Good news, bad news

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by suburbanhomesteader, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. The good news is that I got to try my "chicken-skinning" skills today. I've killed, gutted, and skinned many a deer in my day, but never had skinned or cut up a chicken.

    Followed this man's directions: from memory, because I didn't have the article in front of me. I had the carcass cleaned in 15 minutes, and then took another 2 minutes to fish the heart, liver, and gizzard out of the body cavity. So, from hang-up to soup-pot was just 20 minutes. That practice will come in handy next week when I process my "tester" hens, which have not laid eggs in 2 months now (the testers were hens I bought at a hispanic flea market, sold to me as "good fighters". I figured it would be helpful if I got "tough, street-wise" birds, since I was a newbie!).

    The bad news is that the bird I processed was one of 20 Cornish Xs I received on 9/27. So, I"m down to 19 Cornish and 9 Black Broilers. I have no idea why the Cornish died, but he did it inside of a 20 minute window, after I added new water, but before I brought their food out. None of the birds seemed to be ill or laboring in their breathing, so this was a surprise. I cooked him and fed him to the dogs, so the meat didn't go to waste.

    Skinning is DEFinitely the way to go, unless you just have to have the skin. He peeled slicker than anything I've ever peeled before. Even with no preparation whatsoever, it was over practically before it started.

    The biggest tip I can give anyone who might be considering processing their own birds is: SHARP KNIFE! And if you think it's sharp, make it sharper! Sharper is safer and faster. I also used my Felco #2 pruninc shears, in place of poultry shears, which (IMO) always rust way too fast to be of use.
  2. Cuban Longtails

    Cuban Longtails Flock Mistress

    Sep 20, 2007
    Northeast Texas
    Could have died from a heart-attack. It's fairly common in Cornish X.

    Nice article, btw. I'll have to save it for further use. [​IMG]
  3. firechicken

    firechicken Songster

    Jul 11, 2007
    Covington, GA
    That is a good article. Backwoods home is a good magazine too. All kinda good info in it.
  4. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Crowing

    Aug 3, 2007
    Oberlin, OH
    My husband would agree with you suburbanhomesteader whole heartly about the sharp knife. After sharping his knife, for deer also, he would test it on the hair on his arm, if it shaved off clean, it was sharp. I told him he had to stop that, he was starting to look like he had mange.[​IMG]
  5. JacobsRewardFarm

    JacobsRewardFarm In the Brooder

    Jun 29, 2007
    Parker, TX
    Good work, homesteader! Tomorrow my husband and I will try to improve our time (average 24 minutes each last time) because again, we have 26 or so to do. The first batch was a group of 14 week old Delawares - the largest one processed out at 1.9 lb, skinned and without wings.

    The batch tomorrow is a group of 12 week old Red Broiler roos. In two weeks we'll do the RB hens and be done for the year. Not sure why, but the roos don't look any bigger than the Delawares. I know Red Broilers aren't as fast-growing as Cornish, but I did expect a better result than the heritage birds. We'll see if they're any heavier under all those feathers than they look. Not sure if I'll have the time to do the whole scientific thing of weighing one before and after cleaning.... As curious as I am, I'm more interested in being DONE. [​IMG]

    I concur with your advice about the sharp knife! I had seen to it that Ted and I both had a pair of poultry shears, but we ended up tussling over one sharp filet knife, so I bought a second one for tomorrow so we can both go at the same time. We hope to get an earlier start and be done sooner. I think I'll be less freaked out about the decapitation, and we can just get on with it.

    My friends want me to take more explicit pictures this time than I did last time. If I get any that seem helpful, I'll post them here at BYC.

    Cindy T.
    Jacob's Reward Farm
    Parker, TX
  6. I used that meathod when I had to do 100 chickens by myself due to an AI lockdown. No transportation of chickens allowed, and no help could come and handle your poultry either. Anyway I got so that I could do 8 to 10 in 2 hours by the end. As always life is busy and I so I set asside 2 hours every morning to get this done and by the 7 or 8th day I was getting good and fast at it. I think I only got 4 done the first day, and had to reclean them when I got inside and then package them. By the end they were clean and packaged totally at the 2 hour mark, it's a great way to go.

