through the soft tissue, all the way around. Put down the knife, and twist the head around to pop the neck, There's natural weak spot where the head and skull connect, that's where you want to twist it off. It comes off easily.

    Neck removal: Cut through the soft tissue around the base of the neck, as close to the body as you can get, down between the shoulders a bit. I like to pull some skin down toward the body before I do this, so that once the neck's off, the breast and back meat nearest the neck opening will have skin over it, so it doesn't dry out in cooking. Once the muscle id cut all the way around, put down the knife, and bend the neck in a 'U' shape. It wants to bend that way naturally, anyway. Wrap your hand around the U-bend, and twist the neck to break it near the body, where you cut through the muscle. It's harder to twist free than the head, but not too hard.

    Note that you do not try to cut bone in any of this. You do not need shears, a cleaver, loppers, etc., to do any of it.

    Depending on how old your roos are, the wings flapping may not be much of a problem. With my older DP roos, they've never been a problem. With some younger meat birds, broiler type, the wings aren't as strong, and they broke the bones and ripped through the skin, they flapped so hard. However, the flapping does splatter blood around, and if you don't have your hand positioned just right, they can make it really hard to keep your grip on the head. I try to hold onto the head and keep it bent back a bit to keep the cuts open so they bleed faster.

    If you can't get a hold of a pot big enough to scald in, you can fill one side of the kitchen sink with very hot tap water, then add boiling water until it's hot enough to scald. A thermometer helps a lot. Last week I did 5 roos, I scalded the first two, got them plucked, then scalded the remaining three. I ran hot tap water on them on any spots that got too cool and started holding too tight to the feathers. But mostly, they came right out, even when the birds were starting to cool off.

    Sorry I can't post pics, I'm usually by myself when I process, I can't really take pics while I work.

    The parts I didn't go into detail on, will be clear when you watch the videos.

    Oh, BTW, the older the birds, the harder to clean, because the connective tissues get a lot stronger, and some of what would be cartilage on a younger birds, turns to bone as they mature. For example, even 5 month old roos are fairly easy to clean, but I butchered a couple of roos that were about a year and a half old, I thought I'd never get those boys done, the innards did NOT want to come out, and I had a hard time getting the feet, heads, and necks off. I left the neck attached on one, I'll cook him that way, too. He'll be a crock-pot bird anyway. Lately, I've started leaving the necks attached, most of the time. It won't hurt a thing, and gets you out of the kitchen a littke sooner, especially with an older roo.

    Yeah, you can do it, lots of us do. There's no reason to go through all the hassle and expense to get somebody else to do it, especially just for 2 birds. Hope this was helpful, and good luck to you!
  5. NevadaRon

    NevadaRon Songster

    May 28, 2010
    Here's a great video on how to "do the deed" [​IMG]

    Be sure to wach Part 2 also.
  6. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    NevadaRon, thanks, nice video. I haven't seen the whole thing yet, I'm on dial-up and it takes forever to load. He scalds at a much higher temp than most, but it's sure faster. I'd be concerned about ruining the skin, unless it's an older bird. His feathers sure came off easily though. With really young broilers, my hot tap water was hot enough, (around 120F) but for older ones, I need around 145-150F, they take about 2 minutes to scald. That was too hot with younger birds, the skin was too delicate for that much heat, even when dunked quickly. Of course, my thermometer, or the video guy's thermometer, could be off by a bit.

    Anyway, I've watched the first bit, just past using the plucker. I'll watch the rest later, it's time to sleep!

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