Newbie questions


Mar 31, 2015
My wife and I slaughtered 3 cockerels last night and have had some uneasy feelings about a few things of our process and how everything turned out.

We used a cone to slit their throats (had a hard time as our knife wasn't as sharp as we had thought), and let them bleed out - it wasn't too bad but will definitely invest in a sharper knife for next time!

We were in the process of putting our kids down for bed, so we killed all three of the birds and then hung them as we heated up water for scalding and got the kids down. Between death and scalding of the first bird was about 1 hours time.
First question: did we let them sit for too long before processing? Reading more today we realize a lot of people will kill, scald, and process as quickly as 10 minutes or so before putting in an ice bath - would our meat be bad having hung so long before processing?

When the water was up to temperature we grabbed the first bird for scalding and he was stiff as a board as rigor mortis had set in - this made scalding and plucking a bit more difficult than I'm assuming it should be, but nevertheless we successfully plucked all three.

Finally, we eviscerated the 3 birds, which took quite a long time due to inexperience, our children constantly getting out of bed, and the rigor mortis - I'm guessing the time between death and getting them into the fridge was about 5 hours total - which I feel may be way too long.

Lastly, one of our birds had 3 or 4 red lumps along the length of its trachea (about the size/shape of a bean) - I didn't take any pictures, but I wondered while butchering if these might have been tumors - possibly marek's? - The bird was a bit mangy looking and the other roos picked on it often.

I appreciate any feedback - the birds have been in the fridge for about 24 hours now and we're wondering if we should keep them or toss.

Thank you!


7 Years
Jun 29, 2012
Central Wisconsin
Its a learning experience. Much easier to pluck right of way...especially heritage breed cockerels.
I can not speak for the lumps...but your birds should be fine. I typically leave my heritage cockerels in the 18-24 week old range in a iced salt brine for 24hrs & then they go to the freezer.

Congrats...its a learning experience that will get easier & quicker.

I love my Havalon knife. Never a dull blade.


Mar 31, 2015
Any thought on the length of time it took to butcher these birds?

Total time from death to fridge was about 5 hours - is this OK?


In the Brooder
5 Years
Oct 24, 2014
First thing is always have your water to temperature and ready be for you even start.

A super sharp knife is key but technique is 80% of it getting the birds neck stretched out enough and tense enough without causing to much discomfort, The best example I can give is hold one of your arms out straight but limply with your elbow locked and make a cutting motion on the loose bottom part of your bicept with your other hands pointer finger. Even with the sharpest knife you are not making a good cut on that but if you make a muscle you can feel how the tension assists in the cutting motion and that is what you should be looking for in a clean cut along with getting under the hackle feathers with your blade be for cutting.

The dispatching should really be the shortest part of it all if you get it right. From there the scolding with whatever method on all the birds one after another then drop them into the cool bath (in the numbers you are doing) from there hand plucking on 3 birds should take about 10 minutes tops (Neoprene coated gloves really help to grip wing feathers etc.)

Gutting will just really come down to how comfortable you are with the knife, IMO if you can get quick with removing the crop/loosening all the neck membraine then cutting the gut cavity open down to the inside of the inner thigh bone to the tail on each side the gutting becomes one motion at that point of hooking your finger under the esophagus along the back bone and pulling it all out in one go then just disconnecting the whole tail by the nearest spinal socket.

That is roughly how I go about it in a small operation and can do about 5 birds from start to finish in an hour or so.
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