Preparing for our first butchering this Sunday

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Countrywife, Nov 30, 2009.

  1. Countrywife

    Countrywife Corrupted by a Redneck

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    JAKU- where you at buddy?

    Ok, I actually went through the tutorials, big step for me. I am kind of scared of the blood. The hubby has built the killing station, we have the table, the sink, the water source at the barn. Henkel knives are being sharpened. Guess we will be butchering under the tree where the water will reach, small pen there, we can keep the other animals out. The husband and son are doing the killing, the daughter and I will pluck, son and I gut, daughter will wash and check.(Hubby will have to go to work long before we are done). I have ticked off the 13 year old daughter by explaining no, she cannot hide in the house after killing the chickens, she will actually have to stick around and help process. I am so mean.

    My neighbors keep telling me to burn the feathers off, any advice or info on that? We know the whizbang is the best idea, but we want to process a batch before we put too much more money in it, make sure its going to be something we continue, so this time I am without a whizbang, so any plucking advice will be appreciated. I think I know all the organs I am looking for, thanks for the pictures, and its not looking as bad as I anticipated. Remember peoples, I was born and raised in Baltimore City, I am adjusting here! I am a little worried, but really looking forward to giving this a shot, and this farm being a bit more self sufficient.

    So hit me with all the ideas, advice, horror stories, and what am I forgetting???????
     
  2. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Overrun With Chickens

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    You can always just skin them without plucking the feathers. Myself, I like having the skin on the bird so I use the hot water bath method. I use a Coleman stove to heat the water in one of those metal round tubs. After the bird has been killed and before gutting, dip them in the hot (not boiling) water for about one minute, the feathers are easy to pull out. Don't cook the bird. Wearing rubber gloves helps to grab ahold of the feather. Once the bird is cleaned is the time to clean them out. [​IMG]
     
  3. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Sounds like you're ready, how many of what type birds are you butchering? The first time is always the most difficult, but you should learn something every time to make the next session go even easier. It's great that you have so much family to work together, I'm usually out on my own.

    There really isn't that much blood, almost all will come out after you slice the neck arteries & hang for a few minutes. Keep those knives sharp & look for the bare place right under the jawbone to cut, don't cut through feathers.

    Plucking out isn't that big a deal, and it's good to have done some by hand so when/if you make a plucker you'll REALLY appreciate it! Keep a good supply of hot water handy, it doesn't need to STAY hot all day, just hot when you scald. Use a meat or candy thermometer to be sure it's 140-150 degrees when you dunk, agitate the birds up & down so the water gets to the skin, start plucking when the big wing feathers start to come out easily. See if you can make a place to hang your birds by their feet while you pluck so you can use 2 hands.

    It's OKAY to use rubber gloves!

    You may decide to skin some of your birds, here's a great tutorial video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgo6Qlaff_4

    Also
    , since Mister has to leave for work before you're finished, you may want to do a trial run with just a few birds. That way if you run into any snags you're not stuck with all these dead chickens to pluck & gut without him around to help.

    [​IMG] We're here to help support & encourage you, ask all your questions & let us know how WELL it went!
     
  4. Bassleg

    Bassleg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have ticked off the 13 year old daughter by explaining no, she cannot hide in the house after killing the chickens, she will actually have to stick around and help process. I am so mean.

    Your mean that's start chickens are just food.
     
  5. jaku

    jaku Chillin' With My Peeps

    I agree that everyone should try it by hand before they build a Whizbang, if for nothing else just so you appreciate how much work the plucker saves you.... just don't swear it off to never doing it again, because it's a bad job, and unless you get a good scald, which is tough to do on a first time set up, it's going to suck and there's no way around it. BUT, if you get sick of plucking, just make a cut in the breast skin, put both your middle fingers in the hole, and rip apart. Your bird will be naked from neck to knees. No more feathers or skin. Then next year you'll build a Whizbang and never go back! I have a more detailed post on skinning here somewhere- the method I used before I started filleting them with the skin on.

    Whatever you do, DON'T burn the feathers off. Burning works for the little hairs left on non-broiler breeds AFTER plucking, but if you burn the feathers off, you'll be left with a stinky, charred carcass that's full of feather tips, as it will only burn off the part of the feather outside of the skin.
     
  6. Countrywife

    Countrywife Corrupted by a Redneck

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    Thanks guys. We actually have a turkey fryer, so we will be using that pot, full of water, on the propane burner for the hot water. I would actually rather have the skin off, but I am not sure I can talk the family into that. We have 21 left from an original order of 24, Cornish Xs. They look ready to go, they are officially 8 weeks old this week. They still get around ok, but look just about right for processing. I AM using gloves, sorry, not that country yet, give me another year. I told hubby I was reading the tutorial last night, and it says gloves are for sissies. I am an admitted sissy. I am rather excited about this. We think we are going assembly line- hubby and son at kill station, then daughter and I plucking, then the son will move to gutting with me and the daughter will do a wash and final inspection. I have no doubt it will take all day. We will get up at daybreak, will have the husband till about noon, he works 3-11. By then we should be able to finish on our own. Going to be 58 degrees here that day, looks to be a good slaughter day.
     
