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Cut-throat butchering (*GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS*)

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Sunny Side Up, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    In the past I've used several different methods to dispatch chickens, but yesterday I used the "cut-throat method" and now think it's the best for me & my birds.

    I've done the "yank method", holding the head under a stick held down by my feet and yanking up on the chicken's legs, the "chop method", beheading them with a hatchet or machete on a stump, and once tried pithing. All these methods resulted in flapping, flopping chickens, and too much blood remaining in the meat while I cleaned it.

    I hadn't yet tried cutting the neck arteries, for lack of a killing cone and also because I was still squeemish about the process. I didn't want to be so close to all that spurting blood, didn't want to be so close to the actual killing. You know, with an axe or stick you're still at some distance to The Deed, with a knife you have to get right close to their face.

    But I found it to be a very quick and calm method of dispatching. Here's what I did:

    I use a reclaimed metal garden-swing frame to hang the birds from, for slicing & bleeding, and then for plucking. I put a black plastic liner in a garbage can below and found it to be helpful in both catching the blood and hiding the scary redness. Each bird was caught, had his legs zip-tied together, and soothed by holding him head-down and having his keel stroked. Then I laid him on the table and wrapped a length of duct tape completely around him to hold his wings against his body. He would still be calm, still talked to soothingly, and hung by his feet from the frame. It's important to have a strong hook, or sturdy twine/rope, to hold him. You don't want him slipping off.

    It's also important to have a good sharp knife for the slicing. I may use a box-cutter, or razor blade, or a filet knife next time. With plastic-gloved hands I grabbed the head (covering his eyes) pulled the neck taut, and sliced into the neck, just below the jaw, on each side. You'll know you got the right spot when you see the stream of blood from the artery. That's as far as you need to slice.

    There wasn't a lot of splattering blood because I'd hold the head down in place for about 30-60 seconds, for most of it to drain. Then I could re-hook the feet to a lower/longer hook, so the head was below the rim of the garbage can. If I had another helper I could have had them do this sooner while I held the head down. There was some thrashing, but the mess was contained in the lined can. It seemed the better job I did of slicing the artery the less the bird thrashed. They were already in a calmed state, and seemed to go limp with the first cut.

    I let them bleed out for several minutes, didn't time it, but it seems that was all the time it needed. Enough time to get someone to pull the pot of water off the stove and bring it outside. Then I'd slice off the head, scald, pluck, & clean. Previously we'd always have some blood on the cutting table while cleaning the chickens, this time there was almost none.

    I had been nervous about trying this method, but now I think it's the one I'll use from now on. Until I find that breed of chicken that process themselves. Maybe next time I'll use a soft rope with a slip-knot to hold the feet instead of zip-ties, to reduce even that much waste & cost. I thought it was cool to have found yet another handy use for duct tape, but I'd also like to find something re-usable like a belt or an Ace bandage.

    I hope this might help some folks with their processing procedures.
  2. 2468Chickensrgr8

    2468Chickensrgr8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2007
    Just came apon your thread....very interesting....you sound like me in a way....I have never personally did the deed....when i was younger i did the stinky plucking.....I have been on this sight for a year almost now and its people like you that are helping me get the courage up to do the deed...I thank you....it was well written....

    But still I am glad I have an elderly Italian neighbour who has an Italian wife that likes to cook !!!

    But I am going to keep your thread to read over again to give me the courage !! thanks again....Its the details that helped me...
  3. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    It's also important to have a good sharp knife for the slicing. I may use a box-cutter, or razor blade, or a filet knife next time.

    I asked for some butcher knives for Christmas and received some Victorinox skinning, breaking, and boning knives. I thought our regularly chefs cutlery was sharp, but these things are razor sharp:


    Maybe next time I'll use a soft rope with a slip-knot to hold the feet instead of zip-ties, to reduce even that much waste & cost.

    That was my first thought when you mentioned the zip ties. I was thinking of a cotton cord with loops on both ends. One end for the birds legs and the other to hang on a hook from your swing frame.

    Great writeup!​

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