Is the meat ok? *processed bird pic*

Kay Crowe

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 3, 2013
Northern Virginia

I culled a two year old hen today that hasn't laid an entire egg (or even a yolk) in about 7 weeks. She was my first intentional, planned kill. I made mistakes and learned for next time.

Anyway, after defeathering her I noticed just how scrawny she was. I mean, just look at the picture. Nothing but breast bone. I cleaned the neck end first. The belly end was swollen, purplish and intimidating for a first timer like myself.

I sliced gently at the skin around the vent and nicked something. Liquid yolk poured out. There was so much I had to slide a bucket under the counter to catch it. Only counting the bucket contents, not the mess across the counter, there was about a cup of yolk. And yes, I'm sure it was yolk. It was the same orange-yellow and smell as regular yolks. There was no trace of shell anywhere.

There was no off odor in any of the meat or organs. She was just incredibly underweight. It makes sense since all she's really done for three months or so is sit by herself, not overly interested in food (however her last meal was super fat mealworms that I have been raising), just sitting, occasionally standing in a nest for an hour or so, straining, only in the past week attempting a croaky, warbling egg song. Poor girl. I should have done her a while ago.

Anyway, is the meat still ok to use? I don't know what was going on with all the yolk, but if I can still make some stock that would be great. Please let me know your thoughts.
The meat is fine. Cook low and slow, pull from the bone and enjoy. Good job!!

Really, the carcass doesn't look horrible for a laying hen. She may have been a touch thin, but as you process layers you're going to see a lot of sharp keel bones. We're so used to the big breasts on the CX we forget how truly unnatural that build is for a chicken. Wish I had pics of my dp Cockerel carcasses on this tablet to post for comparison, they also had pretty prominent keel bones.
Thanks! Into the pot she goes!

I definitely have heavier, more full-figured birds. I was comparing yesterday's hen to my other amberlink. The picture above was two days ago. Dumpling (on right) is a lot more substantial across the breast in comparison to Parma. I feel bad now that I let her go on that long. She was very uncomfortable.

Any idea what the yolk flood was all about? Egg bound with no shells?
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Was it hard to do? I have two Cornish Rocks that are ready to go. I am going to fatten them up really good over the next week and process them next weekend myself. Watched videos and think I can do it. My husband wants no part.
Emotionally, yes.

Since my town does not allow slaughter in town limits I had to be very discreet. I set up the cone in the shed. There was a bucket underneath lined in a black trash bag. I pulled that up between the cone and the wall a bit to keep splatter contained.

In my kitchen I had the large canning pot filled 3/4 with 150° water on the stove.

On my screened porch I had another bag-lined Tupperware bin and chair for plucking.

Back in the kitchen was a large cutting board, knives, paper towels, and a bowl for organs.

I had gardening gloves and blue latex ones at each station. In retrospect, wear the blue ones under the garden ones.

I procrastinated for a while. Finally we took a little walk around the yard. I picked her up and carried her to the shed. We sat a moment and I gave her some fat, juicy mealworms. Sigh. It was time.

I was shaking as I held her upside down. She calmed, her eyes closed. I gently tucked her wings and placed her in the cone. As I put on my gloves the other chickens decided to see what was going on. Dammit. I didn't need witnesses.

I held her head in my left hand and rubbed under her jaw to separate her feathers and find her pulse. I took a deep breath and cut.

I didn't cut hard enough.

All I really did was slice the skin. She didn't react. I panicked and sliced again. She jerked. I cut again and only nicked it. Through my tears, adrenaline, and horror of my knife work I chanted, "I'msosorryi'msosorryohmygodiamsorry" as I made a final, functional cut.

I stepped out of the shed as she kicked and thrashed as she drained. I ripped off my bloody gloves and ran into the house to wash my hands. I was shaking and crying. After a few minutes I went back to the shed and found the other chickens in the shed trying to figure out what Parma was doing.

I removed her head and let it fall into the bucket. Once the dripping stopped I pulled up the edges of the bag and tied it off. I put her in the bucket to transport to the house. The only blood was a small smear on the cone and on my gloves.

After dunking her in the pot plucking was a breeze. Gutting was interesting... I'm glad I had the bucket handy.

Anyway, I hope this helps. Good luck. If I got through it, so can you.
Sounds close to my first cull. You really don't realize how hard you need to cut, it took me a few tries too. Sucks, but learn and move on. And you don't get any bravery points for watching the bird bleed out, its perfectly fine to step away at that point.

Sounds like she may have had something like yolk peritionitis? Think I spelled that wrong but you get the idea.
You nailed it. Yolk peritonitis.

She had every symptom. Poor bird. Her egg quality began to go downhill about four months ago. I noticed her becoming pale and withdrawn. Her feathers were always hard and dirty, but I figured that was because she had never moulted. She found lots of hiding spots around the yard. She would lay a white, or yolk, and a few times dry shell but not all three. Then she just stopped two months ago.

At least if I see these signs in my others I will be able to just suck it up and dispatch them now that I have popped my culling cherry. :/

My last loss before this was Yum Yum. She passed peacefully in a box of straw in my bathroom. I figured her to be egg bound. Her eggs were days apart and past the point of jumbo. Here's a triple yolk she laid:


Since I wasn't quite ready to butcher yet I just let her go. That and I wasn't 100% sure of cause of death. All I could think was, "What a waste of meat."

Out of my 14 chicks one buff orph is definitely a roo. I'm inclined to think three others are as well. And one silkie has had a non-stop eye crust since day two. I guess I'll be getting more culling practice in.

A friend of mine was reassuring me that first times go like that. Then he warned the second time is usually the other end of the spectrum.

Guess we'll see.

Thank you all.
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Your next cull will be much easier. I think almost everyone makes the mistake of not cutting hard enough the first try. My husband and I dispatched two birds for our first cull. The first poor gal it took three cuts to figure it out, and my heart hurt for her. The second was done in one smooth cut and she bled out much faster and it was a much better experience. I grew up around butchering animals so it wasn't as hard for me, but you did well for your first time, especially being alone.

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