I really suck at this...

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by mamabahre, May 14, 2011.

  1. mamabahre

    mamabahre Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 6, 2011
    Ok, so go easy on me because I feel pretty sick about it as is but I need to get it off my chest and ask for advice.

    I processed 2 birds today. My second and third birds EVER...So I am still really new to this adventure. The first bird did NOT go well at all. I used a cone and that wasn't the problem. I had a brand new really sharp knife too so that wasn't the problem. I even pushed the feathers back on the neck so it would be easier to cut. I made a terrible cut on the neck. I went right through the poor bird's wind pipe and apparently didn't get enough of the actual artery. The bird was not bleeding out well and not dying. So freaking out I pulled the bird out of the cone and tried to get the head off with one clean HARD whack with the cleaver but it took 3 whacks! I am strong enough to do it with one because after the last bird I did was bled out I got the head off with one solid chop no problems. This poor bird. I feel absolutely terrible and I was basically sobbing as I tried to get it's head off completely to just put it completely out of it's misery. [​IMG]
    So I really didn't want to do the other bird after I cleaned the other one and gutted it and threw it in the ice water to cool. I HAD to do the other one though so I sucked it up and thought about what I did wrong and the second bird went MUCH better.

    I think I figured out that to get just the artery and not the windpipe I need to cut right below the jaw/ear? It seemed to be so much better and less awful for the second bird. It actually bled out like it is supposed to. I think. So that went ok but I noticed that it didn't completely bleed out when I was butchering it after it was dead. Did I not leave it to bleed out long enough?

    So my questions are... Where EXACTLY is the ideal place to slice for the artery?
    How long does it generally take for a bird to bleed out? and how do you know when it is done bleeding out?
    Is chopping the head off in the beginning just a better idea?

    I am feeling really sick about the first bird. I love animals and I certainly don't want them to suffer at my hands but I also want to process my own meat birds (these weren't meaties) and I feel like I suck too bad to be confident. I did MUCH better with the second bird but I am feeling miserable about the first.
    Will I get better with practice? I don't have any help at all in this process. I had to do everything from killing to burying the guts/feathers by myself and clean up as well. It is exhausting and emotionally draining. I want DH to help but he isn't that into it and I don't really have anyone else who can help with the process...How can I ease DH into it so I'm not doing everything by myself?
  2. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2010
    I know exactly how you feel.
    Let's face it, we're supermarket pets who've decided to go a bit feral. It takes time to learn the skills.
    Imagine a lion cub with its first wildebeeste... It wouldn't exactly be a clean kill.

    Please give yourself a big hug... It's good that you don't take a life lightly.

    If you do this again, try to keep in mind why you do it (e.g. home grown, happy birds while they're alive, reducing waste and food miles). But it's okay to not do this again. [​IMG]

    Now for the tech stuff: sounds like you did well the second time. With practice you will get quicker and more comfortable with the whole thing.

    Just a quick note about decapitation for future reference, you really need an axe for head chopping. A cleaver doesn't have enough weight to be sure. (Decapitation usually tightens the feathers but if you're scald-plucking that shouldn't matter.)

    As to why the bird didn't bleed out properly, was it a meat hybrid? I've found in the past that those birds (if really heavy) sometimes have a cardiac arrest while bleeding out — which means not all the blood drains. Fitter birds have stronger hearts, and therefore the carcasses are less bloody.

    Good luck with future processing. Forgive yourself if your general aim is to raise happy chickens. We all take time to learn.

  3. mamabahre

    mamabahre Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 6, 2011
    Thanks for your reply. I know in my head I will process more birds. Even though I was mortified by the first bird I guess at heart I am fairly ruthless. I can do what needs to be done without freaking out, generally. The first bird I was just panicking when I realized it wasn't dead yet. Ugh, yeah I agree an ax is no doubt best for decapitation. This was a brand new cleaver and it did NOT work well for the job. Unfortunately it was all I had next to me and I didn't want to go sprint for the ax in the basement.
    These birds were both young Barred Rock Roos...Just a year old each so I don't even know how a meatie would differ in slaughter but if we do meaties (I think we will still) we will do probably the Dark Cornish breed or Freedom Rangers.

