Need Advice: Butchering Necessities for a Beginner

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Gresh, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. Gresh

    Gresh Songster

    Jul 9, 2011
    North Carolina
    Hi everyone!

    I'm needing some advice, tips, and tutorials about butchering chickens for meat. I'm ordering some chickens from IDEAL Poultry later this year and there is a strong possibility of their sending extra males. I want to know how to butcher them safely so that I don't have to spend weeks or months trying to get rid of a bunch of cockerels. I already have four cockerels that I want out of the order, and anymore than that will have to go.

    Here's a few questions I have about butchering as a start, though I will probably have more, and I always welcome any other tips.

    1. What is a good butchering age for your average barnyard rooster?
    2. Is it possible to do the butchering yourself and still do it in a healthy way for the table?
    3. How do you tell the difference between a healthy meat bird and an unhealthy meat bird, and what effect does health have on the meat?
    4. Can anyone upload pics or videos relating the process of basic butchering?

    I realize that some of you probably want to know what breed of chicken I would be butchering, but because I haven't received the order yet, I have no idea. Last year, however, I received White Leghorn males for extras.

    Thanks for your info, and God Bless!
  2. booker81

    booker81 Redneck Tech Girl

    Apr 18, 2010
    I have a photo blog in my signature you may wish to review.

    1) I like 16 -20 weeks for hatchery type roos. They won't be as meaty as a store bird, but are perfectly acceptable table fare.
    2) Yes, and that's all I do
    3) Inspect the living bird - check for clear eyes, clear nose, good breathing. After processing, check for good colored skin, nicely colored organs. If in doubt, throw it out, but check here first (with pictures)
    4) See my signature for my blog :)
    1 person likes this.
  3. deerman

    deerman Rest in Peace 1949-2012

    Aug 24, 2008
    Southern Ohio
    well will add one thing ....if they are white leghorn rooster...waste of time and money , cost more to put a lb on them than you get in meat.......most of those are killed at day old.......reason most use them for packaging peanuts.

    heavy breed ok , but to use as fryer should be butcher at 12 weeks old.
  4. frenchblackcopper

    frenchblackcopper Songster

    Jul 14, 2009
    East central Illinois
    Gresh, what type of chickens did you order? If you did opt for a meatbird cross you are better off butchering sooner,than later because of the leg issues associated with faster growing crosses.I personally like the rock cornish game hens available in the stores that weigh 22-24 ounces,,so I'm guessing on fast growing crosses,this maybe 5-7 weeks of age or maybe sooner.I'm guessing the final weight must be close to 2.5 pounds (40 oz.) to get a dressed weight of 22-24 oz.

    If your order is for a dual purpose bird they should be grown to mature size,then immediately burchered,or the meat will be tough unless you don't mind pressure cooking and making chicken and noodles with them.

    I personally butcher all my quali and chickens here.A stainless steel countertop,a diluted 5% solution of bleach water for disenfecting and a good source of running water is the basics.I don't have a chicken feather plucker so skinning everything must be done,but after some time you will get very proficient at skinning.

    Your concerns about unhealthy and healthy meat birds probably relates to as they get older it is more difficult for them to walk,move around? Thats not a health issue,rather a genetic issue and the meat will staill taste the same.

    I don't have pictures but there is some good videos on youtube.I personally can dispatch,skin,de-gutt a quail in maybe 2 minutes.On older roosters sometimes de-skinning them is hard,,like pulling teeth,but they too can be done relatively fast,once you know what order to do certain things.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    The stickies in the Meat bird section are pretty good on the "how to".

    I like Booker81's answers to your other questions if they are dual purpose birds. If they are broilers (which they should not be if they are packing peannuts) then you have to process them much sooner. I have not looked at Booker's photos so I can't comment on that method. Lots of different ways and they all work.

    I usually start processing mine at 17 to 18 weeks and only do a few at a time. Many of them are much older when they are processed, but mine normally forage for a lot of their food so it does not cost me much to keep them around. They don't spoil if I have a serious power outage either. Older chickens make better broth too.

    I've cooked old roosters and hens when they are "retired" and gotten them tasty and tender. You can cook any chicken, but you need to know the age and choose appropriate methods.

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