Did Some Flock Management Today

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by bobbi-j, Jan 18, 2015.

  1. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Today was the day. We butchered and canned 11 three-year old laying hens and 7 extra cockerels. I've gotta say it - no matter how many times we do it, no matter how necessary it is - I hate it when it comes time to cull the hens. The cockerels don't bother me at all. I know they're going to go. But the hens... I suppose it's because I've had them for a couple of years and have become somewhat attached. Thankfully, DH was able to hold the bird and wield the hatchet without my help. (It's easier for him if I hold the bird, but he knows it bothers me with the hens). Once the deed is done, I'm fine. I still have a dozen pullets and one cockerel left. Hoping for some broodies this summer for more roosters to process. Out of the birds we did today, I got 17 pints and 6 quarts of meat. Not a bad day's work.
     
  2. the1913trio

    the1913trio Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow that is a good day's work! Shoot I was hoping that at some point it wouldn't be kind of sad when it comes time to cull the "favorites" out of the chickens once they age. I see you have 25+ yrs under your belt so it sounds like a more permanent sort of issue. But maybe it helps to know that for a chicken they have had a good, long life (think of the stats of how many would die in the wild as babies and their risk of death each subsequent year of life- so 3 yrs is pretty darn good considering!).

    I agree also about the cockerels (esp the ornery ones)! [​IMG]

    ***In all your years dealing with different breeds, what would you say have been your top few favorite breeds? Thanks!
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Good Job!!

    Wish I had someone to help.

    How do you pluck....or do you skin?
    I like the skin but need a good way to hang the bird over the feather bucket while I strip the feathers.
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Congratulations! Your honey is sweet to help you with that, knowing it bothers you.
    That's a good amount of meat. Do you bone before canning?
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Aart: do you have a tree that you can hang the birds from? I use my back deck which is about 6' above ground level. Piece of baling twine from a nail, or even tied to the rail above.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I harvest in the garage, would love some nice fixture to hold the feet....might have to design/build myself.
     
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Trio - I have a confession to make. It has only been the last 5 years or so that I have even considered butchering "the pretty birds". I'd get Cornish X and have no problems butchering them. But I finally decided that it wasn't practical to keep feeding non-productive birds and if I wanted to refresh my flock, I needed to rotate my stock, so to speak. (It takes me awhile, but eventually I do catch on... :) ) As far as favorite breeds, I like to have a few EEs in the flock, just for the colored eggs - I'm easily entertained that way. I like Barred Rock hens, but the one BR rooster I had was very aggressive. BOs are a nice calm bird. One of the hens we culled yesterday was a Welsummer. I really liked the color of her eggs - kind of a dark reddish brown. Oh, and I had a BLRW hen until a stupid raccoon ate her last summer (that problem was eliminated immediately,as were her 4 offspring). If I had still had her this winter, she would not have been culled. She was the first to go broody in the spring and was a great mama. And, despite my best efforts, she managed to make a pet of herself. I raised Freedom Rangers last year and definitely prefer them over the Cornish X for meat birds.

    Aart - For our canning chickens we just peel back enough skin to expose the breast and thigh, cut them off and dispose of the rest of the carcass. I was going to skin the whole bird, gut it and make broth but quickly changed my mind after skinning the first one. Plucking is easier, so the meat birds that get plucked and cut up will be my broth birds. We do the plucking and gutting outside at a worktable when it's nice out (as in, not winter) and yesterday we did the skinning in DH's shop. When I pick a chicken, I lay the bird on the edge of the table, bucket on the floor at the edge, and drop the feathers in as I pick. Start at the end of the bird that's pointing at the middle of the table(for me, that would be the feet) pick towards the other end of the bird, drop the feathers in the bucket. There is probably a more efficient way of doing it, but that's what works for me. You scald your chickens before plucking them, right? I don't know what the "proper" temperature is for that. DH just tests it with his hand and declares it ready. He rarely gets it wrong. He grew up doing this, I did not. I was a city kid.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2015
  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Donrae - I cut the breast meat off the bone when I remove it from the bird. I have been boning out the drumsticks and thighs, but after boning out 36 legs yesterday, I have decided that that's too time consuming. From now on, the drumsticks are going in quart jars, thighs in pints or quarts, wherever they fit, and breast chunks in pints.

    I'm already planning meals with this meat - chicken stew, soup, hot dish, pot-pie, salad, warmed and put over rice.... I can't wait! :drool
     
  9. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Trio - I forgot to mention one more thing about my favorite breeds. I have a coop full of mutt a right now, and I'm just as happy if not happier with them than I am with any specific breeds.
     
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I'm trying to convince my honey it's okay to bone out the breasts and take the legs like you're saying. He says he wants to continue skinning the whole bird. I know there's meat you'll lose that way, but on our cockerels I can't imagine it's that much. Seems like it would save a lot of work.
     

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