    I think the best thing for me would be to have some help! It is stressful being out there alone doing it all and not being so experienced in it. I will at least give myself credit for the second bird. The first bird I did took over an hour and it was a mess. The second one I had him completely done in about half an hour and the kill went almost exactly the way I assume it should.

    Do people on here do that brain stab thing I've seen on youtube videos? Where you pierce the brain through the mouth before or after you cut the artery? I honestly don't even want to go there and not get it right so I am hesitant to try it.
  4. cattleman999

    cattleman999 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 27, 2010
    Hey it sounds like you did a great job by staying with it and finishing the chore. [​IMG] I processed two today myself and my first one didn't go nearly as smoothly as the second either. I am certainly no pro at it either having processed less than 50 total. I do believe that with practice and getting the correct working station set up makes all the difference in the world. I too am working alone. DW will help get them in the freeezer once they have chilled but everything before that is up to me. I still need to work on my set up but each time gets a little easier. Hang in there![​IMG]
  5. chickened

    chickened Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 2, 2010
    western Oregon
    Most likely when you hacked the head off you caused swelling and that can restrict bleed out. But never fear you will get better at this as you are past the part that stops most people... your first time. [​IMG] When you cut the throat think of a half circle cut and put pressure pulling downward to tighten the skin and cut from ear to ear so to speak.
    Last edited: May 14, 2011
  6. benjoycei

    benjoycei Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 4, 2011
    you are braver than me...my birds are destined to be pets when they quit laying
  7. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    you did good, really you did. I took mine to the processor today. I'm only just now up to watching the dispatch, but my kids marched right in there and watched closely from start to finish. as we were leaving my daughter said "i can do that, next time were trying it at home" you are ten steps ahead of us!
  8. chick-in-florida

    chick-in-florida Chillin' With My Peeps

    They have videos of how to do it on youtube. i have watched them and they are helpful or at least i think they would be. i myself would not have the guts to do it. so more power to you!
  9. mamabahre

    mamabahre Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 6, 2011
    Quote:thank you everyone!
    As I sit here and type this I know I can do it again. I'm not particularly sentimental or weepy about things like this. Between DH and I, usually I am the one who handles all animal injury/emergency situations. I stay cool and focus instead of panicking (except today of course!)...

    I actually have watched a lot of videos on youtube showing different styles of processing. They are helpful but it just seems a lot different than how it is on video. It seems like the easiest little cut on videos and even with feathers pulled back I am surprised at how much pressure I have to apply. Maybe I am not stretching the skin tight enough? KathyChickenLady- your DD sounds like one tough little cookie. I was a tomboy as a little girl and I actually used to help my dad clean pheasants after hunting! So yummy...but they were already dead so a little different. I actually find the gutting part, ummm interesting for lack of a better word. I'm not grossed out by it at all...I just want to put the birds out of their misery without unneeded pain and suffering.

    I know I will get better over time, just the difference between bird one and bird two gave me confidence next time. I just need to take my time finding the right hold/spot for the artery cutting.
  10. brandislee

    brandislee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 15, 2011
    Southern Minnesota
    Thank you for sharing- I will be processing my own for the first time, too, with only my 2 and 4 year olds to help me (and we all know how helpful 2 and 4 year olds can be...)- unless I can talk my mommy into helping me... she's done this before but HATES doing it and lives 9 hours away, so I won't be holding my breath. I'm trying to talk my DH into just doing the killing, I do everything else, but he keeps telling me "this is your project, you have to kill them yourself." I know he's just trying to help me follow through (I lack follow through sometimes), but I can't help but think that if he doesn't help, he won't get to help eat my project, either:)

    Anyway... you sharing your experience helps me to realize that this is something that I, too, can do myself. Even though you struggled with the first one (which, admittedly, makes me a little more nervous- but in the moment I'll be thinking "this is probably how everyone's first bird goes" which will make me feel better) knowing that you got it done all by yourself is really inspiring- thanks!

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