First Time Processor This Weekend ... How Many Join Me?


In the Brooder
11 Years
Oct 20, 2008
Washington State
It sure has been an interesting weekend. I have been talking to my husband about processing extra roosters the last 3 hatches over the last year. He and DD say absolutely not. Well, actually, DD says absolutely not, DH said I do not think that's a good idea. I've talked to various family members (I come from a family that used to be farmers, from my grandmother on back) throughout this time and they said "you will hate it, will do it once and never again"; "it stinks"; "it's horrible"; "bad idea"; etc.

Well ... I got tired of this last batch of extra roosters (mixed flock of barred rock and marans this time). They were about 7 months old (I know past the prime of processing). So I connected with another family through a craigslist posting where they were advertising fresh whole chickens and joined them for the processing yesterday with my 5 roosters. My husband decided he wanted to come observe to see how bad it was.

Funny story here: I didn't want to deal with DD's 16 yr old emotional fluxuations, so we had her help us catch them "to deliver" them ... she thought, thanks to my hubby, that we were taking them to the auction to sell. And she did realize they would likely become meat for someone else which she could live with. So then we shipped her off to her friend's for the day so she wouldn't be around to see us load up the cooler.

So we drive down and arrive at our appointed time which was supposed to have been when they were finishing theirs. Our hostess hadn't processed in over 15 years, and the host hadn't ever done it before. They have a permit (required to sell fresh whole on farm) and had already pre-sold many of the birds, but had done it at a discount because this was their test flock. Anyway, upon our arrival, they announce that heating the water (they had rented the processing equipment from the local conservation district) had taken longer than expected and they were just about to start their first one.

No problem ... mind if we observe for awhile? Not a problem, you can help if you want!

I discovered that the research I had done over the last year or so had really helped me out alot. Host slit throat and scalded and then while hostess was working on the first bird, she was talking about separating some of the innards and knowing there was something important to remember. So I went over and said ... this is what you don't want to open, this is how you separate them, etc, etc.

Then I started scalding and using the plucker and then I started processing the gizzards, and we were off! Hubby started with the plucker after awhile, and then processing them, and moved to helping catch and slice. When their 35 or so were done, we moved to our 5 and we did 40 chickens in 2 hours!

A couple of interesting notes:
They were processing meat birds at about 7 weeks.
The white cornish X were definitely larger than their red cornish X. As a matter of fact the reds slipped through the cones (so I suggested tying the feet). Then they made the decision to wait on the rest of the reds for another couple of weeks (dressed ... their reds were about 1.5 # and their whites were about 3 pounds).
Also interesting to note is that the whites had very little fat and the reds, even though quite a bit smaller, had lots more fat.

Our roos ... dressed weight was 5-7 pounds with very little fat.

We spent the drive home discussing when, how many and what breed of bird we were going to get for meat! I sure do hope it tastes as great as everyone says. They are still resting in ice in the cooler ... we were hoping to roast one tonight, but after doing more research apparently we need to wait at least another day?

Since we decided that this is something we are going to do again, we knew we had to fess up to the daughter and bring her into the conversation. So here's how that conversation went. I called her (so she'd have time to get over it before coming home) and asked her to take a walk so she was alone while we talked. She said ok and asked how the sale with the roosters went. I told her we weren't able to sell them. She says OH .. So what now? You gonna cut their heads off? I couldn't help but smile ... I said well we did run into some people that offered to help us process them. She asked how it was and I said actually it wasn't bad at all and I think we're going to do it again with some meat birds. She says do I have to help. I said "yep, like the good farm daughter you are, you'll help." She said I suppose. (and once she got home her very first question was: what kind of meat birds are we getting and when do they arrive ... gotta love a farm girl!)

My comments to others that are thinking about this: It isn't that bad; not at all like my family said. It is meat ... frankly they die so very quickly and then you dunk (and you don't really have to feel an attachment then) and with the pluckers ... holy smokes those are so fast at getting the feathers off~! They look like food within 3 minutes from catching them ... REALLY!

I will say that the meat birds were much easier to pluck (shorter period of time) and much easier to gut ... the older birds it's almost like everything was just a little more fastened together. But still it was very quick and easy.

Don't be afraid ... just do it. I was raised a city girl; became a country girl about 5 years ago ... now I'm proud to say I'm a farmer!
Yay for you!!! You were brave to do it despite all the negative comments from everyone else. We're all here to congratulate & encourage you. Enjoy your well-deserved meals from these birds, and I wish you great success with all the ones to follow!
Wow I have to say your information was presented so thouroughly. I might try this my self. I remember many years ago when I was very young my folks had friends who ran a "chicken ranch" I hated it when it was time to butcher. Even though my brother and I were very young( I might have been in the 1st or 2nd grade and he was 5 years younger)we each had a job to do. I remember that it was loud messy and stunk alot. So now I think these maybe the kind of memories that were exagereted with time. now that we have a place in the country and can have our own chickens this might be something I will try. I want to thank you for your encouraging presentation and say thanks for shareing.
Good job! We just successfully processed more than 60 CX's. Far better experience than our first batch of another popular meat breed we'd tried last year. A plucker does help. Glad we got ours.
The more you do it, the more proficient you'll be -- atleast that's what we hope!
Thats so awesome that you found those people off craigslist and they offered to have you watch/mentor you!! How friendly of them!! I would love to do this one day for someone wanting to learn, as soon as we do it for ourselves

Good for your daughter too. She might have a hard time with it, but shes being a real sport about it when you think about it.

I am introducing my boys young with the whole killing our food has to be tougher with older kids. My 3 year old helps gather eggs and harvest produce, the 1 month old is kinda useless right now
He's just free-loadin'!

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