first attempt at processing birds... Some time soon

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Caat, Dec 4, 2011.

  1. Caat

    Caat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2011
    so I have 8 roosters, 8 hens, 1 turkey. I think I have 7 roosters too many. From day one my chickens are "food" not friends/pets. I'm just wondering how ppl experienced killing their chickens for the first time? I have no problem with gutting and plucking but I'm not sure how I'll handle the killing part. I have an issue with killing anything but fish... What's the swiftest way? Does anyone here use killing cones? I just bought a turkey deepfryer to heat water for the plucking.

  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

  3. Caat

    Caat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2011
    thanks. I guess I'm just worried about botching the job and ending up with a severly injured bird flapping around the garage... but I think I'll be asking a friend who does quite a bit of hunting to help with plucking, gutting and killing. I'm actually looking forward (although nervous) to this, it will determin if I can raise meat birds or not.
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    It's really very easy....especially if you use a killing cone. No flapping around in the garage then...just a bird cradled safely in a cone. I use a bleach jug tacked to a tree for a killing cone...they last a long time and seem just right to fit a bird's shoulders/body. Make sure you have a sharp knife and create some tension on the neck skin by pulling gently downward on the so:


    Don't attempt to establish the location of or cut into specific arteries or veins....just slice deeply from left to right and you've hit all the right places. The bird will bleed and jerk around a few times but it really is over in just a few seconds.

    Here is a bleach jug killing cone in use:

  5. Caat

    Caat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2011
    Thank you! that was the best and simplest explanation (including pics). Thanks for suggesting the bleach jug! I have plenty of trees I can use in the back yard!
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

  7. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Those are great & helpful pics Beek'd, I've been wanting to take a good close-up photo of the actual cutting but don't have anyone else at home willing to take the shot while I slice. I notice that you have your bird's legs tied together with a zip-tie, that's helpful in order to keep the bird from wriggling around and getting himself out of the cone. Another thing to remember is to keep your head & face away from those clawed toes while you're cutting, I learned the hard way once and got a cut below my eyebrow.

    This is my processing station, frame from a yard swing, cones made from different things:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I think it is a departure for most of us to come to terms with intentionally killing an animal we've known and aren't frightened of to have food for our table. But I find it helps, like you, to consider them food right from the start. When I get to the actual dispatching part I feel it is just another part of my good quality care I've been giving them, to provide gentle handling and calming words right up to the end, to provide a quick & humane death. It does get easier with practice.

    There is a learning curve, and you may not get it done perfectly at first. But your birds will still have a less stressful experience than those in a commercial processing plant. A nice sharp knife will make a big difference.
  8. ScottyHOMEy

    ScottyHOMEy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 21, 2011
    Waldo County, Maine
    Beekissed hit on it, using the word "resolve."

    When you reach the point of butchering, you'll have taken good care of your birds for that purpose. They will not have wanted for anything.

    Come the time, take a breath, a pause, whatever you need. Remind yourself of the reason for the care you've taken of them, and go about what is left.

    Not easy, certainly not the first time, but if, at the start, you take that pause to get your head in the right place, it will actually make good sense to you as you go about your day's work.
  9. LilyD

    LilyD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 24, 2011
    Bristol, VT
    I agree with everything posted. I just did my first (by myself ) processing of two of my roosters. I treat all my chickens the exact same. They all get treats. They all get food, water and free range of the ranch until it's time for them to go. They even get my love. I know it sounds cooky but if I don't feel for them then I am short changing them during their life (in my opinion). How can I ask them to give all of themselves if I do not give them the same from myself. The fact that they are raised and played with and get held and get treats from humans I think makes it easier in the end. When I pick them up they are talking to me and cocking their head and not afraid in the least. They calm right down.

    Definitely for the sake of the bird as hard as it may be you need to make sure that before you start you will be able to finish. It isn't pretty and even though you do it humanely there is still twitching and movement that occurs naturally. A lot of people think it is because the bird isn't dead yet and it makes them feel guilty like they have done something wrong. If you go into it prepared knowing what is going to happen and what it is going to be like it will help you to not lose your nerve.

    I hope this helps these were things I was thinking of before I did my batch by myself.

    As an aside if it's your first time having someone who knows what they are doing really helps. We had someone come and help two or three times before I attempted it on my own. That gave me more knowledge and confidence to try it on my own.
  10. jtbrown

    jtbrown Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2011
    Southeastern Ohio
    I learned just a few months ago myself, didn't use a cone, but I will next time. It was a little difficult at first (first bird) but it got better. We just ate our first one tonight, very tasty! Good luck, you can do this!

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