How long to starve before slaughter

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by HeatherFeather, Nov 6, 2009.

  1. HeatherFeather

    HeatherFeather Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 16, 2009
    Severn Bridge, ON
    We're ready to process our 3 laying hens, which are done laying for the year. Its cold where we live, and the shed isn't heated, and they aren't producing...and we're hungry!

    This is our first year keeping chickens, and we've never done slaughtering before. We read up on it in books, looked at many you tube videos on how to do it, including some put up by BYCers! We got set up and all physced up.....we were told by experienced friends that we had to starve them for a few days first so the digestive track wouldn't contaminate the meat if we broke it the wrong way.

    Then my fiancee went out to the coop and there was 3 where there was 4 only a few hours before. The missing bird was dead in the run outside, and had been badly cannibalized.

    The birds have been extra picky with each other in general lately since they went off lay. We decided not to slaughter that night, as it was late and we were grumpy and tired and shocked at the dead bird, and a little freaked out.

    So we started feeding again....

    Now we're getting lots of bad weather lately, snow, hail....and I feel like the birds are using all their energy to keep warm and probably losing weight.

    I haven't fed them since yesterday am, is it ok to slaughter them tonight?

  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Usually 12 hours is enough time to clear their system. Just make sure they still have water available so things keep moving.

    Since these are old layers, best choice is going to be slow cook, soups, and pressure cooker. It will help to brine/soak in buttermilk/age the birds for a few days before use. Don't forget to save feet, gizzard, heart, liver, and ovaries for making stock. It will be a very rich stock.

    Regardless, they will be "skinny" compared to anything you can buy in the store.
  3. trilyn

    trilyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2009
    East Syracuse
    I would go ahead and get it over with. I've never heard of starving an animal just because of "accidentally" nicking the digestive tract. It wouldn't matter if it was full or not, either way it would contaminate the meat. You need to be careful regardless.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2009
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    An empty crop is much easier to deal with than a full crop the size of a baseball when it comes to cleaning. That said, I always withold feed for the 12 hours over night. So I just take it out when they go to roost, and butcher in the AM. That way they aren't "starving" as much as they haven't eaten breakfast. The biggest difference is in meat bird types where if you didn't withhold feed, their intestines are very full and about to burst because of their appetites.
  5. HeatherFeather

    HeatherFeather Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 16, 2009
    Severn Bridge, ON
    Okay, great to know [​IMG] Thanks so much for your quick replies.

    We'll get er done tonight then. And have us some nice soup to go with this cold weather next week!

    SilkieChicken...are you sure we want to use the feet for stock? They've been walking on er...chicken poop since last winter. They don't look too appealing to me. (well, and sand and straw, but ykwim)
  6. gottalovemychickens

    gottalovemychickens SaveAChickenRideACowboy

    Dont slaughter them , ill take them in , we get lots of snow out here .

    Ill give them a good home
  7. fasbendera

    fasbendera Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 30, 2009
    We take the food away the night before so you should be fine. Good luck and depending on age you may want to stew them for chicken and dumplings or soup.
  8. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    If you are plucking the bird, make sure you also scald the feet at the same time. 140-150F for 30-60 seconds should do it. The skin on the feet should pull off the feet just like socks. Then the nails should pop off the tips and the feet will be clean on the inside.
  9. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    You peel the outer cuticle off of the feet and legs. It's thin, sort of like a shrimp shell, but more flexible. If there's a callous or thickened dark area on the bottom of the foot, you trim that off. The surface of the foot and leg is then nice and clean, no poop! If you have any trouble peeling it, try swishing it in scalding water for a minute, and let it cool off. The cuticle should separate more easily, then. Once in a while I get one that just doesn't want to peel, but most come off pretty easily.

    How old are these hens? I have a 7 or 8 year old buff orp who still lays. Mine are molting right now, and not laying much, but they'll start back up again in about a month. Are yours low on protein, maybe? The dead one that was cannabalized makes me wonder if a predator got in, somehow, or if she was sick (or old) and just died. It's not unusual for chickens to peck at one that died.

    Anyway, I never "starve" them before slaughter, certainly not for days. I do isolate the intended victims the night before, and only give them water, no food, and butcher as soon as I can the next day, like Silkiechicken said. If I'm delayed, I go a head a feed them just a little. It doesn't make that much difference, and a crop with a little food in it is easier for me to find, and get ahold of.

    There's a you tube video, (a pair of them, actually) of Joel Salatin eviscerating chickens. You might want to pull that up and watch it, since this is a new thing to you. It could be very helpful. The links are in this other thread:

    luck, I hope it goes well for you.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2009
  10. jaku

    jaku Chillin' With My Peeps

    I take their food away for 24 hours prior to slaughter.

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