First time culling


Jun 9, 2015
Fremont county Colorado

My dh and I processed our first ever bird tonight. We had a Roo on accident in the last batch of chicks bought. I just wanted to post ...A. To say thank you! To all the wonderful people on here that offer so much guidance and support, and B. To all the other newbies.... Its not nearly as bad as you worry it will be. At least it wasnt for us. I had read so many posts and books and blogs one of the hardest parts was deciding How to do it. And skinning or plucking, keeping it whole or in pieces etc
So, heres what we did:
1. Strung bailing twine between a fence post and tree limb 2 feet away about 4 feet high. I had a hook that i hung on the line. Two bedding bags were laid under it, and a 5 gallon bucket with an empty feed bag lining it was set up. I folded the top of the bag down a few inches. I put 2 bricks in tge bottom of the bucket for stability.
2. Set up a plastic folding table with everything i thought we might need, knives, rubber gloves, flashlights, hand towels, a baking sheet with several layers of wax paper, and a large spoon. We hung a shop light from a brach close by.
3. Set my large water bath canner to heat on the stove, and filled a large plastic tub with ice water.
4. I took an old bath towel, went into the coop after dark when the flock was settled, wrapped him in the towel, making sure i bound the wings but kept tge feet free. He never struggled.
5. I carried him out, we tied his legs with baling twine and hung him from the suspended hook. I kept the towel around him, using one hand. The other hand i pushed the feed bag out of the way and my dh used loppers. It did not severe the head, but did break his neck. We followed with a sharp knife, there was no panic, or any sign of pain. I pulled up the edge of the bag, and I held the towel until the limited flapping stopped. Once it was over, 20 seconds maybe, we let him hang for a bit.
6. Brought out the hot water bath, checked the temp, 155 degrees, with dish soap, took him down, soaked him until the wing feather pulled free easily then severed tge head.
7. We hung him back up, and wearing rubber gloves plucked. It only took a few minutes with two of us doing it. Skin had two tiny tears, really no trouble.
8. We then soaked him in the ice water, and i went and sat down a minute.
9. We then cleaned, removed the neck, crop and feet, doing the main cavity last. Removed the tail too to avoid the glands. The lungs were the most difficult.used a spoon handle to scrape them out. We didnt restrict food, so the crop was full, this seemed to help actually, it was easy to work around and remove without puncturing.
10. Everything, feathers, neck, innards went into the feed bag, using the baking sheet and paper kept a clean surface to rest the bird on and was easy to clean away.
11. Rinsed everything with the watering can, took out the trash, and went in for a final thorough cleaning in the sink. Then bagged and placed in the fridge to rest.

Next time we will not use the loppers. Even tho it was peaceful, and he didnt seem to suffer, it didnt go as cleanly as we hoped. Everything else went well. No flapping, no splatter, no chasing a bird. No suffering. So many things i was worried about didnt happen, and for that im grateful. We are happy to have been able to care for and raise a bird in comfort, we are grateful for the meal he will give our family. I dont think i will do just one bird if possible. The prep time took much longer than the process. Also, the ducks and my laying hens will all die of old age lol, i couldnt do this to one thats like a pet. With the roo, i distanced myself early on, as no roos in town limits. I knew he would have to go. All that being said, we feel confident we can proceed with our plan for meaties next spring. Tip.... Dont name them!
Thank you all for letting me ramble, and hopefully this helps another newbie. It was an emitional. Yet rewarding day
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Free Ranging
12 Years
Oct 16, 2010
It is a pain for just one bird. For me it's the mind set and once in it might as well do a bunch. What you'll run into with a bunch of birds is the water cooling down. One of those turkey fryers is indispensable. You can usually find one cheap on craigslist. That way the water is constantly heating so you can maintain the 155F. I dunk, swish, pull out and dunk, swish about and out many times until the largest tail and wing feathers release with no effort. If you keep the bird in the water too long it scalds the skin. The other thing is a sharp knife. I went through many knives and kept reading of people using an exacto. Was doubtful it was long enough but finally tried it. All I can say is wow. So easy and if the blade gets dull quick to insert another.

Dispatch is something you'll have to try until you settle on one. Many really like killing cones and sharp knife to cut deep to the spine. I prefer the basic wood block and sharp hatchet. Usually I don't hit perfectly to dismember the head completely but always a killing blow. Once gone a hatchet/cleaver to me is the easiest way to lop the neck where you want it so if I have it out might as well do the deed with it.

Congratulation on your first butcher job. Remember to cook it low and slow, 325F works well. With brine there is better moisture retention so you don't have to cover the bird and can get the brown skin. If I cover for 40 minutes to retain moisture I can never get a good looking skin so brine them anymore and forego a cover. Lightly salted flavor is a plus to me too. Weigh out 8 ounces of salt. Any kind will do and that's why you weigh it as different shapes weigh more or less by the cup. I used table salt on the last bird, 8 ounces per gallon of water and soak the bird for 20 hours or so in the fridge. Don't let it go over a day or it will get too salty. I've been playing with amount and time as I feel if you brine why would you use a ton of salt and soak for only 4 hours? I like the 8 ounce per gallon and may try 7 next batch.

I've still got three cockerels left to cull. Getting in the mind set now and will likely pull them from coop tomorrow morning. That's the other thing with multiple birds, it takes less brine to cover many birds in a turkey fryer pot than one.
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Hopelessly Addicted
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
Southern Oregon
Congratulations! Butchering your first bird is a oddly empowering experience. Now, you've done it once and the mystery is gone. Each time will get easier.

I did a batch of three on Wednesday. I found using an old dishtowel to grasp the head when I'm slitting the throat helps. It covers the bird's eyes and seems to calm him somewhat (although he's already pretty chill from being upside down), and it helps me as I don't have to look at his eyes. I make my cuts and continue to hold the head with a slight amount of tension backwards to let blood drain. There's still some flopping, but not much. Once I'm pretty sure he's gone I take the towel off and wait a few more minutes, check water temp, etc. Then finish processing.

I'm also looking forward to a batch of meaties this spring. If you're doing Cornish cross, they'll be some easier to process than your dual purpose rooster. They don't have as many feathers, and the body cavity is wider and easier to pull the innards from.

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