Processed the whole flock today.

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Firefyter-Emt, Oct 30, 2010.

  1. Firefyter-Emt

    Firefyter-Emt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Well, the girl's stopped laying almost a month and a half ago and I refuse to winter them in feed and heat lamps... So the entire flock was butchered today. (Granted, it was just the six of them) [​IMG] This was my first batch of girls and we did the work ourself with the help of a friend who had cleaned, but not killed before. We used the cone method, which worked well... mostly. Right up until the point where the cone broke and the chicken fell into the wheel-barrow below. Poor chicken was not even touched yet! That had to be a heck of a fright!

    But the deed is done, and we shall be chicken-less for a few months now... [​IMG] My plan is to buy six new ones and cull two of them every year for a three year rotation. We had planned to do that from the start, but never go around to butchering them. Now that we have six of them under our belt, it will not be all that bad the next time!
     
  2. Buttercup Chillin

    Buttercup Chillin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2008
    SouthEast TX
    Well gee. Now you have had your hands at it and found out it is not such a horrid thing to do after all.

    Now you are ready to start filling your freezer next year. Order yourself some meat birds along with your pullets or better yet make them dual purpose and process the young cockerals and a little later the extra pullets.

    Lots of talk on dual purpose in the meat bird section lately.

    Congratulations on having a plan to manage your flock and your spent hens and giving them honor one last time. To my mind, much better to honor them to their fullest purpose rather then pass them off to someone else. Yes, I have had chickens dropped off on my block, as well as kittens, puppies and large dogs. Oh, lets not forget the ducks.

    Thank you, for managing your flock and welcome to the Sufficient Self Club. Nice feeling isn't it.
     
  3. Firefyter-Emt

    Firefyter-Emt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nawh... I don't really have the room to run a batch of meat birds and we need high security due to the coyotes we have here. If not for them, I "might" do a chicken tractor, but it's more work than I really want to deal with.

    I had no "problems" with the thought of culling out my flock from the get go, but I had never processed a bird before so it was more of a learning curve than getting over a hump. It was a LOT more work that I had planned though! My back is still killing me from standing in one place and plucking freaking feathers!
     
  4. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    [​IMG] Yay for you! Your plan sounds really smart. I've been processing extra cockerels here for a while, but haven't done any hens until last week, and those belonged to a friend. I've been too sentimental about my hens, I still have a few from my very first flock. But I'm starting to change my view, and have told the kids that from now on all new hens will one day be dinner guests, and I may even get the nerve to include some of the other older ones. At least I don't have to worry about heating my coops for the winter.

    I simmered these hens very slowly over low heat for several hours, and they came out as tender as cake. I made some delicious chicken noodle soup with them.

    How did you do your plucking? I find it a fairly easy chore because I get a good scald on them and have a place to hang them by their tied-together feed at about shoulder height. That way I can use both hands for plucking, the feathers fall out easily, and it only takes about 7 minutes each. I'm sorry it made you so weary.

    Enjoy all your well-earned meals! [​IMG]
     
  5. Liamm_1

    Liamm_1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for posting. Every new post I read about processing, gets me more nerve to actually maybe 1 day do it. If I can get past that mental 'hump', I'd love to get meat birds that process in 8 weeks. Mine are 11 weeks now, one roo crowing, and 2-3 others behind him. That will leave 2-3 hens (We have 6 altogether, 1 is still unknown gender). I'd like to keep about 6-8 layers, process roos and extra hens. That's my 'dream' but how do I get past the emotional part? just do it I suppose.... [​IMG]
     
  6. Liamm_1

    Liamm_1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    BTW, you said they stopped laying. How old were they?
     
  7. Firefyter-Emt

    Firefyter-Emt Chillin' With My Peeps

    I had a tree and used the chains that were hanging the feed in the coop. The end of the chain had a nice hook, so I used some wire to loop the feet together and hung them from that with a wheel barrow under them. (The same place the cone of silence was hung to bleed them out)

    I think I could of scalded them a little more myself, and one defiantly needed more as it was much harder. However, having them hanging and chest height made the best of it. My back is not 100% after a car accident and if I sit or stand in the same place for too long, it starts to hurt from the compression of the spine.

