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Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Golden Egg, May 5, 2014.
All I get is.......
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Yeesh! I would rather buy a chicken at the store for $5. Too much work. Glad my girls are laying! Sorry it was hard!
The way my family always did it; Tie the bird's feet, hang it head down from the clothesline pole, have somebody hold the wings so it doesn't spatter blood all over by flapping ( that was my job, beginning at age 5), stick a sharp knife through the throat and rip outwards, hold the wound open while the blood drains out, dip the bird in hot but not quite boling water in a laundry tub or large stock pot, with a little dish soap in the water if it's a duck or goose and not a chicken, pluck, hold bird over fire ( gas stovetop) while turning to singe off the pinfeathers, then gut, dress, and cut off the legs and head. Few things taste better than free range poultry; store bought chicken can't compare, and ducks and geese are now hard to find in supermarkets.
Squabs are handled the same way, except you don't cut the throats and bleed the carcass, just wring the necks.
I can't imagine anyone claiming that pithing would affect plucking. I don't do it to chickens; they stay pretty calm in the cones, so I've only encountered it in lab work. It's simply a way of rendering the animal brain-dead while leaving the heart & major body systems functioning (temporarily) for research; in the case of chickens it would render them unable to feel/react to slitting but nothing else!
My grandmother did this when she butchered 2yr odl leghorn hens. I was very young at the time,and always had to question everything so she gave me one hen to pluck that just had it's throat cut. Took me so long I gave up and she finished it but then she showed me a magical way to make plucking easier. Diffrence was between night and day. The one she pithed for me seemed as tho you barley touched the feathers and they almost fell out on their own. I know it works but I never tried or asked her to show me her technique. She used something similar to a nut pick. She said it relaxed the outer skin muscles where the feathers shanks was at in the skin.
That's when you immediately cut the arteries. Either inside or out.
I did some research on this - and it looks like you folks are absolutely right, and now I am driven to find instruments. (apparently there's a specialized knife/tool for it) I didn't realize that the control of those muscles was entirely by that portion of the brain! The idea of being able to pluck without scalding & ruining the epidermal layer is very compelling... must learn this! :
Yeah, I'm very interested to try it also. Kassaundra said she had a wretched time and wouldn't do it again. But she put the knife in the little groove in the upper mouth and shoved straight up. You go a little up and mostly back. And then do a quarter turn of the slim knife. If you try it first let us know how you did. I won't have anything ready for about 3 mo.
I do pithing and I concur with the others. The brain is right behind the eye, so locate the groove and push in at an angle.
The trick with the feathers is waiting until the bird is calm. Take your time and go slow. Chickens do this thing called "Hypotonic Immobility" which means when they are stressed, they go limp and loose. It's an evolutionary trick that many prey animals utilize including rodents, rabbits, sharks, pigeons, songbirds, possums, etc. Basically what's happening is they are getting a big dump of serotonin into their brains, which is the neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, digestion, and many other things in our brains. So they relax and just feel groovy for a while, mostly. The reasons for this are that it works as an effective escape mechanism from danger. Many predators have eyesight that is based on movement, so an animal that is not moving cannot be seen. Predators also often "practice" with their prey, so a prey animal that just falls down "dead" becomes no longer interesting to the predator and they leave. If you've ever seen a cat catch and play with a mouse you thought for SURE was dead only to have it pop up and run away shortly after the cat leaves, that's what's going on.
So what I do is hang the bird in a cone or tied in a pillow case hanging by it's legs, and just let it go into that state. Being upside down is a weird position for a chicken, so it triggers the serotonin heading into their brains. Pithing destroys the brain before the body can react very much so the blood vessels don't start constricting, which makes them harder to pluck.
But do know that it's not going to be a surefire thing. Sometimes I've had them still be hard to pluck so I keep the hot water handy for a quick dunk and for skinning chicken feet.