I am so relieved, and so optimistic about the future now. We just sent our first four roosters (two Buff Orps and two White Rocks) to freezer camp, and it went soooo much smoother than I expected. Even though it was our first time, it didn't take us more than 15 minutes per bird, start to finish. We had several things planned to try for comparison's sake, and a few more planned in the future. Some initial thoughts/impressions: Prep: We didn't sequester the birds without feed prior to butchering. If we understood it correctly, the reason for doing that is to reduce risk of cutting into a full crop during butchering. Since my husband is a hunter, and has cleaned ducks and wild turkeys before, he felt confident about his ability to clean the birds carefully. The roos spent their last day running around free-ranging, eating bugs and grass and even some treats up until butchering time. We just picked them up and calmly carried them away, and they didn't get stressed or upset. Killing method: My husband did wind up pithing the brains first on three of the birds, by sticking a very sharp knife up through the roof of the mouth. They were gone INSTANTLY, eyes closed, limp...GONE. Then he cut the jugulars and bled them out. It didn't take long at all. They twitched a few times, involuntarily, but didn't flail or flap or flop around. On one bird, he cut the head off. We won't be doing that again. It flopped around like crazy, and took longer to bleed out. As far as cleaning went, the beheaded bird was stiff and tight, and it held onto its feathers tighter. Its legs and wings were stiff and difficult to move, compared to the pithed birds, which were loosey-goosey and easy to work with. Cleaning: We skinned two birds, and plucked two birds. We spatchcocked them all. We fed the giblets, backs, necks, and legs to the dogs (I wasn't in the mood to make stock today), and discarded the heads and offal. Plucking: Our initial impression is that it's easier to pluck than it is to skin--how counter-intuitive is that? But we don't have a great comparison for that, really, because I was plucking and Hubby was skinning. I certainly finished mine before he did, and he said my job LOOKED easier to him, and his job looked harder to me! The bird who got beheaded was one of mine; a pluckee. He was much more difficult to pluck, without question. The difference was very real between him and the pithed bird I plucked. That said, both were quite easy to pluck. I scalded at about 130F for about 30 seconds, then plunged in cool water for a minute or so, then just eased the feathers off, as quickly as I could. They pulled right out, even the wing feathers. There was some down "fluff" left after the feathers were gone, which I was able to just kind of gently rub while holding the bird under water, so that it "rolled" off the skin. I only tore the skin once, when I got to going too fast on the beheaded bird, beneath the wing. The skin was easier to work with on the pithed bird, by far, and not as "fragile." We butchered 3 six-week-old birds, hoping for something comparable to a "Cornish game hen." I think we pulled it off. We also did one 16-week-old rooster, for comparison. I'll post again when we have weights on them, and add some pictures. ETA that these were Buff Orpington and White Rock roosters.