Lessens learned

GaJohnson350

Hatching
7 Years
Mar 19, 2012
6
0
7
I have been getting on here since before I bought my 31 meaties on March 19th. I put them into a tractor and fed them a 22% protein feed. I made it to the end with 26. 5 died at different times along the way from unknown reasons. Heart problems I think, but that is just a guess. The males were ready right on time. 6 weeks. I waited one more week just for good measure then I started butchering them. I butchered 5 at a time because I have never done a large number before and I didn't want to get overwhelmed. That was a smart move now that I look back on it. I built my own plucker from 4 inch PVC pipe with 2 end caps and a drill for the motor and mounted it to a table. It works pretty well but does require maintenance after every 5 birds. I have 4 more hens to kill, that I will kill this weekend. Then I will be all done. I am very happy with the results. The meat tastes great and I know that they were treated humanely and that they were never given any hormones or med's. I am loving it. Here is what I have learned from my first time.

1. They poop a lot and stink to high heaven and are lazy as can be. So you need plent of space to move them around on so they don't have to go into the same spot twice.
2. I had everything built and in place by the time my birds got here ie. brooder, tractor, feeders and plucker.
3. Pull out the birds that you plan on killing the next morning and separate the evening before. Do not feed them for 12hours prior to killing. 24 hours is way too long and I think it stresses the bird out too much. I did that on the first batch and did not repeat that mistake.
4. Prep for butchering the night before especially if it is your first time ever butchering. Everything should be in place so that wll you have to do is walk out heat water and start killing. I makes things go smother and that is important.
5. Use a kill cone. Homemade or store bought don't matter. I hung them from a nylon cord by their feet and put their head into a trash can lined with plastic. They flopped around way too much and dislocated wings that popped through the skin. I just think the killing cone wouldn't allow for so much flopping around.
6. Have plenty of ice on hand. Maybe even more than you think you will need. I ran out the first time and had to go get more.
7. No matter what you read do on BYC, NOT LEAVE YOUR BIRD IN THE SCALD WATER FOR A WHOLE MINUTE. It will cook your bird. I had the water at 140 degrees and left it in the water for one minute and I had to skin it because the skin came off in the plucker. The meat was also cooked some. That was the first bird I ate and it was fine but I won't do that again. Now I dunk them several times and check to see if the big feathers will come out and then proceed to the plucker.

8. Do not name your birds. Do not pick them up and play with them like they are pets. I would go so far as to say do not even look them in the the eye. Just be as detached from them as you can. No matter how hard I tryed though I still felt a little bad at killing them. But I think that having not treated them like pets and getting attached did help some. I am a little soft I guess.

Other than those few things if you read up on how to do it and maybe even watch a how to on youtube. everything should work itself out. I have had some experience with killing birds in the past but not enough to go into it without coming on here first and learning from you all. I want to thank all of you for your posts because without them I would have really had a hard time with the kill part of my meatie experience. Hope your experience goes as well as mine did. Have fun and Goid Bless.
 

mstricer

Crowing
13 Years
Feb 12, 2009
7,513
229
416
Ohio
On number 7, you stated no mater what you have heard don't leave it in for a minute or you will scalded it. I dunk mine up and down for around 2 minutes. If you sumerge it in water and leave it there, yes it will scald it. Good going though. I learned a lot my first couple of times. Most important thing find a processor. 2$ may a bird may sound like a lot, but in the long run, the time you save is well worth it.
 

GaJohnson350

Hatching
7 Years
Mar 19, 2012
6
0
7
I am too frugal for that. Plus I like the life experience. I guess you could say the experience wouldn't be complete with out the processing part of it.
 

wsmoak

Songster
Apr 21, 2010
355
12
164
a little north of Columbus, GA
On number 7, you stated no mater what you have heard don't leave it in for a minute or you will scalded it. I dunk mine up and down for around 2 minutes. If you sumerge it in water and leave it there, yes it will scald it. Good going though. I learned a lot my first couple of times. Most important thing find a processor. 2$ may a bird may sound like a lot, but in the long run, the time you save is well worth it.

It's not the time, it's that you lose control over the process. For example, I don't like to chill after plucking and before evisceration. I want to get the intestines out of there ASAP and keep it as clean as possible.

-Wendy
 

GaJohnson350

Hatching
7 Years
Mar 19, 2012
6
0
7
I dunk them then spend about 2 minutes plucking and then eviscerate wash and chill. Cleanliness is very important to me as well. No matter if it is chickens or deer or whatever, it has to be cleaned out and the meat has to stay clean.
 

Beekissed

Free Ranging
14 Years
Feb 14, 2008
22,974
5,187
702
This world is not my home.
I am too frugal for that. Plus I like the life experience. I guess you could say the experience wouldn't be complete with out the processing part of it.

I agree! Taking your birds from chick to table all by yourself has some merit in it. For some reason, I need that connection to those I raise all the way into my kitchen. I want to know they were treated well right up until the end, I don't want them anxious over moving from one strange place to another, and I seem to be able to appreciate the meat more. My hands on every bird, every step of the way ~even right into the pot and plate.
 

FeedYourself

In the Brooder
8 Years
Apr 25, 2011
56
1
29
Washington State
Amen. Knowing where food comes from is a substantial part of the battle these day.

I like the fact that we have introduced zero hormones, antibiotics, and other stuff. While they are not "organic", they might be better.
 

GaJohnson350

Hatching
7 Years
Mar 19, 2012
6
0
7
This has been one of the greatest things I have done on my little homestead so far. I now have two incubators that I picked up really cheap and I plan to raise some dual purpose birds. I will eat the the roo's and spent hens. I am really having a blast doing all this too. I just wish I had started this when I was younger. I really enjoy knowing how my food has been taken care of and what went into it. I may or may not raise the cornish x again. I just think the meat is kind of bland. But they do grow at an amazing rate which is awesome. I will just have to see how that DP birds go. I really enjoy raising my own food. I just wish that the big companies would loosen their grip on the feed prices. I'm starting to ramble.
 

czarecki

Hatching
7 Years
May 18, 2012
1
0
6
#7. You can name them, just do it the right way. I name mine after States or after former lovers. You can whack Arizona or Julie the Cheater without a blink but not Henrietta or Chantilly. See?
 

OHSpartan

Songster
8 Years
Apr 30, 2012
118
12
134
Ohio
My first slaughter will be in mid-June. These birds stink to high heaven, so while I think cornish game hens are a total waste...it is getting more tempting by the day!!!!!! When I read all the message threads about "2 pounds of feed equals about 1 pound of bird," somehow I seemed to miss that the "other" pound of feed was pure fertilizer.

I will definitely bring these lessons learned into my first experience. I have two families coming to help me out, so we'll do all 25 at once. All told, we will have 8 knives going at once.

Do you have any lessons learned on chilling them while the meat "relaxes?" I plan to cut most of them up into pieces, so hopefully they will fit in two fridges. The broth parts will go on ice overnight and get canned the next day.
 

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