  7. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    The turkey fryer will be a great thing to use for scalding, I wish I had one for my own use! And using gloves does NOT mean you're a sissy, it just means you're using gloves. [​IMG]

    Did you watch the video I recommended, ? It shows a family at work assembly-line fashion, and gives great instruction on both skinning & cleaning out the birds. (And THEY'RE wearing gloves!)

    I still think you might want to do a smaller number of your birds to start, maybe the 7 biggest ones. Or rethink your division of labor. The actual killing & bleeding out doesn't really take that long to do, the plucking & gutting will take much longer. I'm concerned you'll be stuck with a dozen or more dead chickens to pluck & gut after Mister leaves for work and your young crew may mutiny. And there's a lot of things that could impede your progress, especially the first time, but you'll still have to finish the birds that are dead.

    I'm not trying to discourage you, I think you'll do fine, it's just that Stuff Happens & it always pays to plan ahead for it.

    Why not have Mister & Young Mister do the killing & bleeding, you & Young Miss do the plucking, then Mister & Young Mister do the gutting? Then see how much progress you've made by the time Mister has to go to work and decide then how many more you will kill that day. All you have to do for the killing is hang & slice. You can even have a few hanging & bleeding out while you're working on the previous ones. That's the way I do it if I'm working alone, I'll slice one, let it bleed out while I'm selecting the next candidate, then slice the second one and leave it to bleed while I pluck/skin and clean out the first one. And I work like that until I'm finished. That way if the weather turns bad or it gets dark or Publisher's Clearinghouse comes to the door with a check for a million dollars I don't have a pile of dead chickens still waiting to be processed for the refrigerator.

    Another thing to prepare is a place for your birds to be the night before you butcher. They should have water but NO FEED for 12-18 hours before you do them. I catch mine after dark the night before & keep them in wire cages up off the ground so they won't even eat grass. Jaku posted a picture of his birds in a tractor on his gravel driveway, that was a clever plan. Go ahead & prepare all your birds for butchering and if you run out of time/energy you can easily return them to their homes. They won't mind!
     
  8. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I agree with Sunny_Side_Up that you might want to do a smaller batch first. DH and I did our first 3 birds a few days ago and had a few surprises along the way. One was how fast rigor mortise sets in. We did the first, set him aside, caught and did the second, then accidentally let the third out and spent about 5 mins chasing him around the yard before catching and killing him. In all, it was approximately 15 minutes after the first that we were ready to carry them in to scald and rigor had ALREADY set in on the first. Not all the way but he was well on the way. Since we only had three to do, we were able to get them scalded, plucked, gutted and in the fridge in two hours (just the two of us), which I didn't think was too bad for our first time, but if we'd been doing 21, I can only imagine how long we would have been at it.

    The second surprise was how much space they take up. Sunny_Side_Up gave some great advice for fridge storage on my thread (https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/edit.php?id=3258840), which I will keep in mind for next time, however on this occasion, I had two large stockpots. I just barely fit two into the tallest one and the third in the other but they took up a LOT of room in my fridge. I don't have a dedicated freezer (and in any case you want to let them rest for 24-48 hours before freezing) but you might give some thought to how you are going to store all these chickens before you get started, if you haven't already.

    The last piece of advice I'd like to add is to make sure your work station is at a good height. We pulled our deck table out into the yard and worked on that. It was low and I was glad when we were done because my back was aching from leaning over it. For us it was bearable because we had such a small number to do, but if you are processing a larger number, you REALLY want to make sure you can stand and work comfortably.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2009
  9. jaku

    jaku Chillin' With My Peeps

    Don't feel bad about gloves. I use heavy duty elbow length gloves PLUS a steel cut glove on my non-knife hand.
     
  10. Countrywife

    Countrywife Corrupted by a Redneck

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    I watched the video, but can't find one on hand plucking. I should say the young mister and miss are 15 and 13, the boy is the oldest, and bigger and stronger than me. So they are pretty useful. Girl child would just rather work inside.

    Husband said he thought rigor mortis would not set in for a couple of hours-15-30 minutes seems fast. I am going to modify killing them too fast, but that just seems like it is too fast. Anyone else have any thoughts on that?

    With all of us I think we will work together pretty good. Problem is, if we don't get them done sunday, we won't be together again for another week, and it will make them so old i am afraid they are going to start dying. I expect it to take a while for each chicken, but if we get 8-10 hours in, we should be good. The boy child will kill after hubby goes to work if we are at that point. I am actually the only one in the family that does not want to do the actual kill, although I suspect girl child will chicken out when she sees the process.

    We have a barn stall for them- so we can control no food for slaughter prep.

    All the videos are different, one cuts out the crop, and leaves the vent in, another leaves the crop, or at least it didn't show taking it out, and pulled all the insides out when they cut out the vent- real life- which way do you guys that do this a lot use? I know about the skinning, but the hubby says no, he wants his skin. Silly boy!
     

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