First time processing - this weekend! (Update about 4 posts down)

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by DianeS, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. DianeS

    DianeS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Saturday morning I'm picking up two live Cornish X chickens from a family of 4-Hers who have too many for their family to use.

    So Saturday or Sunday I'll be making my first foray into processing a chicken! I've read all the instructions, I've watched all the videos, I have all my materials. So we'll see how I do. I'm a little excited and a lot nervous.

    There are so few people in real life who appreciate why I'm doing this rather than just buying from the store. I will definately be coming here afterwards (and maybe during!) to ask questions about my mistakes. I'm glad you all are here!
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
  2. sonew123

    sonew123 Poultry Snuggie

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    oooh oohh keep us updated with photos and weights and such:) good luck [​IMG]
     
  3. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

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    awesome, good luck!!!!
     
  4. BeaglesAPlenty

    BeaglesAPlenty Out Of The Brooder

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    I wish for you the best of experiences.

    I processed for the first time yesterday. It was three ducks. And the one aspect that most concerned me was that there was no unnecessary suffering. I believe I succeeded at that goal, with much thanks to the members of this site for their guidance.
     
  5. DianeS

    DianeS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I did it! I'm finished and the two birds are now setting in the refrigerator.

    The actual butchering part was harder than I expected, but the rest wasn't. Ready to hear (and see) about it?

    I picked up the chickens Saturday. Two Cornish X from a 4-H family with too many. One was 12 lbs something and the other was 11 lbs something. Together they were 24 lbs, 1 oz. I kept them overnight so I could process in the morning. They enjoyed some birdseed and shade.
    [​IMG]

    I got up Saturday and set up the butchering area. I didn't have anywhere obvious to do it, so I just set it up over my compost pile.
    [​IMG]

    The actual butchering was hard. My friend asked to come over and see it and help with it, and I am SO glad I agreed! I was doing it my grandmother's way - loop a string around the head and tie it, hold the body with one hand (or have a friend hold it) and swing the hatchet with the other hand.

    I swung the hatchet and immediately was certain I missed. The chicken squawked and took off. Flopped herself into a corner where I couldn't get to her and was flapping her wings. I was sure I had missed, there just wasn't enough blood. It only lasted about 3 seconds in retrospect, but at the time it felt like forever. I finally got to her and picked her up, and she stopped struggling. I could see then that while I had missed the important veins in her neck, I had severed the spine. WHEW! I was just seeing "chicken with its head cut off" behavior for the very first time. It's pretty horrible, but it got easier when I realized I really hadn't made the chicken suffer because of my bad aim.

    We got the neck severed all the way, tied the legs together and hung it up to drain. I had to go inside to cool off for a bit, it was hard to shake the scared/sick feeling even though I knew it was OK.

    When I went back out and looked at the second chicken I knew I couldn't do it. I stood there with him on the board for several minutes before admitting it. I couldn't do it. Maybe if I had a couple days to wait so the vision of that flopping chicken could get out of my head, but I couldn't do it right then. So my friend did it instead. His chop was perfect and the chicken still did the "chicken with its head cut off" thing. I will never use that method again. Never. I will find a different way of doing it.

    Here's a pic of both birds hanging up to finish letting the blood drain out. Its over the compost bin, and it's amazing how quickly the flies accumulated!
    [​IMG]

    I had found out the night before that neither I nor any of my friends had pots big enough to do the scalding! That was startling. The birds were just so big. But the birds did fit in the sink, so I boiled water, poured it in the sink, and added cold water until it was 150 degrees. Swished the first bird around in it for 50 seconds, and learned just how stinky hot, wet chicken feathers are! PU!

    Took the first chicken outside and plucked it by hand. Couldn't get the tail feathers to come out, but I knew I could cut that off so I didn't worry about it. The pinfeathers on that one were pretty hard to get a hold of, even using the backside of a knife. Also it had a lot of broken feathers, broken near the skin, so those were hard too. But the second bird was perfect and took only minutes to pluck. The feathers came out easily, the skin only tore a little. The feathers were so wet it was easy to drop them into a can, no problems at all. I had imagined feathers flying everywhere, but they didn't. And almost before I knew it the plucking was finished. (Yes, that's me in the picture.)
    [​IMG]

    My friend had to go home then, but the gutting part was easy. I was freaked at first because the one chicken could still make noise, even without a head! It was weird. The noise continued until I cut out the windpipe. The first bird I cut too near the vent and nicked the intestine. That made it messier but not any harder. I was amazed at how easy it was to find the bile duct - it was like a huge green jelly bean in the middle of the guts. And the gizzard was interesting - the first one was chock FULL of tiny rocks, the other only had a few. The first chicken had a tiny liver, the second one was huge.

    One thing that fascinated me - there were EGG YOLKS in the second chicken! I wasn't prepared to see that at all. I busted a few while they were still inside, before I knew what they were. Then I pulled out ten yolks of different sizes. Really amazing.
    [​IMG]

    I kept all the innards, cutt off and skinned the feet. The feet were interesting. Just like a snake shedding its skin. The big callus on the bottom of the feet came off along with the skin, and the outside layer of toenail came off too. (Which was good, I couldn't imagine putting that dirt into my stock pot!) The organs and feet are now bubbling happily on the stove.

    I pulled out a few more pinfeathers and rinsed out the empty chickens. All finished! They're setting in my refrigerator now for a couple days before I cook them up. Yippee!
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
  6. alabiologist

    alabiologist Out Of The Brooder

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    Good job! Although I am no expert, I would suggest brining them in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours before cooking them. We did several last year and the brining seems to make them more tender and juicy. Getting ready to do some here soon.
     
  7. eKo_birdies

    eKo_birdies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    those are HUGE!!! congrats on your first time!! [​IMG]
     
  8. DianeS

    DianeS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I forgot to give you the finished weight! Approx 17 and a half lbs together. (My scale isn't as exact as I'd like.)
     
  9. TigerLilly

    TigerLilly I failed Chicken Math

    Jul 18, 2010
    Central Florida
    I love chicken, but I could NOT do that! My hat is off to you Diane; it looks like you did a great job.
    Can you tell me why you "kept all the innards, cutt off and skinned the feet. The feet were interesting. Just like a snake shedding its skin. The big callus on the bottom of the feet came off along with the skin, and the outside layer of toenail came off too. (Which was good, I couldn't imagine putting that dirt into my stock pot!) The organs and feet are now bubbling happily on the stove." ??? Yes, I am very new to this...
     
  10. DianeS

    DianeS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    TigerLilly - I like chicken stock. I boil the organs and feet (and the skeleton, once I've eaten the meat) on the stove for hours until everything pretty much dissolves. What's left is the best chicken stock/chicken broth I've ever tasted. A GREAT base for almost any type of soup. Think how much you spend on chicken boullion or the like in the grocery store, and imagine eating better for free, using only the parts that you'd normally throw away!
     

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