    I missed the soup bones though, and it seemed like a big waste but now that I have a big dog and the vet says the best feed is chicken bones and guts I might go back to that way of doing some. I put the old freezer in the barn and I'm using it just for dog food now.
  7. JacobsRewardFarm

    JacobsRewardFarm In the Brooder

    Jun 29, 2007
    Parker, TX
    Well, they're right. It does get easier. We did 25 birds in about 4.5 hours, so we didn't get much faster, but it was easier. (I timed myself from the beginning of skinning to tossing into the cooler - 11 minutes.) I was doing 4 birds to my husband's 3, so we worked out another routine: we learned that I'm better at getting all the guts out because my hands are smaller, so I had my husband do the preliminary skinning and then hand the bird to me to finish. We really need a sink set up. We're using the hose with a spray nozzle, and catching all the gut water in a plastic bin sitting in my garden wagon, which we periodically roll out to the far end of the pasture and dump. Kind of primitive. If we do this again next year, I'll definitely need cones. We waste a lot of time with me holding a decapitated bird upside down in a bag in a bucket waiting for the flailing to quit. We'd do 8 at a time, hang them upside down by their feet, and start cleaning. Then 8 or 9 more. Then 8 more.

    I did weigh a few birds, sans heads, and then compared the cleaned weight. First weight averaged just under 4 pounds, and cleaned weight was 2.15 or 2.25 lbs. Quite a bit better than the Delawares, at two weeks younger. Though, I'd love to see these mammoth 8 pound chickens other people talk about that dress out at 4 lbs!!! Surely those are the Cornish Xs?

    The cleaned chickens have spent the night (and day) chilling in the refrigerator, and if I hadn't gotten sidetracked, they'd be vacuum sealed and in the freezer by now. Looks like that job will come tomorrow. Hey, a little more aging won't hurt, will it?

    The Red Broilers were easier to take care of than the Delawares--not as active or bent on escape every time I tried to feed them! No deaths due to health problems. In fact, one chick died on day 2, and then no deaths at all after that.

    My last batch of birds to process will be the 26 Red Broiler hens. Then I'll sit down with the feed bills and decide if I want to do this again next year.

    I'll be so glad to just have the layers to take care of over the winter. Those are my pets, and I'm very attached to them. I'm at the place where they seem like completely different animals than the broiler chickens.

    I guess I am finally a calloused, cold-blooded killer of chickens. No more clenched jaw or queasy feeling by the end of the day :). Just another day at the farm.

    Here's a couple of pictures, just because.

    Ted beginning the skinning: (The chicken looks much smaller because Ted is 6'4" and has very large hands. You'll also notice we finally remembered to bring our tunes out to the pasture with us -- groovin' to the oldies station... gotta keep a sense of humor in all this! When you're up to your elbow in chicken guts and singing, "Something tells me I'm into something gooooood!")

    And here's a gross halloween picture. Real. No Photoshop. You can click the link if you want to see it... bwaa haaaa haaaa haaaa... Don't say I didn't warn you!

    Cindy T.
    Jacob's Reward Farm
    Parker, TX
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2007
  8. Barnyard Dawg

    Barnyard Dawg Songster

    Feb 7, 2007
    Northern California
    My wife is great with processing chickens she uses a very sharp cleaver. She will hold the chicken by the feet bring its head up and hold both the feet and head together with one hand. With the neck exposed she slices the throat then bleeds it into a bowl, then dipping the whole chicken into a large pan of hot water the feathers come out easily and looks beautiful. Then removes the intestines and cleans them with a salt and olive oil solution. My wife was raised in China and as a young women worked in a processing plant for around six months before becoming a food inspector for a large government import/export company. I used to skin some birdÂ’s pheasants, geese and ducks but I prefer the skin.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2007

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: