Lots of Questions about Meat Birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by jaimepowell, Apr 27, 2011.

  1. jaimepowell

    jaimepowell In the Brooder

    Apr 23, 2011
    We decided to get egg laying hens this year and ended up with three cornish chicks out of 8 chicks total. I'm new to chicks all together and had no idea why those three were growing so fast--well now I know. They are about 7 weeks old now and have been on medicated feed day and night. They moved out to the coop and run last week and are getting VERY big. So I have a couple of questions....

    1. If we decide to butcher ourselves what kind of knife do we use and where do I get it?
    2. I've found a couple of links/videos/blogs about how to butcher--how easy/difficult is it to cut them to bleed out the first time? How will I know if I cut too deep or not deep enough?
    3. I read they shouldn't be on medicated feed if you are going to eat them--is that true and if so what do I feed them and for how long? I don't have a real easy way to separate them from the rest of the chicks so the easier the better!
    4. Any other suggestions you have would be GREATLY appreciated!!

    Thanks in advance [​IMG]
  2. Country Parson

    Country Parson Songster

    Oct 1, 2010
    Bellefontaine, OH
    Here's my answers:

    1. Any small, sharp kitchen knife is fine, like a paring knife. I've even used a utility knife. Don't go out a buy a knife, just get one out of your kitchen drawer.

    2. The hardest part is actually doing the deed. Once you get over that, your priority will be a quick, clean kill. Generally, it is better to slit the throat. But, if this is your first time maybe it would be better to just chop off the head. They will flap like CRAZY and spray blood all over the place. I usually hang mine upside down and slit the throat, then bleed them into a bucket.

    3. I only use medicated feed. Unless you are going to feed them organic ($$), then medicated may be your only option.

    4. Be sure to scald them in hot water BEFORE plucking the feathers. Get your water around 140-150 degrees, and dip them in for 20-25 seconds (moving around to let the water work all the way through the feathers). The feathers will easily slid off after that. I would suggest doing that OUTDOORS. A wet chicken is a smelly thing. Also, after processing them I would recommend chilling them in your fridge for 24 hours before freezing.
  3. Clay Valley Farmer

    Clay Valley Farmer Songster

    Sep 7, 2010
    Good advice above IMHO.

    On the knife, sharp is the key, utility knives found in most kitchen drawrs are often kept no where near sharp enough. A truely sharp knife will make for a quick clean kill going at a critters neck with something just a little less dull than a butter knife is cruel for both the animal and butcher. A sharp knife will show no reflected light off the edge if held up near a bright light, no nicks, burrs or dull sections along the edge. I find stainless steel knives in general pretty poor choices, they don't take a fine edge near as well as carbon steel and dull far quicker. My favorite knives in the kitchen or for cleaning game have a thin carbon steel core and then a stainless shell fused over the core to expose only the carbon steel core right near the edge.

    Seen far more people cut them selves forcing or struggling with dull knives or tools than when using properly sharpened sharp ones.

    On the medicated feed I am feeding they state to switch to un-medicated grower 10 day before slaughter, likely varries a bit from one jurisdiction (country) to another but getting them over to unmedicated feed for a week or two is likely the best bet to avoid eating more chemicals than we already do.
  4. jaimepowell

    jaimepowell In the Brooder

    Apr 23, 2011
    Thanks for the advice!!! We shall see if I can work up the courage! [​IMG]
  5. fair weather chicken

    fair weather chicken In the Brooder

    Apr 9, 2011
    one thing i would suggest in your scald pot is some dish soap. about 2-3 table spoons per pot of water. learned this in joel salatin's book. we run a meat csa so we domany birds good plucking!
  6. nivtup

    nivtup Songster

    Apr 24, 2008
    Shelton Washington
    Good advice above

    Sharp knife

    Very sharp knife

    Slit the throat right at the jaw line on both sides, make sure there are no feathers in the way.

    Good luck, it is worth the effort.
  7. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Crowing

    Aug 3, 2007
    Oberlin, OH
  8. JPHorvath

    JPHorvath Chirping

    Sharp long narrow blade works for me like a Fish knife or Filet knife. My technique is a bit more different possibly more safe and cleaner then slitting it’s throat.

    I hang bird from legs with hooks. Like tow chain hooks or something similar that when you slide the legs in it holds them tight so they do not kick out. I wear cut resistant gloves, with one hand grab hold of wattles holding firmly I pull beak open insert knife deep into throat cutting artery just below base of skull. Drain into bucket, when the feathers relax on neck and wings drop you can pull flight feathers easy. I like to pull them out first because they get in the way of dunking the bird, easier to fit in scalding pot.

    I also seem to think 140 – 150 is way too high temperature, 120 –130 degrees is plenty. Any hotter it starts to cook the bird. Who ever dunks’ the birds should wear long rubber insulated gloves water resistant apron and boots. They sell the gloves at home center stores. I dunk them up and down couple times for 20 – 30 seconds; this helps get water under feathers. Then hang the bird back up and start plucking. The back, breast, thigh and leg feathers will just rub right off without any work. Smaller flight feathers take a little more work.

    Fill a cooler with ice then pour clean water over leaving enough room for processed birds.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by