First Time Processing

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by T-traveler, Oct 27, 2015.

  1. T-traveler

    T-traveler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last spring we got 10 chicks to augment our flock of 14 layers. As it turns out, 2 of them were cockerels. We decided to keep them anyway, but two things started to happen. The first is that even though we have 22 girls and 2 boys, they tend to gang up on about 6 or 8 of the girls who stopped laying (probably because they were too stressed out). The other thing is that the coop is just outside our bedroom window and my wife is a light sleeper. She is tired of being awakened at 4:00 in the morning :( So, we decided to put them in the freezer. I did a lot of research on this site and several others to learn all I could about processing chickens. Well -- today was the day. Considering it was our first time (we've only had chickens for a little over a year), it went OK, but we had two minor issues. I had a hard time finding the correct spot to slit them to bleed them out and the first one took about 10 minutes to go to sleep. The second one was better. It only took about 2 minutes. The other issue we had is because I think the water was not hot enough. The thermometer said 155 degrees, but I discovered later that I forgot to take the protective plastic tip of the thermometer :rolleyes:. As a result, the plucking took a lot more work than it should have.

    My wife is a little squeemish, and didn't want to be around when I processed them. Originally, she said that I would have to do it all myself. However, when I set-up this morning, she came out and told me that she is now a chicken farmer and isn't about to make me do all the dirty work (she's such a sweetheart) :D She was a real trooper and pitched right in. All in all, it took us about an hour to process the two boys (plus another hour for set-up and clean-up). Now they're in the freezer just waiting for the crock pot.
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    That is a trooper, good for her. My wife won't help - or eat them.

    I caution you however that since they went right into the freezer, you'll have to let them rest a few days after thawing before cooking. I usually let them rest 3 or 4 days in the fridge or an ice salt bath before freezing or cooking. The longer you let them rest the more tender they'll be. Rigor Mortis has to leave the carcass before use, same goes for any animal.
     
  3. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

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    Congrats on your first home-grown chicken meal! I don't do processing as I'm lucky enough to have a neighbor who is willing to take my cockerels for processing.
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Congratulations! I recently did my first solo processing and it's quite the sense of accomplishment.

    I hear you on the water temp....I think I went the other way yesterday. Honey came home with a turkey and I think the water was too hot, the skin tore some in places. Well, he wants it draped in bacon anyway, so we're not looking for crispy skin on that bird.

    Let us know how your meals turn out!
     
  5. TedSheckler

    TedSheckler Out Of The Brooder

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    Tips from personal experience dispatching with a knife.

    1. A razor sharp knife, Even if you don't dispatch often learning the skill of basic sharpening (You will probably quickly get addicted and go beyond) on a fifteen dollar 1000 grit whetstone changes how you work in the kitchen for life.

    2. When using the cone and cut method grasp their head immediately after putting them in, When you don't give them the option to "relax" they resist and tense up less.

    3. Although there is somewhat of a sweet spot for cutting, Method is much more important IMO. I screw in a wood block under my cone to hold it at a 50 degree angle so I don't have to crank the birds neck nor am I going about it at strange angle myself, The bird is placed in the cone so I am roughly holding my palm towards my face and the birds head goes flat against it with one eye in my palm and the other facing out and the beak pointed downward so I have the broad side of the neck very exposed then pull it slightly taut.

    I then use the back side of the knife to slide under and pull back the feathers so I can see skin then do a quick rotation of the knife so the blade is then down and quickly make the cut, I then hold on and turn the head and neck slightly away from the cut to ensure the bird doesn't fold itself up onto that side which will crimp the bleeding in some cases and prolong things a few seconds longer.
     
  6. T-traveler

    T-traveler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, Ted. I'll keep this post for the next time I do it. When I did it (with a very sharp knife), I was able to cut through the skin easily in about the right spot. What I found, however is that the skin was separated from the neck and the jugular is flat against the neck and my cut hadn't gone all the way to the neck. Apparently, I was overly concerned about cutting into the throat. Once I saw the jugular and sliced it, the bird bled out fairly quickly.
     
  7. trudyg

    trudyg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    "I was overly concerned about cutting into the throat." So, what if you DO happen to cut too vigorously and cut into the throat? Seems like, if you chop off their head, the same thing happens. I would think cutting too meekly would be worse because you'd have to go in and cut some more.
     
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Cutting the head off kills immediately but the heart stops so it doesn't bleed out.

    If you don't cut far enough back against the neck bone as T-traveler found and you cut too deeply you hit the esophagus rather than the jugular and the bird can't breath.
    I use a homemade killing cone. I hold the back of the head and feel for the jawbone. Drive your super sharp knife straight into the neckbone at the jaw and slice straight forward. You should immediately see a strong stream of blood. If you don't, you need to cut again. There is nothing worse than going back to the cone to see the bird still alive after it should have bled out. I hold the head back and it seems to help it bleed out. Once you get the hang of it, you can do it in the dark. I did two at 5:00 AM just by feel.
     
  9. T-traveler

    T-traveler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, that helps. I'll try it next time.
     
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Canoe, I have a lot of respect for you, but I have to disagree with this. I see folks say it all the time and as a medical professional I just don't see how the anatomy bears out.

    Cutting the trachea (windpipe) of a bird that's upside down is not going to cause it to suffocate, or not be able to breathe. From what I can see, you're simply opening a larger airway, the entire windpipe is now open for air to flow through instead of being filtered through nostrils. Humans have tracheostomies all the time, it's basically the same thing, and they breathe just fine.

    We've also never had a problem with the bird bleeding out when we decapitate. Gravity and those muscle spasms push the blood out if the bird is hung upside down.

    I have pics of my two cuts I did on my first time slitting a throat. You can see I started with hesitation, but the second one did the job quickly.

    [​IMG]

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