    Can you got into a little more detail on how you prepared them? We removed the breasts for skinless breast meat, and the legs, thighs and wings. We had planned on soup & pot-pie use for the most part.
     
  8. Buttercup Chillin

    Buttercup Chillin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2008
    SouthEast TX
    Yes, hanging them is the answer. I only pluck the real young ones for fryers.

    Normally I skin em, but the older ones I may start plucking, they are getting hard to skin. Skinning is faster. DH built me an outside sink and counter just outside the kitchen a few years back. Works out great, I just love having that sink out there. I do most of the young ones myself, like 4 at a time. The older ones he helps me with if he's feeling up to it. (Disabled, so not always able to help me).

    I tractor my young ones until they can hang out with the hens. I start processing them at 14 weeks or when the crowing gets to me, for fryers. I do have a little brooder house they stay in overnight though. (Looks kind of like an outhouse, didn't even stir the neighbors, geesh). Until they get big enough to go in with the hens at about 16 weeks. By then I am done with the cockerals. I only get 25 at a time so about 12 are finished at week 16. That leaves 12/13 or 10 if you keep 2, 12/4 3 more weeks your done with it. Never have filled my little freezer with chicken, but then I can grow them out year round. It will spoil you though, nothing like the mush they sell in the stores that they call chicken.

    I do it only because I have allergic reactions to most chicken that is sold out there. Actually most meat. It's just healthier to raise your own. So I raise chickens, ducks and Coturnix Quail. Now the quail you keep in cages, can't free range them anyway. Hang their cages in a garage or work shop. They are real easy to process with scissors and the little eggs are wonderful pickled. Give them the winter off (by then your tired of all the eggs) keep a few for breeders cause they may be hard to find and your good to go. Can you tell I am hatching out some Jumbo Brown C. quail now. Only real problem with them is lining up gamebird feed.

    OoooooK, have we talked you into it yet?
     
  9. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,726
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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Here's my post where I describe my soup preparations: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=414660

    Getting
    a good scald is essential to easy plucking. You don't want the water too hot to cause the skin to peel, but just enough to open the pores well. I have the water around 150 degrees, and agitate the bird up & down about 10 times to get the water down to the skin. When I can get a wing feather to pull out easily I know it's done.
     
  10. Buttercup Chillin

    Buttercup Chillin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2008
    SouthEast TX
    I 'm sorry, I don't understand why people pluck when they don't want the skin anyways.

    Skin em, take a file' knife (SHARP) and edge the skin off if need be, what I do with the older ones.
    On the ducks, I dehead, bleadout.
    Cut at the neck (breast side) and take the skin back off the breast back to the legs.
    Filet' out the breast. No reason you can't do that with chickens.
    I don't use the wings on the ducks or quail, so just cut them off. But on the chickens, I cut off the 1st outer section of wing and take the skin back from the breast off the wing, slips right off.
    Feet: Cut of the feet. Take the legs out of the skin from where you took it back on the breast side, cut off the leg and thigh.
    Or if you would rather, dry pluck the legs then cut off. Never done that, but should work.

    Done. 5 minutes, tops. DH has a real bad back too and he helps me with this when he can. It takes me 2 hours tops from I think I will process to the trash is at the street. Everything is cleaned up and we are ready to do something else. Oh, he's taken his shower by then, too.

    Oh, while he is cleaning up the area I rinse the chicken a second time and package. I put 1 tsp of salt and cover with water and refrigerate. It does not water log anything. It does however, take out any blood that you missed (sometimes I rush the bleed out), any feathers, etc. After a day or 2 or 3 whenever I remember or get to it I rinse drain and rebag and freeze or cook. Cooked up a 2 year old Roo tonight, will make chicken noodle soup tomorrow when I have more time. I have room for 3- 1gallon bags at any time in the frig, so max I ever do at one time is 6. (My Buttercups are smaller than most full size birds, 2 to a bag, I like that).
     

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