How long to butcher 25 chickens. First time

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Mosherd1, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. Mosherd1

    Mosherd1 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 4, 2012
    East Windsor, CT
    So I will be butchering my chickens tomorrow for the first time. They are about 13 weeks old, Freedom Rangers. How long do you think it will take me to do. I will scald them but no automatic plucker. What is the reasoning for withholding feed? I will be doing it by myself, as my "helper" has backed out at the last minute. Do you all freeze them in vacuum sealed packaging or something else? Thanks for the advice!
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  2. Anna-MN

    Anna-MN Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 19, 2012
    The very first time I butchered meat birds, I only did 14 and it took me the whole day- 9am to 7pm. You learn as you go and it takes time to be comfortable with what you're doing especially since you're doing it by yourself. The reasoning behind withholding feed is so they don't poop everywhere after they die when you're scalding and plucking and gutting. I fed mine in the morning their usual ration and then I gave them one scoop around 6pm. Right before I begin to process, I give them a small amount of feed so it's easier to get the crop out. (getting an empty crop out can be tricky). I package mine in Food Saver bags and they last a long time. I have some of the chickens I butchered last April and they still don't have freezer burn and unthaw perfectly. I would highly suggest getting one if you don't have one. Remember- while you're processing keep everything very clean and cold. I have coolers lined in plastic and full of ice while I'm processing and they sit in there after every step or if I have to run and get something. After wards I wash everything with bleach and let it sit in bright sunlight to dry. I wash off all work spaces with disinfectant wipes and let dry. Cleanliness is key!
  3. Salt and Light

    Salt and Light Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 20, 2008
    Osteen, FL
    If you've never done it and you are alone, I don't think you'll be able to butcher 25 chickens in one day. I bet after setup, butchering and breakdown, you will be lucky to get 10 done. PLUS, you'll still need to package and have a resting place before freezing. Vacuum packing 25 birds will take at least 2 hours, assuming you've got the birds perfectly clean and sectioned up AND you don't have any problems.

    In the past, I've sealed my birds then let them rest in the refirgerator, but this takes up way too much room. This year, in fact last week, I let the birds rest in the garage inside a LARGE cooler filled with frozen bags of water. They stayed there for 2 days and then I sealed 'em and frozen them. This worked MUCH better for me.

    I think you'll find it a better experience if you focus on quality of butchering (enjoy the process, but not the killing), rather than how many birds you get done. Give yourself ample time to learn and take breaks because butchering is hard work, at least for me.

    God Bless!
  4. SmokinChick

    SmokinChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2011
    Kingsville, MD
    This spring 25 took all day. First time for me. I cut the first throat @ 8:00am and cleaned and showered @ 8:00pm. With a break for lunch.
    The actual killing and cleaning I had down to 20 minutes for two birds with a whizbang plucker. I placed birds in a cooler of ice until later then packaged after all birds were cleaned.
    All of this includes changing the scald water twice, rinsing the butcher station with water and bleach solution between pairs of birds and packaging in poly shrink bags, weighing and marking.
    It was a long day. I agree with the above post. Start small and get done what ever. I know time is hard to come by but.
    P.S. raise your butcher table to a comfortable height, saves your back.
    Good luck and enjoy.
  5. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    I found our FR's took about 20min per bird to process. The pair of us were able to do about 6 birds an evening (2 1/2hrs a night) - took 5 evenings to get them all processed. And no, we didn't process every night, we do have a fair amount of outside responsibilities. So the whole flock of 25 took about 2 weeks to get everyone into freezer camp. Worked well for us, as we could process the largest ones first and leave the smaller hens to grow a bit more (they did, but only a small amount).

    The first few took us a LOT longer to get our heads wrapped around what worked best in terms of timing. We found that if we bled one out while we worked on another, if we were slow with the one on the table, the one in the cone would start to rigor (making it harder to process). We did this in the heat of June, so not sure your temps tomorrow - it will effect your day. I also found my hands began to get tired after about 5 birds, making the whole thing take longer than it should - just because of weariness.

    As we were working with just a few at a time, I did feed the flock as usual - mostly for the benefit of those not chosen that day! Yes, it meant that some of the birds left 'deposits' of poo on the table - or in the kill cone. We just took a disinfecting wipe and cleaned up as we went. Some who had larger crops, the crops did tear upon removal (which makes one HECK of a mess!) and that was challenging as the grit got on the meat. I ended up washing those few a few dozen times to get the grit off of the meat.

    I cooled ours in the fridge - I found 6 would take up 1/2 of a shelf in the fridge. Left for two days to rest and then froze it in a shrink bag. I liked the shrink element - makes more room in the freezer!

    I did not cut into pieces - but left whole carcasses. I do wish I had cut some into pieces - and will for our current batch of CX's. I've discovered our freezer is very efficient. It takes 2 days to thaw a whole carcass in the fridge! That takes some planning ahead!

    Take your time, don't stress - and the birds won't stress either. Good luck! They're super tasty and well worth the efforts!
  6. kizanne

    kizanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2011
    Tallahassee, FL
    I've watched videos that take like 4 minutes. But me and hubby took probably 40 minutes for the first one and now have it down to 15-20 minutes per bird. We don't scald and pluck, we skin. I don't see us getting much faster. Do heed the warning that if you kill one too much earlier than you are ready to process it then the rigor makes it harder. We don't withhold feed either. So far never had a problem with the crop but have had a few poo. Not a big deal and since we keep an integrated flock and never know when we are going to call it a day it is easier that way. Plus we have an automatic feeder that holds 50 pounds of feed so they are hard to move or stop the chickens from eating. The up side is when we process 3 if we don't feel like more we just pack up shop. We rarely do more than 5 birds in one day. But that is only 1 to 2 hours and will last us 2 weeks or more. We have a easy set up and break down so we don't have to spend lots of time to get ready to process. We are now keeping Dual purpose and broilers so we don't have to worry about them dying if we don't feel like doing them in. You should have that same luxury with freedom rangers. When we did the Cornish we were under pressure to get them processed due to health issues.
  7. Lexiluke

    Lexiluke Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2012
    In the spring I raised 20 meaties to 7 weeks. I butchered them by myself and it took 6 hours from start to shrink wrap (and I hand plucked most of them). I think the biggest obstacle is in setting up properly so that you have a nice routine and order to the process. Keep your scald water at a constant temp with plenty of coolers with ice water near. I would think adding another hour to two for the 5 additional birds. I think you can do it if you are determined. Good luck.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by