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First butchering day; Actually quick and easy!

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by ninjapoodles, Aug 23, 2008.

  1. ninjapoodles

    ninjapoodles Sees What You Did There

    May 24, 2008
    Central Arkansas
    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.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2008
  2. ninjapoodles

    ninjapoodles Sees What You Did There

    May 24, 2008
    Central Arkansas
    I didn't get any great pics, just one of one of the young birds dressed out that I can post tomorrow, but I've gotten them all weighed and resting in the fridge now.

    The 16-week (actually closer to 15 weeks) rooster, MINUS all skin and MINUS the backbone, was just over 3 lbs.

    The 6-week-old cockerels, minus skin and backbone were just over 1 lb.

    We were really pleased with what we got, maybe because we've been following this forum and pretty much knew what to expect.

    Now to cook 'em up!
  3. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing Premium Member

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Good job. You'll not want to eat store chicken again after you have your own.
  4. ninjapoodles

    ninjapoodles Sees What You Did There

    May 24, 2008
    Central Arkansas
    I know, I'm excited!

    We were surprised to find the weights on the Rocks and the Orpington to be almost exactly the same--within 1/10 of a pound. Just from eyeballing them, we had expected the White Rocks to be heavier. Not this time, anyway.
  5. carress

    carress Songster

    Mar 26, 2008
    Orange county NY
    Great rundown!
    Your post was really informative, and I appreciate you taking notes even though it was your first time [​IMG]
  6. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    Quote:Absolutely! Nothing better than a homegrown bird.
  7. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

    Very good information.

    I think I will try pithing next time.
  8. TexasJoe

    TexasJoe Taking a break

    Mar 3, 2008
  9. TanksHill

    TanksHill In the Brooder

    Jul 22, 2008
    Vista, Ca.
    great information. thanks.
  10. Gees y'all are more of a man than I am. It takes all I have to axe an injured or sick bird. I don't know that I could bring myself to do it. I had to cut your post short because I was getting weak just reading that description.

    But congrats I guess? [​IMG]

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