Just Completed 1st Slaughter Day -- Now I have questions!

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by crobbins2009, Nov 17, 2016.

  1. crobbins2009

    crobbins2009 In the Brooder

    Apr 2, 2016
    I bought some Cornish X back in July, and for some reason it took them foreverrrrrr to be ready for slaughter. Anyhow, I just finished them up a couple of days ago, and now I am full of questions. I've read a lot of other posts of course, and did a lot of research, but I would really like some opinions/insight from "real" people that is up to date!

    I'll try to keep everything short and sweet as I like to give too much information and sometimes ramble! If you have any questions, please ask, and I'll be happy to answer :D

    What I used for slaughter
    1. Kill cone made from a 5 gallon bucket hung to a 4 by 4 with another bucket under to catch the blood (loved this!)
    2. filet knife (I cut the jugular and held the feet until the bird had fully passed)
    3. turkey fryer with thermometer full of water for scalding
    4. plastic fold out table for cutting, plucking, etc.
    5. water hose for rinses at the end and during
    6. Cooler with ice bath. The birds went into here as soon as they were finished.

    Questions I have:

    1. What kind of knife do you use/recommend for the kill cut and the actual slaughter? I would absolutely love name and brand of product and/or product recommendations. I'm asking this because I felt like I was almost having to saw on the neck to get the jugular cut. I want this to be one quick cut. I even watched one youtube video where the girl accidentally cut the head off in one motion while the bird was in a kill cone. I literally sharpened the filet knife between every kill, but still felt like I wasn't getting the cut that I wanted. It also took them longer than 2-3 minutes to fully pass which I hated. I just wanted it to be quick and painless for them. One of the meat birds actually passed out as soon as I put it upside down (it was way overweight and couldn't get enough oxygen that was). I wish that they would all just pass out when they are flipped upside down!

    2. Is there a good way to get the crop out? Once I busted the crop which I then cleaned up. The other times I think that the crop came out after I had gutted the bird. It came out with the heart and intestines and everything I think. I withheld food the night before so it was pretty empty. I just feel like I might not be getting it all the way or something. idk. What I was doing now is putting a small slit in the throat, feeling around for the two tubes and pulling them to one side and the neck to the other, and then cutting down as far as I possibly could.

    3. Some of the skin came off when I was plucking and/or pulling out the feathers caused the pores to bleed. Is my water too hot/too cold/ am I doing something wrong?

    4. Why did it take so long for my meat birds to grow out. Is there a way to speed things up? Could it possibly be where I purchased them from (meyer hatchery)?

    If I think of more questions I'll post them along the way! Thanks so much in advance everyone for all the help! I'm a 24 year old sorta city girl that loves local food! I have a 3 year old little boy, and I've really been moving towards feeding him healthy and local! We have egg layers as well, but the meat birds that I butchered the other day taste soooooo much better than the roos that we've slaughtered. I will def be buying more cornish x in the future!

  2. eviemethugh

    eviemethugh Chirping

    May 14, 2015
    North Carolina
    Glad you enjoyed it! Meat birds are my favorite, and we are a little funny farm with a 3 year old boy too!
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    1) I use an exacto knife for butchering. Super sharp and quick blade change out if it gets dull. The only part where the short blade may be a problem is cutting throat (I use hatchet not kill cones so don't know) and cutting the hocks. Cut all the way around the center of hock with knife then bend joint backward. It will pop out of socket revealing the tendons that you cut with knife. A cleaver or hatchet is great for shortening the neck to desired length.

    2) I let the birds feed prior to slaughter. The crop is enlarged and easily located. Exacto knife makes for a great fillet blade to dislodge the crop from membrane then cut the tubes. As you've just opened up this entire area by taking out the crop every left pulls out when cleaning the cavity. Feed in crop makes for easier/quicker removal for me.

    3) It may not be the temp of water rather not dunking the bird enough to loosen the feathers. If they pulled with resistance then it wasn't prepped enough. If too hot the top layer of skin sluffs off, too cold and the feathers will not pull easy. Calibrate the thermometer to boiling water so you know it's accurate within few degrees or learn how much to add or subtract so you know the correct temp. I like 155 F. I don't let the water cool below 150 or get over 160F. It cools as you scald the bird so starting a bit high in that range is better then don't start another bird until the water is back up to 155 ish. Dunk swish or plunge and repeat until the feathers are ready. Don't even bother starting to pluck until they are ready. Don't hold the bird under too long or it mars the skin; dunk, plunge and pull out then dunk again...check a primary tail or wing feather and dunk again until a primary pulls out without effort. It takes almost as long scalding the bird as it does plucking. I can pluck a year old cock bird in 5 minutes if prepped right.

    4) No idea as you didn't say how old or how much your birds weighed. Did they take longer? No clue.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I do things a lot different from you so mainly just some general comments. Keeping your knife sharp is really important, probably more important than the type of knife. I use a regular kitchen knife, I don’t even know the name of the type of knife. It’s smaller than a “butcher” knife. I try to sharpen it the night before so it’s ready. One way I keep it sharp is to use poultry shears when butchering. Try to use poultry shears around bone and cartilage instead of your knife to keep your knife sharper longer. I use the poultry shears to take the legs off and to cut the neck. The knife does not come into play here. If you are doing several having more than one sharp knife to start may be really beneficial.

    If the skin tore when plucking the water was probably too hot or you dunked too long. I agree with swishing and checking the wing feathers. When the wing feathers pull out easily it’s ready. Don’t over scald. It might take a little trial and error for you to get it right.

    What exactly did Meyer call those meat birds? You may have gotten something other than the Cornish X broilers.

  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I use a utility knife, the type that can be taken totally apart for cleaning, with a brand new blade for jugular cut.....
    ...usually have a couple of them, but only slaughter 3-4 birds at a time.
    Key to jugular cut is getting the feathers out of the way so you're not trying to cut thru them.
    This tutorial helped me figure that one out.

    I withhold feed overnight but give a tablespoon of scratch about 30 minutes before slaughter,
    fills the crop and makes it easier to get a hold of and see attachment. Cut open neck skin in front,
    try to separate crop, trachea, and esophagus as far down into body as possible from neck end,
    get fingers between and peel away from neck fascia(easier said-hard to explain too-than done),
    and cut off before gutting from butt end. Makes pulling guts out much easier.

    Egghead explained the scalding well....it's about what I do too.

    Yeah, need more info to assess your grow out time.
    But I only slaughter cockerels and old hens, never raised meat birds - tho have slaughtered one I got in a trade.

    With practice it all gets easier and faster.
  6. Strummer

    Strummer Chirping

    Mar 29, 2012
    Edna tx
    I use a havalon knife . So far I skin all of my birds . Fixing to start plucking .

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